Home and Garden

Abbe Wright 728 Square Foot Brooklyn Apartment


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Surname: Abbe Wright and partners, Nick Devlin
Place: Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY
Size: 728 square meters
Type of house: Pre-war period (building was built around 1925), 1 bedroom apartment
Years lived in: 10 years, rental

For the past decade, Abbe Wright, Senior Editor, Consumer Marketing at Penguin Random House and co-author of Book Club: A Journal, has rented this pre-war one bedroom apartment in Crown Heights. to her friend Tom, who found this apartment on Craigslist. “He sent me the link and was as good as advertised between the location (across from Brooklyn Botanic Gardens!) And the price (rent-protected!),” Explains Abbe. She further explains the importance of this apartment over the past 10 years:

“I moved in at the end of August 2011 in the middle of Hurricane Irene (really in the middle of thunder and lightning). This apartment has truly been my haven and safe haven for over a decade of unrest. My father was diagnosed with cancer in December 2011. I spent every other weekend traveling to my hometown of Philadelphia to hang out with him, but when I was in Brooklyn my apartment hugged me like a cozy hug. It was here that I ended my last relationship eight years ago and learned to be single again.

I’ve changed jobs twice in the last ten years – after spending five years at O, The Oprah Magazine, I went to Glamor magazine and ended up at Penguin Random House book publishing in the same familiar apartment. My father died in 2015 and I sank into deep grief. I cried liters of tears on my couch and the apartment rocked me through it all. My apartment was also the place where I started drinking more and more, where I stumbled home drunk and finally hit rock bottom. It’s also the same place where I started counting days in sobriety in February 2017. I’ve been sober for a little over four years now.

And finally, I fell in love there in the middle of a global pandemic. Nick and I met on Tinder in early April 2020 and after Zoom appointments and long text threads we finally met. From then on we formed a group of two and spent every day of the past year together – cooking, cycling through Brooklyn, watching movies, and lying on the couch and talking. Within a month or so, I knew I had met my life partner. Now, after so much sadness and hardship, my home was able to witness the blissful early stages of the couple’s relationship.

Nick moved in in October 2020 and it was a bit of a design challenge to integrate his things and make the apartment look like ours and not mine. With a little creative moving around of furniture and a lot of me clearing out clothes to give it some closet space, it worked out fine.

Unfortunately, I’m saying goodbye to this apartment. Nick and I just bought a single family home in Philadelphia and I’m excited to be moving back home in June and having a lot more space, but I’m also very sad to leave this apartment. I feel like these walls have seen me through so much – sadness, happiness, despair, depression, laughter, and love. I am so grateful for this chapter in this beautiful home and for all the growth that has taken place during my time in New York.

Survey on apartment therapy:

My style: My style is a bohemian maximalist with a traditional twist. I love to combine antique furniture with colorful boho textiles like ikat and shibori. And then books. Lots and lots of books! I have a great personality and I tend to mix colors and patterns, which is very noticeable in my home. I am a great reader and I have several bookshelves full of books. I love to travel and when I travel I always take things with me to keep in my home: pillows from India; a vintage map of the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii; Pompom garlands from Mexico City. My apartment feels like a reflection of all of this.

I love vintage things that tell a story, and I especially love traditional heirlooms from my own family. I have a folding table, cherry chest and Ram’s Head chair in neoclassical style from my late maternal grandmother and a rug that my father took with him on his travels, among other things. I also come from a family of artists and craftsmen – on both sides of my family tree. I have a self-portrait that my maternal grandmother painted hanging over an oil painting of my paternal cousin. My father’s sister took a mixed media portrait of me that hangs over my couch. My late grandfather was a woodworker and I have a lovely display case, step stool, and spice rack that he made with his own hand. My mother is a skilled needle sharpener and among other things made me a stool and a pillow. I barely have any wall space for all the art on the wall, but the visual collage of it makes me so happy.

Most of all, I think I’m a sentimentalist who collects things because it brings back a memory. Scraps of ephemera are held to my vintage 1930s filing cabinet with magnets because I like what they remind me of. My long hallway has over a hundred framed photos of friends and family because when I walk and enter, it puts a smile on my face when I see them.

I know a lot of people walk in and go in my apartment … “whoa, that’s a lot of stuff” but every thing I have collected makes me feel connected to a part of my past and I can connect with it take away the future.

Favorite element: The blue-gray color in the bedroom. I painted it when I first moved in and carefully painted all of the moldings and moldings white. Everything in the room is done in shades of blue and white, and it’s a great place to end the day and get a good night’s sleep. It feels a lot like a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Biggest challenge: The biggest challenge is the lack of natural light. The apartment can often feel dark and gloomy, which is why I have so many lamps. The living room, bathroom, and kitchen windows all face north and overlook a courtyard so it can be difficult to get sunlight at times. The bedroom window faces south and it is dark in the morning (perfect for sleeping), but gets lovely sun in the afternoon.

Proudest handyman: It’s a litter. The gallery wall was a team effort between my partner Nick and me. With Nick’s math skills and my spatial understanding, we created this gallery wall after he moved in. We both love vintage furniture and shopping at flea markets and real estate sales, so as a nod to looking for and buying vintage pennants on Etsy despite social distance that represent all of the cities we’ve both lived and loved – Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Brooklyn and New York City. (The Chicagoer is from the 1933 World’s Fair!) We had it framed at Framebridge and, in addition to works of art that remind us of our favorite things (he: baseball, me: sailing), we created a gallery wall in our bedroom that makes us feel unique. It’s so nice to lie in bed and see this visual representation of our relationship, the places and the things we love on a wall.

Another smaller DIY was turning some of my grandmother’s old handwritten recipes on Spoonflower.com into fabric and then turning them into tea towels. It feels so nice to have this memory of her in the kitchen since she was such an accomplished home cook and her tangled curly handwriting makes me smile every time I see her.

Greatest pleasure: The Joybird sofa bed was a real treat. For seven or eight years there was a futon that I had inherited from a former roommate. It worked fine for the guests, but felt like a college holdover. Getting a beautiful sofa bed felt like my first adult purchase. Plus, it’s really comfortable to sleep on! The mattress is made of thick memory foam so that guests feel like they are in bed. It definitely makes up for the space and was totally worth it.

Is there anything unique about your home or the way you use it? The apartment has a long hallway that widens from three and a half feet to five feet wide. I took those extra feet and made my office in the hallway. The IKEA MICKE desk was perfect for this as it is only 19 5/8 inches deep and therefore doesn’t take up too much space. For many years the desk was just a dump for papers, receipts and chargers. But when the pandemic broke out, I had to * actually * make it a place to work, so I focused back on making this a functional desk. I found this army green vintage filing cabinet on Craigslist, hung a floating shelf, Mexican bobble garlands, and organized my sharpies by color. Above is a framed walk through memories of my magazine career. My mother cut out and framed my first byline from every publication I wrote for. The desk is framed on the other side by another bookcase. This contains cookbooks and many, many magazines.

What are your favorite products that you bought for your home and why? I’ll tell anyone who is willing to listen about the amazing, affordable rug selection at Home Depot! I recently got an 8 ft. X 3 ft. Vintage Hamadan Area Rug Area Rug from Safavieh for $ 220! That’s crazy! The carpet is so soft and looks so vibrant and expensive. I’m obsessed.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful tips for maximizing and / or organizing small spaces that you have: I can’t say enough good things about under-bed storage bins from The Container Store. I crammed five (yes, five!) Under my bed. One acts as a linen closet and holds all of my sheets. One holds duffel bags and soft luggage. Another holds outdoor gear, including a hammock and tent. If you’re not making the most of your under-bed storage space, what do you do ?!

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decoration tip? Don’t worry about following trends. Right now you are seeing so many neutral colors, so much pampas grass, so many purple / sage / brown color stories. If you don’t like this, don’t worry! Go the other way. If you make your home look like an extension of yours, you will always be comfortable when you come home.

The responses to this tour of the house have been edited for length and clarity.

Erin Derby


Originally from California, but a New Yorker since 2000, I’ve been taking pictures my whole life and I’m still excited and enthusiastic. Lately I’ve been putting my energy into my visual arts which can be seen on my website and Saatchi Art. It also doesn’t hurt to be infatuated with interior design, which mixes well with my love of interior photography.



Robert Dunfee