What Happens When an Interior Designer and an Architect Share a Home?

The airy brass, neon, and marble Brooklyn loft we’ve always longed for.

By: Laurel Pantin
Photography: Zeph Colombatto

What does one say when invited to visit the Bushwick loft shared by an interior designer and an architect? Add to the mix the fact that they’ve lived all over the world, are best friends with contemporary artists, and have designed their own furniture, and the answer is a resounding “Hell yes!”

Such was the case when we paid a visit to the Brooklyn home Eleni Petaloti, of the award-winning firm Lot Architecture, shares with her partner. The space was all self-designed marble and acrylic coffee tables, brass accents, neon artworks, and light—in other words, it was everything we’ve ever dreamed of in an apartment. Between works designed for the couple by their “great friend,” artist Christian de Vietri (given to the couple as a wedding gift), and Petaloti’s “beloved” palm trees, there’s an unbelievable amount of love in their home. There was also an unbelievable amount of special pieces, like their Marcel Breuer chairs (Petaloti’s parents have a pair too, and he grew up with them), and the coffee table they designed together for their collection, Objects of Common Interest (which will be available at Matter—one of our favorite furniture spots in existence).

We visited the Greek designer (who moved to New York via Paris—she initially only intended to stay for 10 days!) to talk designing for clients versus for herself, how she makes it work living and working with her partner, and her secret Williamsburg spot for affordable vintage finds.

 

“This is the first apartment we’ve owned in New York, so it's a big deal for us. After moving around Harlem, the West Village, and Williamsburg for five years, we landed in Bushwick. Our apartment is a collection of things we collected while traveling and things we liked. We are designers and architects ourselves, and we don't like our home to be a collection of very design-y objects.”

“[The acrylic and marble coffee table] is a part of our project, which is called 'Objects of Common Interest.'”

“In both the tables and the mirrors [we designed for ‘Objects of Common Interest,’] what we like is that they are useful objects, even in the past. All the mirrors are like what women used to have in the boudoir. Or marble tables that all the Greek families used to have from ancient times. We’re trying to interpret it in a contemporary version. Like, keep the abstract shape of a mirror and just use a single sheet of copper, it's materials with simplicity that we are playing with.”

“Every single thing in here could be from anywhere! It could be from upstate, it could be from New Jersey, it could be from anywhere but it all carries a story.”

“I think the approach is quite similar [designing our own space, versus a client’s]. What we like to do is spend time with a client understanding what they have in mind. And we spend a lot of time doing mood boards and trying to make sure that we are on the same page. It’s the same thing with designing our own space, we use inspirational images that could be from another country or a random picture we found on the internet—it doesn't have to be architecture or interior per se. That is how we approach both types of projects.”

“We don't just go in one store or two design stores and buy everything there. We try to mix in random finds we found on craigslist. We like to mix materials and eras.”

“[When hunting on Craigslist,] be patient! I think that is [my] number-one tip, keep looking nonstop. You have to really love doing it and just keep at it and at some point you are going to find something great. Keep visiting places! This place in Williamsburg called Jun is my favorite spot in New York. It's actually a junkyard. 90% of the things there are terrible. But there is this 10% that is a diamond! All our crystal glasses for wine and champagne for home are from there! And, like, we got them for $2 each and they're from the ‘50s.”

“These [neon artworks] were made by [a] really amazing artist; his name is Christian de Vietri. We became friends two years ago when we first moved here. Leo gifted me one nine years ago, but at that point we couldn't afford a large or more complicated one. Over the year we became very close friends with Christian and for our wedding, two and a half years ago, he gifted us the bigger one. It's one of our favorite objects and artworks we own! It's really beautiful.”

“I can tell you [working and living together] used to be very difficult [laughs]. It took us a while to find our balance. I oversee more the [decor] and Leo oversees more the architecture. It's very clear to us what each other likes the most. I love interiors! I love designing interior spaces. He is more of a hardcore architect; he wants to do buildings. We draw a line and we collaborate and we discuss everything but there is a certain point where I’m like, 'I have to back off' because it's his thing. That's the way we solve the issue.”

“We travel a lot. We just got back from Greece, we were there for a month because we were starting the production of our new series of objects. We have a lot of projects in Greece, we are fortunate to have really good friends and clients and collectors there, and they appreciate our work. You know Europe is very concentrated so it's very easy to travel and do work in different cities or countries. So France or Paris or Milan or Greece, it's so relevant and so close. We love New York, we feel we are New Yorkers but we are from Greece, so we like bridging the two worlds.”

“My partner and I are both Greek. Growing up in Greece and spending time in Italy, you see marble everywhere! It's used in Church; you use it everywhere! I actually used to hate it, I couldn't tolerate it because it was always being used in an extremely decorative way. For us it's something in our DNA and being an adult and re-discovering a material that is in my blood and trying to use it in my way has been very significant for me. Very meaningful.”

“My parents have these Marcel Breuer chairs in their house back home and I grew up with them.”

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