Walking into the Milan’s Brooklyn brownstone was a delight. Scents of sandalwood, the warmth of natural earth tones and soft lighting and textures. And then there was the giggling of the tiniest Milans, Sage and Sloan. Everything about their space felt like home.
TV director Sterling and designer Shayla have created an oasis for their growing family in their historic three bedroom brownstone in Bed Stuy. Sterling and Shayla met in 2011 and hit it off quickly. “I was in love on the first date,” Sterling says. And it must have been love for Shayla, too—they endured traveling between Brooklyn and the Upper Eastside, technically long-distance in NYC terms, but they made it work.
When they eventually moved in together they decided to decorate from scratch, together. Shayla had rented her previous apartment out and sold all her furniture to the next tenant, and Sterling passed his apartment onto his mother who also held on to the furniture he had there.
Creating a beautiful living space was a process. Shayla and Sterling talked extensively about what they envisioned for the space. As a designer, Shayla channeled a lot of her work—she would make floor plans with furniture and colors, and references that Sterling would be excited about. “I would think, okay, what’s the overall vision? What accents do we want to bring in? And Sterling would ask, ‘how is this functioning? How will we live in this space? How would it work for the children?’ Because in my mind, I’d love to live in an art gallery. But, that’s not comfortable.”
When it came to designing their current space, Shayla tackled the upstairs, Sterling took on the downstairs, and they collaborated on the kids nursery.
“Noticing how we move through the space, and what we all find comfortable, has definitely been a learning. The kids are on the floor a lot so it was important to have a beautiful but comfortable rug, and a super deep couch so we could all spend time together on it.”
Working and traveling keeps them on the move, but Sterling noted the shift in priorities after having kids. “I used to love going out all the time. Going here, going there, but now I just love to be home.”