Right before opening their first showroom, Daniel King and Meghan Lavery had more than 28 vintage chairs in their apartment. The collection had built slowly over a few months; the couple had decided to move in together and went on a treasure hunt around Maine with the goal of finding secondhand pieces to furnish their new rental.
It started with a set of Danish dining chairs. Then came a tallboy and a nightstand. “Once our house was finished, we were kind of addicted to shopping,” says Lavery. Home Union, their now cult-favorite vintage store, began quite innocently with an Instagram account of their surplus finds. That quickly grew into a storage unit, then the showroom, and eventually their Brooklyn shop.
Blending their styles wasn’t easy at first. She liked all-white spaces with a romantic boho vibe; he had a penchant for dark wood and Danish furniture. This was at the height of the Mad Men frenzy, when mid-century furniture and Cali-cool macramé wall hangings were all the rage. But their newly meshed aesthetics, a blend of space-age Italian modernism, ’80s influences, and, yes, a few teak Danish pieces, has become a lot punchier over the years. “Using color comes with confidence in knowing what looks good,” says King.
Their Williamsburg home’s double-height ceilings make everything feel a little grandiose in the best way. Every bad detail from the 1980s construction has been (temporarily) replaced: Curly mustache doorknobs were swapped for red plastic handles and canary yellow pulls. A bad ornate railing (with more metal mustaches!) was taken down in favor of a minimal plywood balustrade and a duo of hanging plants.
“Color comes with confidence in knowing what looks good.” —Daniel King
Even the kitchen got a rental-friendly makeover. The couple painted the cabinets and brought in a new countertop, sink, faucet, and tiled backsplash with their landlord’s approval. “We’re pretty handy people, so we kept our costs down by doing everything ourselves,” says King. “We plan on staying for the long haul, so it was a small investment for us to make this place feel like home.”
A rotation of pieces from the store mixed with cherished personal items fused together to create a vibrant but cozy space. A Milo Baughman burl-wood credenza hanging on the wall recently replaced another storage piece, while a Terje Ekstrom spiderlike chair acts like a throne in one corner. A Paul Mayan floor lamp casts a dramatic light on the whole room. The latter had a small crack in the back so it could not be sent back to the store—which is all the more fitting because they didn’t want to let it go. The living room rug, one of their most prized possessions, is part of a limited-edition collab between Home Union and Swedish designer Katherine Plumb.
The couple doesn’t shy away from scouring the globe for the perfect addition. The cherry red Gerd Lange sconces (a rare 1960s Kartell model) in the living room was the result of a years-long scavenger hunt: “We stumbled upon one and had it for a year, two years, three years? I don’t even know,” remembers Lavery. “We wanted a pair, so we were searching everywhere. I was messaging people in Europe, and they said, ‘We’re really sorry; it sold in 2012.’” Many months and multiple eBay search alerts later, they finally found a match and flanked the TV with the set. “It’s just amazing,” says Lavery. “It lights up the wall behind as well as the front.”
King, who has a background in furniture-making, restores every dresser and table that comes through the couple’s hands one by one before it hits the store. But lately he’s been experimenting with designs of his own in the upstairs den (which also serves as a guest bedroom, music room, and office). Once a loft that housed only a few guitars and a stray litter box, it’s now a cozy retreat filled with King’s creations, including built-in plywood chairs and a bookcase. “I love hanging up there in the winter,” says Lavery.
Little by little, the couple keeps tweaking the apartment: painting the front door a buttery yellow, swapping the bathroom vanity for a vintage option, tiling bits and bobs like the balcony doorstep. For them, their apartment isn’t a one-and-done project, it’s an ever-evolving work in progress. And it’s only getting better with every squiggly vase, futuristic lamp, or vintage Marcel Breuer rattan chair. As far as decor goes, this duo has found their groove.