Real Cool People, Real Cool Apartments: Aurora James

Go inside the Bed-Stuy one-bedroom home of Brother Vellies’ Creative Director

12.14.16

As with clothes, the way you decorate a room expresses your personality. In its most ideal form, it signals to guests how you interpret yourself. In this round of Real Cool People, Real Cool Apartments, we check out the Bed-Stuy one-bedroom home of Brother Vellies’ Creative Director Aurora James. Our intentions behind the creeping: to — what else? — learn what she’s all about.

 

Name:

Aurora James

How long have you lived here?

Six years

Who do you live with, animals included?

It’s a whole menagerie over here. Plants are people, too.

What do you like about your hood?

The sense of community.

What about this apartment?

It’s definitely like my treehouse. I’m incredibly lucky to have found it. The space is amazing.

What’s the worst thing about the apartment?

The G Train.

What’s the best?

The floors and the ceiling height I guess? Truly, the best thing about it is that it’s mine, it’s my space. A place is just a box until you make it a home, right?

Do you ever work from home and if so, what’s that like? Is it important to you to have a dedicated work space or do you work from bed/the couch?

I do work from home. I always have, it’s my very favorite place to work. My job is such a huge part of my life and also directly tied to my happiness, so there are no walls or boundaries.

What did you think about when decorating? What was the process like? Did you start with one piece and design around that or has it been add-as-you-go?

I’m definitely an ‘add as you go’ person. I don’t bring anything or anyone into my room that I’m not in love with. I have to be really really in love with a couch or carpet or picture frame for it to make it into my space. But falling in love also isn’t only about aesthetics. More often than not, there’s an emotional connection. Most of these plants are rescues.

Did you have an overall vision in mind when you started decorating? What was it and where’d you get it from?

Apparently not.

What are your favorite apt “scores” and where are they from?

I love my driftwood coffee table. I got it in Los Angeles off of Craigslist for $65. My branch closet is also a fave of mine and was roughly $10 in the flower market. You could also just go outside and get one for free. Options.

Tell a story about one thing in your apartment – couch, photo, plant, anything (how you came across it, if you upholstered it, etc)

The African painting holds a special place in my heart. I bought it from someone on the side of the road in Kenya. We were driving and I saw it and yelled to pull over. I spent a long time staring at it because it had an odd sense of familiarity. It was much larger than anything I ever hope to fly across the Atlantic Ocean with, but I felt that I couldn’t leave it behind. A few months later a friend came over who worked at SUNO. It turns out that painting was done by an artist that Max Osterweis had commissioned to reinterpret their lookbook photos. Each day that I look at it it serves as an amazing reminder to me of how we are all connected, even a million miles from home.

For someone young and broke and trying to nest, what are your top 3 tips in finding /buying for the home?

Honestly, I still consider myself young and broke. 90% of the things in my home are from my travels, Craigslist or the flea market. I would say take your time. Search keywords on Craigslist when you’re looking for things and always head to the flea market early. Get crafty and experimental. Little things like vintage wallpaper from eBay can totally transform your space.

What about a total amateur in putting a room together – any tips?

Choose a color and texture story and stick with it. For example: wood and white. Or pink and brass.

What does your dream room look like?

Brancusi everything.

What’s the one thing every apartment should have?

A chair that is so comfortable it makes your guest feel at home.

Anything else you want to add?

There is so much emphasis put on homes, spaces and personal aesthetics. I’m sure some people look at my home and think it’s completely overwhelming, but ultimately it is a reflection of my life. It’s real, it’s alive, it’s cluttered. The last five years have been rich with experience and I’m happy that my home reflects that.

Check out Aurora James’ website and follow her on Instagram @aurorajames. Shop Brother Vellies, too! Photos by Nicole Cohen.

Listen to Aurora James’ Oh Boy episode, then read a throwback post to our “Meet the New” post with Aurora to learn more about the mission behind Brother Vellies.

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  • I don’t think your home is cluttered – it is simply full of really well-organized … moments. Much communication between them, also. And alive.
    All of which is wonderful.

  • Sloane

    This is the most beautiful home I have ever seen. Saving all these pictures for future reference

  • Danielle R

    This is amazing and I now want to hang my clothes from a branch

    • Harling Ross

      same

  • What a queeeeeen! This is all entirely delightful, captions included

  • Cay

    Glad to see a woman of color in this area of Brooklyn profiled, after last month’s “Clinton Hill is still diverse!” white lady.

    Aurora seems awesome, and her apartment really reflects that. I don’t think that it’s cluttered. It’s actually refreshing, with the hyper-minimal Scandinavian design trend that has been all over social media for the past few years.

  • This images are down right GORGEOUS.

  • Isabel

    I don’t even know how to begin to attempt to make my apartment this cool…

  • Veronica G

    SO COOL.
    for some reason that shoe display was so inspirational to me…time to look for my own rusty old bench

  • Beatrice

    Aurora James is my idol for… Everything

  • Lola

    Canada represent! I was so happy to see you choose Aurora James for “Real Cool People Real Cool Apartments”, it was so beautiful and refreshing. Now tell me WHERE did she get that dress<3

  • ray

    Never seen an apt i relate to more. freaking amazing.

  • Natasha

    Um that advice on choosing a color & texture story blew my mind. Am definitely going to remember & try that.

  • Elise

    Instantly converted to an Aurora James/Brother Vellies diehard. 30% because of the most bitchin’ apartment ever and 70% for the personal caption on pic 25. Thank you Aurora and thank you MR Team, per usual

  • Christelle

    What an incredible and inspiring woman. ps: Yay Canada !

  • Greer Clarke

    I NEED TO KNOW WHERE THE DRESS IS FROM

  • June2

    Yikes, she IS cool. So clear and concise. I want all of her shoes so she can afford to upgrade her hardcore NYC style apartment!!

  • DEE2468

    Its okay, looks a bit cluttered.

  • Diane T

    This flat makes me feel really cozy and happy inside. It’s refreshing to see real, a bit cluttered place, and not fancy designer’s space. That t say, I love her choice of carpet. I splurged on my recently at Doris Leslie Blau’s and have no regrets! 😀