At Home With Ben Miller

November 23, 2011 Stylish Spaces


On a perfect Sunday afternoon this past summer I ventured into Brooklyn to visit the stylish studio apartment of Ben Miller who you may remember from our last installment of Meet The Assistant.  Ben’s studio is a pint-sized 240 square feet which would be a challenge to decorate even for New Yorkers who are used to living in cramped quarters. But – when you’ve worked with one of America’s top interior designers you certainly have the upper hand when it comes to space planning and knowing how to select just the right pieces to help maximize every square inch. Ben furnished his home mostly with vintage finds from shops in his neighborhood and put his DIY skills to the test in order to create clever storage solutions. He mounted floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along a wall to house artfully arranged books and accessories and installed a pegboard in his teeny kitchen as a place to hang pots and pans. The apartment itself is full of charm with incredibly high ceilings, large, intricate moldings and two large windows that bring lots of light into the space. It’s also full of personal touches like family photos, self-made artwork and heirlooms that were handed down to him from loved ones. Read on to hear Ben school us with a lesson on how he decorated his small space with such big style plus take a peek inside. It’s house tour time!

The Sleeping Area

“I always find great deals on good quality solid linens on Overstock.com and accent them with interesting pillowcases. These pillowcases and the lumbar pillow are from West Elm. I got the red and white striped guy years ago at Pottery Barn and never used it until this apartment. I love the weight of this Smith & Johnson Dry Goods bed sweater (a bargain find from Bed Bath & Beyond) and use it year round. Switching out your duvet cover is an easy way to change the look of your bed. This is a super simple one I grabbed at Ikea.”

The Space-Saving Solutions

“These wall shelves hand-crafted by some talented friends of mine and once hung on the wall of their super artsy loft in Bushwick. When they moved to Minneapolis for work, the shelves were willed down to me.”

“Even though they’re not really pieces, my plants bring such life and joy into the space. They’re happy with the tons of light they get and truly help make the place feel like a home.”

“My chest of drawers is an old piece I found at a local second hand furniture store. I was drawn to the intricate veneer inlay on the face and I had to have it. It’s not so much perfect for this space, but more something that I just knew I’d think about down the road if I didn’t make a home for it. The label shows it’s a John Widdicomb piece but I’m a little in the dark as to when it was made.”

“This came from Junk in Williamsburg and was in need of a little TLC, a little mineral oil and the wood came right back to life. The caned front was in great shape and really makes the piece in my eyes. It’s the perfect bar cabinet and has a couple of shelves to tuck away serving pieces I don’t use often.”

“Being that I love to cook, this was particularly tricky. There isn’t a single drawer in the apartment and only two usable cabinets so storage was an issue from the start. I figured the best approach would be some sort of exposed vertical storage. Shelves weren’t really an option because of the door swing, so I painted some inexpensive pegboard the same color as the rest of the studio and hit up Home Depot. They have a million little accessories for the garage that I used to configure just the right combo for my pots and pans. With counter space being almost nonexistent, I got a cutting board to partially cover the sink and added a nice chunk of work surface. What was nothing more than a 4′x4′ pocket of space is now a highly functional kitchen. It’s a little bit Julia Child, a little bit Tim The Tool Man Taylor. And the best part–it cleans up in a jiffy!”

“I really love my desk. It’s an old Steelcase piece with great character that I found on Craigslist for next to nothing. You don’t see the single drawer version all that often and the writing surface is just excellent. I love that it’s a bit beat up and has its own story. Being that I live in a pretty small space, it gets used all of the time–I use it for working but it’s my dining table too. I’ve hosted four friends comfortably.”

The DIY Artwork

“Before working with Laura I helped open up the Ace Hotel. One morning I noticed someone had forgotten their photo strip in the lobby photo booth overnight. As it turns out, it was an automatic test strip–four blank frames taken at random each night to be sure it was in working order. I started collecting these blank strips and before long, people began leaving them for me at the front desk. It ended up that I have one for just about every day I worked there. Here’s the kicker–after I’d begun working with Laura I was invited back to toast to a friend who was leaving the hotel. It was late and most of the crowd had gone home when I noticed the photo booth fire up on its own. I bolted over just in time to catch the last frame and then, promptly freaked out. I framed a sampling of them and included the one of me with a huge smile in that final square.”

The Personal Touches

“I’m terribly sentimental so most of the little objects and artwork are direct reminders of friends and family or fun trips. It’s nice to look around your place and feel like your loved ones are right there with you. Here is a piece from a set of gold lipped glass trays I found at thrift shop that I filled with spare keys to friends’ places, a small cup my mother made and an old industrial pail from Moon River Chattel in Williamsburg.”

“I have a bunch of pieces of pottery my Mom made around the apartment, this is a key bowl she made just for me, an antique copper flashlight picked up at the Brooklyn Flea and a found key inside a small glass ink well.”

” This chair was another great find from the local thrift store, the frame was $20! For the time being I wove a makeshift seat using twine and added the loose cushion. I love the lines and haven’t yet decided on a fabric for the seat.”

The End

Photos by Nicole Gibbons for So Haute

4 Comments

mslewis

Reply

Thanks for this. I love tiny apartmentts. Mine is only 478 sq. ft., which is twice as large as Ben’s!! I love to see how other people decorate and how they compensate for the smallness. This apartment is adorable.

Nikki

Reply

love love love this space. i could live there anyday

mariele

Reply

Hermoso blog!! Felicitaciones!!

Tammy

Reply

I knew he was from Louisiana when I saw the Magnalite pots in the kitchen.

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