Due Diligence

The diehard Brooklynites behind Twig Terrariums dish on Grubhub dependence, the appeal of the Greenwood Cemetery, and more

By Virginia K. Smith | August 6, 2015 - 1:59PM

Since launching as a stall at the Brooklyn Flea, Twig Terrariums has since graduated to a  brick-and-mortar setup in Gowanus, not to mention status as a full-fledged Brooklyn institution. (We're guessing you've seen those glass terrariums with their signature mix of delicate plant-life and laugh-out-loud figurines in more than one friend's apartment, if you don't already own one yourself.) 

They also cater their unique approach to styling apartment-friendly flora to the DIY-minded New Yorker, with a how-to book, and a running series of workshops and classes to let you build your own portable plant world.  Given that the company's founders, Katy Maslow and Michelle Inciarrano, are both dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers, we thought we'd catch up with them about their best—and worst—apartments, favorite spots in NYC, and more, for this round of Due Diligence:

1. What neighborhood do you live in?

Michelle: Sheepshead Bay

Katy: I live in Midwood, a very boring neighborhood somewhere between Prospect Park and Coney Island. 

2. Is this your dream neighborhood or is there someplace else in NYC you’d prefer to settle in?

Michelle:  I love Sheepshead Bay because I love being on a waterfront and the dog loves to swim.  There's no place better for us!

Katy: I have always dreamt of having an amazing view of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, but alas, I do not think that will ever happen. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade has consistently taunted me with the adorable streets and beautiful brownstones, but yeah, that probably won't ever happen.

3. Do you own or rent?

Michelle: Rent.

Katy: I'm a lucky girl! My mom bought this apartment in the early 80s with money from the divorce. When she left New York, my brother took it over. Now, I have it! 

4. How’d you find it?

Michelle: An ad in Craigslist.

Katy: My mom went through a realtor, back in the day.

5. What’s the one thing you love the most about it?

Michelle:  One thing?  Hmm ... the private outdoor space.  It's a shared communal lot but I have a backyard and side yard.  I feel spoiled.

Katy: My brother and I (he's a contractor and a fine artist) renovated the entire apartment over the course of five years. So, truly my favorite aspect of the apartment is that it's made to order! Built-in shelves for all my books and collections, a sturdy and narrow shelf in the galley kitchen to double the counter space, even a hidey-hole for the cat litter box. I love that this place is made for me!

6.If there’s one thing you could change about your apartment, what would it be?

Michelle:   I'd make it bigger! It's great for one person but what if I meet someone? 

Katy: I'd probably want my apartment to stay exactly the same, but transport it to a cooler neighborhood where there are restaurants and bars and parks and views of the city!

7. In three words, describe the first apartment you've ever lived in.

Michelle: Dark. Tiled. Basement.

Katy: Cramped. Ugly. Stinky.

8. Do you dream about old New York, or prefer the 2015 version?

Michelle: I appreciate the authenticity of old New York, but I prefer the 2015 version—without traffic cameras.

Katy: I often dream about old New York! Sometimes it's the 70s, 80s New York that was seedy as all hell, and sometimes its the New York my grandparents must have enjoyed. Four generations of my family have lived in Midwood. I have pictures of my grandma on her stoop with her friends from the block. I often reminisce about a Brooklyn that existed well before I was even born. 

9.Tell us about your favorite apartment you’ve ever had.

Michelle: I rented an apartment on 101st and 5th ave, so I had the most beautiful view of the Verrazano Bridge. The apartment was small, but very modern. It had a washer and dryer in the closet, a sauna light, and a beautiful rooftop garden that I could access from my living room window.

Katy: This is definitely my favorite apartment. Which makes me feel incredibly lucky!

10. And the worst?

Michelle: The worst apartment has to be the garden basement apartment I rented in Marine Park. The landlord was wonderful but the apartment was the size of a shoebox. And because it was next to their garden, I used to wind up with the strangest summer bugs.

Katy: Oh, just ridiculously infested, run by a slumlord, nothing ever worked and everything was gross. The realtor was shocked when me and my friend took the place. First apartment decision was a nightmare, but I've gotten way better!

11. Name one NYC service you couldn’t live without.

Michelle: Grubhub

Katy: I'm just really glad there's no summertime garbage strike. So let's hear it for NYC sanitation!

12. What's your favorite spot in the city?

Michelle: Greenwood Cemetery. So beautiful and peaceful!

Katy: Coney Island, without a doubt. 

13. Which would you rather: Brooklyn brownstone or a penthouse in a shiny, new condo?

Michelle: Well, those brownstones are narrow! I'd take a penthouse any day just for the space but I might put up crown molding just for a little of that Brooklyn brownstone feel.

Katy: Brownstone all the way. I prefer character over convenience, and spit-shine over polished chrome.

14.If you could live elsewhere, where would it be?

Michelle: I love where I live and it suits me!  All I want to do is travel now and see the rest of the world.  

Katy: Quiet, in the forest, with my feet in a lake, a big ole house with a porch swing, tons of animals everywhere, and time to paint, draw, and write to my heart's content.

15. Any advice for a recent New York transplant?

Katy Find your happy quiet place in the city and protect it fiercely. Become a "regular" somewhere, because it feels like community when you know everyone's name and they know yours, too. Find a good balance with your neighbors and be super friendly so they're forgiving of the noise you make. Tip your super during the holidays! Don't let the asphalt get you down. There's a lot of greenery in NYC to be enjoyed. 


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