Urban Spaces: Creative Couple's Shotgun-Style NYC Apartment
A Design Star fan favorite and his wife turned their 375-square-foot Lower East Side apartment in New York City into a rustic home complete with a lush outdoor entertaining area.
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November 24, 2014
Dan and Dasha Faires turned their 375-square-foot Lower East Side apartment in New York City into an entertaining-savvy rustic home complete with a lush, texture-packed outdoor entertaining area.
Although the 375-square-foot apartment is modest in size, its 225-square-foot outdoor living space makes up for it. During the cool-weather months, it's likely to find Dan and Dasha spending just as much time outside as in their actual living room.
Paint It Black
Avid fans of upgrading basic items into designer-caliber goods, Dasha and Dan picked up simple terra-cotta pots for their outdoor greenery, then spray-painted them in a satin finish for a moody, modern look.
The interior and exterior designs of Dan and Dasha's Lower East Side apartment have one cohesive look. To bring elements of rustic architecture to the outdoors in a practical manner, Dan built a partition wall from reclaimed wood beams he rescued from a building being demolished in New York City's Meatpacking District.
A Dan Original
Capsule Furniture, Dan's original line of designer-grade reclaimed furniture, is known for its rich textures and sophisticated use of industrial materials. The six-seater outdoor dining table is made up of reclaimed barn planks and aged galvanized metal pipes, flanges and elbows — materials originally meant for plumbing.
Entertaining guests outdoors over dinner and cocktails is something Dan and Dasha do often. To add space for laying out drinks and/or hors d'oeuvres, Dan created a serving station and ambient candle area from reclaimed exterior corbels and tempered glass.
A Dash of Dasha
An enthusiastic fan of styling and decorating, Dasha brings her signature aesthetic to the outdoor dining room table by covering it with white candles and tableware, then bringing in accents of life, including lush potted greenery and taxidermy elements, such as a crocodile.
Greenery and Glow
For ambiance, Dan strung industrial-style festival lights from the exterior of the building to the fence. At night, the entire space glows, keeping the space soft, warm and practical.
Shotgun apartments, similar to railroad apartments, are common in New York City. What sets them apart from one another is a central hallway. Dan and Dasha live in a shotgun apartment that has a series of rooms connected to one another directly, whereas a railroad apartment is typically identified as having rooms connected together in a line with a hallway running the length of the apartment from the front to the back, outside of each room. To access the outdoor space, guests have to walk through the entry, kitchen/dining, living room and bedroom.
Room for Dining
To add a dining space to the living room, Dan constructed a Parsons-style table and bench seating from reclaimed lumber from the Meatpacking District. Instead of using screws and nails, Dan creates his furniture with primitive-style construction; pieces are notched together, glued and/or attached using dowel joinery.
This Is a Pipe
To take advantage of the apartment's 10-foot-tall walls, Dan added custom storage to the living room with a shelving system made from reclaimed wood, galvanized pipe, flanges and elbows, then fastened it directly to the brick wall and floor with heavy-duty screws.
In keeping with his signature rustic, industrial style, Dan fabricated a custom barn door, then attached it to the living room wall outside the bedroom with iron track. To partition the sleeping area off from the living room when guests spend the night on the futon, the couple simply closes the barn door for instant privacy.
Dasha upgraded a basic big box store futon into a one-of-a-kind piece by adding button tufts to the back cushion, then adding a Victorian skirt and slipcover to the mattress.
Open Door Policy
Weekend mornings in the apartment are easy and breezy, especially with the bedroom door open to the outdoor living space. Due to their shotgun apartment layout, guests must enter the outdoor living space by first walking through the bedroom.
The Beauty of Brick
To properly showcase all of the apartment's original charm and character, Dan and Dasha kept the decorating colorless and organic, resulting in more attention placed on the brick walls. In the bedroom, the hard, rustic appeal of the architecture was softened with all-white and natural textiles, including the bedding, window coverings and headboard.
Daggers and Furs
Part of Dasha's decorating style includes the juxtaposition of hyper-masculine elements with soft, formal feminine details. Just above the nightstand in the master bedroom, she's hung three skins – fox, raccoon and ferret – above Dan's collection of daggers. These details, combined with the soft textiles, create a perfect balance between feminine and masculine.
The quaint bed area of the bedroom has mostly masculine appeal, thanks to the brick walls, nubby canvas headboard with tack detail and carved buck head hung above.
Aside from original rustic furniture, Dan designs a lot of custom lighting. The bedroom chandelier is an original piece made of brass lamp arms and basic white globe bulbs.
Dan created a one-of-a-kind sconce for the bedroom area by repurposing a swing arm mirror into a light fixture by replacing the mirror with an Edison bulb, then electrifying it with wiring.
A wooden buck head grounds the tall area above the do-it-yourself headboard in the bedroom.
On HGTV.com, Dan gave viewers step-by-step instructions on how to create a custom headboard from a canvas drop cloth, plywood and tacks. He's especially proud of the outcome, as guests often comment on how sophisticated it looks, not knowing it was made from basic materials for a very low cost.