"It was exactly what we were not looking for, which was a huge project," says Julia Sherman—the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Salad for President, which is about to be a book on May 16—about the Brooklyn brownstone that she and her husband bought in 2012. It had been long abandoned. A colony of rats had made a home there.
And yet, the architectural details (like four original fireplaces and parquet floors) won her over. "It was really obvious that it was the one,” she said.
A year later, they'd fully renovated it for move-in. We caught up with Julia about her favorite features in their home—read on to hear all about them (and see the tour).
This antique Italian Murphy bed? "That was my number time all time best Craig’s List find," Julia tells me, saying "I have this amazing skill: I can recognize from a blurry low-res jpeg what something really is!" Besides it being well-made and the perfect size, the bed has very cool shelves on the outside that stay upright when you open it up. (Even delicate trinkets on the shelves won't wobble off!)
Oh and that tile on the guest room floor? The Standard, a buzzy restaurant in downtown Manhattan, was giving away a bunch of it through a Craig's List ad. (The tip is: Be a Craig's List hunter.)
Julia says that all the houses on her block have this curious archway between the front parlor doors—so they sought to fill it in inventively. With refinished parquet floors and crisp white walls, a little color seemed like a good idea.
When the mosaic tile she wanted for the task "turned out to be really expensive," Julia had some artisans at a now-defunct local tile shop paint a pattern she liked on simple cement tiles—and have that style shipped in from Morocco. Even with all the custom work, it was far less than her original pick.
When I asked about this repeating theme throughout the home—golden yellow tiles in the kitchen, a bright yellow door, Julia laughed and replied: "I don’t even identify as a person who likes yellow!" But the color just continued to work in the space, whether as a bright pop against grey shelves or an accent color in the bathroom and living room.
Despite thinking she'd want a modern chandelier to hang in the living room, this antique brass piece from her mom ended up having the perfect period feel for the space. Round candle toppers give it a quirky, contemporary look—to keep the old-timey vibes in check—as do the pair of ceramic Timberland boots by her friend, the artist Brie Ruais.
Those four original mantels were scrubbed clean and spruced up. They all feature unique medallions—a dove on one, a superhero on another—on the top middle portion. And the fireplace in the kitchen that's decorative only? It's where her dog likes to cozy up and watch all the cooking action.
Julia Sherman's new book, Salad for President hits shelves on May 16th. Stay tuned for two more excerpts from its pages.