An Art-Filled Modern Home

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

Shannon Althin, founder of children’s bedding line Natti Natti, lives with her husband and two children in Park Slope, Brooklyn. When we saw photos of her home, we immediately fell in love (and wanted to move right in). Here’s a look inside…

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On the joy of IKEA: Since my husband Eric is from Sweden, we’ve always loved IKEA. But they’ve really stepped it up lately by partnering with great designers. We recently bought our coffee table there. It’s thin enough to leave room for our family dance parties!

On shopping there: When it comes to IKEA, it helps to have a plan. I gravitate toward the wooden pieces, and their kitchen stuff is great. I had been searching forever for a cutting board, and I found one that hugs the edge of the counter — it’s magical! I also look at the items online first and write down the item numbers, which really helps.

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On keeping things clean: Our house gets messy so quickly. (Obviously, we did some major cleaning before we took these photos!) I straighten up every night once the kids are in bed. When it comes to deep cleaning, I’ll pick one day each week and just jam it out. The biggest challenge for us is actually the yellow couch, which we usually keep a blanket on. I’ve discovered that Mr. Clean magic erasers are genius. They even take scuff marks off the walls.

On favorite neighborhood haunts: Park Slope’s brownstones and trees feel neighborhood-y, and there are so many great restaurants. We love sushi and were excited when Katsuei opened up. We go to Sidecar a lot for amazing fried chicken. When it’s warm out, we take the kids to J.J. Byrne playground, followed by Culture, a frozen yogurt place across the street.

Orange light fixture: vintage, via Something Different. Couch: DWR. Coffee table: IKEA. Floor lamp: FLOS. Rug: DWR. Wooden console tables: DWR. Face planter: Group Partner

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On hanging art: Eric and I used to run a gallery and still have some beloved art from that time. When it comes to hanging art, you don’t want to overcrowd it. If you have a few smaller pieces that either share a theme or the same color palette, consider grouping them. If you have one big piece, keep it on its own, and hang it roughly at eye level. Don’t be afraid to experiment and move things around. If you work in a certain area, you don’t want something distracting or emotional. In small spaces, it’s nice to find something that lends depth. In a bedroom, consider neutrals, which create a calmer environment.

On finding affordable art: Since original art can be so expensive, it’s helpful to look for limited edition prints by artists you like. A few of our favorite online galleries are Spoke Art, Thinkspace, Art Whino and The Cotton Candy Machine.

Light fixture: Kartell. Table: Crate & Barrel. Chairs: DWR. Wine rack: All Modern. Console table: CB2. Cat painting: Allison Schulnick. Blue photograph: Céline Clanet.

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On favorite family meals: Lately the kids have been helping me cook. Luke is the designated taste taster, and Emma’s gotten pretty good at cracking eggs! One of our go-to dinners is a one-dish Mexican casserole. We’ll mix chicken, beef or pork with quinoa, tomatoes, black beans and sour cream. Another easy dish is tortilla pizzas, which are common in Sweden. You just buy tortillas, top them with pizza sauce and let the kids add whatever toppings they want. We eat Swedish food a lot — I’ve finally perfected Swedish meatballs.

On family travel: Every summer, we try to visit Eric’s family in Sweden. It’s beautiful, and we love to do traditional things like picking berries and mushrooms in the forest and swimming in the cold Baltic sea.

High chair: Svan. Baby safe chalkboard paint: Lullaby Paints.


Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On embracing white: I’ve always gravitated toward a Scandinavian aesthetic — with lots of white to brighten up the colder months, and pops of bright colors to add cheer. I’d say if you’re going to go for a white space, do the white-white! I’ve made the mistake of doing something slightly off-white, and once it was covered and filling up the space, it doesn’t give you the brightness you’re going for.

On linen sheets: We used to always have IKEA sheets, but after many washes the quality would worsen. I had read that linen is similar to wool in that it keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, so I bought these linen sheets and I really like them. They’re also really forgiving when it comes to things like wrinkles, which is a biggie for us.

Bed: Room & Board. Bedding: West Elm. Light fixture: Pottery Barn. Curtains: custom. Painting: Alexandros Vasmoulaskis. Hanging planter: Mudpuppy, via KAIGHT.

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On creating art: One day, we were at Coney Island and we looked up into the sky, where this huge horse kite was flying. I ran to take a photo, and then a second one went up! My son was making horse sounds while this was happening, and he loved them so much we were like, let’s blow this up. Our favorite printer, Rolling Press, mounted it on foam board. They do everything with eco-friendly inks, and print using wind power.

Wood console table: West Elm. Basket: Crate & Barrel. Sheepskin throw rug: Crate & Barrel.


Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On an impromptu guest room: We installed a Murphy bed in Emma’s room, which is the best thing we’ve ever done. We also use it as a guest bed when our relatives visit. It’s super easy to take it up and down, so sometimes we’ll pull it down from the wall so we can all snuggle together.

On story time: We often read a few books with the lights on and then, to wind things down, we turn off the lights and make up stories or listen to audiobooks, like Storynory. For a while, we were reading The Princess Bride, which Emma really enjoyed. Because it didn’t have pictures, it was less stimulating than a picture book. It made a surprisingly great bedtime story.


On the easiest gallery wall: We print family photos with Artifact Uprising. Their app lets you access your photos straight from Instagram, and then they mail you printed copies. If you hang them up with washi tape, you can swap them all around.

On passing things on: Every so often we’ll go through our toys and clothes and donate things to Salvation Army. As Emma has gotten older, I’ve tried to give her a little perspective and I think it resonates with her. She’s very willing to pass something on knowing that another child can get joy from it.

Bed: Oeuf. Bedding & pillows: Natti Natti. Rug: Imported, via Mociun. Light fixture: Verner Panton, Berlin. Print above bed: Natti Natti. Art above mantel: Douglas Hoffman.


On having an artistic family: Eric is an artist, and he loves to draw creatures, which Emma calls his “dudes.” He’s inspired by Japanese toy design; at least once a week some random box shows up and he gets all excited and runs to the door like a little kid. Recently, for fun, our daughter Emma will sort of direct Eric. She gets very specific about it — she’ll tell him exactly what to draw and how to do it. Then they’ll color it together and cut it out. It’s been really fun to watch them collaborate. Recently, they drew two foxes, and I’m going to use it for a Natti Natti pattern!

On cleaning up said artwork: Two-year-old Luke has also started to draw, but he likes to use permanent marker. He’s gotten it on a few pieces of furniture. And then he runs away. Luckily I found this cleaner called Better Life, which is a white, all-purpose grit. It’s the most brilliant thing, and it’s been getting the marker stains out.


On a funny ritual: We have a Swedish bedtime song about a troll mother. When she puts her 11 small trolls to bed, she hangs them up by their tails. It’s weird and silly, but it has a beautiful, sort of haunting tune to it. I learned it as soon as Emma was born and we’ve consistently sung it to both kids since then.

On the inspiration behind Natti Natti: When I was pregnant with Luke, I learned how to sew, because I thought it would be fun to make the kids their own leggings. I enjoyed it so much that I started a company making things for kids. Bedtime has always been a challenge for us, as I know it is for many parents, so we were like, let’s create some bedtime products that make both kids and parents happy. The name Natti Natti means “night-night” in Swedish.

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

Crib: Oeuf. Bedding: Natti Natti. Yellow eye pillow: Natti Natti. Bear pillow: Wee Gallery. Bluebird print: Natti Natti. “I Dream of Flying” print: Natti Natti. “Toys” bin: TellKiddo. Track floor mat: Design Life Kids. Eames rocker: DWR. Light fixture: Land of Nod.

Brooklyn Brownstone Tour

On creating a place to play: When we first moved in, the backyard had two little flower beds, but Eric and I turned one into a sandbox. It’s great to have a place where the kids can play freely and we don’t have to worry about them wandering off.


Thank you so much, Shannon!

P.S. More home tours, including a colorful family apartment and a midcentury modern house.

(Photos by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo. Styling by Ana Fritsch. Interview by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. Billy Echevarria says...

    I came across this site by accident and to my surprise there were my two horse kites! They look great!

  2. Mark Wright says...

    This is breathtaking! I wish I could do something like that.

  3. Heidi says...

    Such a beautiful home. I would love to see a layout of the floor plan (and in general would enjoy it for all home tours!)

  4. The fire place with the logs is my favourite part of this home. I think it’s great to have art all over the home – adds so much character and gives me plenty of excuses to splash out. Love this blog post Joanna!

  5. Linn Hagstrom says...

    Hi, I’m from Sweden and I used to fall asleep listening to the troll mother lullaby when I was a kid. She doesn’t hang the troll babies up in their tails, she just sort of binds them together. And then she sings to them, the most beautiful words that she knows…

  6. Bethany says...

    I know exactly the lullaby you’re talking about! I have been singing it (in Norwegian) to my unborn baby for months and can’t wait to see if he or she recognizes it once they are born. I agree – it’s such a soothing, almost hauntingly sweet melody. Ai ai ai ai ai buf :)

  7. Nikki says...

    Hi! PLEASE do more house tours. I live for them! You have the best ones! Your blog is awesome.


    • Lauren says...

      I agree – I love the bright and happy homes I always see on Cup of Jo!

  8. Love the yellow couch! Where can I find it?

  9. Christi says...

    Would you please mind posting where the bird pillows on the couch are from? They are very cute!

  10. mosey says...

    So jealous of their backyard in Brooklyn. One day…

  11. Kelly R says...

    Gah! I need one of those eyeball pillows (in my grown up apartment-ahem) right now!

  12. OMG! We built their garden few years back. It looks like it is holding up well.
    The rest of the house is pretty too.

  13. Drasa says...

    What a gorgeous home. Thank you for sharing!
    Would you mind sharing the lullaby/bedtime song title or lyrics? We celebrate the Icelandic yule lads tradition and wonder if it is a similar mythos?

  14. What am incredibly beautiful use of color! I cannot imagine that much white in our house with small children, but it looks so charming and fresh! Thank you for sharing with us!


  15. Jillian says...

    Here’s another request for more info on the murphy bed! It’s so hard to find nice looking options. If you have any tips or resources, Shannon, please let all the murphy-bed lovers out here know! Thanks so much.

  16. LOVE the Coney Island horse kite print, so special. Chuckled at the image of a two-year-old graffiti-ing the furniture and then running away!

  17. Cheryl says...

    What a nice surprise to come across this house tour today….I love their home. It’s funky, bright, a bit whimsical and so homey. I have been slowly painting every room in our house benjamin moore’s simply white over the past 6 months or so. I love the brightness and happy feeling it gives me. I wonder what white they used here. Especially like the ceiling pendant in the master bedroom and the family pic at the end captures that feeling of having your whole world in your arms. Great tour!

  18. Kate says...

    This is unrelated to this post, but Joanna, is the italicizing of the comments new? They’re a bit harder to read than they used to be. (And normally I wouldn’t say anything but I love reading the comments on Cup of Jo!)

  19. Molly O'Callaghan says...

    Lovely and so serene. I’d love to know where the fabric on the pillows in the living room (on that amazing mustard couch) is from. Many thanks!!

  20. Karen says...

    Such an inspiring post! I’m dying to know where the shelf type piece of furniture to the right of the “toys” bin is from (in Luke’s room). Thanks so much!

    • Fiona says...

      Hey, it’s from oeuf. Only reason I know that as I saw it in Toby’s room in Jo’s home tour.

    • Sandy says...

      Looks like Oeuf!

  21. marcy says...

    what white paint did you use?

  22. What a lovely home! I love how clean, and bright it is, and yet completely kid friendly.

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  23. Katie G says...

    This home is lovely!

    I know this is not polite conversation, and I mean it respectfully and sincerely–I find myself curious with lots of the beauty uniform, home tour, and even some of Joanna’s personal posts about clothing and vacations and the like how everyone affords all these things! I live in a much less expensive part of the country, and I could not swing purchasing many of these things, in addition to paying NY rent! I would be very interested in a post (or series!) about budgeting, how people prioritize their spending, etc. Again, I don’t mean to be critical of anyone (goodness knows I make more than my fair share of questionable purchases), but it does always leave me wondering!

    • Angela says...

      Ditto to all of that… I would be very interested as well!

    • Amanda says...

      I second this comment. It would be great to have some posts on financial planning/budget. I live in the city and wonder all the time how people are able to afford where they live with their lifestyles (eating out all the time, travel, expensive clothes and home goods, etc). As Katie pointed out, it’s not meant to be critical, I’m simply wondering if others have any tips as I’m in the midst of trying to structure my finances wisely in my mid-20s.

    • Elena M says...

      THIS! I frequently wonder the same thing, and I would love to see the kind of posts that Katie described. Money is absolutely a sensitive and personal topic, but its such a huge part of life and I wish it could be addressed more openly on lifestyle blogs.

    • Nina says...

      Right?! And I have to go one further and say that talking about it in terms of “prioritizing spending” is kind of dishonest too, because for a lot of us there’s no amount of prioritizing that could give us the disposable income that’s often clearly on display but never mentioned.

    • Butterfly Mama says...

      Yes! 100% agree with your note. I live in Boston (not cheap) and have a decent job, Im a solo parent (no partner/no support) and wonder exactly the same things.

    • Emily says...

      I wonder about this same thing often on this (and other!) blogs. I live in San Francisco and I’m lucky that my partner and I both make decent incomes, but even ikea or target home purchases are sometimes a stretch for us and we don’t have kids! I would love to know any secrets to making my finances work better and be able to have nicer things!

    • zoo says...

      What I know in fact is this, they are all friends: posters, hosts, manufactures, designers, directors and artists. There are freebees, samples and services that exchangeable between in-knows and many such are written off as expenses of running the business and not affecting families’ budget.
      You might note the same props showing up in different settings and wonder how it got there? Why is that kitchen shoot is not of actual “kitchen”? Where would they keep trash?
      This is a place to scape our dairy grinds and daydream for awhile bit.
      It is not the place to think about affordability or reality, that’s my take and I love it though.

    • gpc says...

      I very much agree as well. As a side note, I chuckle a bit every time I see these lovely brownstones featured in blogs. My uncle was a New York city sanitation worker back in the 50’s and he and my aunt owned a Brooklyn brownstone (considered a starter back then). You wouldn’t find any sanitation worker able to buy one of them….

  24. Lauren says...

    Beautiful home! I’m obsessed with the whimsical cat painting above the mantel. Artist?

    • Elizabeth R says...

      I think it is a kangaroo.

  25. Aidel.K says...

    Really enjoyed this! Thanks!

  26. Oh man. Sidecar’s fried chicken has cured many of my Sunday morning hangovers.

  27. What a happy, sun-shiney home, and I loooooooove that Shannon mentioned IKEA. It’s refreshing to see a beautiful, live-able home that has some truly affordable pieces. :)

  28. Louisa says...

    ditto on the question about a murphy bed!! — we’re in the market for a house and really *don’t* want to invest in a guest room, but the grandparents need a place to crash. Looking into murphy beds and would love a tip!

    • Alicia says...

      We have a murphy bed in our “office” and it’s great for guests. I’ve slept on it on occasion myself and it was perfectly comfortable . I wouldn’t advocate it for sleeping every night of your life, but it is so much better than an air mattress and a decent stand in for a real bed.

  29. Rebecca says...

    I would also love to know more about that Murphy bed! We have been thinking of the same idea for our home office, but I’m not sure where to find a comfortable option that would blend in with our modern home. Thanks!

  30. Rachel says...

    Beautiful space! I particularly LOVE the bird pillows on the yellow couch-where can I order them?

  31. This has to be one of the most gorgeous apartments I’ve ever seen! I love how open and bright it is. Makes it look so comfy and big!

  32. Lucy says...

    I LOVE the big yellow sofa and the idea of having a chalk board wall in the kitchen. The whole house is so beautiful, especially the colours choices. Love it! thanks for sharing!

    Lucy xoxo

  33. yael steren says...

    So many great pieces! I particularly love the yellow sofa and that cabinet that has different types of wood for each drawer!! xx yael

  34. Kerry says...

    Love this apartment!
    One thing regarding Magic Erasers – they were featured on a consumer affairs programme in Canada and it turns out they’re loaded with carcinogenic ingredients, so wear gloves when using them and avoid areas that see a lot of kid use such as changing tables, their toys, etc.

  35. i love their backyard! so spacious for city standards. the two-horse print is so pretty as well :)

  36. Kim says...

    Hello! A very peaceful and lovely home; thank you for sharing! Was curious where you purchased your Murphy bed from as we’re thinking of doing the same. Thanks!

  37. Michaela says...

    Thanks for the using white-white tip Shannon! I love your yellow couch but I wonder why it is tricky to keep clean?

  38. Stephanie says...

    Where is the giraffe from? The one on the nursery wall? I love it!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Hi Stephanie! The giraffe is from Anthropologie:

  39. OH man…I love these home tours…just made my Tuesday! And now I have a reason to go to IKEA because I need that cutting board and coffee table :) haa.

    • Alexandra Marie says...

      It looks very mid century modern to me!

    • Grace Scott says...

      I’ll weigh in because I just found a coffee table like this on Craig’s list under “Mid-century modern Danish Surfboard coffee table” Hehe! So I think there are some original 1960s ones out there that are called Danish Surfboard design. There are also current modern ones at Ikea, like the one they have here :)