When Gregg Mitchell and Andrea Chu moved into their 1100-square-foot Park Slope, Brooklyn garden floor apartment, they were determined to maximize every inch of it. They heeded the wisdom of Gregg’s mother who said, “You only really live in one room,” and created a “great room” that incorporates kitchen, living, library, and dining in one. There were certain things, however, that they weren’t willing to give up despite the limitations of their space. So, when it came time for plotting out where to put their claw-footed tub (their bathroom only had room for a standup shower), they decided—rather unconventionally—to put it in their bedroom, which was the largest room in the house and largely under-utilized. “Andrea stipulated a clawfoot tub in our marriage agreement. She didn’t blink when she said it—it was just going to happen, someway,” says Gregg. “So it happened to be that the only place it would work was in our bedroom, since the bathroom was too small. When people come over, they either get it or they don’t. But isn’t that where you want to take a bath? In a wood-panelled room with a fireplace?” When you see the couple bathing their two-year-old son Nico before a roaring fire, you can’t imagine that tub living any other place.
We love this apartment for its creative mix of fabrics, genres, and flea market finds. Most of all, it represents the sprit of the artistic couple themselves. Gregg, who is the vice president of Bennison Fabrics, an high-end English fabric company, writes music and plays bass in a punk band. Andrea is a commercial and fine art photographer. The two have dedicated their lives together toward supporting each other’s artistic endeavors and interests, both shared and separate.
Now they have two-year-old son Nico, whose room is yet another playful canvas that maximizes a tiny space, yet seems to want for nothing.
Gregg first made a mobile for his now 7-year-old nephew Henry when he was born, and then perfected the technique on Nico’s. We kept asking him if he would go into business making these, but haven’t convinced him. ”Are you kidding? The animals take forever,” he laughs.
The couple converted a desk, which Andrea once used in her office, into a changing table that holds diapers, creams, and ointments. We were also in love with the wallpaper, which Gregg told us came from a UK company called Sanderson, which they got from a Cookie photo shoot.
This was an old bookshelf that they found and an antique shop , and it’s Nico’s closet/playshelf. The wood cash register on the lower shelf used to be Andrea’s. In Gregg’s words, “Sometimes being a hoarder is good.” The shades were $10 from Ikea, and to the right of that, you can see how they pin or tape things up on the wall. We love the room’s informality, which is an homage to the room’s original incarnation as Andrea’s studio, where the walls served as inspiration board.
“We built the bookshelves when we transitioned from office to baby room,” says Gregg. “The move felt very strange for us.” The preparation for new chapter of life is, of course, both practical and emotional–especially for a couple that has been together since they were 19. It was the end of their couple life and the start of a family; they had to find a way to get all of Andrea’s books out of her office so they could turn it into the baby’s bedroom. They also have storage underneath the window seat under the fabric wall, which is whimsically covered in Bennison fabric.
They seem to have an uncanny knack for finding treasures—everything from other people’s cast-offs to rare antique store steals—and giving them a new life. Their apartment is like their living inspiration board, whose mix of objects is an art in and of itself. “We bought this typewriter on a cross-country move,” says Gregg, “and now the kids always play on it when they come over.”
“Our kitchen cabinets are from Ikea, but our friend Tyler who has a company called BBDW did the face of the cabinets,” says Gregg. “He helped us out a lot, acting a bit like our general contractor—he made our TV cabinet too, which we inserted into where our fireplace used to be.”
Photos: Andrea Chu