For all of you who weren't addicted to Lost for years, as I was, pardon this analogy. It popped in my head the other day that through all my incarnations of living in New York, Kula has been my one constant. No matter where I've lived (often a couple subway rides away) or what I'm doing, Kula has been a lifeline I've always held onto.
So it was literally a life-changer when I heard that Kula was opening a studio in my neighborhood, just a few blocks down from my apartment in Williamsburg. This is the new gorgeous space where I spend my early mornings! Even more incredible — how studio directors Nikki and Schuyler created this inspiring space using all reclaimed materials. I'm positively thrilled to share the story of how Kula Williamsburg came to be along with a peek at the two studio rooms, the sauna, and the Shanti Shack that together make Kula Williamsburg one of my favorite places in all the world — and one of Brooklyn's best treasures. Here's where all the reclaimed materials built in Kula Williamsburg originated from...
This is a house in Milton, NY, that was slated for demolition (it's likely no longer standing.) Nikki and Schuyler took every usable material and surface they could find in this house — all their wood came from this Milton house. You can see in the photo some of the windows they took which were brought down and mounted in the walls in the studio.
I was shocked when I heard how quickly this huge project pulled together. Nikki and Schuyler decided on opening up another Kula in Brooklyn in April. By July, they had found this space in Williamsburg with good bones and a great location (they're neighbors with the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory!). The building used to be an old mill, which definitely makes it special. When they found the space, it looked nothing like what you see — no wood, no exposed brick or beams, just sheetrock and more sheetrock with cement floors and metal doors. There were also no bathrooms and they found just one sink with running water.
So their crew took five days to blow everything out in the space — and start fresh with just the foundation of the loft space. One of my favorite pieces that came from the Milton house is this sliding barn door on the first studio room. Everything about the design is so smart with sustainability in mind — it's hard to believe this came together in just a few months. I love how they added the original wood windows from Milton along the top edge of the studio walls — the windows bring a lightness to the space, even though most are not even facing the outdoors.
The Shanti Shack inside Kula Williamsburg is officially open! You can place your order at the reception desk. Brownie is the chef behind this cafe, filled with juices, kombucha, chai, and baked treats that smell amazing. The steps next to the Shanti Shack lead up to a little mezzanine space that's set up as a boho comfy lounge.
Here's a peek at the second studio room in the back. It's a cozy space with many of the same pretty details as the main studio — the windows, the stained glass, the reclaimed wood floors that have been sanded down to smooth, even the door to this studio is an original from Milton.
Lovely silk curtains create a little changing space for Kulis. Walk through the curtains and you'll find the men's dressing room with a shower. I fell in love with this back wall of the dressing room — they lined the wall with reclaimed wood siding from Milton. Sustainable can be so gorgeous.
There's a communal sink outside the loo. A pretty vintage mirror sits above a floating wood sink. Nikki shared with me that the wood slab sink was carved from a piece of the Coney Island boardwalk.
And there's a sauna! It smells all woodsy and awesome in there. It's free to use for anyone who's taking class at Kula. What a way to relax!
Round every corner you see the beautiful attention to detail that went into creating this space. The reclaimed wood adds so much depth and character to the studio. The carved wooden door leading back to the Shanti Shack kitchen looks like it came straight from India. They found a fireplace mantel in the Milton house which they repurposed as a community message board.
Fabric lined inside the reclaimed wood fireplace mantel makes a large bulletin board — such a cool idea. Nikki found this pretty stencil which they used to mark the studio floors so you can easily see where to stagger your mats when the classes are crowded.
The lighting fixtures in the studio are a combination of vintage finds and handmade designs from the Lighting Craftsman. These gorgeous drapes in the first big studio room slide across the bay window to create darkness for chavasana. I literally would love a dress made in the fabric from these drapes! Nikki got the drapes as a gift from her beau as good luck for the opening of the studio. (He clearly has great taste.)
Kula is not simply the place where I go to "work out", it's not simply a yoga studio — Kula is a community of amazing people, it's a space to find your center. I guess you could say that for yoga in general, but Kula feels more like an extended family to me. The teachers are amazing. I think a lot of New York yoga studios feel all business and cookie-cutter in the way they function. Kula has never felt like that to me — the studios are all heart. That's why it's always been worth it for me to take a long subway trek to their Tribeca studio, even though I've always lived closer to other yoga studios. I'm still pinching myself that Kula Williamsburg is here. And the story behind its making is so contrary to the other buildings going up around the neighborhood. So many condos and rentals are sadly being thrown together with no thought at how cost-effective and lovely it would be to use reclaimed materials rather than the builder-grade choices that get put in most of the new apartments here — and are far from durable. I hope that Kula Williamsburg can inspire some other businesses and builders to take a look at what is possible when it comes to sustainable building practices here in New York.
A huge thanks to Nikki for sharing her story and letting me run around the studio with my camera. Mostly, thank you for bringing this studio to life. It is the best gift ever. xo Jen