Prewar in NYC: The Dream & the Design

When I dream of our possible future in Brooklyn, my dreams have a very specific aesthetic. Our home is a classic prewar brownstone, chock full of original details. The ceilings are high and the floorboards are wide. Light streams in through huge and plentiful windows. (Every room has a southern exposure, of course.) And our decor is an eclectic mix of mid-century lines, vintage accents and bold textiles.

You know – kind of like this.

The living room of Mike D's eclectic Brooklyn townhouse as featured in the New York Times
(Mike D’s Cobble Hill townhome via The New York Times)

I’m no fool. I know the hefty price tag a prewar brownstone commands, and I’m well aware that we’re more likely to end up in a dark, dank basement apartment. But that doesn’t mean a girl can’t dream.

Prewar, generally speaking, refers to apartment buildings built before World War II. If we’re being specific, anything built before World War I is pre-prewar, and buildings from before the Spanish-American war in 1898 are pre-pre-prewar. But when you take an overarching look at the architecture of New York living spaces from the 1850s to the 1940s, most of them share a few key characteristics.

The ornate, hand-carved moldings …

Kerri Russell 1860s Brooklyn townhome via Elle Decor
(Kerri Russell’s 1860s Brooklyn townhome via Elle Decor)

Bedroom in Hilary Robertson Brooklyn townhome
(Hilary Robertson’s Fort Greene townhome via The New York Times)

The sky-high ceilings …

Brooklyn Heights townhouse from Rum magazine via Dintelo
(A Brooklyn Heights townhome from RUM magazine, via Dintelo)

Michelle James 1890s Brooklyn brownstone via Remodelista
(Michelle James’ 1890s Brooklyn brownstone via Remodelista)

Manhattan brownstone by Jan Eleni Interiors
(A Manhattan brownstone by Jan Eleni Interiors)

Lena Corwin and Josh Dreier Fort Greene Italianate brownstone via Remodelista
(Lena Corwin and Josh Dreier’s late-1800s Fort Greene brownstone via Remodelista)

The massive windows …

Cobble Hill townhouse by Blair Harris Interior Design
(A Cobble Hill townhouse by Blair Harris Interior Design)

Hilary Robertson Brooklyn townhome
(Hilary Robertson‘s Brooklyn townhome again)

Christina and Simon Anderson 1890s Park Slope Victorian via The New York Times
(Christina and Simon Anderson’s 1890s Park Slope Victorian via The New York Times)

A marble mantelpiece with an arched antique mirror over it is basically my dream.

Ali Cayne Greenwich Village townhouse via Domino
(Ali Cayne’s Greenwich Village townhouse via Domino)

Throw in a crystal chandelier, and I’m in heaven.

Ali Cayne Greenwich Village townhouse with chandelier via Domino
(Ali Cayne’s townhouse via Domino again)

19th-century Park Slope brownstone by Roman and Williams via 6sqft
(19th-century Park Slope townhouse by Roman and Williams / photo via 6sqft)

In the absence of a massive mirror, a single piece of large-scale art can work, too.

Francesa Connolly 1890s Brooklyn brownstone via Elle Decor
(Remodelista‘s Francesca Connolly’s 1890s Brooklyn brownstone via Elle Decor)

Elspeth Benoit and David Bevan 1870s Cobble Hill townhouse
(Elspeth Benoit and David Bevan’s 1870s Cobble Hill townhouse via The New York Times

And don’t forget those solid wood floors.

Mike D Cobble Hill townhouse via The New York TImes
(Mike D’s townhouse again)

Fine. I’ll settle for parquet.

Boerum Hill apartment via Airbnb
(Daniel Kanter‘s 1890 Boerum Hill apartment – you can stay in this one!)

Brooklyn Heights townhouse dining room from Rum magazine via Dintelo
(Brooklyn Heights townhouse via Dintelo again)

Photo overload, I know. I’m sorry. I just can’t get enough. If you can’t either, you should check out my prewar Pinterest board.

So, what do you think? I’m betting you wouldn’t kick one of these brownstones out of bed, either. Anyone want to lend me a few million dollars?

Glitter & Goat Cheese in 2014

IT’S OVER.

Well, folks, we survived 2014. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go. There have certainly been some highlights and plenty of happy moments, but I think I’ve spent the majority of this year feeling a little uneasy. My resolution at the end of 2013 was to try and settle into my life – I’ve gone through a major change every single year since graduating college, and I figured it was about time to give it a rest – but I discovered an inability to do so. Brad and I can’t seem to settle into our life here in Atlanta because something just isn’t right, and that’s why I’m so happy that we’re planning to make this New York thing happen. I mean, who knows? Maybe that won’t be right either. But at least we’re trying.

Anyway, back to the highlights. I’d like to focus on the positive, and there was a lot of that. So, let’s look back at a few of my favorite blog posts from 2014.

The first big chunk of the year was completely consumed by the Home Depot Patio Style Challenge. Seriously, what an amazing experience. It was so much work, and at times we asked ourselves what the hell we’d gotten ourselves into, but every step of the process was incredibly rewarding. The finished product wasn’t too shabby, either.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Newly updated and colorful deck and pergola for The Home Depot Patio Style Challenge
See the full source list here and all the process posts here.

Once that was done, we mostly sat around under the completed pergola and avoided our power tools. We were exhausted. But I did dive into my blog reader and Pinterest boards with a renewed sense of purpose, in hopes of finding inspiration for making the rest of our home as pretty as our deck. To keep our decor strategy cohesive, I wrote up a list of design preferences that felt like us.

Recently blog - entryway with fuchsia accents
(Photo via Recently) See the full post here.

Over the summer, I put the theory into practice by making some much-needed updates to our downstairs. True to my word, I incorporated warm woods, pops of color, brass accents, patterned rugs and rustic elements.

Colorful living room with Lulu and Georgia Lalita rug - via Glitter and Goat Cheese
See more angles of our living room and dining room in the full post.

Even after buying a few new pieces, I couldn’t stop daydreaming about things like cognac leather sofas and Saarinen side tables, so when Chairish asked me to e-design a room around one of their accent chairs, I jumped at the chance.

Mid-century eccentric living room inspired by Danish teak armchair from Chairish
Find all the sources here.

Shortly after writing that post, we started thinking about moving, so I put all home updates on hold. Pausing all my projects was tough, but it gave me time to focus on other areas and actually do some reading. I was intrigued (and kind of troubled) by all the press around a woman’s right to alter her appearance, and I wrote about my own struggles with self image.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Hiding ptosis in selfies
Read the full post here.

My self-imposed DIY ban also gave me a lot of time to cook, so I shared a couple recipes, including one for my favorite kale salad.

Kale, chicken, bacon and Israeli couscous salad with lemon mustard vinaigrette (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)
Here’s the recipe! Oh, man, now I want to eat some.

Toward the end of the year, I got into creating curated lists, and my very favorite is a round-up of beautiful kitchens with mixed metals.

10 Kitchens that Prove Mixing Metals Is Totally OK (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)
Here’s the full post. Warning: envy-inducing pretty pictures ahead.

So, now it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a little trepidation at the year ahead. I’m hoping it’ll include a move up north, an influx of stable work for Brad, a new career for me and a renewed excitement for the path we’re on, but there’s a lot of potential for disappointment in those dreams. All we can do now is move forward with optimism and calculated care.

Tonight, we’ll celebrate the New Year with our best friends – for what could be the last time – and hope for the best.

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve? What about your hopes for 2015?

The New York Trip

Happy almost-Thanksgiving, everyone! Brad and I aren’t traveling this year, because a) Brad is working The Stuffing tonight, and b) we just got back from New York on Sunday night.

We had SO much fun staying in Brooklyn. The apartment we rented was right across from Fort Greene Park, which is very pretty and full of dogs and white birches.

Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn via Glitter and Goat Cheese

The neighborhood of Fort Greene is pretty great, too. We stayed right on the border by Downtown Brooklyn, so at first, we were like, “This is the charming little hood that we keep hearing about?” Then we walked a bit further east and got the attraction. Adorable.

Fort Greene neighborhood via Glitter and Goat Cheese

Fort Greene street via Glitter and Goat Cheese

Our first day there, we walked from Fort Greene to Prospect Heights to Park Slope, saw Prospect Park briefly and got sushi at a place called Yamato. We both ordered a lunch special that included two sets of eight-piece rolls, soup and salad for $10. We literally could not stop talking about it. Who says New York is expensive?! OK, I’m kidding, but seriously, there are deals to be had.

Other highlights included amazing Italian meals at Broccolino (ORDER THE BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD), visiting friends in Carroll Gardens and Greenpoint, lattes in Park Slope, dinners in Cobble Hill and Bushwick, a show in Gowanus and a visit to the Winter Flea in Crown Heights, during which I ate a magical burger with a bun made of ramen noodles.

This is my ramen burger. It's a lot more appetizing in person than it looks in this photo.

A post shared by Stephanie Shore Fisher (@stephsfisher) on



We packed in a lot. I haven’t walked so much since … well, I’m actually not sure. My legs have felt like rubber since we got back. Despite the exhaustion, though, it was just really refreshing to see old friends and feel the cold on our faces.

Donuts with a view.

A post shared by Stephanie Shore Fisher (@stephsfisher) on



The point of our trip, I guess, was to answer the question, “Could we live here?” And generally speaking, the answer is yes. Getting around is fine – I wouldn’t say I’m a huge subway fan, but I’m not a huge driving fan, either, and at least you can ride the subway drunk. (Priorities.) The prices are frightening, but we could adjust. The cold is frigging fantastic. I was a little worried about feeling trapped without a car, but obviously, that was a silly concern, considering how much is available on every block.

Still, though, I worry about the apartment situation. What we learned is that we don’t really want to live in an up-and-coming/was-dangerous-a-couple-years-ago-but-isn’t-so-bad-now neighborhood. We walked around a couple, and our suburban sensibilities just weren’t prepared. Baby steps, people. So, that’s fine – there are tons of quieter, safer neighborhoods – but unless we want to commute for 45+ minutes, that probably means sacrificing space, which is terrifying. Our house has three bedrooms and eight closets. And they’re all FULL. Adjustments will have to be made. I think it’s probably worth it, though, just for the $10 sushi specials alone. And the bagels.

So, that’s the trip recap. Now, Thanksgiving time. This year, I’m thankful for options. If I find an amazing job in New York, we can get up and go, and that alone is something to appreciate, I think.

Dreaming of Brooklyn

I first realized I wanted to move to New York at book club, after at least five glasses of wine.

We’d read what I thought was a mediocre book called “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.” about an obnoxious young man living near Prospect Park, and though the book didn’t even portray Brooklyn that favorably, my interest was inexplicably piqued. Our book discussions don’t usually last very long, though, and this evening was no different. Soon, we’d moved onto the hot topic du jour: the upcoming layoffs at our company.

A fellow transplant from the tri-state area mentioned that she thought being laid off could be the push she needed to move back up north. I remember asking her, “Didn’t you think you’d be home by now? I did.”

I’d never said those words out loud before, and to be honest, I hadn’t even realized I felt that way until that very moment. But as soon as they came out of my mouth, something clicked in my head, and I knew I wanted to go. In vino veritas, and all that.

That night, for once, I’d made the responsible decision to ask my husband to pick me up, and as soon as I got in the car, I said, “Brad, do you think we should move to Brooklyn?”

Bless that boy – instead of asking me how many drinks I’d had or whether I’d lost my mind, he just said, “Yeah, maybe.”

And from there, we were off and running. That was Thursday, August 14.

Brooklyn Brownstone - via BK Reader
Via The Brooklyn Reader

Now, I have to be honest: We had never even considered moving to Brooklyn before. We had discussed potentially moving to New York when we were older, when Brad had made a name for himself in the music business and could attract his own production clients, and when I could find something in Turner’s New York office. It was a long-term potential dream, nothing more. So when I tell you this came out of nowhere, I mean it. And that’s why it’s freaking people out.

I realize that this seems arbitrary and impulsive, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized how much sense it made. I’ll explain our reasoning in another post, before this gets too long, but I just wanted to put this out into the universe: Brad and I are considering leaving Atlanta and moving to New York.

So, if you don’t see many new home decor purchases or projects in the near future, it’s because we’re maybe preparing to sell our home and downsize in a very major way. This both terrifies and saddens me, because we absolutely love our house (not to mention our friends, and our neighborhood, and so many other things about Atlanta). But at the moment, this psuedo-decision feels right. We’ll see what happens and how things fall into place (or don’t). I’ll certainly keep you all updated.

xoxo,
Gossip Girl (because that’s what I’m going to become if I move to NYC, obviously)

PS: Did you know that October is National Pasta Month? I have a LOT of pasta recipes – I daresay it’s my specialty – so I’m hoping to share some over the next few weeks. Anyone have any tips on food photography? That is NOT my specialty.