In Jennifer Behr’s 640-Square-Foot Apartment, Everything—Headbands Included—Has a Place
Her New York City home is like a life-size jewelry box.
Published Jan 31, 2023 1:20 AM
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Jennifer Behr organizes her 640-square-foot Fort Greene, Brooklyn, apartment the same way she does her jewelry box. “Everything in it is considered, which I think is the beautiful thing about a small space. It all has to fit and fit together,” says Behr, the founder and creative director of her eponymous luxury hair and bridal accessories brand, which expanded from pearl-encrusted headbands and rich satin-edged barrettes to earrings and necklaces in 2017. Behr’s space is swathed in many of the same materials that can be found at her nearby Greenpoint studio: The bedroom armchair that offers prime park views is covered in a smooth pink velvet; the radiator grills and light switches are made out of brass; and the mirrored bathroom wall looks like it’s crafted from crystal.
And just like a jewelry box, Behr’s apartment is a series of compartments. During her renovation five years ago, she had cabinets installed along the kitchen ceiling, stretching from one end of the room to the other. The storage culminates in a paneled refrigerator and freezer, a pull-out pantry, and a microwave cupboard. “It was like designing a ship—every single inch was used,” she says. Because Behr is 5-feet-11, accessing the cubbies (many of which house lesser-used items like candlesticks and vases) without the help of a stool is a nonissue.
Still, she utilized nooks and crannies closer to the ground for her everyday essentials. In the shallow window crevice, Behr had her contractor incorporate a drawer for silverware, and below that, space for cups, plates, and bowls. “It’s right across from the dishwasher, so it makes putting things away seamless,” she notes. The discreet cabinets underneath the island countertop overhang are a catchall spot for miscellaneous items like cleaning supplies, extra lightbulbs, and her Labradoodle Ruby’s food. Her go-to pots and pans don’t actually live in the main cooking zone—instead Behr stores them in a credenza on the other side of the wall. “There is more storage in this space than there was in my previous kitchen, and that was four times the size,” she says.
By getting savvy with her storage, Behr hasn’t had to make too many compromises. There is plenty of room in front of the credenza for her to roll out her yoga mat and work out. When it came to renovating the bathroom, she hunted across the U.S. for a 54-inch-wide soaking tub (the standard is 60 inches) so she could enjoy baths. “That was the first priority,” she says. A floor-to-ceiling mirror and a tankless toilet make the small space appear larger than it really is. Not pictured? The integrated medicine cabinet, which looks flush from the outside but on the inside has been thoughtfully shaped around pipes in the walls so not a single millimeter goes to waste.
Behr’s measuring tape came in handy when she decided to build a long, narrow closet in her bedroom that is now decked out in shock racks and rods for her long dresses. “I measured the exact width of the hangers to make sure there would be enough room for me to walk through it,” says Behr. As for her prized headpieces, her dad crafted wood blocks so she can line them up neatly and protect the bands’ shape. Behr stores most of them in her primary and front hall closets to keep them from getting dusty.
A handful of her more delicate bands, however, live in her bedroom’s extra-large jewelry box (the chest is actually a vintage lingerie cabinet) alongside earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, organized by color and material. “All my gold pieces are together, and the same with my pearls and my crystals, because I feel like I’m usually looking for the material first and then figuring out what size I want,” shares Behr. Items that are constantly on the go (bags, sunglasses, scarves, etc.) are located in either one of the two shallow closets situated in the entryway.
By keeping many of her belongings out in the open, Behr ensures they stay in rotation. It’s no different in the kitchen, where the small chinoiserie jars aren’t just for good looks—Behr fills them with her favorite spices, teas, and oatmeal. “I wear things that some people might save for an ‘occasion,’ but I think you should wear beautiful things every day,” she says. “I feel the same about using things.”