How Three Couples Share One Brooklyn Home

What it's really like to live in a commune for a soon-to-be married couple.

brooklyn home tour attie james
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Kith visual director Attie James and her partner (soon-to-be-husband) JD have lived together in their Brooklyn Heights six-person commune for two years.

Attie was already dating JD when he moved into the three-bedroom, two-bathroom pre-war brownstone with Aaron—an old friend from Boston—and a couple they knew named Ari and Sean. “It was an unspoken plan for me to move in with them,” Attie says, “I was there when they were unpacking and totally fell in love with the house. I basically just moved my life there from my Upper West Side studio and never looked back.”

For a while, the five friends—two couples and Aaron—lived as a quintet, until he started dating Rachel who moved in soon after.

home tour attie james couples living together
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

“Merging our design aesthetic was easy” says Attie. Luckily, they all share a love of mid-century modern furniture. “We share everything,” says Attie, “except for our individual rooms. If there’s beer in the fridge, it’s for everyone. Everything is fair game—the couches, chairs, TV, tables, utensils, dishes, all of it.”

You would think this hippie-dippie communal style living situation might make it tough for each couple to find the time to be share intimate moments. Not the case. “When JD and I are in our bedroom with the door closed,” says James, “we feel like it’s just the two of us.”

Below, James fills in the blanks of what life is like after, er, on the brink of, “I do” as a sixsome.

brooklyn home tour fireplace
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Before I got engaged, I lived by myself, and I spent most of my time at home painting and lounging.  
Boy, was it exciting when I moved in with JD, Ari, Sean and Aaron
When it comes to art, I’m all about brush. My partner, though, prefers aerosol. The most beloved piece of art we own is a painting (made by) my mother. 

brooklyn attie james dining room
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

The first dinner party we threw together was a Sunday evening.  We invited some of our friends in the neighborhood and JD (I’m not great in the kitchen) cooked shepherd's pie. The one thing I regret was a photo we took that ended up making the whole dinner look slightly haunted.

On a typical Monday evening, we can be found eating Indian food and playing with our new kitten Anastasia. Saturday afternoons are for painting, art projects and strolling around the neighborhood and on Sundays we always are happiest at home watching the Patriots (well, he watches).

We mostly shop for furniture on Craigslist, Ebay and at vintage stores. The most expensive piece we’ve purchased cost $400 and was a mid-century credenza which came from a treacherous storage unit in Long Island City.

brooklyn home tour attie james virgin mary
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Family heirloom(s)? We have a vintage painting of the Virgin Mary from JD’s grandmother that we adore.

The thing I’m most attached to from my single life is a small white vintage bureau because it reminds me of that era of my life. I bought it from the Upper West Side flea market with my former roommate and oldest friend and keep it in our living room.

The five items you will always find in our refrigerator are seltzer, raspberries, obscure brands of IPA, JD’s week supply of meal prep, and left-over Indian food.

brooklyn home tour
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

The five items you will always find in our medicine cabinet are Rite Aid flossers, Avene thermal water spray, Aesop camellia nut facial hydrating cream, Baxter under eye treatment, and Barbasol shaving cream. I absolutely cannot get in bed at night without using my rose hip oil on my face.

The registry item we can't live without is two snow peak folding beach chairs.

attie james husband
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Our favorite room in the house is the dining room and living room because they are the biggest rooms in the apartment and get the most natural light. We spend a lot of time making things (mostly indigo dying) while JD watches TV, works and relaxes in there.

When it comes to housework, I am the one who always purges unnecessary belongings and organizes. My partner, on the other hand, insists on bathroom cleaning and laundry. The one thing we can’t agree on is my tendency to want to replace bathroom towels after only five uses.

home tour attie james
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

The three best organizational tricks I've learned are to build shelves for height, maximize space under the bed, and the ability to live with occasional chaos.

When it comes to money, our biggest challenge is how to not have a good time—we have the habit of going out for a drink which turns into oysters, which turns into appetizers, and then steaks, then dessert and more cocktails. I like to spend on home items and clothes, but he/she cares way more about camping gear, coolers, and his guitar.


brooklyn home tour gallery wall
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

The most important piece of advice I would give to newlyweds is to always live your truth. Never, ever compromise when it comes to comfort!!

In ten years we hope for our home to be a place people love to come visit, filled with tons of plants and family.


brooklyn home tour attie james bedroom
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

My design aesthetic is three words is romantic, eclectic, and understated. My partner’s is comfortable, traditional, and clean.

Our most memorable fight at Ikea was about whether or not JD should post this ugly photo of us cringing in line on Instagram (which he ended up doing).

One thing no one knows about our home is that we have an altar of Virgin Marys, family heirlooms and prayer candles that we use as a way of keeping all the important things in our lives close to us.

Published on November 02, 2017 - 5:30am EDT

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