The Insider: Kid Stuff in Boerum Hill

Join us here every Thursday at 11:30AM for The Insider, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at interior design in the borough of Brooklyn. It’s written and produced by Cara Greenberg, who blogs at casaCARA: Old Houses for Fun & Profit.


THE STORY of this relaxed, unpretentious home is a bit different from many of those featured in The Insider of late. First of all, the homeowners did zero renovation. They bought their 1860s brick row house in near-perfect shape in 2005 and have had to do remarkably little in the owner duplex beyond paint. (They did put new kitchens in two rental apartments upstairs.) Second, they furnished the place themselves — no architects or designers involved.

That initial paint job was crucial, though. The house’s previous inhabitants had been fans of dark color; the front parlor was a deep gold, the back room navy. “We wanted to lighten the space and highlight the plasterwork,” says one of the homeowners, referring to the Italianate arches and stately window moldings typical of the Historic District block. They painted the plasterwork white and the walls of the main living space a pale mint green.

Furnishings — some purchased new, some passed down from family members, and a couple of street finds — are colorful, casual, and above all, kid-friendly. The couple’s sixth-grader and her friends more or less have the run of the place. The front parlor has been set up for gymnastics, with furniture pushed semi-permanently out of the way; mats and a balance beam are stashed under the sofa. “We want an active house,” says her mom. “The kids love that they can tumble around. They’re allowed to do anything in the house, except throw balls.”

Their daughter’s artwork is prominently displayed, along with quirky collectibles and heirlooms. It’s an eclectic, easy-going approach, which the homeowner defines as “things we’ve picked up along the way, that make us smile, that have good memories.”

See and read more after the jump.

Photos: Cara Greenberg

The front parlor-turned-gymnasium has a Della Robbia sofa from Rico on Atlantic Avnue, and an Oriental rug from ABC Carpet. The red glass-door cabinet at left is from Crate and Barrel.


Artwork ranges from school projects to pieces picked up on family travels over the years. The marble mantel is original to the house.

 

Etched glass in the sliding pocket doors survived 150 years in fine condition. The red sofa is by Molteni, an Italian company; it came from Format in SoHo. The Chinese cabinet at left is from Asia Barong, a store in Great Barrington, Mass.


A French farmhouse table from ABC Carpet is used mainly as a work table and occasionally pressed into service for dinner parties. The mismatched chairs go back decades. The geometric rug is from Kea on Atlantic Avenue. The dog is Rugby, an English lab.

 

The rear of the parlor floor is the family’s normal dining area. The round glass table came from Conran; the white chairs are Italian plastic. The patchwork sofa cushions were made to extend the life of an old sofa, using fabrics from Zarin on the Lower East Side. The modern chandelier is from Rico.

 

The Mexican tin and tile mirror, Nepalese cabinet, and kitschy plaster figures are evidence of wide-ranging tastes.

 

The homeowners are about to undertake the renovation of this galley kitchen at the rear of the parlor floor, which remains just as they found it seven years ago.

 

The creative 11-year-old occupant of this garden-level bedroom likes to rearrange furniture on a whim. She conceived the shower-curtain solution as a divider to separate the bedroom from a small anteroom used for homework, and enjoys arranging vignettes on her desk and dresser, below.


 

Have you missed any installments of The Insider? If so, you need to get on over here right away.

26 Comment

  • I’ll take that very creative eleven year-old over some of the designers doing the same thing over and over again any day!

    Lovely home. I think that gray and white kitchen has held up remarkably well. I can understand the owners wanting to update it, but I can also understand how they were able to live with it–the color palette is bright and soothing at the same time and their touches of artwork bring in some nice pops of color.

  • Can someone explain that pillow to me? What do Katrina and a tsunami have to do with a bunch of pop culture references?

  • That is the worst pillow I’ve ever seen.

  • I like this house. I’d like to see more like this, instead of the designery ones. And agree about the kitchen. I like its unassuming-ness. Allows the rest of the parlour to really shine.

  • eww those pictures on the kitchen counter and backsplash.

  • Funny, my eyes lingered on the list on the pillow as well. Could not quite figure it out. Finally, I thought, disasters and celebrities who are disasters. But then, Harry Potter….It’s like one of those analogy questions on the GRE exam.

    Pillow or no pillow, I like this house–and the stuff in it.

  • – it is an art project by E. Blanchard of  “Google News Top searches in 2005″ 

  • – it is an art project by E. Blanchard of  “Google News Top searches in 2005″ 

  • Oh Cara.
    I look forward to Thursday’s Insider, but this week I’m disappointed.
    It’s a perfectly fine house with ‘normal’ people living and decorating it. Nothing over the top and obscene to poke fun at.
    They owners did a nice job personalizing their home with objects they love

  • Thanks for the “solution,” Cara! Love it! Never would have figured it out.

  • I knew it had to be Etsy. “Art project”.

  • I love this installment with its low-key bohemian look and beautiful Greek Revival architecture.

    How curious they’re planning to re-do the kitchen. Someone better tell them they kitchen they have now is the latest chicest thing in Europe — seriously.

    The red Persian rug look is back in. And it always looks great with a shade of green on the walls.

    As for “zero renovation,” I wish I could say that! Sigh.

    This house is the “under-makeover,” like they used to have in Sassy or Jane (forget). A refreshing break from the million-dollar status statements of the 1 percent, which I also enjoy. (Though I’m sure the house cost just as much as those.) Why can’t every house be in such nice shape as this one?

  • I love this installment with its low-key bohemian look and beautiful Greek Revival architecture.

    How curious they’re planning to re-do the kitchen. Someone better tell them they kitchen they have now is the latest chicest thing in Europe — seriously.

    The red Persian rug look is back in. And it always looks great with a shade of green on the walls.

    As for “zero renovation,” I wish I could say that! Sigh.

    This house is the “under-makeover,” like they used to have in Sassy or Jane (forget). A refreshing break from the million-dollar status statements of the 1 percent, which I also enjoy. (Though I’m sure the house cost just as much as those.) Why can’t every house be in such nice shape as this one?

  • I enjoyed this as well, No gazillion dollar renovations, no super precious designer goodies. All of those are fun interior designer porn, but this is a great alternative: real people with families having fun in their home, and using it to its full advantage. Lucky them they didn’t have to do much. Still far above my pay grade, but that’s fine.

    Goes to show you, however, that one of the most transformational as well as one of the cheapest thing that anyone can do, (even on my budget) is paint. Paint changes everything, and does wonders.

  • I enjoyed this as well, No gazillion dollar renovations, no super precious designer goodies. All of those are fun interior designer porn, but this is a great alternative: real people with families having fun in their home, and using it to its full advantage. Lucky them they didn’t have to do much. Still far above my pay grade, but that’s fine.

    Goes to show you, however, that one of the most transformational as well as one of the cheapest thing that anyone can do, (even on my budget) is paint. Paint changes everything, and does wonders.

  • Unless there are other parts of the kitchen you can’t see that are dated or in bad shape, I actually like the kitchen and wouldn’t change it except to get a new stove and microwave/hood.

  • Nice house.. I also like this house because it is more lived in looking…

  • I appreciate that these home owners, although obviously people of means, chose to gently occupy their historic house instead of ripping out the moldings and casings and mantles in order to achieve some vision of trendy whiteness.
    A timeless, historic house is a thing of beauty forever if it isn’t damaged beyond recognition.
    This is a nice house, A lovely home. Kudos to them.

  • I do like the kitchen, but it is nice to have a bit of counter space on either side of the stove and on either side of the sink, if space permits.

  • I do like the kitchen, but it is nice to have a bit of counter space on either side of the stove and on either side of the sink, if space permits.

  • Let me explain that pillow, it is a list of things that gave me a boner this morning. Rest assured it is in no specific order. However I find that portrait in the last photo to be rather racist and I cannot believe it exists in this worl and that my eyes has to see it.