APT: Cobble Hill

How about we try this again, Brooklyn?

Atlantic Ave

Just about a year ago, Evan and I rented an apartment in DUMBO. It was the first time we’d lived in Brooklyn since we relocated to upstate New York nine years ago, and it felt so good to be back. I love Brooklyn. My first post-college apartment was in Cobble Hill, and South Brooklyn pretty much immediately felt like home to me. We did stints in Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, too, back when there wasn’t a Fairway or an IKEA (or much of anything in the way of conveniences, really!). And then we left, and I spent a bunch of years missing Brooklyn.

So, DUMBO. When we rented our little place there last year, it was kind of an experiment. Evan works in the neighborhood, and what could be better than having a commute that amounts to little more than walking across the street? As I’ve mentioned way too many times, I was never really sold on the idea of moving into a gut-renovated, brand new apartment, and no matter what I do with the place, it just doesn’t feel like our home. Now, we are extremely fortunate to also have a wonderful old house that feels more like our home than anywhere I’ve ever lived, so I know it’s a little silly to care so much about the apartment, too, but…

OK, let’s cut to the chase: We’re moving. To Cobble Hill. Yes, right back where I lived when Evan and first met, my favorite neighborhood in Brooklyn.

We hadn’t really been planning on moving, but right after our current lease came up for renewal, my brother and his wife bought an apartment…and, as a result, decided on a date to end the lease on the Cobble Hill rental apartment they’ve been living in for years. Guess what? That date just so happened to be exactly the same as the end of our lease! I know there’s no such thing as “fate,” but that’s a pretty happy coincidence. My brother’s apartment is in a great location, it’s at least double the size of our current place (!!), the landlord is friendly and kind, and it’s a lot cheaper, too. Cheaper is good. It’s also on high enough ground that it won’t flood during the next hurricane—in fact, it’s where we evacuated to when Sandy struck.

And did I mention how much I love Cobble Hill?

The apartment itself is a 4th-floor walkup in a converted attic, so the bottom half of it (meaning from mid-wall to the floor) is original to the building (which I’d guess was probably built around 1880-1890ish), and the top half is an addition that was put on to make the ceiling higher. I’m not sure what year the addition was put on, but it’s got to be at least 30 or 40 years old. The kitchen is new-ish, the bathroom is old-ish, and absolutely nothing is my style. Hah! That’s OK, though, because all of it has potential. I like potential. I like a challenge. I have a vision. I can see right past that tan bathtub and those unpainted moldings. Just you wait. This is a place I can see Evan and I holding onto for years.

The move is probably happening in mid-February, and I’m really excited. I’ve been dreaming about paint colors and sofas (we’re finally going to have room for something bigger than a loveseat!) and light fixtures and floor tiles. It’s going to be so good!!

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  • Reply Ilenia January 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

    yays. i’m officially excited for you guys!

  • Reply Sarah January 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

    That is awesome. Cannot wait to see what you do with the place. Congrats!!!

  • Reply daniel @ Manhattan Nest January 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

    YAY!! So psyched to be neighbors and help you whip that place into shape. It’s going to be so great!

    …although you might have to have me over one last time to bid farewell to the roof deck. Even if it is 4 degrees.

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 11:38 am

      I cracked the door to the roof deck the other night and couldn’t even bring myself to step out there. We’ll have to put on snowsuits and brave it one last time!

  • Reply sherry January 25, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Congrats on the new place! Eagerly awaiting the awesome we all know you will add to it!

  • Reply Rose January 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

    That’s such wonderful news!! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out for you-potential is always a wonderful thing 🙂 make sure you share pictures as you go!


  • Reply estyn January 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Sahadis!!! Those yummy little mushroom filo triangles and the onion baguette! Good move.

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 11:37 am

      I am going to eat ALL the hummus.

  • Reply Ana January 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

    This is great news! Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens are my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods. We lived in Carroll Gardens for 3 yrs and loved it. If I’m ever able to afford Brooklyn real estate, I would buy in Carroll Gardens in a heart beat. SDoes the apt have have dormer windows or skylights since its a renovated attic? It sounds charming, I can’t wait to see it.

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Yes! It has very un-fancy dormer windows AND a skylight in the bedroom! It’s a cool place. 🙂

  • Reply Jill January 25, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Yay! Was so happy to see this news on Twitter. It’s going to be great. I know it will probably be sad not to see that beautiful view from the BBP every day (I miss it like crazy), but you’ll have Pier 6 now! Very cool and can’t wait to see what you do with the place.

  • Reply Francine January 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Sounds like a great place. It might be because I’m still somewhat new around here (I didn’t see it on your FAQ page), but what is keeping you from just staying in Brooklyn full time? What prompted the house in Newburgh? Just curious since it’s rare to see someone utilizing two homes like that (though it kinda sounds like fun).

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Hi Francine, our house in Newburgh (which is our primary residence) came first—it pre-dates this blog’s beginnings, actually. We bought it in 2006 after living in a rental upstate for a while, and up until three years ago we commuted to our jobs in NYC every day. Six years of commuting for four hours a day started to wear on us emotionally and physically, though, so we decided to rent a little apartment to help ease that stress a bit. You can read a little more about decision here:

      We have no plans to move to Brooklyn full-time. We love owning a home, we love Newburgh, we love living in the Hudson Valley, and we really love our house a whole lot. 🙂

  • Reply Paisley January 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Anna, welcome back to the neighborhood! I’ll look for you on Smith Street! But I promise I won’t intrude… Because that would be weird and stalkerish… 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

      Haha! It’s totally OK to say hello if you see me. Unless I look like a mess, in which case just avert your eyes. 😉

  • Reply Kristen January 25, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Yay! How exciting! Looking forward to seeing it and all that you have up your sleeve 🙂

  • Reply Do-Hee Kim January 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    So lucky!!!

    Loveeeee that area of brooklyn. My boyfriend’s from brooklyn heights and a stop at Sahadi’s is a MUST every time we go back to the east coast.

    It does seem meant to be 😉

    Best Wishes!
    Looking forward to more updates from Brooklyn,

  • Reply kay* January 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    congrats! i’m way too excited about your move and can’t wait to see what you do to the place! it sounds like “you.” i’m crossing my fingers my own move will happen in April so the timing, for me to “steal” ideas, couldn’t be more perfect my friend 🙂

  • Reply carrieolshan January 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    ok, you’re vegan, so you can send all of sahadi’s feta to me here in los angeles? good luck!

  • Reply Josh @ Wait Another Day January 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    WOW! This is so so so exciting! I can’t wait to see the new life you bring to it.

  • Reply Carrie January 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Oh, I’m so excited to hear this news! I followed your other apartment makeover very carefully, and I love that you do such great things with “challenging” rentals!

  • Reply jenn @ beyond the stoop January 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    on a night out, you MUST go to buschenshank if you haven’t been to it yet. the beer is good, the food is excellent (though, we only had appetizers, the sauce for their pretzels is to die for, and the meat and cheese plate has candied lemon rinds! ahhh so good!)

    i want to explore this neighborhood more, it looks so cute now!


    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      I don’t drink beer or eat meat or cheese, but I can get behind pretzels. 😉

  • Reply Martha January 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Congrats! I refuse to move unless the move would mean an apartment that was both somehow better AND cheaper (or at least not way more $$$). You’ve accomplished both. Can’t wait to see what you do with the new/old place. Good luck with the move!

  • Reply rox January 25, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    how exciting! (and very serendipitous).

  • Reply Bethany January 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Congratulations! I’ll admit I’m sad that we won’t get to see any more of your amazing pics taken from your roof deck, but I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the new place!

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Bethany, I know, it sucks to have to give up that roof deck! The trade-off is worth it, though. 🙂

  • Reply Rachel January 25, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    What! That’s amazing. I feel like knowing someone in NYC is one of the best ways to get your hands on a decent place.

  • Reply Simone January 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Wow, lucky people you are!!!

  • Reply Judi January 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Wow, Anna! Ever since we moved to Vermont we’ve been saying that the only things we miss about BK are Korean delis, nail salons, the co-op, and…SAHADI’S (I was just saying today that we need Middle Eastern food really badly here in Waterbury). Congratulations to you both. You truly will have the best of both worlds…the Hudson Valley and BK! And, I hear you on the “potential” magnet. Looking forward to updates, and in the meantime, all the best.

  • Reply Joy January 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Life above Sahadi’s? Across from Trader Joe’s? I’m pretty much an ugly amount of jealous right now. But congrats! I’m really looking forward to seeing the new place and how you put your signature on it!

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Across the street from Sahadi, actually! The building I’m moving into isn’t in this picture. Rest assured I will be trotting myself over there aaaaaaaall the time. 😉

  • Reply Amy January 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Good luck, Anna! I know you will make the new place look fabulous.

  • Reply Ana January 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    You are a gold mine for landlords!
    It’s a joke… I renovated completely two workshops (in rented) … with my hands.
    I’m happy living in a beautiful place. The effort is worth.

  • Reply Anathalia January 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    How exciting for you! Can’t wait to see all you’re going to do in the new place! Good luck!

  • Reply sarah January 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    congrats! cobble hill is lovely. i’ve been a fan of yours for a few years. i love seeing the life that you create for yourselves. can’t wait to see photos of the new place.

  • Reply mariane January 25, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Meant to be stories are the best. I know you will be happy there. Congrats to all 4 of you!

  • Reply L January 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Ahh, the Siren song of “potential”! I too have been wrecked (multiple times) on those alluring rocks. Being a Midwestern country mouse, I’m always amazed at the amount of work you put into someone else’s property — but am SO looking forward to seeing what you do with these wonderful new digs! Congratulations on the serendipity.

  • Reply Anya January 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Is this the apartment with the funky radiator you posted on instagram? I hope so, that thing was so cool looking. I can’t wait to see what you do with the place, I bought an older home that needs lots of work and it feels so much homier than the last “new” place I lived in. Congrats on the lucky score!

    • Anna @ D16 January 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Yes, it is! You have a very good memory. 😉

  • Reply Joy @ OSS January 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    This is so exciting! I believe there’s more than luck at work here. Can’t wait to hear more about the place hopefully in the future 🙂

  • Reply Kathleen January 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Okay! Just had to go back in posts to be sure all that recent tiling hadn’t been done in the apartment! The house. Good. 🙂 Went by Fritz’s 5th birthday post and beautiful collage. Our Meeko is almost three and I don’t what I did without my faithful, goofy companion before we had him.

  • Reply Lilly January 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I’m excited too. Looking forward to your posts on this move.

  • Reply Laura Casey January 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Ooh, I’m happy for you guys! AND SO JEALOUS. GIVE ME SOME OF YOUR REAL ESTATE LUCK when I move at the end of April (actually, more like keep your ear open and retweet pleas for me, ha!).

    I can’t wait to see what you do with it! (And I will absolutely need to come over pre-/post-TJ/to go to Sahadi’s, where I’ve never been! EARLY BDAY DINNERS! Ha.


  • Reply BooBooNinja January 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Congratulations on the scheduling perfection! Sounds like the landlord is doing things right and valuing good tenants and NOT jacking up the rent after your brother move. (No bitterness frim this renovicted renter!

  • Reply jeannette January 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    to live above the store in cobble hill has got to be one of the locations of paradise. enjoy, we are looking forward to all the details.

  • Reply nicolezh January 27, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Congrats, Anna!
    Can’t wait to see what you are doing with the new space!

    May I ask you a silly touristy question? I’ll be in NYC in May to visit a friend (who is doing a senior research scholarship at Columbia- we’re all soooo proud of him) and staying in Williamsburg. Is is wise to come in the beginning of May or better at the end of May according to the climate?

    • Anna @ D16 January 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Well, considering my first reaction when I read this question was to look up the climate for New York in May—despite having lived here for 37 years—I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. 😉

      The worst times to visit New York are probably January and August. Beyond that, it’s going to be somewhere between 50°-80°, depending on the insanity that is climate change/global warming. I’ve never really noticed or thought about a difference between early and late May, personally. Everything between March and June is “warmish.”

  • Reply Crystal January 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I stumbled across your gorgeous design blog a few months back and it seems we have parallel lives! I, too, moved away (to Providence) from Bkln (Boerum Hill) -7 years ago- and never quite made the transition. My gorgeous Federal house built in 1824 in Providence goes on the market this month (why oh why can’t there be such homes in NYC?) and we are officially back in B Heights full-time starting at the end of Feb. If I see you on the streets, be forewarned, I will act like a fan.

    In addition we own a farm in Normandy called La Beauvairie which has been in my husband’s family for about a hundred years, but is waaaay older than that. As we begin to restore it, I may come to you from time to time for design advice if you don’t mind. I’ve certainly already benefited from your style. I’m definitely envisioning Bkln-Danish-French Country. That may be too much but somehow, I think it can work. We’ll see.

    Also, I don’t know if you are Scandinavian or just a fan but I’m a Norwegian-Dane and was wondering what your cultural connections were since you seem to hit on exactly the same cozy things from my homeland(s) that I love!

    Plus, Fritz is adorable. I have an ancient cat but as soon as she finally rests in greener pastures, a little doggie is in the future.

    Your fan~

    • Anna @ D16 January 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Hi Crystal! I’m not sure I’m all that good at giving other people design advice—it’s so hard for me to figure out what’s right even in my own home. 😉 And yes, my mother is from Sweden and is of Danish parentage, so that stuff comes to me honestly, haha.

      Welcome back to Brooklyn!

  • Reply Jen January 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I can’t wait to see my room!

  • Reply Melissa January 28, 2013 at 2:49 am

    I’ve loved following the work you’ve been doing in your other homes until now, and can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve with this new place! Congratulations!

  • Reply jbhat January 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Love this news! You’ll feel happier in this older place. Congrats on the find.


  • Reply Janine January 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Hooray for a lovely new old apartment!

    I wanted to ask you for your thoughts on making changes to rental apartments (such as adding tile or renfinishing a bath tub) when you know the place isn’t yours for forever. Even if your landlord approves of the work and has given permission, what are your thoughts on investing your own time and sweat labour into something someone else owns?

    • Anna @ D16 January 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      I think it really depends on a lot of varying factors (how much the rent is, how long you expect to live there, etc.), but when it comes down to it, even a rental apartment is still a HOME. I think it’s crazy to live somewhere for years on end—paying someone else money every month—and not be happy with your surroundings. When I work on my house (which I own), I don’t think about it in terms of getting an eventual financial return on it…that isn’t likely to even be a possibility anytime in the next couple of decades, frankly, since our house is worth less than we paid for it (and WAY less when you factor in the work we’ve done). It’s all about making a nice home and fixing something that should be cared for. That’s how I think about rental apartments, too.

  • Reply Pinfrance January 29, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I would like to know if it’s common to move so often in NY ? It seems so odd to me, as here in Paris it’s hard to find appartments to rent that once you found something that you like you to to stay put !

    • Anna @ D16 January 29, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      I wouldn’t say it’s common, necessarily, but I will say that New Yorkers are peculiar about real estate…especially when it comes to rentals. We tend to be pretty open about what we pay for rent, and it’s not rude to ask your friend how much they pay. Because of that openness, everyone winds up always keeping an eye and ear out for something bigger, cheaper, or otherwise better in some way. I think it’s and unfulfilled fantasy kind of thing. 😉 Once you find the RIGHT place, though, you hold onto it for dear life.

      In my case, I’ve moved a lot within Brooklyn mostly because my landlords decided to put either the entire building or my apartment on the market for sale. That happened to us twice in two years, actually, and it was exhausting…it’s part of what led us to want to buy a house. If the owner of my first apartment in Brooklyn hadn’t sold the building, I’d probably still be there. It was a great place!

  • Reply Michelle January 29, 2013 at 11:45 am

    D16 and Manhattan Nest together in my same neighborhood?? Lordy, can I be a fly on the wall when you two get all creative together? Welcome back!

    • Anna @ D16 January 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Haha! We already hang out at each other’s places. Mostly we do more dog-cuddling than creative stuff, though. 😉

  • Reply gracie January 30, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I really admire your attitude towards caring for rentals Anna. So far my experience in Ireland has been that people don’t respect rentals so much, even landlords. Perhaps it is because we have always been more of a nation of homeowners and do not have the rental culture of many of our European neighbours. The decoration of rentals is to a very low standard too. I think that if it needs to be fixed and you care about your surroundings then it is worth the time to restore something, redecorate etc within budget of course. I want to leave the house I rent better than it was was when I moved in, especially because it is a period home. This attitude applies to all things in life really. I’m excited to see what you do in your next place. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply PhillyLass January 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Oooh! So excited to see you work your magic on another place! You’re like a design fairy leaving nicer properties behind you everywhere you go!

  • Reply melinda February 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    So excited for you. It did not seem like you loved your current place even though you did a great job with it. THis seems so right for you and you deserve it.

  • Reply ashley February 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    you’ll be my neighbor! perhaps i’ll see you at sahadi, the best food store ever.

  • Reply Kerry / Paper Dahlia February 13, 2013 at 1:27 am

    That sounds AMAZING!! Congrats!

  • Reply Alana February 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    How exciting, congrats! I’ve lived in Brooklyn, moved upstate, and hope to get back to Brooklyn one of these days too 🙂 Enjoy yourselves.

  • Reply Olivia February 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Yay! I love Brooklyn!

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