space of the week

A Not-So-Public Library

Family life in this renovated Fort Greene carriage house revolves around a three-sided bookcase.

Photo: Rita Nakouzi
Photo: Rita Nakouzi

“The apartment was essentially one large rectangle with two small bedrooms at one end,” architect Jen Turner says of the apartment in the renovated carriage house that Rita Nakouzi, editorial director of The RealReal, and her husband, the writer and podcaster Touré, purchased in 2006. It had tiny closets, and the couple had a ton of books. “I came up with the idea to create a new room between the living room and the two small rooms,” Turner says. That space became the family’s shared walk-in closet, and the walls became a three-sided library bookcase (pictured with, from left, son Hendrix, daughter Fairuz, and Touré). It’s the family hearth. “I’ve always been slightly obsessed with designing things that serve more than one function,” says Turner.

The dining table (seen here with Hendrix and Fairuz) on the opposite side of the living room doubles as the puzzle-solving station and homework base. “There’s definitely lots of structure during the week,” Nakouzi says of the family’s quarantine routine, a balance of work and downtime that includes a daily walk at 7 p.m. to cheer on first responders at the nearby hospital. Photo: Rita Nakouzi
Nakouzi and Touré found the eight-foot-seven-inch Pottery Barn table in 2006 when they were asked to host the family holiday dinner at the last minute. “They had this plain black floor model, and I thought, That works. We barely had any furniture.” Over the years, the table has managed to accommodate some 18 family members and friends at once. “I learned the art of a good family holiday is including friends,” Nakouzi says. Photo: Rita Nakouzi
A wall in the living room features an African mask that Touré found on a trip to Senegal; a portrait of Muhammad Ali by John Stewart, which Nakouzi bought in Paris for Touré as a gift; a 1983 photograph of Christopher Sawyer breaking, Upper West Side, NYC, by Martha Cooper; a 2005 portrait of the couple by Alistair Taylor-Young for Departures magazine; and a framed page from the New York Times featuring their wedding. Photo: Rita Nakouzi
A framed work by Mike Sayles (a gift from the artist) leans against the wall in the master bedroom. “This was my first piece of art, and I’ve kept it,” Nakouzi says. “The funny thing is that when I worked in the art world, I always most loved a piece of art before we hung it, when we’d lay all the art out before the handlers came in to put them up for the show. Touré is always like, ‘It’s been ten years! Why isn’t this hanging?’” And I am like, ‘No, it’s on purpose! There’s something comforting about it.’” Photo: Rita Nakouzi
Masks are the new normal when going outside. “They were sold out everywhere at the beginning of the stay-at-home mandate,” Nakouzi says. “Our friend the designer Camella Ehlke started making them with fabric she had at home and now sells them via her Instagram account, @Goodgood_community. It’s been great to see people in the neighborhood wearing them. They definitely made it easier to get the kids to wear a mask.” Photo: Rita Nakouzi
“My sister-in-law and one of my best friends are both doctors,” Nakouzi says. “Fairuz wanted to know what she could do to help, and my sister-in-law gave her the idea to write notes to doctors and nurses. She was so excited to have an opportunity to do something that helps.” Photo: Rita Nakouzi

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