Before moving to New York City, Brooklyn-based recipe developer and writer Tessa Saindon rented an apartment in Wicker Park, Chicago with her then-boyfriend and two roommates. It was the kind of place where you’d walk in and someone would be playing guitar in the living room, and there was graffiti art on the walls, she says.
The End Table That Used to Be a Mushroom
Amanda Klott, a recipe developer and writer, has an end table in her living room that is actually a lamp grown from mushrooms. The lamp was given to her by a friend who is a mycologist (someone who studies fungi), and it’s one of her favorite things in her apartment. Klott says that the lamp is low-maintenance and only needs to be watered once a week. Plus, it provides a warm, natural light that is perfect for reading or relaxing.
It’s really beautiful at night when the light shines through it and onto the walls, Klott said. It feels like there are little stars on the ceiling. Her home also features other sustainable decor items like chairs made out of reclaimed wood, as well as jars and bottles collected from different regions.
She finds inspiration in every day life and strives to use objects that she already owns in new ways. I have this love affair with vintage furniture, she said. I’m always finding new ways to dress them up.
The Bed in the Nook
In the nook of my bedroom, there’s a small bed that I often use for reading or taking naps. The bed is surrounded by shelves on three sides, which are filled with books, plants, and other objects that make me happy. Above the bed is a skylight, which allows natural light to flood the space. On the fourth wall is a window that looks out onto my fire escape. I often open this window to let in fresh air. A lamp made from mushrooms hangs over the bed, casting a soft glow.
There are also two Japanese lamps hanging from the ceiling; one cast light up towards the skylight, while the other sent it down into the room. Nearby is a twin mattress on top of an adjustable-height desk-turned-bed frame that can be raised or lowered depending on if you want to sit up in bed, lay down, or read something off your phone propped up next to you.
My husband and I live in our own studio apartment overlooking Prospect Park. It has been an incredible journey learning how to navigate living together while still maintaining our individual creative spaces – sometimes he’ll work late hours at his office so I can do some freelance work at home when he gets back later than usual. It took time but we finally figured out how to balance each other’s needs and hobbies as well as making enough time for ourselves.
Sometimes we don’t even know what noise came from where because we’re both working away in our respective areas of the home! But more importantly, we have created such a strong sense of community here because both of us enjoy interacting with people.
Our favorite part about living in New York City is walking around the city during any season and seeing different environments that offer unique ways to enjoy ourselves (there are hot spots all year round). We hope you enjoyed getting a little peek into my quirky Brooklyn rental!
The Surprising Source of Light in the Living Room
In the living room of recipe developer and writer Katja Goldman’s Brooklyn rental, there’s a source of light that you might not expect: a lamp grown from mushrooms. I was looking for something unique that would add some life to my rental, Katja says. I wanted something that would make people say, ‘Wow!’ The lamp is made from mycelium, the root system of mushrooms, and it emits a soft, warm light. It’s an eye-catching piece that adds character to the space. Plus, it’s eco-friendly and low-maintenance.
As soon as it arrived, I placed it on the floor in the corner of my living room near a window and plugged it in. After three days, green shoots were poking out through its dense white growths—and then in two weeks, beautiful white caps popped up on top! A mushroom can grow as high as six feet tall over the course of eight weeks.
There are so many benefits to growing your own lighting, Katja continues. It’s just like having your own little garden inside your home.
This Kitchen Looks Small, But There Is Actually a Lot of Storage
When I first moved into my rental in Brooklyn, the kitchen was one of the things that sold me on the apartment. Even though it is small, there is a lot of storage space. The cabinets are deep and there are two closets. Plus, there is a lot of counter space. On one side of the stove, there is a cut-out for an appliance you might not expect to find in this size kitchen: A bread machine!
There are also some pull-out drawers underneath. On the other side of the stove, there’s plenty of room for a big cutting board and some cookbooks. It’s amazing how much can fit when you think outside the box! That said, I still have plenty of cooking tools hanging out around the kitchen.
For example, as much as I love my Instant Pot—I don’t use it every day. So while it has its own little nook on top of a cabinet next to the sink, another corner is reserved for traditional pots and pans—as well as all of their matching lids. In another spot near the oven door sits another thing you may not expect to see here: A mushroom lamp! Yes, my landlords were very supportive of my passion for mushrooms and they actually helped design the fixture.
We used pieces from decommissioned mushroom farming equipment we found at salvage yards to create something really unique. As I mentioned before, it isn’t just mushrooms on display in this apartment; they’re also found in our rug!
It is made from recycled polyester offcuts, which were gathered by sewing school students who work with artisans from Ecuadorian communities living in poverty. The rug is reversible (and thus can be washed), water resistant and rot proof—so perfect for an area where spills happen regularly like the kitchen or dining room.
The Coat Hanger Holder Design in the Living Room
Designing a functional and stylish living room can be a challenge, especially if you’re working with a small space. But this recipe developer and writer’s rental in Brooklyn proves that it can be done—and with some serious style. The coat hanger holder is one of the most unique features in the room, and it was made using mushrooms!
What looks like a simple box made from wood is actually an intricately-detailed cabinet built from live mushrooms that are being cultivated on site by way of vertical farming. The homeowner grows them on shelves indoors, which means they never need to go outside or use any pesticides.
The kitchen also has plenty of natural light coming in through the windows, but if they want to eat without getting up from their seats, there are pendant lights over the dining table as well as undercabinet lighting for additional ambiance. They also installed a quartz countertop to provide balance between organic materials like wood and metal fixtures like pots and pans on display nearby.
And speaking of organic materials: note how many things around them are either green or growing! Green plants cover the wall behind the barstools and line every available inch of surface area in the kitchen, while healthy herbs grow along its window sill.
A handful of seedlings sit next to a pot of mint on top of the fridge; they may not survive long enough to get planted outdoors (although these plants will), but at least they’ll have time to grow before the winter comes along.
The bathroom might be my favorite spot in this whole apartment because it makes me feel like I’m taking a break out in nature. White tiles combined with birchwood walls give off an airy vibe, while neon artwork adds just enough color so that it doesn’t feel too monochromatic.