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Park Slope Renter Fills Her Lovely Home With Antiques, Whimsy

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Welcome to House Calls, a new feature in which Curbed tours New Yorkers' lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us a line.

[All photos by Max Touhey for Curbed.]

"Antiquing is the worst thing you could do to a child," says Chelsea Baken, who grew up being dragged to antique fairs and shops by her mother. But one look around Baken's antique-filled Park Slope apartment, it's clear that her opinions have changed. Those torturous childhood trips are now treasure hunts for furniture and decor. "You make such fun discoveries. You never know what you're going to find." Over the last six years, Baken has amassed an impressive collection, ranging from vintage Barbie trinkets and Americana plates to a Hickory Chair Chippendale sofa and 1930s chandelier. Baken describes her style as "Brooklyn granny with a hipster twist. The person who lives here is definitely older than I am," she says. But it is by no means a stuffy space; neon homemade ornaments, a sticker-covered door, and splashes of tinsel add just the right amount of funk.

[Left: View of the living room from the entry hall before Baken moved in; Right: the same view now.]

Baken, a 24-year-old designer for an advertising agency, moved into the apartment in August 2012. When she first visited, the space left much to be desired, but Baken had a vision. "I'm a creative person, my parents are creative people. I knew I could work with this." The beautiful bay window and tin ceilings swayed her, plus, the radiators were painted gold, so it "was some kind of destiny."

One of the first big changes came in the bedroom. There were no closets, so Baken's dad built closets on either side of the door. In the kitchen, she removed a set of built in-shelves and painted the wall with black chalkboard paint. She also painted the kitchen cabinets under the sink a glossy black. A friend's dad owns a marble shop, so she had a slab cut to cover one of the counters.

A high-low mix extends into every room in the apartment. In the kitchen, a framed menu from her childhood Chinese restaurant hangs above a red Le Creuset, while an antique lamp sits below a cabinet full of vintage McDonald's glasses. In the living room, a mirrored antique dresser holds a stack of modern design books and giant fake diamond. "It's never just one thing," says Baken, "it's very reflective of my personality."

The antiques come from all over, but Baken usually goes antiquing when visiting her parents in Westchester or when she's on vacation. "Basically, when I'm out and I actually have time on my hands," she says. She never goes in the city. "Everything in New York City is so overpriced." Her favorite place to shop is the antique fair in Madison-Bouckville that takes place every August.


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