Craig Strulovitz - Apartment Therapy
Craig Strulovitz - Apartment Therapy

This Brooklyn Home Flawlessly Masters an Incredibly Long and Very Narrow Living Room

September 2019


Craig and Charl’s biggest challenge in designing their 575-square-foot Brooklyn apartment was the main living area “because it is incredibly long and very narrow, measuring 40-feet long by only 9-feet wide.”


Name: Craig Strulovitz and Charl Castelyn
Location: Crown Heights — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 575 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

I am the Senior Interior Designer at Glenn Gissler Design in New York City, where I have been designing for 14 years and my husband Charl is a math teacher at a nearby middle school. I am honored to have recently been selected as one of the Top 50 ‘next’ generation designers working in America today in the soon to be released book “On Style: Inspiration and Advice from the New Generation of Interior Design” by Carl Dellatore. My husband and I have been living together in Brooklyn for the past 10 years and relocated to the Crown Heights neighborhood about two years ago.

When we first found this apartment, we had high hopes. The location and building seemed great, but when we walked in and saw the large wall of windows in the living room, we knew it was an opportunity we could not pass up. The windows face south so during the day light streams in, plants love it, and so do we.

As an interior designer, I have worked on many residences with much larger budgets than mine. At home, I use the same design ideas on a limited budget. For our apartment, we have combined decorative items and artwork we have collected over time with more readily available items. We think the result is a sophisticated yet affordable and very livable apartment. The space is perfect for the two of us, and the open layout is ideal for entertaining. A first-time guest once walked in and said, “I don’t know if I am cool enough to hang out in this apartment,” but immediately sat down and found herself at home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Earthy Modernism combined with some vintage.

Inspiration: The period of design I find most interesting is the very early stage of Modernism. During this time, these pioneers focused more on clean lines and perfect proportions, avoiding purely decorative elements and ornamentation. Many of these designs are more than 100 years old but still manage to look “modern” today. I think many of the modernists’ philosophies are reflected in our home’s design and style.

Favorite Element: I love our Fledermaus Chair by Josef Hoffman. It was designed in 1907 for the ‘Fledermaus’ cabaret in Vienna. It remains in its original condition, though I did have the seat upholstered in brown mohair velvet. I got it for a steal in an online auction, which makes me love it even more.

Biggest Challenge: One of our apartment’s most significant challenges was the main living area because it is incredibly long and very narrow, measuring 40-feet long by only 9-feet wide. We placed the furniture in a way that it would create three distinct areas that would break up the length of the room while still allowing the spaces to flow between each other. We paid close attention to the depth of the furniture pieces we selected, as to not have the rooms feel too crowded. We also used a striped rug in the narrow living area to help visibly expand the width of the room.

Also, the apartment has only one actual closet. We used a wall of curtains to create a large but discrete closet in the entrance hall.  The space now has a double purpose and adds a considerable amount of storage. I love the way the wall of fabric softens the hallway.

Proudest DIY: I reupholstered our dining chair cushions myself using faux leather made for automobile seats. It is durable, cleanable, looks like real leather, and was very inexpensive.

Biggest Indulgence: ARTWORK, we collect editioned prints and photographs. These tend to be at a much lower price point than the original paintings. It’s a great way to live with the works by incredible artists for a fraction of the cost. We recently purchased a Serigraphy from 1980 by painter Larry Poons that now hangs in our kitchen. His paintings would be way out of our budget.

Best Advice: You don’t need to stay with one style when you are designing your home. You can put something rustic in a contemporary space or something modern in a traditional one. Don’t be afraid to mix things; the juxtaposing elements can be what makes a room thrilling.

What’s your best home secret? Online auctions are a great way to get amazing art and antiques at a reasonable price especially if no one else is interested in the item, that’s when you get a real bargain.