Inside a Tailored Brooklyn Home That Used to Be a Shoe Factory
This light-filled apartment is prime New York living.
Published Sep 8, 2018 5:10 AM
After visiting a friend’s home in a converted shoe factory situated on the Brooklyn waterfront years ago, textile designer Michele Dopp was on the mission to live there. Dopp, who just recently launched an online shop, Fabric and Steel, was drawn to the light-filled, loft-like space. She has an eye for eclectic, vintage finds and a talent for blending design styles and motifs, and the once industrial space seemed the perfect canvas to express her style. So she jumped at the opportunity when a one-bedroom unit became available.
“When we moved in, I really wanted to utilize the height of the ceilings (because it’s rare to have such high ceilings in New York) and I thought they would make an ideal backdrop for the artwork and bookcases we have,” says Dopp, who lives here with her husband. “I just really wanted it to be a very open, uncluttered space.”
But just because the space is decorated in a pared back way (“I have a thing against clutter, it makes me nervous” says Dopp) doesn’t mean it doesn’t have character. Throughout the home are key vintage finds; pieces that she’s collected with her husband throughout time. From numerous bookcases lined with records and art books to an antique writing desk, the space feels like the perfect place of respite, filled with charming details like ceramics and art made by her brother, Michael Dopp, cozy textiles from her own line, and paintings from her mother-in-law.
“I love textures and high quality fabrics” says Dopp. “So, I really wanted to mix different textures in an interesting, but not overwhelming way.” A heavyweight linen duvet in the bedroom is juxtaposed by a textured rug, while the living area features a mohair sofa and woolen floor pillows from Dopp’s collection.
Dopp’s company makes artisan-crafted textiles designed in Brooklyn, woven in Belgium, and hand screen printed in New England. Largely inspired by Dopp’s own urban environment and setting, the fabrics, used on bedding, pillows large and small, and upholstered pieces, are all thoughtfully and meticulously created. Dopp’s 20 years in the interior design industry factor heavily into her creations.
However, you’ll notice that they are used sparingly throughout the space. Dopp was keen on not creating a space that felt over-designer or over-styled. “I wanted to have a little bit of pattern, but I wanted to use them in a neutral way,” she says.
Mixing and blending styles in an effortless way, Dopp says she wanted each object in the space to feel meaningful, and not necessarily adhere to one specific design style. “I don’t like things looking too much of one thing,” she says, “I didn’t want the space to be all mid-century modern or all antique. I was really careful about having a balance and giving it that kind of combination.”
Dopp executes this balance by using her own designed fabrics on vintage furniture pieces to personalize them with a contemporary flair, without feeling overdone. In the dining room, a hand screen printed pattern that looks almost like black and white splatter paint from Dopp’s latest collection adds a cool touch to mid-century chairs. Dopp wanted to contrast the organic feeling of the print with the sturdiness of the wooden chairs.
One area that definitely feels the most sleek is the kitchen, where modern finishes and a tiny grey glass tile backdrop modernize the old building. Here, Dopp made stylistic choices like adding a wooden bowl on the counter to warm it up and tone down the modern edge.
Another aspect that adds both warmth and personality to the space is the thoughtful and strategic placement of art that is organized into mini gallery walls throughout. With her brother and mother-in-law both artists, Dopp says she’s spoiled with the amount of beautiful artwork she has, and the neutral white walls are the perfect way to show it all off.
The home feels cozy yet uncluttered, eclectic but not random. The intentional blend of style and time periods make it feel like a well curated vintage-lover’s paradise—the perfect oasis for Dopp and her husband.
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