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All Photos by Driely S.
Ariana Boussard-Reifel is the founder of Mode Marteau, a vintage retailer that deals with a mix of high-end luxury brands and one-of-a-kind artisan-made goods. On top of also being an artist, sculptor, and an avid collector, she also renovated her entire Upper West Side brownstone by herself, furnishing it almost entirely with antique flea market finds and things off the street. (The previous tenant was an eccentric hoarder, so she had her work cut out for her.)
Her breathtaking home includes a serene outdoor patio, secret chambers in the walls, a dramatic spiral staircase, found art, and tokens from her travels all over the world. It also features that other New York City urban legend: a full washer and dryer.
See a series of stunning photos from inside her space after the jump, and find out where all of this stuff came from.
When I moved into this apartment four years ago, it was an absolute mess. It's hard to keep these hundred-year-old brownstones intact, but to make it worse, this kooky old man named Edwin had been living here for decades. He had the apartment packed, floor to ceiling. The hoarder spirit definitely still lingers in the space.
I have to constantly watch my collecting to be sure that I don't get out of hand. He took it upon himself to rewire the rooms, cut secret chambers into the walls, and generally create chaos. But he also added a full attic and a spiral staircase that leads to an atrium bedroom on the roof. So what was once a tiny apartment is now a two bedroom with lots of storage for my jewelry.
In the early stages of the renovation, I was filming an HGTV reality show and we had to take the place from bare bones to a "big reveal" in just a few months, which meant not only finishing construction, but also decorating and making it look lived in. All the furniture I got used, either online or from the street. Every morning I would wake up and type ABC Carpet into the craigslist search engine and see what kind of ethnic antiques had popped up.
I found two of the bar stools on the street. They had been outside for a while and they were really weathered. When I decided I needed more I had to hunt similar ones down. I'm still trying to get that awesome beat-up look on the new pair.
This Chinese cabinet is the only piece of furniture I owned before moving in (I slept on an air mattress for months). I found it at Housing Works and it was a steal. I had no idea where I would put it, but I couldn't pass it up. The drawing above it was done by my mom when she was a young woman. It says "Summer in America, a life of beach toys and premium beer."
I love it because it reminds me that she was once this free-spirited girl who would party on the beach and make crazy paintings. On top of the credenza are Chinese tea tins and a crocodile fetish sculpture from the Congo, both of which I found at a flea market.
My father made this coffee table for his mom in the 1950s when he had a furniture design studio. He is an excellent craftsman, and he taught me construction skills during my summers growing up when I would work for him building houses. I did most of the apartment renovation on my own, from laying the floor to putting up drywall, but I didn't touch the plumbing or electrical, as that would be illegal.
I used a turn-of-the-century mailbox as the mantle. It is handy for holding odds and ends, and it looks like it belongs. I tried to honor the Victorian era of the apartment while updating it and making it feel contemporary.
The painting was done by a colleague of mine when I was teaching art. It is of an oil refinery in Minnesota. I'm not sure that it is a great painting and I hate the oil business, but I have been toting it around with me for years because it does something magical to the space it is hung in. Somehow, it creates the illusion of another window.
My boyfriend, who I live with, is a biologist and a technologist and I'm an artist and vintage dealer, so we have a pretty diverse book collection. I love Albert Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities because it is the perfect synthesis of our interests, and it's always fascinating to see how art and nature intersect.
Since launching Mode Marteau, I don't get to travel as much as I used to, so I like to keep all my internationally collected objects around me to keep my mind wandering. Sometimes I feel like my apartment looks more like The Explorer's Club than a home.
Jewelry is everywhere in the apartment. I use it to decorate. To me, each piece feels like a little sculpture which brings me back to my roots. It's great for inspiration. I am beginning work on a line of jewelry now where all the pieces incorporate vintage design.
The bathroom was the last room for me to renovate. Even though it was ugly it was the most functional. When my boyfriend moved in with me I didn't even have a door on the room, so I had to really like him before inviting him over.
It is such a tiny space, but I knew that I needed a washer and dryer (selling vintage clothes, I do dozens of loads a month), and I love a good soak in the tub, so I had to work really hard to fit in all the pieces.
Having outdoor space in New York is such a luxury. I grew up on a ranch in Montana and it is easy to feel cooped up here. I'm so lucky to have a place where I can make a mess and get creative, whether to spray paint or to throw out a pan of accidentally burnt cookies.
I don't buy anything new except lingerie, food, and occasionally electronics. I started Mode Marteau because I love vintage fashion and because I can't get enough of the hunt, but the thing that keeps me motivated as I grow the company is the desire to share the beauty of the not-new. There are so many amazing objects and garments out there that it just seems wasteful to keep making new things that often replicate the old.
· Mode Marteau [Official Site]