Standing under a skylight in the Greenpoint loft they share, Kearney Sevier and Zack Kortright explain the origin story of their Baldwin baby grand piano, a disarming centerpiece in their eye-catching apartment. The piano, for which they paid $200, is one of the few pieces in the 2,000-square-foot loft that did not come from an auction—Sevier is a self-proclaimed auction hunter—but the item keeps in line with the couple's design philosophy: buy it cheap, and make it expensive. It's a concept that's served them well.
Sevier and Kortright are both creative types. Sevier, a Nashville native, is the senior design director for menswear at Michael Kors while Kortright, of California, works in advertising at a small animation production studio based in Soho.
That creativity comes into play in the couple's apartment, where a rug picked from auction and hand-dyed by Sevier sits under a six-person dining table that expands to fit 30 for Thanksgiving.
The apartment itself is a fitting backdrop for Sevier and Kortright's creative expressions and extensive collections, which include figure paintings, Chinese turquoise figurines, and Imari plates.
After a three-year search for a new Greenpoint home, Sevier says he was elated to find the tucked-away apartment. "It was everything I ever wanted, but you have to understand, I'm a nut job," Sevier jokes, referencing his process of reconfiguring the loft when he and Kortright moved in five-and-a-half years ago. Since then, the couple has refined the space, formerly a live-work photography studio, in nearly every way.
A makeshift bedroom that once occupied the dining area was quick to go. "The first thing I did was buy a crow bar and tear the damn thing down," Sevier says.
The couple also removed dozens of Ikea shelving units mounted to the walls. For storage, the duo turn to several hulking antique consoles, like the 14-foot backbar that runs the length of the apartment's second living room.
"We painted every square inch" Sevier says of the space, including the floor. Kortright says that while Sevier has the creative vision, he's the one who paints it all, and then paints it again when they change their minds about the color.
"After three years of non-stop moving this stuff around, the apartment was like 'No, this is how it's going to be,'" Sevier says of finally creating the right layout for the loft. But while he and Kortright have finally found peace inside of the apartment, the couple have started to think about their future outside of New York City.
While they acknowledge that they're incredibly fortunate when it comes to the size of their apartment and the rent that they pay for it—$2,900/month when they first moved in, raised incrementally to the $3,300/month they pay now—it is for them an issue not only of space, but also of wanting to slow down the pace of their lives.
"Let's spread out, make this ridiculous while we can. When the dream ends, we'll figure it out," Sevier reflects on finding the apartment. Kortright follows up, "That's sort of New York. Find the deals, find the place. But in the end, it's all transitory."