Square footage — especially in a city like New York — is a rare commodity. This is something Virginia Sin has come to accept. In fact, you could say she's embraced it.
Ask almost any apartment dweller how they deal with a shortage of space and it's quite likely they'll tell you the same old spiel. There's no room to entertain, my kitchen isn't made for cooking, or the classic fallback — the pieces we really want simply don't fit.
For Sin and her fiancé Ferdinand Daniele, the guiding principal to decorating their Brooklyn apartment mirrors her Greenpoint studio — if a piece doesn't make sense, fails to stir up something in you, or simply isn't necessary — it's got to go. "We took six months to pick out a hallway runner," explains the Brooklyn-based ceramicist. "If we don’t both love it — we don’t buy it. My home looks a lot like my studio in the sense that I don't make anything that I don't love enough to live with," Sin pragmatically explains. "In other words, I'm drinking the Sin Kool-Aid."
Sin's natural and beautifully crafted creations — twisted candlesticks and wabi-sabi fruit bowls, are peppered throughout her Williamsburg address. There are prototypes and one-of-a-kind Sin pieces you won't find online or on the shelf. Her much-lauded, handmade ceramics seamlessly align with the designer's own lifestyle and perspective.
"We don’t make things. We make comfort," Sin's website reads. "We make reasons to go home. Things you can wrap up in. Things made slow. With two bare hands. Things worth sharing. Or hoarding. Depending on your prerogative. Things that help you find home, wherever you are." Inside Sin's own 659-square-foot home, the designer practices what she preaches. There are no tchotchkes gobbling up storage space, tucked behind the sofa, or quietly piling up and gathering dust on her Gubi coffee table. No oddballs, or misfits — every piece holds a purpose and every piece is put to use.
Sin's apartment sits inside one of few landmarked buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront, offering dazzling views of Manhattan. It's here that Sin has cleverly carved out a space for herself in one of the city's busiest burrows.
Factory windows flood with natural light, illuminating a streamlined leather sofa by Muuto. Mid-century finds from local flea markets and smooth, sinuous lines, rendered in her very own studio are celebrated and showcased. The designer adheres to the Japanese principal of wabi-sabi — the celebration of imperfection.
By definition, a concept centered on the acceptance of transience. At home with Sin, the notion that to decorate a home you need space — and lots of it — is thrown out the window. Sin has her own rulebook, one that she's designed.
"We fell in love with the kitchen," Sin explains, when asked what first caught her eye: "I love the floors and the fact the building is historic. It was built in 1915 — an Egyptian revival warehouse complex — it was first used as a manufacturing facility and later repurposed into a Wild Turkey distillery."
Nowadays — a lot less peaty but still oozing with character and charm — Sin decorates her space with furniture that sparks memory and documents her own New York journey.
"The lamp in our living room I've had for at least 10 years," Sin explains. "I bought it from Junk — a vintage store here in Williamsburg. It's been with me every single time I've moved and has always made the cut, regardless of how my aesthetic has evolved."
Despite the couple's cohesive approach to styling, Sin admits there's still work to be done — "Our walls are still pretty bare," she adds.
"Ferdinand is a creative director with a slightly more Donald Judd, minimalist aesthetic," the designer explains. The couple chose to compromise, deliberating on design decisions when it came time to furnish their space. Pieces that fell flat or failed to evoke a feeling were deemed unnecessary. Sin creates character through layering, textiles, and texture, fresh florals, and leafy house plants, dressing their space with furniture by Crate & Barrel, pops of cobalt blue, and earthy shades of rust. While it may not be huge, there's nothing about Sin's home that's lacking.
"I find myself gravitating towards earthier tones because they feel comforting and soothing. With saturated colors, I have a tendency to get sick of them pretty quickly," Sin adds, with the notable exception of her brilliant blue Levitate, Meditation Platform Chair — a creation all of her own, holding pride of place in the living room. The frame uses traditional Chinese miter joinery, harnessing a soft weave surface to rest on.
In the bedroom, Sin's created a restful retreat you actually want to spend time in. Creamy textiles dress the crisp white factory walls while terracotta linen by Hawkins New York swaddle the bed. A single bulb lamp — from Sin's Rolling Hills collection — and a mid-century dresser by Crate & Barrel, add depth and dimension to the creatively cozy space, while leafy arrangements soak up the sunlight. Glazed oatmeal vases from Sin's own line and simple pot plants dot neatly along the window sill. There are fewer bits and pieces, sure, but each piece brings something special. Each as perfectly imperfect as the next.
The designer's penchant for decor, she says, has quietly evolved with her. An uncomplicated and fuss-free mantra that reinstates balance and beauty while the clean, crisp kitchen is deemed her "happy place."
Subway tiles complete the New York vibe, while stainless steel countertops are readily put to use. One of Sin's Pronged Fruit Bowls sits on the counter and a handmade area rug by Kulfi Malai dresses the floor, complementing the ceramic neutrals on display throughout.
"It definitely takes time to build a home," Sin admits. "And it's definitely worth waiting to find that perfect piece. Embracing the process and being patient can be challenging. But in the end, if it means I won't get sick of the piece in a few months — I know I'm making the right decision."