Design

A Beautiful Home in Greenpoint

Greenpoint apartment

Stef Halmos (left) and Mckenzie Raley live and work in their airy Brooklyn apartment. Stef makes sculptures, and Mckenzie runs the lingerie brand Land of Women. Together they’ve created a warm home that inspires them, including their “power” paint color and the key to a good night’s sleep…

LIVING ROOM
Greenpoint apartment

Sofa: West Elm. Bookshelves: Built by previous owner. Wall sculpture: by Stef. Coffee table: West Elm. Black chair: Brimfield Antique Show. Brown chair: Barcelona chair hand-me-down from Stef’s brother. Rug: Overstock.

First off, how did you meet?
Stef: One night, I went onto OkCupid, and 45 minutes later I saw Mckenzie’s profile. I messaged her, she messaged me back and we went for a drink. The minute I met her I was in love with her, unquestionably. So, basically, I tell people, it took 45 minutes to meet my wife.
Mckenzie: We were trying to be sexy and ordered drinks at the bar — and then we ended up getting deviled eggs and ribs and wings. We went for it. It turned into the gassiest first date.

Greenpoint apartment

How do you want your home to feel?
Mckenzie: Being Midwestern, I’m not used to living in a modern apartment, so the plants and bookcases are a nice way to cozy it up. I also love Thymes pine candles — they smell like Wisconsin during the holidays. I once mentioned that to my mother-in-law, and she now sends pine candles to me randomly.
Stef: We’ll get a box in the mail that says, “Hi, Mckenzie! I know you like these!” It’s so sweet.

Greenpoint apartment

Your bookshelves are beautiful. Stef: Combining our books when we moved in together was really fun. It was such an obvious metaphor for what we were doing with our relationship. Then we organized the books by color.

Greenpoint apartment

Sculpture: by Stef.

Aside from reading, what TV shows are you into these days? Stef: We just started watching Insecure on HBO. The main character Issa is so dynamic and sweet, and she raps when she’s upset with something. She’s so relatable and fun to watch.
Mckenzie: We’re obsessed.

Greenpoint apartment

Do you play music at home? Stef: When I work, I listen to podcasts, Terry Gross and the news. But we listen to music a lot when we cook and hang out.
Mckenzie: I’ve been obsessed with yacht rock lately — like Hall & Oats, Gerry Rafferty, that piña colada song. It gets me out of my head. I feel like a dad.

KITCHEN
Greenpoint apartment

What do you cook at home? Stef: In the summer, we have people over a lot. I’ll grill steaks and peppers and cook a big head of lettuce on the grill and put a little blue cheese on it.
Mckenzie: I’m more of a baker. I make a lot of crumbles and pies, like Midwestern dishes.

Where do you usually eat? Mckenzie: We don’t have a kitchen table, so we eat at the counter or coffee table. That was a sacrifice we made so that we could have an art studio downstairs. Later, we’ll turn our basement into a media room. In Wisconsin, a pimped out basement was the best. Fresh new carpet and a big couch and dips and Oreos. I’m so American when it comes to living rooms!

BEDROOM
Greenpoint apartment

Bed and rug: Brimfield Antique Show. Paint color: Pink Bliss by Benjamin Moore. Lights: built by Stef. Mini wall tables: secondhand store. Blanket: from a trip to Mexico.

Why did you paint one wall pale pink? Stef: Pink is my power color. When I want to feel strong, I wrap myself in pink. Painting this wall was the first thing we did when we moved in.

Greenpoint apartment

Where did you go on your honeymoon? Stef: We had a honeymoon registry. We went to the Amalfi coast, and friends and family contributed to our trip. We took the type of trip we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford. We ate and drank wonderful wines and really did it all.
Mckenzie: Our favorite meal was actually from an Italian grocery store. They had fresh smoked burrata, and we got bread and Champagne.

Greenpoint apartment

Eye masks: Mary Green.

What would you say is the key to a comfy bed? Stef: King sized. After going king, I’ll never go back.
Mckenzie: Even if our room were small, we’d still have a king. As a tall person, I want to do a complete starfish without touching my wife.
Stef: I also don’t like to wait a long time between washing sheets. We wash them a lot — even twice a week. Clean sheets lead to the best sleep.
Mckenzie: We take sleeping very seriously.

How about pillows?
Mckenzie: I found the best pillow. It’s a game changer. It’s made with shredded memory foam bamboo with cool flow. It’s $50 and worth every penny. I’ve always had anxiety, and good sleep makes me feel calmer all day.

Greenpoint apartment

Dresser: Room & Board. Wall hanging: by Mckenzie.

Your bedroom feels so peaceful. Mckenzie: I was recently reading about living minimally. The article said you should have three to five large pieces of furniture per room, and that’s it.
Stef: Our bedroom has only the bed and a dresser and a plant. It breathes.
Mckenzie: Space is really important in our house because we work so much from home. It has been a very work-y few years. We just read the Marie Kondo book; we got rid of 100 bags of stuff. Almost too much. This morning, we were like, shit, where’s the hair spray?

I do the same thing!
Mckenzie: They should have a follow up to that book — The Art of Buying Things That You Accidentally Threw Away.

Greenpoint apartment

Tray: Emily Jockel. Artwork: by Mckenzie (“I took a Sharpie and did a doodle of the plants in our living room.”)

When you are buying things, what stores do you like? Stef: We love the Brimfield Antique Show, which happens three times a year — in May, July and September. It’s a tiny town in Massachusetts, but huge crowds go there. We also like Build It Green in Brooklyn.
Mckenzie: I like Muji, and I find things at flea markets. There’s also an amazing vintage store in Minnesota called Hunt & Gather.

BATHROOM

Greenpoint apartment

Rug: Cold Picnic. Soap dish: Muji.

What a cool rug. Mckenzie: We like boobs in this household.

Why did you decide to start a skincare line? Mckenzie: When I was modeling, my makeup artists friends would recommend skin care products, but I had such sensitive skin and had adverse reactions. So, I created my own three products — a face oil, a face balm and cuticle oil. I wasn’t thinking about it as a business thing, but the ingredients were really simple and I thought everyone could benefit from it. We found a tiny lab in Berkeley, and they made our first sample batch. We sold out our first week.

DOWNSTAIRS WORKSPACE

Greenpoint apartment

Your basement studio is amazing! Can you tell us about your art? Stef: I’m attempting to make sculptures that are visceral and physical, made of plaster, wood, ropes, metal… They’re supposed to be like flesh. Everyone wants to touch them and my instinct is to let them do it — I want people to interact with them. They look soft and silly, but they’re actually hard and heavy, which surprises people.

Greenpoint apartment

Do you like working from home? Stef: On one hand, working from home is kind of a dream. But by the end of the day, if I’m home alone, I really need human contact. I spend a lot of time talking to the dog.
Mckenzie: I work from home 50% of the time. When I’m away, sometimes my anxiety level gets higher. I’m still learning how to be out in the world as a small business owner. It can be daunting. When I come home, I just exhale.

When you do go out, which are your favorite spots around Greenpoint? Stef: Enid’s is our dive, Cafe Mogador, Aurora. We had our wedding brunch there and my brother still talks about the bacon. Peter Pan Donuts is the jam — that’s our #1 place. We could get rid of everything else in the neighborhood.
Mckenzie: I always get the old fashioned maple. It takes like a pancake.

Thank you so much, Mckenzie and Stef!

P.S. More home tours, including my twin sister’s home makeover, an amazing bookcase and a woodsy cottage.

(Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo. Styling by Kate Jordan.)

  1. This is such a beautiful home and a lovely couple. I enjoyed seeing and reading about how their personalities really show through.

  2. Brianna says...

    This home tour made me want to re-do my entire apartment, which is not an option, because I don’t own it. But I want to Kon Mari everything again.

  3. Amy says...

    I totally want to touch the sculptures! Very visceral and cool. Your house is gorgeous, btw, ladies!

  4. where, oh WHERE, is that hand sculpture from–the one flipping the bird?

  5. Joana says...

    I’d love to know where the bowl that has hands holding it is from in the living room in front of the coffee table because it is RAD.

  6. Caz says...

    What a lovely and peaceful home!

    Any ideas where the gold hand sculpture is from (from the close up of the dresser)?

  7. loved this interview! I WISH you would have featured their working spaces. Since I’ve started working from home, I’m always looking for better ways to arrange and set up my workspace and would have really liked to see how they run businesses from, being TWO people.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      malaika — email me, if you’d like, and i’ll send you a shot of stef’s desk! hello at cupofjo dot com xoxo

  8. Elizabeth R says...

    P.S. Cup of Jo staff, this blog has gotten even amazing in the last six months. Keep it up.

  9. Ali says...

    Ummmmm these people, this home, those sculptures – YES, YES, YES! Suh gorgeous :)

  10. Emily says...

    Dying about the Kondo follow up book! Hilarious and so true! The number of times I’ve said, “crap! We threw that away, didn’t we?!” And loved the tour. Really into clean with natural elements these days! Perfect!

  11. Elizabeth R says...

    Lovely home and hilarious, gorgeous, talented couple. I want to be friends with them; but I will settle for staring at their lovely home. Also, thanks for the restaurant recs! :)

  12. Maybe I’ve become too European, but “cook a big head of lettuce…” What? How? Grilled lettuce? Please explain!! (What a fun couple and a beautiful house too.)

  13. Stephanie says...

    Absolutely beautiful home! Love the brightness and all the greenery. This was one of my favorite house tours yet!

  14. Noelle says...

    What a great couple and a beautiful home. This was a fun read!

  15. C says...

    Where are the plant potters from? Love them!

  16. Stephanie says...

    Over the last month I’ve been redecorating my living room and bedroom. There were three rooms I modeled them after, all found from your apartment tours. After the personal essays you post, these apartment tours are my favorite! And thank you for including a queer couple :)

  17. Lisa says...

    So good: “They should have a follow up to that book — The Art of Buying Things That You Accidentally Threw Away” Hahahaha

    • Kerri says...

      I literally cackled out loud at work at that – so funny

    • Gabriella says...

      Me too!! Haha!

  18. Tyler says...

    “I’m still learning how to be out in the world as a small business owner. It can be daunting. When I come home, I just exhale.”

    This! Is how I feel like, 90% of the time.

    • Brianna says...

      This is me too. I have a very extrovert job and am involved in a lot of very extrovert things. I think it’s why I go to bed so early so many nights of the week – I just need to be away from everything and detox.

  19. S says...

    Could you please let us know where does that blue painting come from? I’d like something like that!
    Thanks,

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for your note! it was actually a painted canvas from a photo shoot they had helped work on a while back — there were a ton of them and the team was going to throw them away, so mckenzie took one and brought it home!

  20. Love this post. What a charming couple! Totally down to earth and relatable.

  21. Susana Silva says...

    Beautiful house, beautiful couple, beautiful story…great post Joanna.
    Stef and Mackenzie’s first picture is amazing…it shows Love and Hapiness all over, it fully fills the white/the purity of the room…

    It’s really good when you are free to express yourself, your feelings and even your levels of anxiety…we are all made of the same emotions…

    Wish you all a very nice weekend.

    Xoxo.

  22. Lily says...

    Oh my god, I LOVEEEEE them together. Their style is everything. Also a kickass basement is truly the staple of a great midwestern home.

  23. This interview made my Wisconsin heart so happy, especially the line about Wisconsin basements! My first kiss (of many!) was in a Wisconsin basement with carpet, oversized furniture, chips and dip. We have an unfinished basement here in Tennessee and I have serious Wisconsin dreams for it.

  24. Lauren says...

    This is my favorite home tour post so far! I am obsessed with their bookshelf and how it is organized, and am going to attempt to style mine similarly this weekend! Also, the kitchen is so simple and sleek. Perfection.

    Their meeting each other so quickly from a dating site made me smile/feel relieved – I recently met a guy on Tinder (after a friend hassled me for months to just try it), about 40 minutes after I signed up on it- after messaging for a bit, we met for drinks later that night (which is INSANELY out of my comfort zone- add to that I have been single for 7 YEARS!), and it went amazingly well! I was so shocked and so happy. But I also felt like a crazy person acting so quickly, haha. Fingers crossed that it continues to go well (dating is hard/awkward/confusing! Especially in your 30’s, and especially after such a long time of not doing it, having been devastated by my last relationship, hellooooo anxiety). But their story made me so happy, and they are a beautiful, lovely couple :-)

    Also – in the 8th picture (the first one of their bedroom), do you happen to know where those shoes are from? They look comfy and stylish :-)

    Thanks for sharing this lovely couple, and I’m going to look into that pillow for sure!

  25. Lissa says...

    Lovely couple, great interview. McKenzie is making your Wisconsin readers proud — I snorted when I read the line about buying things you accidentally threw away!

  26. “I want to do a complete starfish without touching my wife.” #bedgoals

  27. MA says...

    I love the story about the gassiest first date – too funny! Way to keep it real. Lovely home. I’d love to move in.

  28. ariane says...

    i think this is my favourite house tour yet

  29. Who’s foot is it on the first photo? The one on the right of the bed? Yours, Joanna?
    ;-)

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Haha! I think it’s Stef’s! :)

  30. Anna says...

    I love their home, but my favourite part of this article was the first picture – Their happiness and love absolutely radiates through. What a beautiful couple!

  31. Laura C. says...

    I am longing to have a king size bed!! I like their books, organized by colors- it’s nice!
    But I do not like the goat skull. Sorry ladies- but the rest of the house is awesome, I do like the night stand beside their bed- minimal and lovely!

  32. olma says...

    I love those sculptures.

  33. Mimi says...

    This is such a beautiful home und I love Stef’s art!! Can you say something to the huge blue picture in the living room? It’s so great!

  34. Kim says...

    So true about the king bed. My husband and I vacationed in Costa Rica in 2009 and slept in a king for the first time. I was so amazed by the vastness of bed space that I was doing “snow angles” on them and proclaiming to him repeatedly, “Look! My arms and legs are outstretched and I can’t even reach you!” We bought a king bed immediately upon our return.

  35. Michelle says...

    Such a beautiful home and fun interview with two lovely women!
    Would you be able to share the source of the shelves in the living room? They are perfection!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      they were built-in shelves from the previous owners. they’re beautiful!

  36. Sheilah says...

    I live about two miles from Hunt & Gather and have never been in. Will fix that mistake this weekend. M

    • Madeline says...

      I’m like a mile and a half from there! Too funny. I found it completely overwhelming. But the string of antique shops across the street are fantastic.

  37. Amy says...

    Cool post.

  38. Betsy says...

    Love the goat skull… What’s the story behind it?

    • Fran Lyon-Dugin says...

      It’s actually a bison skull from her grandfather (I know this because I’m McKenzie’s mom :) )

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hi, Mckenzie’s mom!!! :)

    • Betsy says...

      Very cool… We have Mountain Goat skull that my husband found on a glacier in Alaska.

  39. My husband and I want to copy their living room. It’s perfection. And the boob rug is everything. xo

    • Anna says...

      Oh, I adore the boob rug too!!!! Hilarious!!!!

  40. Morgan says...

    I love every single part of this–thank you! Dream home, dream life.

  41. Victoria says...

    We got married at Aurora! I love these ladies. Just looking at these pictures makes me breathe deeper.
    Also I would pay money for a large print of that doodle. So Ellsworth Kelly.

  42. Becca says...

    Such a lovely home tour. These gals seem like instant best friend material. So funny and endearing!

  43. Di says...

    All of Mckenzie’s comments made me laugh!

  44. Leslie says...

    seem like awesome ladies with great style BUT am I the only one that thinks it’s ironic that they find $50 for a pillow expensive yet charge $90 for a panty? And yet I will still probably buy both.

    • Alyce says...

      Haha, so true.

  45. Shannon says...

    <3

  46. Oh my goodness, their place is AMAZING. The living room! The bookshelf! The pink wall in the bedroom! And the studio?! Obsessed. Plus, they seem like suuuper cool gals.
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  47. Such a lovely space. So cozy and minimal.

  48. Beth says...

    What a cool, simple, cozy home! Love the pink wall and rug. Also thank you Joanna for featuring more same sex couples on your blog – as a long time reader married to a lady it means a lot :)

  49. what a beautiful couple in such a cosy, yet cool and chic space. these women are doing it right! so much home inspiration in this post! xo

  50. Wow, I love everything about this home. It reminds me of the airbnb we stayed at in Amsterdam. Clean lines, simple furniture, but lots of coziness. I want to move in – if only three weren’t a crowd! :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha, same, audrey!

  51. Liz says...

    A lovely home filled with lovely people. Thank you for the tour.

    A quick note, though. The chair identified in the living room photo as a Marcel Breuer design is actually a Mies Van Der Rohe Barcelona chair. Designed for the Barcelona Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition. It can get confusing because Mies designed some tubular steel furniture that resembles Breuer’s work, but that swooping “x” of Stef and Mckenzie’s chair is all Mies. Sorry…architectural historian nerding out over here…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, liz!!

  52. Celeste says...

    That boob rug is amazing.

  53. Amelia says...

    Stef’s sculpture’s are SO cool!

  54. who makes that amazing bookcase??

  55. Stephanie Benko says...

    What a great interview! They seem really funny and their apartment is both homey and hip! My favorite piece of art is the plant sketch, very cool.

  56. AJ says...

    Oh I love this home. So calm and, if it’s possible to sense this through a computer screen about people I’ve never met, feels so them! Gorgeous. And love the idea of having a power colour.

  57. Kristen says...

    this is lovely!! What a wonderful home, couple and interview. Nicely done.

  58. Sadie says...

    I LOVE Stef’s art! — definitely will have to check out her webpage.

    I really like the lights she made for the bedroom, too, but I have a question .. I tried something similar and the heat of the lit bulb eventually made a “burnt” spot on the wall. How do they avoid that??

    • Try LEDs! Most brands don’t get hot :)

  59. Fran Lyon-Dugin says...

    Love these two and the life they have made together!

  60. Lauren says...

    “I want to do a complete starfish without touching my wife.” Dying. My husband is the same way, and I’m a snuggler. He tells me he’ll wake up and I’m burrowed into his back. We have a queen bed and I refuse to get anything larger. :)

  61. Such a lovely couple! Beautiful home, too.

    The Overstock rug in the living room — it’s not linked, and I couldn’t seem to locate it on Overstock.com. Assuming it’s sold out?

    Thanks!!

  62. laetitia says...

    Love that Blue painting, like an window to Blue skies! They look so happy <3

  63. They totally had me with the first picture with all the plants, but the interview completely did me in! The Marie Kondo line about replacing the stuff you threw away made me LOL. I followed the rules very literally and then woke up with only sparkly cocktail dresses and super casual clothes…and nothing to wear to work. Ha! Mckenzie’s midwestern comments made me chuckle too. I went to college in the midwest and my husband is from central Illinois and everything she was saying is so spot on. What hilarious, inspiring women!

  64. So light and comforting. I DO want to touch your art.

  65. Camille says...

    Beautiful home! I love the idea of a “power color” and I will try to find out which one is mine.

    • Yes! this is critical. Mine is a bright coral red.

    • I’ve been trying to work mine out too!

  66. Cynthia says...

    I really like the sleek look of this apartment. The dog is adorable! I could not imagine sleeping in anything but a king size bed! How my husband and I slept in a double bed for years, I’ll never know. Then we moved up to a queen, and finally a king, because we couldn’t get a queen size into our stairwell. Now they make a queen with a split box spring.

  67. Loved this one. Definitely one of the most stunning homes featured so far, and a stunning couple to boot!

  68. Ahhhh so many good things about this! Boob rug, amalfi coast honeymoon, pink walls, and that perfect leather couch. This is super amazing!

    Xo, Brittany
    http://www.notablob.com/

  69. Ally says...

    “They should have a follow up to that book — The Art of Buying Things That You Accidentally Threw Away.”

    This made me laugh. Lovely write-up of a couple of artists/entrepreneurs working from home.

    • Yes, I laughed out loud! Genius.

    • That was the best line. There’s never been a truer statement.

      Love this apartment, and adorable couple.

    • Amy says...

      Haha yes – I Kondo-ed as much as I could last year (we’re not done having kids yet, so that was a limiting factor) and there’s been a few things I’ve regretted tossing and I’m either grumpily living without them or have had to re-purchase them. Whoops.

    • Allison says...

      Also made me laugh! Great idea!

    • Ha ha yes y’all keep Marie Kondoing it up out there and I’ll keep finding your awesome stuff at Good Will :)

    • Anna says...

      I thought this was hilarious too! Yes, how many times has that happened to us, every time we have a clean out…

  70. Rachel says...

    I love this. It’s so calm and minimal but still cozy. Love the bedroom rug and the sense of humor of the jewelry stand and bathmat . (Also, they are just super cute together!)