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Sarah and Brianna's apartment on the park

Open House Willett apartment composite

By Nicole Lemperle Correia / Photos by Paul Gallo

Sarah and Brianna's apartment is in an "old Albany" building, perfectly situated on Washington Park. But while the architecture and details throughout the apartment are beautiful, the most notable thing about their space is the way they've filled it with items that are meaningful to them. Their apartment tells the story of their travels, the people in their lives, and their interests. The artwork, the photographs, and the books on the shelves tell their story in a very personal way. The apartment is comfortable and welcoming, clearly a space they love and enjoy opening up to others.

Sarah and Brianna also offer an interesting perspective on life in Albany versus life in New York City (spoiler alert: Albany wins), their reasons for choosing this spot on the park, and the things that make a place feel like home.

Photos

There are photos above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

Interview

What part of your city/town do you live in?

We live on the very border of the Hudson/Park and Center Square neighborhoods, across from Washington Park.

How long have you lived here?

We moved back to Albany in early 2013, after four years of living in New York City. Before we moved downstate, we lived in an apartment about one block from where we live now.

What brought you to this corner of the Capital District?

In 2012, we got married, and Brianna finished law school and passed the bar. Though moving back to Albany was not our initial plan for this period of our lives, we quickly realized that we would only see each other for an hour or two a day if we stayed in New York due to our mutual disinterest in living in a shoebox and/or paying the entirety of our salaries to live closer to mid- and downtown Manhattan.

Brianna started looking elsewhere, and when an interesting opportunity came about that involved moving back to Albany, we went for it -- albeit with some mixed emotions about leaving our fabulous NYC neighborhood and friends. (Inwood is often referred to by its residents as "Upstate Manhattan," which helped it feel like home.)

Living in Albany/Center Square (or Center Square adjacent) was an easy choice. Brianna wanted to be able to walk to work, and Sarah wanted to be in an urban setting that provided access to coffee shops and libraries from which she could telecommute. Most of our friends live in the neighborhood, which is an added bonus.

Also a bonus: excellent public transportation, the park, and walkable access to a grocery store that sells affordable and reliably fresh produce (which is a real treat after spending years trying to cook in a semi-food desert).

What is your neighborhood like?

After living in Manhattan, Albany is very very pleasant and easy -- a little like college for grown-ups. All of our friends live and work nearby and we can walk everywhere we want to go, but our homes are nicer and we're better cooks than we were in college!

What's your favorite part of your home? (And the biggest challenge with your home?)

We love our (functional) fireplace, all the trees outside our windows, and the layout. In the non-frigid seasons, we very much wish we had access to a patio -- one of the two wish-list items we had when looking for an apartment that this one does not fulfill. (The other was en suite laundry, which is obviously still our dream but not something that frustrates us as much on beautiful days.)

We end up having a lot of cocktail hours and picnics in Washington Park, but public space can only take one so far in the morning-coffee and outdoor-telecommuting departments.

Has anything crazy/weird/scary/funny happened in or around your home while you've lived here?

Shortly after we moved upstate, Sarah's cousin put us in touch with her co-worker, who was planning a move to Albany of her own. We told her a little bit about the city and neighborhoods we thought she might want to look in. She got in touch after she found an apartment, and told us the address -- which was familiar, as it is also our address. She also told us that she had recently gotten a new puppy, which she had given a name (Izzy) so similar to that of our dog (Idgie) that our [building's] mutual super confused them for months. We (and our dogs) became very close friends, and spent many nights watching TV and drinking wine at each others' apartments. (See: college for grown-ups.)

If you were selling (renting) your home to someone else, how would you pitch it to a potential buyer/renter?

Location, location, bullseye! Plus: working fireplace.

If you could buy any work of art for your home, what would it be?

Sarah recently saw and decided she loved this Pierre Dorion painting on display at The School in Kinderhook. The painting was displayed in what was once Sarah's 4th-grade classroom, and is (recognizably) of Sarah's 4th-grade classroom.

What is the best thing about the space around your home?

To us the best thing about the space around us are the people who live in it. Both by deliberately moving back to the center of the city (where we knew our friends lived) and by luck of having met new friends since we've been back, by far the best thing about our immediate neighborhood space is the richness of our social lives and proximity to friends' homes.

Both by deliberately moving back to the center of the city (where we knew our friends lived) and by luck of having met new friends since we've been back, by far the best thing about our immediate neighborhood space is the richness of our social lives and proximity to friends' homes.

What would you change about your home (or neighborhood or city) if you could?

A good gym within short walking distance would be a Game Changer.

Do you see yourself living here in 10 years?

We expect our careers to take us out of Albany soon-ish, but would not be surprised or displeased to find ourselves back in the area (whether Columbia County, the Adirondacks, or Albany proper) at some point in the future.

What is your favorite memory (or more than one) of living here?

Two summers ago, our friends purchased a set of glow in the dark bocce balls, which we often play on summer night in Washington Park. Though it's hard to distinguish memories from game to game, we will always fondly remember running from where we'd all thrown our bocce balls to the snitch (probably the little white ball has a real name, but who cares, we call it the snitch) to evaluate who, in the dark, had made it the closest.

When (and if it ever again) snows, we love having friends over to sit by the fire, eat homemade nachos and drink White Russians (though not necessarily at the same time), and play Mario Kart.

What would you say to someone thinking of moving to your area?

You don't need to own a car if you have generous friends who do and/or if you are willing to use the excellent bus system, parking is much easier than people think, and sinkholes aside, we feel perfectly safe.
____

Nicole Correia is a non-profit communications professional by day and freelance writer by night. She enjoys writing about the Capital Region, parenthood, food, and the places people call home. She can be found on Twitter and on her website.

Some of Paul Gallo's photos are at No3rdW.

More Open House:
+ Apartment living in downtown Albany
+ Erica and Christian's Albany Sears Kit Home
+ Living with kids in a Center Square row house

Comments

Used to live there and loved the building. That was my favorite apartment I have ever lived in.

This is my favorite series! How does AOA find their subjects?

@Alison - it's mostly word of mouth! If you're interested, please let us know - I'm always looking for people who are willing to let us take a peek at their homes and talk about their experiences living there.

[Greg adds: If you have a suggestion, email us: editors at alloveralbany dot com]

Can they please make me a friend?
Love how they decorated the charming place!
I can cook & tell them very funny stories!

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