My 1400sqft: Inside creative couple Molly Young and Teddy Blanks’ perfectly outfitted Williamsburg loft
Our ongoing series “My sqft” checks out the homes of 6sqft’s friends, family and fellow New Yorkers across all the boroughs. Our latest interior adventure brings us to the Williamsburg loft of Molly Young and Teddy Blanks. Want to see your home featured here? Get in touch!
Melding belongings is often a struggle for couples who take the leap and move in together. Many fear that their individuality will be lost to their partner’s vision, personal items packed away because there’s “just not enough room.” But for Molly Young, a New York Times Magazine contributor and crossword puzzle creator, and Teddy Blanks, a graphic designer and director, checking one’s ego and a co-regent rule are key to creativity and authenticity in the home.
In this week’s My sqft, Molly and Teddy bring us into their incredible 1400-square-foot loft, a hidden gem situated within an innocuous factory building along an even more innocuous Williamsburg street. Filled with color, whimsical artwork, and quirky objects procured everywhere from eBay to Etsy to a failed Sotheby’s auction, this pair’s apartment reveals that cohabitation can and should be a co-creative adventure that both inspires and amuses.
Take the tour and get to know them ahead.
What do you two do for a living?
Molly: I am a writer for the New York Times Magazine and a creative lead at Warby Parker. I also write crossword puzzles for the New York Times.
Teddy: I’m a partner at the Brooklyn-based graphic design studio CHIPS and I co-direct commercials and music videos with Alex Karpovsky.
How did you two meet?
We’d been orbiting on the outskirts of each others’ social circles for almost a decade before we actually started dating about 1.5 years ago.
Both are big on puzzles. Molly herself a frequent crossword puzzle creator for The New York Times and other publications (top); The pair’s cat, Helen, seeks refuge under a side chair (middle); Their huge collection of books is used as decor all throughout the house
You two often collaborate on projects, what is the dynamic like? Do you sit down and brainstorm ideas together, or is it more casual?
We come up with thousands of bad ideas on a casual basis and some of them turn into good ideas, or at least executable ideas that we get a kick out of, like our Old Masters sticker pack or the Periodic Table of NYC Trash.
How would you describe your design style together, and does one person have more creative power over the house?
It’s a co-principality—we rule jointly over household decisions. Our kingdom is a peaceful one.
What do you love most about the space architecturally? What do you hate?
Molly: I love the celestially high ceilings and gnarly wooden floors. Apparently the building used to be a plating factory. If you lie down, you can stare through holes in the floorboards and see what’s going on in the warehouse that operates beneath us. Usually they are moving cabbages around with a forklift.
Molly calls her office a condensed version of her former Chinatown apartment; The 904 on her office door is a joke between her and Teddy. “The thought that there could be 904 rooms in here cracks us up,” muses Molly.
The vinyl on my office door is a childhood dream that Teddy fulfilled. It’s my version of Sam Spade’s door.
I dislike the incredibly leaky roof.
The pair describes their bathroom as “1980s-does-Ancient-Greece.” The theme is built around the bathroom’s Grecian-style sink, which Teddy hated. They decided one day to just “lean in” and now all of the bathroom’s decor mirrors the sink. The Corona bottle wall came with the apartment and is the only thing the landlord won’t let them change.
Teddy: The sink in the bathroom rests on a “Greek-inspired” column, which I thought was horrible until we decided to lean into it and redo the bathroom in a “1980s-does-Ancient-Greece” theme, with faux Carrara marble floor tiles from Lowe’s, pedestals from EventsWholesale.com, and framed hi-res print-outs of Caligula from the Met Museum’s collection of antiquities.
The bookshelf has been designed as a wedge and sits against a crooked wall. Teddy and a friend, Mark Grattan, designed the furniture piece so that it would align parallel to the opposite wall and square off the room. At some point Teddy hopes fill each shelf to its narrowest point by shaving down some books (top); The odd bird/pitcher ceramic is an “ewer,” a gift from Molly’s friend that pokes fun at the fact that the word is frequently used in crossword puzzles thanks to its handful of useful characters (bottom)
What are a few of your favorite pieces?
Molly: Isabel Halley pinch pots (to use as salt bowls), our collection of eBay’d lamps from all eras, and a large colorful Carroll Dunham print of a man with a penis for a nose.
Teddy: There’s a giant piece of wood spraypainted with chalkboard paint that hangs above the kitchen sink. Over the years I’ve made a number of typographic compositions on it with chalk. The current phrase in rotation is a John Waters quote: “Fiction is the truth, fool!” The previous quote was “Yo baby, you gonna miss that plane” from the last scene of “Before Sunset”.
In addition to providing daily inspiration, the massive chalkboard also covers one side of the Corona bottle wall (top); Jasper John reproductions hang in the dining space. Teddy scanned them from a book and printed them on heavy banner material (bottom); The dining table unfolds into a square (check out the photo gallery to see it in action!)
What are your top three tips for making an apartment livable?
Paint everything white, obtain a couple of pothos plants (they are impossible to kill) and treat yourself to a high-powered dust buster to keep the grounds sparkling.
The terrazzo lamp is from eBay, while the purple wall was inspired by Truffaut’s “Bed and Board”; Clocks can always be found in an eyeshot. This keeps them from looking at their phone to check the time
What are your favorite local haunts?
We are obsessed with “Escape Rooms” and have been lately exhausting the options at Komnata Quest in Greenpoint. Also Abracadabra on Bedford, which has great rose-cocoa macaroons and some VERY exciting meatballs.
Quick! There’s a fire and you can only grab one item, what do you take?
Molly: A few years ago I bought a 16th-century painting through Sotheby’s after it went unsold at auction. It’s an oil portrait of a menacing, gleeful little boy with a receding hairline. We call him “Babyman.” In case of fire, I’d haul Babyman out the door with me.
“Baby Man” Molly acquired post Sotheby’s auction. No one bid on the item and she gave the auction house a call and made an offer. They didn’t refuse. It’s Flemish and dates back to the 1500s
Teddy: The makeshift fire-escape ladder that we bought after realizing that this entire illegally-zoned building could go up in flames and we’d have no egress.
- My 600sqft: Journalist Alexandra King turns a schlumpy Park Slope rental into a stunning boho-chic pad
- My 900sqft: Tour the romantic Prospect Heights home of two Brooklyn entrepreneurs
- My 700sqft: Tour two photographers’ Bed-Stuy brownstone home, complete with shower in kitchen
- View all past My Sqft features
All photos taken by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft. Photos are not to be reproduced without written permission from 6sqft.