Urban Spaces: Bohemianism in Brooklyn
Sunday, June 6, 2010
On the top floor of a four-story walkup in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn is one eclectic apartment.
Robert Fuller, a visual merchandising director in the fragrance and beauty industry has thrown all inhibitions to the wind, turning his one-bedroom apartment into a chic, bohemian wonderland full of crisp, white linens and eye-popping puppets.
Fuller invites me into his home to talk about the agony of choosing paint colors, his love of nostalgic pieces and his obsession with a 5-foot pig on Ninth Avenue.
URBANE.URBANITE.: What do you like best about your neighborhood?
ROBERT FULLER: I really like the ethnic and cultural diversity.
UU: How long have you lived in your apartment?
RF: I’ve lived in my apartment for 10 years. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been that long.
UU: How long did it take you to get your place decorated the way you wanted?
RF: Everything in the apartment was accumulated over the past 10 years.
UU: How would you best describe your decorating style?
RF: Schizophrenic! Just kidding. I don’t really like to label my style, but if I had to I’d say Bohemian chic.
UU: How did you pick your paint colors?
RF: Very carefully! Honestly, I hate choosing paint colors. It gives me anxiety! There are so many possibilities. What’s worse is realizing you’ve chosen the wrong color after painting an entire room! When I moved in 10 years ago, I taped paint samples to the walls of each room. I left them there for approximately two to three weeks to imagine how they looked with furniture, in daylight, at night with the lights on, etc. Just when I thought I made a final decision on colors, I went to Home Depot to purchase the paint but ended up changing my mind at the very last minute. However, my main objective was met: To create a different feel in each room. I chose China Clay for the bedroom (dark and soothing), Pea Green for the living room (calm and relaxing), Little Red Engine for the kitchen (jazzy and appetizing) and Beach White for the bathroom (clean and crisp).
UU: Where do you get your decorating ideas from?
RF: I love theatre, art, music and travel. When it comes to interior decorating, I’m inspired by all the above. I’m also a big fan of mixing old with new. Fun and unexpected nostalgic objects are my favorites.
UU: Your decor isn’t your typical Crate and Barrel fare. Where do you go to buy your furniture?
RF: I only have a few pieces that I consider true furniture: A couple of French antique chairs from antique shops in NYC, a basic bed frame from a local furniture store, a wardrobe from IKEA and a sectional sofa ordered from an online store.
UU: You are gangsta for buying a white leather couch. GANGSTA! One: What made you choose such a bold piece for your living room? Two: Where did you get it from. And three: How the hell do you keep it clean?!
RF: [Laughs] I entertain quite a bit, so I wanted a sectional that was pretty generous in size and comfortable. White is one of my favorite colors for furniture and linens because it looks clean, crisp and helps open up a room. Finding just the right piece was no easy task. I searched everywhere – Jennifer Convertibles, Maurice Villency, Ligne Roset, Jensen Lewis, Macy’s, IKEA – everywhere! I’ve even had a few sofas delivered to the apartment, only to return them because they couldn’t fit past the front door. In a desperate search, I discovered a few online furniture stores that had exactly what I wanted. I ended up ordering my sofa from MODABODE. The price was right and there was no hassle with delivery. As for how I keep it clean, for me, the color white is easier to keep clean than most people think. It helps that the sofa is leather and easy to wipe.
UU: What’s your favorite room in your apartment?
RF: The bedroom. It’s where all the magic happens. [Laughs] Seriously, it’s the most quiet and visually soothing room, especially after a long hard day of which I have many.
UU: God forbid but if your building was on fire and you only had time to grab one item from your apartment, what would it be?
RF: My antique mardi gras rabbit head mask, circa 1965. It makes me smile.
UU: You have a thing for clocks and puppets. What do you find appealing about them?
RF: I’m still discussing that with my therapist. I’ll get back to you.
UU: Is your apartment complete? Or is there something else you would love to own?
RF: Ha! I’m never completely satisfied with the way my apartment’s decorated. It’s an ever-changing project. I like to keep it interesting. I do have my eye on the 5-foot tall pig outside of Rudy’s Bar and Grill on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Unfortunately, it’s locked down.
UU: What’s your favorite piece of furniture in the apartment?
RF: The French antique gilded arm chair in the the style of Louis XV. It’s simply classic.
UU: What’s one piece of advice you can give other people who may have a hard time figuring out how they would like to decorate their home?
RF: Surround yourself with things that make you happy.