(Photos by Kate Jordan.)
“In our apartment, I want kids to feel like they can be themselves,” says Holly Waterfield, a Brooklyn-based interior designer, stylist for The Brooklyn Home Company, and the mother of 16-year-old Emmy and nine-year-old Bodhi. “I’m a busy single mom, so I want it to be easy. Our home is a mix of cozy textiles and children’s art.” Here, Holly gives us a tour…
LIVING / DINING AREA
On making a place of one’s own: I found this apartment in 2017, when I was going through a divorce and looking for a new place to live. It was one big open studio with a lofted bed. But my friend, who owns the building, gave me free rein to make changes. So, I added two new walls and pocket doors to create three bedrooms. My goal was to make this space cozy and fun for the kids. We all went through a hard transition, but at the end of the day, everybody is really happy. And that’s all that matters.
Sofa: ABC Home. Throw pillows: custom, with Jane Shelton fabric. Wicker chair: vintage, similar. Sheepskin: Roman and Williams Guild. Coffee table: MOS. Mushroom side table: Beck + Cap. Floor lamp: Ikea, similar. Blinds: Matchstick. Shelves: CB2.
On that swing: Back in 2012, the kids and I went to Ann Hamilton’s art exhibit at the Armory — it was a room full of 42 swings. We stayed there for hours. It was an amazing feeling to be on a swing as an adult. Afterward I was like, ‘We’re going to have a swing someday.’ So, when we moved into this apartment, I made this one, and everyone’s always using it. My son likes to use it as a trapeze. It brings a lot of joy.
On finding your style: If you’re struggling with decorating your home, look at your wardrobe. What do you feel good wearing? Are there mostly neutrals, or super loud patterns, or lots of white? Start there. Sometimes I’ll look in my closet and be like, ‘This feels just like my house!’
On the joys of communal living: I love the impromptu nature of Brooklyn, where you can say to a friend, ‘Oh, you’re cooking dinner, and I’m cooking dinner, let’s have a potluck!’ We love having people over and keeping our door open for big and small events, like watching the World Cup. We just sit on the floor and eat around the coffee table.
On kids’ self-portraits: The kids started making these in kindergarten, and it’s amazing because the drawings show how their features changed through the years. When Emmy was in middle school, I realized, ‘Oh, all of a sudden she has really long eyelashes,’ and ‘Oh, now she has high cheekbones.’ And when Bodhi was a baby he had enamel hypoplasia, which made his first two baby teeth came in all yellow and brown. So, in his kindergarten self-portrait, he drew these yellow, bumpy teeth! He was not shy about them at all.
On creating a down-to-earth home: I love bringing in natural materials, like a rush rug, rattan chairs and woven blinds. Earthy materials make a space feel unfussy because they’re hearty and long lasting. You don’t have to worry about things getting cracked, and you can feel grounded.
On a repurposing hack: When Bodhi was younger, I made him a toddler-sized bed frame. Once he outgrew it, we hung onto it and realized it slides perfectly underneath his twin bed. Now we use it as a drawer for his clothes — I just added little wooden handles.
On having a maximalist child: Bodhi is a collector. He still has Valentine’s Day cards from kindergarten that he still refuses to give up! He is a total more-is-more maximalist.
Pink ship kite: Haptic Lab. White sconce: Ikea, similar. Floor pillows: homemade by Bodhi and Emmy. Yellow lamp: World Market. Wooden house shelves: “A holiday display set from a store that was going out of business.”
On a brother-sister bond: Bodhi is seven years younger than Emmy and really looks up to her. He even sleeps in her T-shirts! So, whenever she gets rid of something, he collects her castoffs. When she was ready to let go of her pink ship kite, he was like, ‘I want this in my room!’ He’s a total dude-dude, so I love that he has a bright pink ship in his room.
On weekend rituals: Emmy does a thing called her ‘Sunday reset’ where she gives herself a facial, folds all her clothes in the closet, and tidies up for the week. She’s like me, where she needs to have things organized so she can think straight.
Desk: “Homemade from an Ikea butcher block and filing cabinet.”
On timeless decor: As kids get older, they discover favorite things, like colors and characters. But I wouldn’t decorate their room around those themes because they will change. Emmy was really into purple for a long time and now she can’t stand it.
On mother-daughter hangs: With young kids, you usually do whatever they like to do. Luckily, Emmy and I like doing the same things, like riding bikes and thrifting. She’s a big reader, so sometimes I’ll climb up onto her bed with a cup of tea at night and cuddle with her. She’s great company.
On the cat: During the pandemic, we fostered our kitty, Pillow [behind the yellow cushion!] and ended up adopting her. She’s basically a teenager — sleeping all day and up all night, running laps around the house.
Chair: vintage. Sheepskin: Overland. Beach photo: “a gift from a friend.”
On creating a sanctuary: I like to keep my bedroom very serene — with only a couple pieces of art. I think people’s bedrooms are their sanctuaries. Keeping it minimal helps me wind down at night. Sometimes I get the urge to add more, but even adding another rug or decorative pillow feels like too much.
On why a home is never finished: When I work on projects, people always ask, ‘Are we done?’ and I think Oh, actually, like, I’m never really done. My personal house is a constant evolution. And I don’t think a space should feel completely done because life isn’t done. Hopefully, you’re gonna travel and find cool pieces of driftwood or shells that inspire you, and there’s a lot of joy in the search.
Thank you so much, Holly. We love your place!
(Photos by Kate Jordan.)
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