Erica & Spencer’s Brooklyn Apartment Combination


“Working with Olga was fun and easy. She has endless amounts of patience and good ideas, and is a very creative problem solver.  I am very grateful to Sweeten for making the connection.”

–Erica S., Brooklyn Homeowner

Brooklyn homeowners Erica, documentary filmmaker, & Spencer, photojournalist, have a few unique things in common — they both travel & document the world for their work, and they both come from families of antique collectors. It seems no wonder that they also share a mutual interest in maps. A little over six years ago, during a long search for their first home, the couple walked into a one-bedroom apartment in Windsor Terrace to find a giant map covering an entire wall. They took the map as a sign and made the purchase. A few years later, with the arrival of their daughter, Vivienne, the family started considering options for a larger space, and were eyeing the adjacent one-bedroom for an addition. It turned out the neighbors had a similar idea in mind for themselves, but weren’t positioned to do so yet, so they agreed to sell. For help designing their new home, Erica & Spencer posted their project to theSweeten. Architect & tS member Olga Bakic proved to be the family’s perfect match — read on to learn about their beautifully renovated home!


Erica & Spencer’s original apartment was 900 sqft, and their neighbors’ space (in grey above) was 750. The homeowners’ main objectives in combining the units were to take down the dividing wall (–the time had come to part with the map), open up their existing galley kitchen, combine their bedroom & bathroom for a master suite, create a wall of built-in bookshelves, and tear out the second kitchen, which they turned into an office with a built-in desktop.

“Olga is extremely patient and dedicated, not to mention a wonderful person.  She listened to and accommodated my opinions, but was also honest enough to (in retrospect) save me from some mistakes.  She has a great design sense.”


Walking in the front door of the renovated space: here, we have a split view of each of the two original apartments — the closet on the right is located where the neighbors’ entry hall used to be, and everything to the left of it was originally a part of Erica & Spencer’s home. The map-covered wall that separated the 2 apartments used to be right down the center, along the axis of the dining table.


Spencer & Erica’s shared love of travel & antiques is expressed in their eclectic collection of artwork, maps, artifacts & furnishings.  The dining table & chairs are all antique; above the dining set is a mirrored chandelier by Robert Ogden, an artisan who collects vintage parts from flea markets, factories & junk yards, and combines them by hand to create beautiful, original pieces. When designing with Olga, the homeowners expressed their interest in adhering to the home’s existing — at times quirky — pre-war style, rather than doing anything too sleek or modern. One of the most prevalent design outcomes of this is the archway openings that were used throughout the new construction to match the old.

Renovate to live, Sweeten to thrive!

Sweeten brings homeowners an exceptional renovation experience by personally matching trusted general contractors to your project, while offering expert guidance and support—at no cost to you.

Start your renovation


A map in the living room caught our eye and makes a wonderful accent to Erica & Spencer’s leather Chesterfield sofa, which they picked up at a tag sale in Connecticut.


From the sofa, the family can take advantage of their new open kitchen, and admire its charm! Like the dining room chandelier, the pendant lamps are crafted by Robert Ogden, as well as the stools which he produces for his separate line, Lostine. The wooden bartop is custom made of reclaimed pine from Olde Good Things. Cabinets from the original kitchen were re-used in the new design, and a new backsplash was added in Merola Lantern tiles, available at Home Depot.


We love the master bedroom which features a curated array of vintage furnishings & accessories for a nostalgic, dreamlike space. The antique bed has been Erica’s since she was a child, but her favorite piece is the star chandelier which belonged to her grandparents. Spencer collects old trunks, so they have a nice, big trunk for the foot of the bed.


The homeowners had long wanted a whole wall of bookshelves, so Olga helped them design a built-in unit for their new family room / library. This space could also double as a guest or third bedroom — a great luxury in the city! Overhead, an antique-inspired pendant from Restoration Hardware hangs from the ceiling.


“We do not miss the wall – or the map – we are thrilled with the space, the layout, the new lifestyle.”

Awesome job to Olga for helping to make a new home that is just right for this young, adventurous family — thanks so much to Erica, Spencer & Vivienne for sharing their unique space!

6/20/2013 UPDATE:

Thanks for your comment, Virginia! It looks like they have a pretty handy vertical bike rack. Will look into the source!


Have a renovation project in mind? Post it to theSweeten; it’s FREE & super easy!

You may also like

Renovate with Sweeten!


We’ll match you with vetted general contractors and offer support until your project is done — at no cost to you!

Start your renovation

Customer review 5.0


“Start with Sweeten to help pick reputable contractors. They do the initial leg work for you. They are a real time saver.”

— Denise H. from Santa Clarita, CA

Read more reviews —>
Start your renovation

Subscribe to our
renovation newsletter