For our first Single Women and Their Spaces in well, months, we are touring the home of Becky Etchberger. Becky relocated from LA to New York for work a little more than a year ago. Her fourth floor walkup in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is light-filled, boasts high ceilings and a beautiful bedroom. Discovered at a fortuitous time (when the future of the L was dismal and prices in the area had dropped), the apartment has been both an office and a "safe, calm place"for this new-to-the-city-solo-dweller during the past 4 months...and for this, Becky is incredibly grateful.
We asked Becky to photograph her own space and spoke with her about how the pandemic has impacted daily life as she knew it, if and how it has changed her perspective on living alone and what she has learned during this unique and volatile time...the latter may surprise you.
Where do you live and how long have you been in this space?
I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and I moved here a year and a half ago from LA. I’ve always been in love with the idea of living in New York City, but the older I grew the less realistic it seemed, especially considering I work in television and all of my contacts were in LA. But as fate would have it, a temporary job led me here in 2018 and by the time it ended I didn’t want to leave.
Your apartment is beautiful, airy and feels very spacious for NYC. How did you find it?
When I made the decision to make the full move to NYC I was working on a show in LA and my Associate Producer volunteered to research apartments. She mentioned she’s always wanted to live in Brooklyn and this was her way of doing that vicariously. She would send me a list at the end of each day of her Street Easy findings, and since we had the same taste there were several options I loved – including my current home. I was very lucky to find something around the time the L was supposed to shut down at a good price, and two weeks after signing the lease the city announced it wouldn’t shut down the L after all – a huge advantage considering the Bedford stop is on the same block. As my friends in LA told me throughout my trepidation about the move, ‘big risk, big reward’ and everything about my move to New York has fulfilled that prophecy.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
The advantage of relocating to a different coast is the opportunity to purge the old (in this case way too many shabby chic furnishings) and start fresh. Because of the high ceilings, white walls, and pre-war accents, the place lends itself to a minimalist Scandinavian style, if I had to put a label on it. But I honestly just went to small local furniture shops and bought what I liked without much of a plan in mind. I needed a couch so I chose a green velvet one because I thought it was cool and completely different from my tan Ashley Furniture chaise lounge of the last eight years. Then I found the mid-century coffee table that fit the space, and haggled for the custom made shelving unit off the floor of Brooklyn City Furniture because it too fit the space but is probably considered “industrial.” Once I threw in the textiles I dragged from LA that I originally purchased in Morocco it all sort of came together. With plants of course, because what’s a Brooklyn apartment without plants.
Has your space changed at all since quarantine in NYC? Are there pieces, nooks or characters of your home that you appreciate more or less now than you did pre-COVID? And if so, what and why?
The big change was that I bought a keyboard. I played a little as a kid and it’s one of those things I told myself I would get back into someday. Once you’re locked inside your apartment, if that’s not the time then it’ll never happen. I can proudly say I know how to play a Ke$ha song and Somewhere Over the Rainbow so far. Before the keyboard, I used that space to sit in a chair that pre-COVID was strictly decorative and read with a cup of tea- something I never did before. I miss that nook, but I think my new musical ambitions are worth the sacrifice. I also ventured to the fire escape for the first time when the lockdown began and turned it into a reading nook. It was like discovering a new room.
I appreciate everything about this space more since COVID entered our lives. This 4th floor walkup allows for lots of natural light, and I’m a couple plants away from turning into a crazy plant lady but they make me happy. I feel insanely lucky every day that I get to work from home in a space I worked hard at making comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. I feel guilty even participating in this article because of all the struggles taking place around us, but I am honored The Fold sees something in the space that has brought me so much joy pre-COVID and has provided a safe, calm space over the last four months.
What do you miss most about having people in your space?
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Like many people, I miss social interactions with my friends. As a single person, my friendships are everything and the excitement and novelty of group Zoom calls quickly lost their luster. I miss spontaneous visits when someone’s in the neighborhood, or having real people in my living room to share a bottle of wine with. Now I drink alone and consequentially monitor how fast those empty bottles go out the door to recycling and that’s just sad.
What do you like most about having a place of your own?
I love everything about living alone. Making a mess of the kitchen while attempting to cook, blasting music or political podcasts, walking around naked, thinking out loud (i.e. talking to myself), eating takeout over a rug that I should probably show more respect for, swearing loudly when I can’t figure out the chords of Bohemian Rhapsody, what’s not to love?
How does your home make you feel?
It’s always been a place I look forward to coming back to, so to be “stuck” here doesn’t seem so bad. It feels like a peaceful contrast to the energy right outside the doors. I typically play jazz or classical music in the background which makes me sound like a pretentious asshole but what can I say, it relaxes me.
Back in LA I had a TV in my room and couldn’t fall asleep without old Friends DVDs (see, not pretentious - pretty basic) so I intentionally created this bedroom - my favorite room - to feel like a spa retreat. That way I look forward to going to bed and am forced to read as a way to shut down my brain instead of relying on Ross Gellar’s leather pants.
How has your life and the city changed in the past 4 months? How have you changed?
I was still in the romanticized phase of life in New York when the pandemic hit so mundane things like taking the subway to work each day felt exhilarating. I could say I have a new appreciation for everything we took for granted before, but my enthusiasm and love for New York hadn’t faded yet. Every day felt more exciting than the last, and I couldn’t believe I was actually living this life I’d always fantasized about (ugh that sounds so cheesy, but it’s the truth).
I miss interacting with New Yorkers on a daily basis – friends and strangers alike – but I know I’m not alone in experiencing that loss. I miss squeezing into a small table in a loud crowded restaurant, stopping at the Starbucks underground at Columbus Circle on my way to work where there was always a Beyoncé dance party happening behind the counter thanks to their manager’s infectious energy. I miss spontaneously buying a cheap solo ticket to a Broadway show on Today Tix. The biggest change on a personal level is that several close friends have left the city and I don’t know if they’ll be back. That’s difficult for me to accept, but I know everyone has to do what’s best for them and their families.
When I go on long walks, the energy of the city is still there. Contrary to the rough reputation New Yorkers are associated with, I’ve found the opposite to be true. I encountered so many kind strangers back when I had a routine outside these doors – and if anything, I witness even more of it now. My friends may be gone, but I never feel alone in this city.
With regards to your home and the way you live/use it: what are you most looking forward to right now?
I’m looking forward to having a routine again so I can in turn look forward to coming home at night, putting fresh pajamas on at 9 pm instead of 9 am, and setting an early alarm to do it all over again the next day. I also wouldn’t mind going back to workout classes and forgoing the home workouts that currently take place in my closet.