A Jewelry Designer's Travel-Inspired Home
In Lizzie Fortunato's Brooklyn apartment, a love of adventure and design come together to create an idyllic urban oasis.
When approaching the front door of Lizzie Fortunato's circa-1930s brick apartment building, and you can just feel that something dreamy is upstairs. "I love the beams in the bedroom, the clawfoot bathtub, the shutters in the dining room that fold in and out," says Lizzie, counting all the ways in which she's come to love the space she shares with her boyfriend, Peter Asbill. The couple occupies the top two floors of a three-story townhouse on a tree-lined street in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. Their landlord, who lives on the first floor, has painstakingly restored the building from the ground up to it's original grandeur. And if there's anyone who can appreciate quality, history, and design, it's Lizzie.
After graduating from Duke in 2006, the designer "moved to the Lower East Side and then bounced around Chinatown and SoHo." Before making the move to Brooklyn in 2014, Lizzie lived in a fifth-floor walkup with her twin sister and business partner, Kathryn, for four years. Lizzie started designing jewelry as a passion project during college, but eventually she and Kathryn left their jobs to turn the project into a full-fledged brand (Lizzie heads the designs, while Kathryn oversees the business side of things). Walk into any major department store or open any major fashion magazine, and you're bound to run into their beautifully-set stone earrings and statement necklaces standing out from the crowd.
Kathryn too now lives in Brooklyn, only a few minutes away on foot. With these particular sisters, the two spend endless hours together, and Lizzie's apartment proves to be an ideal place to convene. The main living space is perfect for both low-key nights at home—"Peter loves our wide-open, sun-drenched kitchen, and I love sitting on the sofa [nearby] while he cooks"—and larger gatherings. "We've been known to pull up little tables to the ends of the dining table and really pack our guests in," says Lizzie. Wide-plank wood floors stretch from the dining room to the main living room, and upstairs to the master bedroom and second, casual living space. The home's timeless elements, like the stone fireplaces, beautiful trim woodwork, and subway-tile clad bathrooms, live in harmony with pattern-rich textiles from their far-flung travels, along with treasured family heirlooms, striking that effortlessly cool, collected look.
"My grandparents lived in rural Pennsylvania in a mid-century home on ten-acres," recalls Lizzie. “They were pretty much out in the middle of nowhere—in the woods at the end of a dirt road—but they had this sanctuary of contemporary sculptures, walls covered in art, and expansive glass windows that looked out onto this huge creek." The sisters have been known to bring back a piece or two from their grandparents house when they visit, but one specific blue oil painting in the dining room of girls playing instruments, really strikes a chord with the couple. "It reminds me of them and their home, but Peter also loves it," says Lizzie. (Asbill co-founded the music streaming service Songza, which was acquired by Google in 2014—naturally, music plays a big role in the couple's life.) "It feels very special to us.”
With an appreciation for story-rich objects coupled with a love of travel, the sisters have expanded their brand into the lifestyle arena with Fortune Finds—an evolving collection of textiles, objets, and art that reflects the globally-influenced brand they've created. The seugway into this realm was a natural one. "Kathryn and I were collecting so many objects during our travels, and friends would request that we purchase something for them while we were gone," says Lizzie. Now friends and fans alike can browse the digital storefront for stateside talent, like Brooklyn-based artist Wayne Pate, to one-of-a-kind, hand-woven Moroccan rugs, and woven Mexican baskets. "As a young independent designer, it feels great to be recognized and supported, and we love discovering other independent artists and supporting their work as well."
Not tied to one specific place or era, Lizzie's jewelry is destined to be supported by consumers looking for originality over trends or labels. Her home also parallels this design approach—you can’t pinpoint the interiors to one style or another, but rather can follow along as she weaves in classic silhouettes with bold color and pattern. "These are the things that make my home feel personal," says Lizzie. We couldn’t agree more.