East Williamsburg in Brooklyn is an area that’s becoming more residential as factories and warehouses move out. This is where Elissa Ehlin lives, and she shares her home with her husband Jay Leritz, Cougar their son, and their cat Pretty Perfect.
The low-rise buildings around their home are covered in imaginative graffiti by internationally renowned street artists, and theirs is no different. They have lived here for eight years and have transformed what previously was an auto repair workshop in an industrial building into a very personal home. The extensive construction work that this has required, they did themselves with the help of friends.
Elissa is an enamelist by profession like her husband, and they have one of their two studios in the same building. This atmospheric home has exposed wood beams, brick walls and metal beams, wooden floors, rustic plank stairs and a serene colour scheme. It’s set up on two levels with an open plan living room and kitchen on one floor. A mid-century conical fireplace is in one corner of the room. Lying on the floor next to it is a large dove-grey floor cushion that acts as a sofa and a Pioneer chair. Handmade objects adorn shelves, walls and table surfaces. There is a large roof deck upstairs and on the ground floor are the bedrooms.
Nothing in this home is mass-produced. On the contrary, everything here is made either by themselves or by people they know. Every single object has been carefully chosen and is a cherished and loved possession.
“I’m passionately interested in American craft and handicraft. Everything we have is handmade down to the bedding that’s hand woven and of a high quality. And I myself only wear the clothes of two designers. I’d rather live with nothing till I get what I want,” Elissa says.
Their home is very consciously thought out and there are very good reasons why it needs to be as subdued as it is, she tells me. One of them is the city of New York itself. The pressure of living in such a fast-paced and stressful environment, where nobody walks fast enough and where even the simplest of tasks can be overwhelming, takes its toll.
This is an excerpt from the book Home Life Around the World and is one of the unique and personal homes I visited.
Release date 15th May.
Home Life Around the World is available for pre-order in iBooks store, Kobo and Google Play. ISBN 978-91-984455-1-0
The book is also available for pre-order in the Kindle format. ASIN: B079VDPBVF
Print edition ISBN 978-91-984455-0-3
Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer