Photo: Shin, Yuka and Ron Swanson
What do you get when you join a green-design-blogger-slash-DIY-enthusiast and a finance guy in Greenpoint? How about a mash up of modern-meets-quirky with an eco-conscious bent? 6sqft recently dropped by the home of Inhabitat.com‘s NYC editor Yuka Yoneda to get a glimpse of the little love nest she’s created with her fiancé Shin, and to see how seemingly divergent styles can indeed come together to create the perfect home. And because she and Shin recently got engaged (yay!) she’s offering up some sweet stories—sure to serve both as advice to other couples looking to share a home, and hope for NYC singles who’ve given up on love—that range from their missed connection to a chuckle-worthy first date to an early relationship mishap that later yielded her a cozy little escape to call her own. There will also be plenty of fun little design details for you to fawn over. Onward we go!
Shin frequently uses his red punching bag (seen left) to relieve stress, but both will admit that a good cupcake can provide just as good a release
So, first things first, how did you two meet?
Yuka: We met in college and both sort of liked each other but nothing ever came of it. 10 years later, we reconnected on AOL Instant Messenger and decided to go to the movies on a quasi-date. I wanted to see “Precious” but Shin vetoed it because he felt it was a bit heavy-hearted for a first date—even though he maintains that it wasn’t really a date. We saw “The Book of Eli” instead, and after the movie we actually rode the theater elevator down with Gabourey Sidibe! It was unclear whether or not she’d just watched her own movie. I took the star sighting as a sign, but afterwards, we played Tekken at Dave and Buster’s and Shin ended up asking me to be his “back-up” if we both were not married by the time we turned 30. That threw me off a bit because it seemed very “friend-zone”-ish, but then we ended up kissing at our friend Dave’s Valentine’s Day party a week later. And the rest is history!
Inside the mini-room originally built for Shin’s cousin when Yuka backed out of moving in a few years ago
How did you find this apartment and when did you decide to move in together?
Yuka: Shin grew up in Greenpoint and he had this crazy idea—this was four or five years ago—that the neighborhood would become the next big thing in Brooklyn, but I had just purchased a tiny studio in Flushing, Queens and was keen on staying there. I finally gave in even though I could not for the life of me see why anyone would ever want to live in Greenpoint—yes, I wholeheartedly admit my lack of foresight now—and we began apartment hunting. Shin found the apartment through AptsandLofts and we agreed to purchase it at a pretty sweet pre-construction price. Unfortunately, our relationship was still so new and I ended up backing out of my side of the bargain, which left Shin carrying a hefty mortgage on his own. Luckily, his cousin was able to move in and help out, which is why Shin had the mini room in our living room built. Thanks to cousin Jason, Shin and I were able to work through my cold feet and I finally moved in in 2013, but then Jason got kicked out! Sorry Jason. We love you!
The room now serves as Yuka’s office
A postcard sent to Yuka from her father (who has since passed away) when she was a child
How would you describe your interior design style? Do you think it’s different than your personal style?
Yuka: Shin’s personal style is sleek, classic and clean. My personal style is pretty weird. We’re both fans of the modern look, so our apartment’s bones suit us well. I actually love that Shin is a minimalist. He didn’t have too much in the apartment before I moved in. I got rid of a bean bag too, and added some of the more quirky touches. I actually think the apartment’s interior design mirrors our personal style almost perfectly.
Yuka’s “waters of the world” collection
What are a few of your most treasured items in the house?
Shin: The TV and the couch.
Yuka: My waters of the world collection in the bathroom. Sadly, a few of the bottles are empty now since the water evaporated! I guess it’s a good excuse to travel back to those places together with Shin. I also have a gold Libra medallion pendant that belonged to my dad—we’re both Librans. It’s one of those ones that guys used to wear on long gold chains with their shirts unbuttoned back in the ’70s. I suspect he used to be a bit of a ladies’ man back in the day.
Every home needs a bar (left); Yuka’s first New York Times piece framed (right)
The couple’s first interior project together, which if you pay close attention to the numbers, didn’t quite turn out as they’d hoped.
Her shelf of heroes
What are some of your favorite things about your home?
Yuka: The high ceilings and open kitchen, for sure. We also like that the finishes are minimal, utilitarian and easy-to-clean. The mini-room is essential in so many ways—it’s an office, a spare bedroom, a closet and, most importantly, a place for us to escape when we fight! We also throw things on top of there so it works as extra storage too.
Swiffer-equipped slippers to help keep the house clean
What are your favorite places in the neighborhood?
Yuka: Transmitter Park on the waterfront, the cat condos next to the India Street ferry pier, the lesser-known mini park where people who are sick of Transmitter Park go, Red Star for cheap beer and TVs, Ramona for expensive-but-worth-it cocktails when we’re feeling more fancy, People of 2morrow and Beacon’s Closet for secondhand shopping, Poland Farm (Shin’s family’s store) for cheap and fresh fruits and veggies and, of course, Paulie Gee’s for the best pizza in New York City.
What do you love and hate about Greenpoint? What do you wish was different?
Yuka: The neighborhood is considered “trendy” but it still has gritty pockets where you’d never find any hipsters—unless they were doing a photo shoot. You can go for a $20 artisanal pizza pie, but you can still find a $2.50 slice at a hole in the wall, too. The waterfront is hands-down the best part of the neighborhood right now because it still looks like the final frontier with its craggy sidewalks and colorful graffiti. It would be a shame to lose that feeling once the new Greenpoint Landing towers are complete. We still hate the G train but the transportation here is actually above average if you take the East River Ferry. It takes about 9 minutes to get to 34th Street and about 20 to get to downtown Manhattan. The only thing we ever really complain about is that there is only one seafood market in the nabe and it’s pretty far away from us. Can someone please make another one?
Want to learn more about Greenpoint? Check out our neighborhood page here for more history and haunts.
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Images by Angelica Vasquez for 6sqft
Neighborhoods : Greenpoint