By Caroline Biggs

Published on November 30, 2015

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photography by MICHAEL LUCAS
text by CAROLINE BIGGS
interior design by MARY NELSON SINCLAIR & MATTHEW CRUISE
mary nelson sinclair paintings COURTESY OF VOLTZ CLARKE GALLERY

For their first home together, Mary Nelson Sinclair and Matthew Cruise combined their skillful styles to form an artfully inspired space.

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Photography by MICHAEL LUCAS

Cruise and Sinclair at home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

OPENING ACT

Last February, after nearly two years of dating, artist Mary Nelson Sinclair and her furniture-maker boyfriend, Matthew Cruise, decided it was time to take the next step and make the move to Brooklyn together. They happened upon the second floor of a three-level row house in Greenpoint (just steps away from Sinclair’s art studio) and poured over the best way to maximize the railroad-style layout. Cruise—who was trained and mentored by interior designer billy cotton convinced Sinclair that a dark paint palette was the perfect way to open up narrow rooms by adding a sense of depth and dimension. The couple then covered the living, dining, and bedroom walls and ceilings with a sultry hue of deep blue-black to forge a sophisticated backdrop that carries throughout most of the abode. “I’d always thought that dark walls would feel dull and cold,” Sinclair explains. “But, to my surprise, they warmed up the space and made the apartment feel more tailored and mature.”

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Sinclair opted for floral-printed curtains to break up the solid gray walls of the living room.

COFFEE TABLE Nelson, corbincruise.com  FABRIC (curtains) Rosa Blue, about $115/meter, imogenheath.com

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A lilac-colored console with snake-shaped handles was custom made for the space by Cruise. “His furniture strikes a balance between his masculine sensibility and my feminine style,” states Sinclair.

ART (above console) marynelsonsinclair.com  CONSOLE Nelson,corbincruise.com

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The sprightly hue of the main living space’s chartreuse sofa complements Sinclair’s artwork hanging above.

SOFA Joplin, kimsalmela.com ART(above sofa, left) “Assemblage No. 2” by Mary Nelson Sinclair $325–$425  ART (above sofa, right)“Assemblage No. 3” by Mary Nelson Sinclair $325–$425

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TABLE LAMP Block 2 $357 visualcomfortlightinglights.com BAR CART South Seas by Serena & Lily $495

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A vintage folding game table adds a retro vibe and ample seating for dinner guests.

LIGHT 5 Stick Pick Up Horizontal, billycotton.com ART (abstract)marynelsonsinclair.com GAME TABLE vintage, shop.scoutdesignstudio.com BAMBOO CHAIRS vintage, twojakes.com COWHIDE vintage

SUPPORTING CAST

After setting a polished stage, the duo filled the home with furnishings that drew from their own creative skills as well as the talents of their inner circle. For starters, Cruise, the founder and principal designer behind custom furniture company corbin cruise crafted a handful of practical pieces—steel shelves in the dining room and storage benches in the den—to streamline the space with functionality. Next, Sinclair contributed a few of her own paintings as well as beloved works by close friends such as sally king benedict Paul Wackers, and Katherine March Driscoll. Lastly, the pair mixed in a plethora of eclectic prints and textiles they’d found throughout their global travels to personalize the place with meaningful mementos. “We really pushed ourselves in new directions,” Sinclair says of working with Cruise. “He opened my eyes to the importance of finding a balance in color, furniture, and life.”

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The Serena & Lily bamboo bar cart showcases the couple’s collection of international keepsakes.

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The built-in banquette bench in the breakfast nook another custom creation from Cruise—opens up for extra storage.

ART (far left) “Assemblage No. 1” by Mary Nelson Sinclair $325–$425 ART (green scribble) “Green & Cerulean Motion Study” by Mary Nelson Sinclair $325–$425 ART (purple scribble) “Lilac & Raw Sienna Motion Study” by Mary Nelson Sinclair $325–$425  ART (bottom right)sallybenedict.com PENDANT Globe $79–$129 westelm.com TABLE Docksta in white $179 ikea.com

“DON’T BE AFRAID TO MIX PRINTS AND PATTERNS,” SINCLAIR SAYS. “IF YOU SYNC UP SIMILAR COLORS, YOU’LL FIND THAT JUST ABOUT ANYTHING WORKS.”

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Photography by MICHAEL LUCAS

A beaded Moroccan wedding blanket doubles as a bedroom wall tapestry.

TABLE LAMP industrial task $99 westelm.com  DUVET COVER Marlowe in ocean $324–$399matouk.com

SINCLAIR SHARES HER PAINTERLY TIPS FOR LAYERING COLOR IN A ROOM

Pick a bold color as the focal point for the room—the sofa is a good place to start. Use that color as a guiding light for other fabric or rug decisions. You’re good to go if things don’t totally clash with that color.

Patterned fabrics are great for diffusing bold colors like acid green or purple. Treat your walls like a canvas—try neutrals or any shade of gray. Dark is still neutral!

Find a color combination that you love, whether in a painting or a patterned textile.

Trust yourself—if you are drawn to it, use it! Embrace natural materials: marble, wood, bamboo, etc. They will ground the bold colors and craziness that’s going on.