Dave Miller wasn’t looking to buy a new apartment, per se, when his rental agent on his current lease mysteriously slipped a note under his door, notifying him of a new space. But when he saw that it was a Hello Living (HL) property, he jumped at the chance to look it over. He’d long admired the architecture of another HL building not far from where his parents live in Brooklyn.
It’s now been seven years since Dave and his wife, Donna, acquired not one, but two adjacent apartments at 1311 Pacific street where they raise their young son. Easy renovation allowed them to modify the apartments, merging two into one, for an ideal space that’s allowed their boy to literally grow in. “Having two apartments is a big plus, he [our son Ethan] is just running and running, he just goes wild,” Donna readily confides. From noisy infancy, through moderate movement to the all-out, high-impact energy of early childhood, they’ve been able to maintain their own sense of space and privacy, while coming together to maintain their family bond, as well as create new ones at their discretion.
A Terrace by Any Other Name
New Yorker’s know if they happen to manage nabbing an apartment with a balcony they’re one of the lucky ones. Easy access to fresh air and enough room for a chair or two is considered a luxury in a place so short on square footage. The millers’ double apartment, and therefore double-sized, outdoor space is a sight to behold. Hello Living doesn’t build units with balconies. They build terraces, a more expansive take on providing a view. According to Dave, the breadth and depth amounts to the same as a micro-apartment, which their full-sized table and chair deck furniture attests.
He regales me of stories spent out in the wide-open space. Safe behind the concrete half-wall, enjoying privacy offered by heavy canvas curtains. He and Donna grill, have dinner and scoff during what New Yorkers call a storm. Compared to their tropical upbringing, the city just has rain.
But it’s not only sitting outside and enjoying alone time while their son safely sleeps nearby, it’s the feeling of being up in the trees, too, that gives the couple a sense of being close to nature among the buzzy vibe of Brooklyn. Donna and Dave love the snow delicately balanced on top of branches. Though, spring is the best for the “lushness” of bright green, new leaves against the contrast of brown bark.
In the beginning, as Dave tells it, there were three big waves of residents moving into the building. It was important to he and Donna they know their neighbors. Over the years, they’ve built a lifestyle and a personal community for themselves with other residents, from going out for birthday dinners to weekend BBQs on neighboring terraces to organizing neighborhood toy drives and enjoying game night.
There’s a sense of closeness the couple actively cultivated for their best life, achieving what the average New Yorker says is rare. One of Hello Living’s key design elements facilitates that unique living experience. According to the couple, “The elevator is the best way to get to know someone.”
Each unit has its own private elevator entrance, giving each tenant a sense of privacy, as if coming into their own standalone house or condominium. Unexpected run-ins in the hallway, lobby, or stoop, are a thing of the past; a shared, short elevator ride ensures interactions are as brief and personal as you might want them to be, cultivating a desire to learn more about a person or extend an invitation to meet for a bit longer at a time that’s convenient to both.
“We’re very big on creating a community within the building…meeting our neighbors,” Dave says, following up with an admission that were there less privacy that may not be the case. It’s a perfect setup for the young couple and their young son. Sharing community, parenting duties (Wednesdays are Dad night, Thursday nights are dinner with Mom), family time and having the freedom to choose between them as their schedules require.
“I studied architecture…so I’ve seen a lot of apartments and designs, and for its size, this is an efficient layout,” Dave notes as he glances across the space he’s called home for the better part of a decade. He enjoys the ability to have alone time—at home—mentioning that with the size and room layout, he has an opportunity to get a break from the constant noise and activity a young child can create; it’s nice to be able to venture from one area to the next, returning when you’ve had your breathing room.
And as the neighbourhood has evolved from their first year in the building, they’re expanding their social activities with friends, enjoying transportation options that have allowed them to maximize their time and schedule. When his son, Ethan, was in daycare Dave found it made more sense to use the bus to pick him up at the end of the day, rather than take the car out of the garage. At other times, the train works best to suit his commuting needs. On the weekends the children’s museum, library and prospect park are all within walking distance, making for a life lived well, that feels almost magically convenient.