Design

Ellen Van Dusen’s Playful Home Looks Like a Cartoon Come to Life

Dusen Dusen home tour

Designer Ellen Van Dusen is a kid at heart. She counts watermelon, sharks and her adorable Boston terrier among her favorite things. So, she brought all these elements into her playful apartment in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Here’s a look around…

KITCHEN:

Dusen Dusen home tour

On a childlike aesthetic: I tend to like stuff that’s made for kids better than stuff that’s made for adults. I like colors and shapes. I’ve always been interested in the things that you’re drawn to without realizing why, that you can’t totally explain.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Spoon crock: Helen Levi. Pot: Le Creuset. Bowtie pasta potholders: Great Big Stuff.

On cool cupboards: My parents are both architects, and my mom did the layout of the kitchen. I have a tendency to go overboard with color, so I was like, Ellen, you can not have a different color for every cabinet. Instead, I wanted the cabinets to be a neutral backdrop, so we decided to have a pattern cut into the plywood. I like it because it’s so simple but looks very complex. It’s a quarter circle turned in different directions. The pattern never intersects or connects so it’s infinite. It extends foreeeeever!

Dusen Dusen home tour

Shark and watermelon coasters: Lorien Stern. Pink knife: Kuhn Rikon similar.

On playful things: I have a thing for sharks, and watermelon is my favorite food. I have too much watermelon stuff. You’d be amazed. I also used to be in a shark club with my friend. It was just two people. We’d make cookies in the shape of sharks. We made zines about sharks. I’m terrified of them and I revere them.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Red pendant lamps: Rich Brilliant Willing.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Chairs: covered with Dusen Dusen fabric. Yellow shark ceramic: Lorien Stern. Tiles in fireplace: Tierra Y Fuego.

On a portrait of Snips: I went to a fundraising event, where there was a silent auction. I didn’t know many people, so I was milling around, and there was an auction item for a Rob Pruitt portrait of your pet. He’s one of my favorite artists. I was like, I have to win this thing! And I did! His studio asked me for my 10 favorite photos of Snips, and I sent them her Instagram account. I love how it turned out.

LIVING ROOM:

Dusen Dusen home tour

Sofa: Room and Board, similar. Pillows: Dusen Dusen.

On launching a company: I started Dusen Dusen 10 years ago, when I was fresh out of college. I had nothing to lose. I had a part-time job where I was making $12 an hour; and during my off hours, I was hand-sewing dresses in my apartment and selling them to a store in the East Village. I didn’t know about sizing, so I bought a book. I was really nervous when I dropped off my first delivery, since I had no idea if they’d fit a person. But it worked! Eventually, I was sewing a lot and needed to figure out a better way to do it — so I decided to try to sell to more stores, do a trade show and find a factory, and it grew from there.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Rug: Cold Picnic, similar. Coffee tables: Eric Trine.

On a conversation starter: When people come over, they always hone in on one thing. Usually it’s the tulip. I got the tulip at an antiques warehouse upstate. I saw it and was like, oh no, I have to have that tulip, what do I do?! Luckily, it fit in my car.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Art above the bookcase: Paul Wackers.

On a TV surprise: I love television, but I hate the way a TV looks. So, I asked a friend, how do we make something that looks good that can also hide a TV? He did a bunch of research and built it into this bookshelf we designed together. You press a button and it emerges. I’ve been watching a show called On Becoming a God in Central Florida. It’s about a 1990s ponzi scheme where they sell household products. It’s really good and weird.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Art over mantle: Ethan Cook. Croissant lamp: Pampshade. Baguette candle: John Derian.

On a signature ceiling light: My designer friend Katie Stout does a lot of weird, lumpy, colorful stuff. I asked her to make me a light, and she sent me a basic line drawing of what it would look like. Then I didn’t see it until it was finished. It was a great reveal!

DINING SPACE:

Dusen Dusen home tour

Circle rug: Dusen Dusen for kinder MODERN. Green and orange candles: Areaware. Dining table: Ettore Sottsass for Zanotta. Chairs: Ettore Sottsass for Knoll, similar.

On entertaining: When I have friends over, I love putting out pickles and pistachios. Then I make stuffed pasta shells that are very decadent and tasty. For dessert, I love Flavor Ice popsicles.

POWDER ROOM:

Dusen Dusen home tour

Dusen Dusen home tour

Custom animal paintings: Lorien Stern.

On a playful bathroom: I wanted to do something funky in this bathroom. The artist Lorien Stern, who makes a lot of shark heads and clothes with animals on them, spent three days painting the characters. We talked about which animals and flowers and things to do. We obviously had to do a watermelon and a shark. The waving seal above the toilet is really cute.

STAIRS:

Dusen Dusen home tour

Custom carpeting: Cold Picnic.

On a colorful stair banister: There used to be a wall next to the stairs, and we took it out. My architect dad sent me a drawing of a standard railing, and I was like, dad, come on. Then he sent me a drawing of what it is now, and I was like, dad, you’re insane! My dad was like, what if we did this railing so you see four different views depending on which direction you’re walking in? So, you see different color combinations when you’re walking from different angles. Choosing the colors took a long time at Home Depot — it was definitely a puzzle!

BEDROOM:

Dusen Dusen home tour

Artwork above bed: Jonas Wood for Massif Central. Bed: Design Within Reach. Bedding: Dusen Dusen.

On a connection to color: I feel at ease when there’s a lot of stuff in my visual field. When I’m in a hotel that’s really minimal, it makes me nervous.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Duck lamp: gift from a friend. White bedside table: Ries Studio, similar. Wooden dresser: hand painted Ikea. Striped lamp on dresser: Brendan Timmins.

On a DIY bedroom dresser: This is an old IKEA dresser passed onto me from my brother. They have really nice wood stuff. I painted flowers on it because it needs some flair. I used a roll of tape to paint the circles.

Dusen Dusen home tour

Black bedside table: Pat Kim for Design Within Reach. Yellow lamp: Innermost bud lamp. Vase: Hay Design. Dog bed: Dusen Dusen. Brown vase on mantle: Helen Levi, similar.

On a beloved dog: Snips is about to turn nine, and I’ve had her since she was five weeks old. Our favorite time of year is the dog costume contest in Fort Greene. This fall, Snips was kale and I was a carrot. Last year, my friend Helen was a vacuum cleaner and her dog was a dust bunny. People go nuts for it.

MASTER BATHROOM:

Dusen Dusen home tour

Green bathmat: Ikea, similar.

On a personal pattern: The artist Francois Morellet did a series of paintings where he went through a phone book and assigned red to odd numbers and blue to even numbers, so I did a similar thing with my bathroom tiles. I looked at the contacts in my cell phone and assigned white to even numbers and black to odd numbers. There are different areas of the bathroom for different people — New York friends are on one wall, friends I grew up with are on another wall, my family is on the floor. I told the friends whose numbers were part of it, and people were like, ‘Weird!’

On settling in: I think I’ll live here forever. I can’t imagine doing it all again!

Thank you so much, Ellen!

P.S. More house tours, including my grandmother’s house in Cornwall and a downsized family home in Sacramento.

(Photos and styling by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo.)

  1. this looking great and this is really helpful for me and also for my upcoming project as well so i hope you to add some more in future also. so thank you once again for sharing

  2. i love everything about this. Hope you add this in future also

  3. S says...

    I’m so inspired by this home. We are in the midst of piecing together ours after a house fire. This is what I needed to see! I‘ve admired her work for so long and she’s created a fun and unique home.

    I’m curious about such a basic source, but any idea about her countertops? They are almost white but not quite. I like them.

  4. Elise says...

    This is an insane mix of sophisticated and childish and I LOVE it. My house will never look anything like this, but that’s ok. Thanks for sharing. Interesting comments and things to consider, too. Thanks COJ!

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever NOT loved a cup of Jo house tour, but boy was this one extra delightful. My favorite thing about these is that I feel like they give me permission to be bold in my own style choices. I find myself reading along and saying, “you can do that?!” But of course you can. There is nothing better than entering a home that tells you who the person is right when you walk in. When you share who you are through your aesthetics, it’s not only good style, it’s a gift to others. I love that.

  6. Christy Lewis says...

    I love her. You can tell she has a smart, unusual brain. I agree that things made for children are better than grown up stuff, esp. home decor. The pickles, pistachios, pasta, popsicles party made me laugh. So did “oh no I have to have that tulip what do I do.”

    • Christy Lewis says...

      Also “I also used to be in a shark club with my friend. It was just two people.”?

  7. Meg says...

    Where is that red kitchen ladder stool from? I love it. Beautiful home!

  8. Jenny says...

    My favorite home you’ve featured by far! So much fun! Do you have the source for the set of jars on the kitchen counter by chance? x

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’ll ask!

    • mkat says...

      were you ever able to find out? such a small detail, really love it!

  9. MB says...

    Her creativity is boundless! And I love seeing people who inject joy into their surroundings and don’t take things overly seriously

  10. Christina says...

    How fun! I love to see a stylish but not too serious home. It looks like a place you’d want to be invited for many dinner parties!

  11. Jenn says...

    I love sharks too, and have little nods to them all over my house! I love that she unabashedly fills her home with the things that make her happy. Your house should tell the story of who you are and what you love. She’s nailed it.

  12. Nigerian Girl says...

    Your home fills me with joy and light, Ellen. Do you.

  13. Claire says...

    OH MY GOSH this is my favorite house tour ever yes yes YES. The tulip! Sharks! Colors everywhere! So perfect.

  14. Emily Brown says...

    oh my gosh- as a tulip lover, that giant one is AMAZING.

  15. Awads says...

    As a fellow Boston Terrier “owner”, i am over the moon for Snips!!! I’m going to look at that face for the rest of the day! (oh, and nice house).

  16. Alessandra says...

    Love this! Are they willing to make the amazing custom book case for others? If so could you provide information?

  17. Kimmie Goodson says...

    I too, feel a great desire to have that tulip in my home. I would love to know, is all the incredibly ornate crown molding original to the home? And if it isn’t, where did source it from? I love the combination of her young, delightful style against the proper & romantic molding.

  18. Betsy says...

    Her house is so lively and fun! And as a fellow Boston Terrier owner, I love her pup!!

  19. liz says...

    This place is AMAZING! I love it so much, thanks for sharing! Definitely one of the more interesting, unique, and inspiring homes I’ve seen. I relate to the loving children’s stuff thing too, but haven’t given in to that as much myself — makes me wanna reconsider

  20. Christina says...

    I work in climate policy and am thinking constantly about the ways that material consumption exacerbates the present crisis, and I actually took away a very different message from this home tour! Ellen obviously put tremendous thought into every detail of the space, with the goal of living in/among the design for a long time. She even says explicitly at the end that she thinks she’ll live there forever! Looking at our physical possessions as long-haul investments, rather than things to be swapped out in a year, is about the most climate-positive way to approach design.

  21. Kate says...

    So fun to see this! It feels like the current trends fall into the same rather bland color palette – this was a joy to see! I loved the whimsy!

  22. Annie says...

    I LOVE this apartment. And want everything she makes!

  23. K says...

    OMG I TOO LOVE KIDS STUFF LIKE SIMPLE COLORFUL MOBILES AND MECHANICAL TOYS

  24. Bethany says...

    Maybe one of my favorite tours ever. I have a childlike sense of style, too, and every corner of her space really speaks to me and makes me excited to look at my own house again for a way to use shapes in a more playful way.

  25. agnes merat says...

    I love the flowers on the Ikea drawer, very clever and fun! This appartment is fun!

  26. Elly says...

    This apartment is great. Such a nice change of pace from the “everything all-white, wood, and mid-century modern” that often gets featured on design blogs. I also have a childlike spirit and have never grown out of my love for cute things, so I relate to Ellen a lot!

    The amount of stuff she got through her connections for this place is insane. I guess it’s by virtue of her being an artist and seeming to have parents who are also in incredibly helpful positions (architect dad anyone?). But it’s crazy for us “normies” to contemplate calling up an artist friend and asking for a custom light fixture. The place is amazing but it also feels extremely unattainable. Not that everything has to be attainable…I don’t know! It’s just confusing.

    • Al says...

      I do understand the intent of this comment, but I also sort of balk at the self-effacing “normie” thing — I’m an illustrator, so by virtue of my work and the professional world I inhabit I of course have many other artist friends. We do collaborations in our spare time, trade pieces of work, commission each other, recommend our work to other interested parties….what we do could seem abnormal I suppose but we work hard and do a job just like anyone else, which is worth considering when you look around our world and see how much image and aesthetic likely impact your daily life. Those beautiful and often meaningful things don’t just come from nowhere! I’d say most of us feel pretty grateful to be able to make our livings this way and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but we also face plenty of unglamorous professional challenges as well. The benefits though, one of which means being able to tap into each other as resources if we’d like a new piece of art or perhaps a custom lamp, are not unlike two colleagues exchanging professional goods or advice in their off hours out of camaraderie, respect, or actual friendship. Sure, most artists you’d meet of any denomination probably wouldn’t necessarily categorize themself as a “normie”, that’s true, but on the flip side creativity is not just restricted to those of us who practice it professionally. I’m sure you know at least a few people who make beautiful things in their spare time even if it’s not their job…try purchasing something from them!

    • But wouldn’t you possibly have a plumber, or a painter, or a woodworker, landscaper, roofer, etc. as part of your circle and you could trade, commission, etc with them? Just because hers are related to artists doesn’t mean you can’t do the same…I’ve contributed my skills to charities and friends, my husband helps friends build their deck, we carpool to dance and help sew dance costumes and a friend just did our furnace inspection on the weekend for a rack of ribs.

    • liz says...

      BUT don’t you think something (like a home) you created and designed yourself with your family and friends SHOULD be unattainable to other people who aren’t you with the same brain, family and friends? I don’t see why this is surprising or a problem. Not everything is shared to be copied.

    • AB says...

      I’m quite baffled by this comment. You use the term “connections” as though we’re talking about “good old boys” in a country club. But in many cases — like Lorien Stern, featured several times — these are hardworking young women with careers that are just beginning to take off. Of course they’ll connect with fellow artists and support each other’s work! What could one possibly find to protest about that?

  27. Candace says...

    I was smiling the whole time I was reading this piece. So much fun! So nice to be reminded that interior decor can be playful and ignore the ‘rules’. We see so many manicured mid-century modern neutral spaces these days – this was a breath of fresh – and colorful – air! Thanks!! x

  28. Jackie says...

    Holy shit this is the best house design ever. It’s not my taste but it is so fully realized and so excellently done, I STAN this woman. Also, can you ask her for the stuffed shells recipe? I love that dish but my cheese blend is rather bland. Thanks!

    • Katherine says...

      Yes to everything! Can we talk about those bow tie pasta pot holders?!? So much whimsy & fun! Plus I love that this is her house, not because she has kids but because she is creative and loves colors, patterns, etc! I love the bathroom wallpaper too!

  29. Christine says...

    Definitely one of my favorite home tours~

  30. Sarah says...

    This is great and so fun! I’d love to see Ellen do a week of outfits!

  31. Karen says...

    This home is absolutely BONKERS and I LOVE IT

  32. I love it…every pice of furniture and decor is thought out and comes together remarkably. It must have taken her so long to create such an eclectic and fun, yet tasteful space. Her home as a whole is like a piece of art, but a fun and cosy one that you can live in :)

  33. Rachael says...

    I am in love with her bathroom mural! Now I’m daydreaming about getting a local artist friend to do something like that in my bathroom! <3

  34. MS says...

    Dream home! I’d love to know the names of the artists that made the art over the kitchen fireplace, tv stand, and bedroom pieces. It’s all perfect :)

  35. ANNA says...

    I grew up with Lorien Stern — SO glad to see her featured here!

    And love this home :).

    • AK says...

      Love Lorien! xoxo

  36. Kristin says...

    Lover her place! Kitchen, bath, and tulip especially. Wasn’t this also featured in Architectural Digest? Have definitely seen this cool home before…

  37. Sara Campbell says...

    I love this! So out of my visual comfort zone (I’d call my style Hygge to the max) but I love it so much). I’d love to see more photos of the bannister as we’re also taking out a wall up the stairs!

  38. Anna says...

    Truly an individual space, which is rare I think in this Instagram age. She’s clearly a genuine creative. I find the style cloyingly childlike, personally – almost like a film set (it reminds me of that toyshop in Big!) – but I absolutely applaud Ellen’s individuality and find it very refreshing that this is not an identikit mid-century modern Instagram home.

    • Kate says...

      I completely agree. I love that it is so true to her style and preferences, and that it is so individualistic, but I find it oddly childish as well. Thank you for making that point so graciously. Good for her, not for me (as Amy Poehler has so succinctly put it)!

  39. This is hands down my favorite tour. I can’t decided what I love more. Her fabulous personality, the sharks, the watermelons, the giant tulip… Thank you!

  40. Ksm says...

    What Paint did you pick for the Ikea dresser? I picked the paint from Ikea and it looked really bad and amateur. Would love to know. Thanks.

  41. Julie says...

    Love this house! The yellow tv cabinet is just perfect for the space. I also love the artwork above it.

  42. Lauren Cesca says...

    WHAT?!!! in. love.

  43. K says...

    I do not intend this comment to sound disrespectful at all (which I know is a terrible disclaimer to start with), but I am always very genuinely curious about how many of the individuals profiled on CoJ afford their homes/clothes/products.

    I am not familiar with Ellen’s company, and it may be super successful, which is wonderful. More generally, though, I’m always struck by how many people profiled here that are not in traditionally extremely high-paying jobs have high-end homes in expensive cities or wear pricey clothes (although I know several of the outfit posts include very accessible brands).

    It is none of my business, I know, but sometimes it makes me feel like I must be doing something wrong because I can’t seemingly effortlessly have an interesting, unique, well-appointed home on an average salary. It makes me wonder how people do it!

    • jules says...

      I hear you. I think it took a job in sales for me to realize that some people make a ton more money doing certain jobs than you would imagine, though I don’t think her goods are targeted to the average salary. Also, you never know what the other members of their families do for a living or what really is going on when you see people on line.
      You do gotta remember, though, that more money does not to equate to doing right and less money to wrong. Like actually learn to believe that as true. Because the internet can work some stuff on your brain when it comes to that.

    • Mona says...

      I don’t think asking where the money comes from is disrespectful. If we don’t ask, it furthers the sense that individuals are entirely responsible for their economic situations. The least pernicious version leads to sighs over house tours and yearning (at least in my case) for some awesome custom carpet for the stairs. The most pernicious version tells people that their inability to pull themselves out of poverty is a personal failure. Money buys time. Time to figure out want you want to do, time to hand sew stuff and sell it in one store. That initial ability to invest time allows a company to grow. There’s no shame in that or benefiting from family support. The problem is the silence around it. Perhaps being more open about how generational wealth is transferred (and the way things like discriminatory lending practices by banks have hindered this for generations of non-white Americans) is necessary now if we want things to change.

    • KL says...

      Right? Can we show the home of a middle-income, office worker or something? Doing really fun things clearly on a budget??

    • Joanna Goddard says...
    • Rae says...

      I really agree with this comment. It always feels jarring for me to see these posts that are disconnected from money, when financial realities are unavoidably a big part of how so many of us think about our homes. I understand that asking the subjects of these posts to open up about their finances would be a totally different level of vulnerability and transparency (although vulnerability is so much of what I value about CoJ!), but it feels like some interim steps would be possible — for instance questions that get at, “I bought this apartment in 2012 and felt really lucky to find it, and then was able to remodel X, Y, and Z pieces from it by saving for one room at a time,” or whatever the story is! I do appreciate the visual inspiration, but would appreciate it so much more if there was more process/backstory/context that went with it — and that would be a really useful additional level of understanding how pieces of this could fit into our own lives too. As I write this, maybe it could even be a different series — home tours plus the financial reality of making that home happen. All this said, thanks CoJ team for your thoughtfulness as always, and for creating such a great place on the internet.

    • Amy says...

      This resonated with me. On the one hand, perhaps I have read too many money diaries and I am trying to identify / analyze the financial goings on (as in, how much did this all cost?). But on the other hand, perhaps the deeper question generally (and I hate to say this) is how do people afford their high end lifestyles, whether it be from generational wealth or wherever?

      My takeaway over the years is that if it’s featured in “arch digest”then the decor budget = $$$.

    • M says...

      These comments I totally understand but I also think most people just work really hard. Yes, some have luck and some have trust funds, but most people work hard. I grew up in a single parent household, worked my entire life, paid for my own college and grad school. I was at one point homeless. When I found my partner we went through good and bad, lived in a nice apartment then after the recession we lived with family and lived in our car until we got on our feet. We worked in the private sector and public sector, lost jobs, worked retail and woke up at 4am to drive a delivery truck, etc. We worked incredibly hard to get our life where we are today with good careers. I failed along the way. But life is never exactly how you want it, nothing is ever right or perfect but you gotta get back up and try again.

      We just bought our first home and we get this question a lot from friends and some family. “How can you afford this?!” We sacrificed a lot and worked so hard to afford our home and yet people question how we (??) can afford to pay for such a home. We must have had help! We must be making X salary or have a trust fund! We made plans and excel spreadsheets with one, five, and ten year goals and looked for ways to achieve them.

      Honestly my finances are no one else’s business. My sneakers have holes in the toes but they still work so I wear them. I don’t own a car even though I live in an area where everyone owns multiple cars. We saved, and invested some money (I learned on my own), budgeted, worked multiple jobs, cut coupons, rode our old bikes and walked everywhere, etc. I own one purse! One pair of black heels! One pair of jeans! This is how I choose to live my life and you can decide how you want to live yours. Social media can make us compare what other people “have” instead of focusing on what you can do to get what YOU want out of life. Usually that involves working a lot and going above and beyond In many ways, but social media makes “success” look easy. It usually involves testing yourself and willing to fail (like the home tour starting her own business). Failing sucks, but looking back I learned the most when I failed. Just my two cents from someone who has been on both sides.

    • anna says...

      “There’s no shame in that or benefiting from family support. The problem is the silence around it. Perhaps being more open about how generational wealth is transferred (and the way things like discriminatory lending practices by banks have hindered this for generations of non-white Americans) is necessary now if we want things to change.”

      So well said, Mona. Thanks for thoughtfully contributing to this conversation.

    • Kelsey says...

      I really agree with this comment. I think Mona is right about money buying time and that making something like sewing clothes to start your own clothing company possible. I finished college almost a decade ago and can’t imagine ever being able to work a part time $12/hour job living in nyc… that’s some crazy privilege. Although I do generally like cup of jo, they really have a blind spot when it comes to class it seems. I mean it’s great that the person featured in this article was able to start a successful business selling very expensive clothes and able to buy & renovate an apartment, but it’s not realistic or normal. It’s more a symptom of the fact that we have the largest wealth inequality now since the gilded age. These articles are realistic for those on the “gilded” side of things. It’s also pretty insulting that Joanna’s response for more normal home tours is small space living…like if you can’t spend $300 on a sweater you must live in a tiny studio. I don’t mean to be too negative and I think it’s great that cup of jo features other important issues and great stuff on motherhood, I just don’t think Joanna/ the editorial team get class privilege/ gentrification/ wealth inequality issues based on this & other articles. Also obviously no offense to the owner of the apartment, the apartment is interesting/ unusual and having the privilege (of time and family help with renovations) isn’t a bad thing.

  44. jessie says...

    There’s more photos and the names of the artisans she worked with (credit where credit is due) on arch digest.

  45. MelTown says...

    I love what she says about needing a lot of things in her visual space and feeling nervous is a minimal space. I feel the exact same way, and when I say sparse spaces make me feel uncomfortable people look at me like I have two heads. Glad to discover I’m not alone!

    I adore everything about this space! I live for whimsy and people making their home really reflect who they are. This home is perfection.

  46. Christina says...

    So rad!!!

  47. Hannah says...

    The powder room!! This whole tour is fun and I love seeing people’s homes that are out of the norm style-wise. It sparks creativity in my own space beyond the very popular neutral styles that are trendy right now.

  48. RS says...

    Maybe I’m only confused by this because I don’t live in NYC. But, if this is an apartment, how/why does one invest so much in remodeling it? Is that a weird question?

    • Ellen says...

      I used to think that “apartment” meant you were renting and that “condo” meant you owned the place. Since then, I’ve heard somebody (from Chicago) talk about an “apartment” he owned. Not sure if this is a big city lingo thing, or a rich people thing (this person was wealthy). I suppose if you own a place in NYC, that goes hand-in-hand with being wealthy.

    • Jackie says...

      20+ year New Yorker here. Saying “apartment” doesn’t have any relationship to whether you own it or not. She clearly does own this place. But some people in NYC have rent stabilized or controlled apartments, where the owner can’t increase the rent markedly and you can stay forever, even pass it down to your family members – those people also renovate their apartments, if they can afford it. Apartments are home here in NYC – we do it all, in itty bitty living space.

    • Elly says...

      She owns it. You can’t remodel so extensively on an apartment you are renting.

    • JeanneK says...

      In NYC, you can either rent an apartment or own one – usually it is a co-op (you buy shares in a building that are tied to a specific apartment). We just closed on selling our co-op after living in it for 11 years. As with rents, prices vary based on location and neighborhood. We lived in Queens, and our co-op was $278,000 when we bought it (2br). So no, it’s not only for the wealthy.

  49. rose says...

    I 1000% love this home and her aesthetic. Wow.

  50. Holly K says...

    I love it!!!!! All of it!!!

  51. Jessica says...

    Can we get some info on those amazing kitchen counter chairs?

    • Emily says...

      Second this. Yes!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      a friend made them! i’ll ask her for his name.

  52. LLBR says...

    A playhouse for big people. Fun from end to end.

  53. Louisa says...

    I love this. My style icons growing up were Blossom and Punky Brewster – and not ironically, because irony as fashion didn’t really exist yet. And this is the grown up version of what I was after. I’m now in a gorgeous old 1906 home and (literally) just bought lighting that would “match the era” and suddenly wish I was friends with Katie Stout and had some lumpy lighting.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love your comment! :)

  54. LLH says...

    I loved this so much! I’ve followed Ellen’s work for years and have always admired her patterns and designs. This apartment is the perfect amount of bold and eye catching without being overwhelming.

  55. Rae says...

    Artist’s house tours are always the best. Artist with architect parents? Whole new level of creative! Should we assume that the paintings without credit are by Ellen van Dusen? The one over the yellow cabinet is really interesting.

  56. Kirsten says...

    I want to live in this houuussseee!!!!!

  57. Jan says...

    I’d live there. Pretty cool! Thanks for showing it

  58. Mk says...

    Can we be friends? I love hour apartment! I love everything about it. And you put out pickles and pistachios at parties… my two favorite foods. Wow! This is amazing! I just bought a home and it’s very modern, more modern than I usually like but I have so many colorful pieces from all over the world where I have lived that I think (hope) it will work. Your home is an inspiration! My favorite home tour! Amazing! And yes I love that tulip! I must find one!

  59. Eloise says...

    My favorite tour both so and by far!

  60. Traci Barr Segal says...

    Amazingly original and cheerful. I love it! I bet her outfits are fun, too. I’m definitely going to follow her dog on Instagram, because I have a 9-year-old boxer dog.?‍♀️??

  61. Jo says...

    How are people so talented and also have such talented friends?! Is everyone in Brooklyn like this???

    Loved so many things about this house.. unique, stylish and yet cozy. The powder room and the yellow TV table are my favorites!

  62. Oooooooooooo!
    I want to live here!!! <3

  63. Nubia says...

    I absolutely adore her home.

  64. This is my favourite house tour so far. I actually had an “ah ha” moment looking at these pictures. This is my aesthetic. This is what I want. Playful. It’s just such a happy space.

  65. AE says...

    Aw, I normally love these peeps into people’s homes but as a Bed-Stuy native it’s really difficult to see the neighborhood rapidly gentrifying and to see that process and those people revered. Nothing about this home embodies the culture or history of the neighborhood…. it’s kind of all been erased, which is a great metaphor for gentrification. Disappointed this time, Jo.

    • HMM says...

      But… Does it have to? It’s her home, and isn’t that hers to do with what she likes? I’m all for positively contributing to the community you live in, but I think people do that in different ways. I would be confused to hear that I’m a negative influence on the neighborhood because… I like color? I have an aesthetic that is different than my neighbors? You don’t like my interiors?

    • Kathleen says...

      This is exactly how I felt when a home in my neighborhood was featured, too :(

    • Lorena says...

      AE, thank you, your reply strikes a chord with me. When I saw the neighborhood was Bed-Stuy, I hoped the person profiled “embodied the culture and history of the neighborhood.” This article felt tone-deaf, much like the Sezane clothing post. Disappointed too.

    • Mae says...

      Thanks for sharing how this landed for you. I was struck looking at it how much this looks like a Bed-Stuy brownstone–the fireplaces, the narrow living room leading to that backyard. I’ve been in an identical house (layout wise) in this neighborhood. I can definitely understand it being jarring to see something so recognizable so completely changed, with the culture of the neighborhood erased as you said.

    • jules says...

      for us non new Yorkers, can you explain what you would expect to see from a home in this neighborhood? (not at all patronizing – I tried to look it up, but only found a little). I understand the point but would love to know about your community and what about this home was so off

    • Liz says...

      Why should the interior of someone’s home embody the culture of history if the neighborhood? It seems like you’re implying she shouldn’t live there… if that’s not it, then why can’t she decorate the space she lives in as she wants? It’s not a public space

    • mado says...

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. I think this issue ties in with the financial one, no? As NYC has gotten more and more expensive, that drives somewhat middle-income people to gentrifying neighborhoods, where they have enough money to renovate and customize to their tastes (as they wouldn’t, I imagine, in a newer high rise setting maybe in Manhattan or something). And sure, gentrification is not the fault of any one individual, but individuals do take part in it, and it does actively harm individuals and communities being displaced.
      I felt somewhat similarly when I read the house tour of a couple in the Twin Cities -excitement that my home state was featured, followed by amazement at the beautiful home, followed by the realization that these people were RICH (multiple Christmases in Paris clued me in). It just made it hard to relate, and also a little sad that I felt like actually, my home state wasn’t represented, because most people don’t live like that. I know these are supposed to be escapist and inspirational, but with the way Cup of Jo has embraced talking about the political, it’s starting to seem a little off that talking about class is avoided when it’s so obvious in features like these.

    • Lorena says...

      The issue is not interior design. Of course everyone and anyone decorates their personal space, interior and exteror, as they see fit, which is as it should be, right?
      The issue alluded to is the gentrification of certain urban neighborhoods, worldwide, as well as the under representation of certain communities, regardless of class, color, age, or size. It’s not meant to be mean; it’s a feeling of overall helplessness as you see yourself being either erased, ignored, or economically disenfranchised.

      I quite LOVE the interior decor of the space profiled.. I’m Mexican-American. My LA house, a 1929 Mission Revival bungalow, is more Scandi/Japanese/minimalist.

      It’s the other issues that jar.

      Thanks, COJ, for allowing this conversation♥️

    • Nina says...

      AE: thank you for sharing your sentiments as it hits the nail on the head. Would love to see a feature on someone like Kai Avent-deLeon, who is also a Bed-Stuy native, and has a beautiful shop, Sincerely Tommy in Bed-Stuy . There are so many wonderfully diverse and native Brooklynite women who are contributing to their community in a variety of ways. It’s easy and privillged to say things like, “isn’t that hers to do with what she likes?” when people aren’t on the short end of the stick when it comes to gentrification. This is not about aesthetics, but it is about the optics. Erasure historically happens to minorities, which is why it’s so important to honor the legacy and rich heritage of these historically African-American neighborhoods.

    • AG says...

      I agree, AE. I thought the place itself was great but the fact that it’s in Bed-Stuy made me sad. I’m not a native, my friend’s family is, and I lived there for a bit. There were few places where Black folks were allowed to own homes when her grandma bought hers. More than a decade ago, companies started buying up properties and often scammed and took advantage of the residents. My friend’s grandma herself got many shady offers that some older or desperate people would have fallen for. Luckily she has her entire family to protect her but many families fell pray to these “investors”.

      Many of the homes in Bed-Stuy were multi-family and have been converted to single homes for rich people. Townhouses sell in the million dollar range. I’m not sure why this home is being presented as an “apartment”. It is not, it’s a townhouse (the Arch Digest article labels it as such). Now all the prices are going up and people who’ve lived there for generations can no longer afford the rent.

      The worst part is when I hear the new residents complain about the old (read: black) residents (they’re loud, bad parents, lazy). I am white-passing and the things I’ve heard… ?

      Also, the myth of it being dangerous. Please.

      Anyway, this is not a critique of Jo or the team, I love this site and the conversations that happen on it. But I fully agree with whoever said that it is important to talk about these things.

      I could go on and on, but I’ll quit my rambling now.

      Thank you, Team COJ. I 99% love the content and I have a really high bar.

  66. Justine says...

    Artists are so fascinating in their need or compulsion for beauty and creativity. You can see it in the way they live and in the way Ellen talks. You can tell that no other way is acceptable. It’s really awesome, especially when many of us just fumble along with decorating, doing enough to feel comfortable. I remember reading Patti Smith’s first autobiography – and she’s a totally different kind of artist – but for her too art was the only way. Even though she was really struggling. Nothing else was going to satisfy. I’m not an artist but I love a glimpse into their minds and vision. So many of us are simple and practical by nature, though of course we all have creativity within us. It makes me happy that we have artists among us, these creatures who boldly lead their lives with their creativity, seemingly seeing no alternative.

  67. I believe you are a kindred spirit with my daughter. She said your home was her dream home. She is 11 and just thinks in color and always have. I showed her how you don’t need to lose that when you grow up by showing her your home. It is beautiful

    • Mrs D says...

      Yes! Love this conversation. My very creative 7 year old son is the same and he loved this home as well.

  68. Andrea says...

    Very cool. I love spaces that are a reflection of the owner.

  69. Kiana says...

    I think this is very representative of an artistic person. My father is an accountant by day and an artist by night and his house is packed with stuff, has so many different textiles and patterns, and no harmonious style. To give an example, I recently bought him a floor lamp and apparently it wasn’t out there enough for him because he PAINTED the damn light bulbs so now there’s a stained glass window effect. It took me forever to appreciate my dad’s style and just embrace it but I do now and I can’t imagine his house any other way. Plus my son, who’s seven years old, recently told me that my father’s house is his favorite place.

  70. Incredible! So much visual interest. I’d have a hard time focusing on the TV anyway with all the color and playfulness surrounding it!

  71. Kim says...

    Amazing home! I’ve always been drawn to color and shape, too. Color makes me happy. I do have serene dark aquas and deep greys in my bedroom, though.

  72. mb says...

    I love this house so much! It isn’t my style but I want it just delights me. It is silly, cheerful, and elegant all at the same time! I love the art, the details, and just wish there were more dog pics :)

  73. Love!!!! I recently bought two of her Everybody Tissue Box Holders. One was for a hostess gift and one for me! Love her place and her art collection, some of my favorite artists!

  74. Lisa says...

    I love everything about this!

  75. Brigid says...

    I grew up three doors down from Ellen! I did a double take when I read the name and saw the face of my childhood friend. Our paths haven’t crossed in years, despite our parents still being neighbors. Hey, Ellen!

  76. Nan says...

    How gorgeous! So many places are “quirky” in the exact same ways that tons of other homes on various blogs/Pinterest are quirky. Not here! This is truly individual, whimsical without becoming twee, and one of my favorites here.

  77. Ashley says...

    Yes!! Do your thing, honey!

  78. Elizabeth R says...

    Who did the art above the yellow bookcase?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll ask!

    • Nina Lewis says...

      Wow, what an adventurous design palate!!
      The design direction is reminiscent of the 80’s Memphis movement; super colorful with eccentric shapes and details (especially the Ettore Sottsass dining table and chairs!). Though I’m partial to monochromatic schemes, I crave hits of color in my artwork and accessories. Last year I upholstered my headboard with a very colorful (fuchsia) flatweave rug, causing my friends to gasp when they saw it, lol!
      I applaud Ellen’s bold approach in her home. Is it possible to see more of the kitchen?

    • mereduck says...

      Oh that must be Paul Wackers! A NYC based painter. SO jealous of Ellen’s collection as seen in this post!