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Inside a Brooklyn-Based Creative’s History-Filled Apartment

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upon Madison Utendahlhas numerous awards and titles on his resume. forbes An under-30 winner, two-time Webby Award winner, and above all, a storyteller.and before you start utendahl creative In 2018, she was on the founding team of last night with john oliver 29Rooms, Ice Cream Museum. Now she has one more admirable quality of hers to add to the list. She is a conservationist. It’s a new craft she’s been honing, unwittingly renting the Croton-on-Hudson home once owned by Jessie Norman, piled with thousands of books about the famous opera singer. It started when I found out what was going on. underground.

She had all these belongings that were considered irreplaceable in nature. What she didn’t want her property to do,” recalls Utendahl. As she and her partner, New Stand founder Lex Kendall, flip through the book (many of which are first editions), the author talks about how her music has influenced their work. found her handwritten note to Norman from “So we restored and brought them back to life as much as we could,” she says.

end of wooden dining table

A good portion of Norman’s collection lives in the couple’s living room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on custom shelving that Kendall built and installed himself. is part of another history. Limited edition Slim Aaron photo of four men at the Lifford Cay Fire Station in the Bahamas (one of 150 ever printed). Utendahl was drawn not only by its striking color scheme, but also by the fact that Aarons rarely photographed black subjects. “I wanted people to understand the symbolism of this painting and how close they were to Jesse’s book when they walked into this room,” he says. “This history is preserved through me as a black woman in this country… There’s a lot of depth behind this room.”

The couple’s personal past is also woven throughout the space.From the dining room window you can see the apartment building across the street where they first met. A mutual friend has hosted a dinner party and the guest list of about 20 is single or Those who have experienced the recent “COVID breakup”. “Towards the end of the night, Rex plucked up the courage to walk up to me and realized that we had probably crossed paths for a decade or so before her,” she says.When they toured the apartment last summer and discovered they had a bird’s-eye view of their origin story, they sold.

wood cabinet

If Kendall and Utendahl hadn’t been lucky enough to reach out to their current landlord within two minutes of the rental listing going live, they might not have snagged their hidden gem. The building is jam-packed with only two (!) apartments (formerly the commercial space of the Domino Sugar Factory). When Kendall designed the living room bookshelf, he chose planks to complement the old wooden ceiling beams and salvaged cabinet doors. “The wildest part of the experience was that after we signed the lease, we fell in love as hard in the apartment as we did, so other latents asking if they could buy us out.” We received an offer from a good tenant,” he says Utendahl.

The couple added a touch of glamor to their recently renovated bathroom by painting the walls black. Both are by black Asian photographers. courtney yates— pops and even blends in with the fancy modern bathroom in the corner. “I wanted it to match so that no one knew it was there,” he says with a laugh.

Meanwhile, the mini-jungle happening in the dining area is not to be missed. Utendahl revealed that just talking to the plants improved their health significantly, but so did using the air conditioner sparingly and placing it in the sunniest spot. “We underestimate the amount of light these plants, especially those like Birds of Paradise, need,” she says. “They die quickly in people’s homes because we don’t protect and care for them in a proper way.”


go to a local vintage shop: Ask my friend Elsa Hosk who has the best eyes I know.

Favorite local home store: beam.

Where to buy plants and garden supplies: Geometry Gardens.

Most used items in our home: A white sofa from Rove Concepts.

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