“Everything will be so good so soon just hang in there and don’t worry about it too much” reads just one of the many simple but heart-breakingly honest (and often humorous) statements handwritten on (actual) paper by author, artist, illustrator and graphic designer (as well as another 20 or so creative job descriptors) Adam J. Kurtz. This witty multi-hyphenate shares a simple but beautiful Brooklyn rental with his equally talented husband, freelance writer and journalist Mitchell Kuga.
Buried deep in the FAQ section of the (totally normal) ADAMJK Gift Shop, Kurtz describes himself as “a weird guy and I like to make cute, nice things and I’m obsessed with small gifts and taking jokes too far. …As an artist (or whatever) I’d rather 100 people be able to afford something I make than 1 person look at it on a wall.” And so, you can purchase his affordable pins that say things like “Nothing matters” and “You tried.” There’s a hat embroidered with “I literally don’t know what I’m doing“. If you’re more of a tote person, may I suggest the one which reads “If at first you don’t succeed… congratulations welcome to life it is hard sometimes but also mostly okay“? He also dispenses wisdom (and jokes) in his most recent book Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives. ButKurtz is not the only person in the home with a unique turn of phrase; Kuga has written pieces for Village Voice, Racked, them, and Gothamist, and is the editor of SALT, an “independently-published zine about food culture.”
An accessibility to art—and the couple’s generosity with wisdom and humor—defines this shared home. Framed art around the living room, small kitchen, bright bedroom, and shared studio space is by friends and Kurtz. Sentimental objects, like the message board from their recent wedding, mix together with photo memories. Function is certainly treasured for two creative people who work from home (perhaps even more than form), but the entire space is the perfect subtle backdrop for two people with big hearts and personalities.
P.S. If you want to read the sweetest love story of all time, you should read the NYT piece on their recent wedding; after dating five years, they married on their fifth anniversary of meeting.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Adam: Thrifty, cozy, and personal. For us, feeling comfortable and welcome is more important than having a nice couch. Most of what we own has been passed down or carried on for years from place to place. Also we would like a new couch someday.
Mitchell: Gay, but on a budget.
Inspiration: Adam: We’re mostly just inspired by our life and friends! The apartment is filled with small mementos, souvenirs, and impulse buys accumulated over time.
Mitchell: I can’t think of a better way to put it than Andy Beach in Apartmento: “A real living space is made from living, not decorating.”
Favorite Element: Adam: Our “scraps wall” holds memories from our life together, from second-date ticket stubs to photos from our wedding day. As a whole, it’s a fun and colorful way to fill a wall with lots of tiny art.
Mitchell: Our pink kitchen table looks like imitation crab and was gifted to me by a friend who passed not too long ago. I’m reminded of his savvy appreciation for color and interiors and I think it adds so much life to an otherwise neutral space.
Biggest Challenge: Adam: Renting an apartment means putting up with whatever’s already happening. I don’t love every detail, but compared to our last rental, this space feels much more like home. On grumpy days it can feel a little small, but for the most part it’s as close to perfect as I’ve ever had.
Mitchell: Adam runs a business out of the apartment, which often means carrying boxes up and down five flights of stairs. Fun!
What Friends Say: Mitchell: “Wow— is that a king size bed??”
Biggest Embarrassment: Adam: You may have noticed that the bathroom has not been photographed for this feature.
Mitchell: Telling people you live in Williamsburg lol
Proudest DIY: Adam: Our long work table in the office? That’s two $20 IKEA table tops glued together. It rests on two sawhorses and a $30 smaller desk I got on craigslist in 2012. I used zipties to put a power strip right in front for peak utility.
Mitchell: Our fridge has become its own sort of scrap wall filled with friendly faces and cheesy souvenir magnets from different cities.
Biggest Indulgence: Adam: I bought us one of those Dyson fans that purifies the air and has its own app…I can’t believe I’m this person now.
Mitchell: A shelf for essential oils. I like smells! It’s usually the first place I go in the morning and the last place at night.
Best Advice: Adam: I’m constantly battling between wanting to really set roots and knowing that nothing in a rental is permanent. I’d say there’s no wrong answers but you also deserve to be happy every day and if a few extra plants and a coat of paint can do that, it seems worth it.
Mitchell: Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Adam has a better eye for hanging things on the walls and I’m the plant guy, so we stay in our respective lanes.
Dream Sources: Adam: One day I want a shower you can sit down in so I can dramatically think about my life choices.
We have a mix of secondhand (kitchen table, dressers, night tables, mirror) with a little bit of IKEA.
Kitchen chairs, white bedside lamp, floor lamp, rainbow mirror, blue office folding chair all by Urban Outfitters Home (all sold out).
Lamp — Urban Outfitters
Floor lamp — Urban Outfitters
Ikebana vase — Urban Outfitters
The hanging light in the living room is by Andrew Neyer and was a gift from him!
Framed art prints are by Nathaniel Russell (now showing nothing, coffee), Dustin Williams (smile you’re on camera) and Anthony Burrill (who are you), plus art in the bedroom by Rand Renfrow (drawings of vanity/dresser tops) and Misaki Kawaii (colorful print hanging on the brick). FPO art is by me until we get something good (lol).
The letterboard in the living room was used to welcome guests to our wedding at Strand, but it’s actually the menu from Otha’s, a neighborhood coffee shop that recently closed in late November. I asked for it when we were over there having a final toast with staff and regulars. #RIP
The fringe “chandelier” in the studio is actually tassels from our wedding by our friends Confetti System that are rolled into a giant blob. A few weeks before the wedding they had us over to their studio with friends to help make them ourselves. Nick is one of our closest friends (he and Mitchell went to the same Honolulu high school).
Our kitchen stuff is mostly from Fishs Eddy (dishes, mix and match tableware, cutting board, etc) – I worked on a collection with them in 2016 that is just about sold out now, but I’m still using that friends and family discount forever.
Apartment Therapy supports our readers with carefully chosen product recommendations to improve life at home. You support us through our independently chosen links, many of which earn us a commission.