Inside Constance Wu’s Brooklyn Heights Family Home

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“I wanted something inviting and warm and familiar,” says actor Constance Wu, who recently made the move from the hot and hectic sprawl of Los Angeles, where she still keeps a house, to a freshly made-over apartment in Brooklyn Heights, New York. After nearly a decade living primarily on the West Coast—the better to accommodate her film and television career—the actor felt ready to return to NYC, where she aims to prioritize theater. The shift is meant to provide more stability for her and her boyfriend Ryan Kattner’s two young kids. “It’s better this way,” she explains. “I don’t have to uproot and go do a movie in Prague for three months. I can just work here and let my kids stay in the same school. This was just the better choice for the family.” (Wu recently wrapped a starring run as Audrey in an off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors).

When it came to setting up house, Wu had one goal: ease. “I wanted something spacious—by New York standards—that had a warm, open vibe to it,” she says. The priority was on finding a welcoming, family-friendly neighborhood near parks. Reminiscing about her time in the city two decades earlier, hopping from borough to borough, rental to rental, Wu describes how she was now looking to drop roots. “I like to joke that when I lived in New York City before, I knew all the bars in the area, and now that I live here, I don’t know any of the bars—but I know all of the playgrounds,” she says.

Beyond prime location, however, the prized rental lacked one thing—furniture. The family still owns their home in LA, and so they kept most of their belongings there. “I don’t think I have an eye for [design],” admits Wu. “So I wanted to hire a team that I thought really did.” She connected with West Elm, aware that the furniture retailer’s signature style echoes the type of laidback and livable interiors Wu herself leans toward, even if she lacks the chops to create them herself.

Her parameters for the West Elm creative team were based more on feelings than visuals. “One of the designers said to me, like, ‘If your apartment was an outfit you were wearing, would you want it to feel like jeans and a T-shirt? Would you want it to feel like an evening gown?’ I replied, ‘Nancy Meyers coastal grandma’…which is not how I personally dress.”

To nail the sensibility, West Elm chose warm natural hues as a connective thread through all the rooms—from cottony linen textures to wood accents to ultramarine-colored velvets. Wu’s team then balanced out the cozy with refined touches, including abstract artworks and bold black pieces. “It has a personality,” says Wu of her space. “I wanted it to feel effortless and not like I’m trying too hard to prove anything.”

The family is excited to welcome friends into the inviting space. “We always knew that we would be using the dining area a lot because we liked to entertain and have people over, which is a luxury that a lot of New Yorkers don’t always engage in because space is limited,” says Wu. “But when you have kids, it’s really nice that we have this dining area that’s open, close to the living area. So we invite couples with kids over, so that our kids can play with their kids while we’re in there. That’s how I imagined we’d use it. And that’s how we’ve been using it.”

Nothing is too precious, for sure. Adds Wu, “Listen, kids are going to get messy. And I think the more important thing is to safeguard—yes, my daughter has markers, but they’re ultra-washable markers. I’ve accepted that it’s part of growing up, it’s part of being a kid, it’s part of experimenting, but there are definitely boundaries. I’m like, maybe instead of coloring on the sofa…we color on paper.”

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