The Insider: Fresh Take in Park Slope

The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly series on interior design and renovation in the borough of Brooklyn. It’s written and produced by Cara Greenberg, who blogs at casaCARA: Old Houses for Fun and Profit. Find it here every Thursday at 11:30AM.


FROM A BEACH HOUSE in Santa Monica to a landmarked 1886 brownstone in Brooklyn: that’s the leap the owners of this one-family townhouse made, and many of their furnishings made it with them. “Making the house’s original detail and the clients’ cheerful graphic furnishings all work together was a blast,” says designer Lyndsay Caleo, who pulled together existing pieces with new paint colors, wall coverings, and other finishing touches.

Caleo is a partner in The Brooklyn Home Company, whose unique approach to development begins with the purchase and renovation of townhouse properties (they’ve done some dozen to date, and have a couple of new-construction projects in the works). The jobs generally include custom built-ins and cabinetry by Fitzhugh Karol, a sculptor, and often do not end until the home is furnished and decorated to the last detail by Caleo, TBHCo‘s in-house designer.

Here, there was just one major layout change, on the second floor. It had been chopped into four rooms and now consists of a master bedroom and new bath, two double closets, and a hot pink sitting room. The floors were mismatched throughout the house; TBHCo dyed them black and sealed them with a dark sealant to yield a rich chocolate brown.

The homeowners, he in the music business and she in fashion, wanted existing moldings and woodwork preserved, including a great deal of what Caleo calls ‘cake molding,’ the raised plaster detail on stairwell walls and ceiling friezes. “The fun challenge,” she says, “was bringing breath and lightness to a house that had been painted heavy maroon and gold, and making it feel relevant and contemporary.”

See and read more after the jump.

Photos: Emily Gilbert

Ralph Lauren’s Surrey, a dark charcoal, makes a dramatic statement in the main hallway and enhances the intricate plaster decoration on the walls. The walls themselves have a matte finish, the woodwork semi-gloss.

 

The front parlor of the 20′x50′ house became the living room. The white walls are papered with a subtle Greek key motif. The Metro sofa from Room and Board was imported from the California beach house. The green stools are from Jonathan Adler, the coffee table from Design Public, the rug Madeline Weinrib.

 

The dining room furnishings, in the central parlor, came with the homeowners from California. The rug is Madeline Weinrib.

 

The kitchen fitted into the back of the parlor floor has new cabinetry, a countertop made of sapele (an African hardwood similar to mahogany), and turned wood stools by Fitzhugh Karol.

 

On the opposite kitchen wall, floor-to-ceiling maple cabinetry by Fitzhugh Karol is painted black, with picture lighting above. The fireplace was re-done with carrara marble from DomoTech Stone Supply. A flea market chandelier, dipped in red rubber just for fun, is visible in the mirror.

 

A powder room off the kitchen was papered in an iconic wallpaper from Cole & Son. “It’s a bit tongue in cheek,” Caleo says. “The room is so tiny, it’s like going to the bathroom in the woods.”

 

TBHCo used a panel of frosted laminate glass in the top half of the master bathroom wall to admit light to the stair landing. The bathroom is all new, with custom medicine cabinets built by Fitzhugh Karol and suspended from the ceiling on poles custom-fabricated from steel pipe. The carrara marble sink top is from Domotech Stone Supply. The vanity is custom.

 

The master bed was a hand-me-down from the homeowner’s mom; the floral wall panels are simply fabric stretched over wooden frames.

 

A sitting room painted Benjamin Moore’s Royal Flush shares the second floor with the master bedroom. “She wanted a hot pink room,” recalls Caleo of her client. “The compromise was to keep the wood molding dark brown, so it’s man cave meets fashionista.” The Murano glass chandelier is from the homeowners’ collection.

 

Patterned fabrics, used abundantly throughout the sitting room, are from ABC Carpet & Home.

 

A yellow-and-black baby’s room on the top floor was inspired by one in another Park Slope brownstone, formerly owned by Jenna Lyons, president and creative director of J. Crew. “It’s a genius room, but I can’t take credit,” says Caleo. The yellow ceiling stripes are Benjamin Moore’s Egg Yolk, the rug Madeline Weinrib.

 

The wall art in the top floor playroom is a huge world map from National Geographic.

 

Kelly Wearstler’s Imperial Trellis wallpaper enlivens a home office on the top floor.

 

Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Egg chair, in a guest room on the top floor, sits on La Fonda del Sol carpet tiles from FLOR.

 

Missed any installments of The Insider? No problem. You can find them all right here.

 

37 Comment

  • I love the color and the wallpaper inserts in the molding frames. As an artist, however; I see a disturbing lack of artwork.

  • stuyheightsarch

    I really like this place…. casaCARA I would love to see more like this in the future…. This is a modern twist on Victorian House…

  • stuyheightsarch

    I really like this place…. casaCARA I would love to see more like this in the future…. This is a modern twist on Victorian House…

  • Wow. Lots to love here. Would love to hear more about the flea market chandelier dipped in red rubber.

    • Thanks for your comments! We weren’t able to find the right chandelier for the kitchen so we decided to make our own variation. We wanted to make reference to the classic detailing found throughout the house but also something playful and unexpected. We found an old chandelier at a flea market and experimented by dipping it multiple times into a gigantic vat of rubber that Fitzhugh has at his studio. [He has a big vat of red rubber from a tool manufacturing company that closed - and being the scavenger that he is took it to use on several of his outdoor sculptures].

  • expert_textpert

    Love LOVE the Pink room!
    Love the dark charcoal color in the hallway.
    Love the wood kitchen counter and the stools at the island…not too crazy about the back kitchen wall.

    Tired of the wall paper in the moulding panels.
    Also tired of big pattern wallpaper.

    Like the medicine cabinets but HATE that they’re suspended by poles…too fussy.

  • expert_textpert

    There is NO excuse for seeing the TV wire!
    Shame on the designer/architect. You’re doing a high end renovation, hard wire the TV or provide an outlet at TV height….plus the TV is mounted too high.

  • brownstoneshalfoff

    To each their own. I like about half of those color/pattern schemes.

    Dishonorable mentions: Exposed flat panel chord and cheap-wedding and yellow-Ugly-Betty-style dining chairs.

    Still nice overall despite my taste biases.

    ***Half Peak Comps Euroding***

  • expert_textpert

    I’m still hung up on the TV. I don’t like the look of it on the wall. I hate seeing the sides of it. It’s such a distraction from the nice room.
    I personally would rather hide the TV in a beautiful piece of furniture, or in this case if they could have built a wall mounted frame, matching the white cabinet finish….it would have given the TV wall a more polished look.
    Now, it just looks like the TV was a last minute decision.

  • expert_textpert

    I’m still hung up on the TV. I don’t like the look of it on the wall. I hate seeing the sides of it. It’s such a distraction from the nice room.
    I personally would rather hide the TV in a beautiful piece of furniture, or in this case if they could have built a wall mounted frame, matching the white cabinet finish….it would have given the TV wall a more polished look.
    Now, it just looks like the TV was a last minute decision.

  • This is so fabulous! Can I see a pic of the full kitchen? I wonder if she kept the other pantry traditionally on the other side of the wall.

  • expert_textpert

    I’m not sure I understand how the hood above the range works if there’s a shelf under it.
    Also, the shelf/hood don’t appear at the right height. Well, the hood is at the right height, but the shelf needs to go. Why is it there? You need a min of 24″ clear above a cooktop and this doesn’t look like it is.
    You have a pot on the back burner, how do you stir it?

    While I’m at it…. the outlet on the island really should be on the side, for easy plug in of equipment. Someone preparing food at the island shouldn’t have to go to the back side to plug in a blender but rather just reach to the side.

    Okay, I’m done being an armchair critic. But it’s these badly designed things that drive me nuts in high end renovations.

  • Gorgeous, fabulous, wonderfully decorated home.

  • Gorgeous, fabulous, wonderfully decorated home.

  • LOVE IT!

    Thank you for finding the perfect grey for me, too. The hallway is just gorgeous, and I LOVE the pink room.

    More with color!!!!!

  • callalily

    Not my thing but to each his own and I’m glad everyone is enjoying it so much! Love the perfection of the paint job and the playing up of the wedding cake details. Also here we have another parlor floor kitchen. This one is not a cliche and it integrates very well with the existing details.

  • hancock1

    Looks gorgeous. Elegant, tasteful, and exciting. Shows that you can make a vintage brownstone contemporary without gutting the interior and pouring concrete floors. Bravo.

  • hancock1

    Looks gorgeous. Elegant, tasteful, and exciting. Shows that you can make a vintage brownstone contemporary without gutting the interior and pouring concrete floors. Bravo.

  • callalily

    Did anyone see the story in the NYT today about the guy who collects ’50s kitsch and searched high and low for a 1950s apartment? Well, naturally he found one in Williamsburg — the typical Victorian that had a 1950s remodel. The result is painful but definitely newsworthy.

  • callalily

    Yes, how do you dip a chandelier in rubber? Impressive they were able to get the floors to match.

  • I like the pan-Asian/Middle Eastern vibe to the home that the design and decor brings. I was surprised that the master bath seemed subdued compared to the other major rooms. Many props to the owners for imbuing the home with personality. The wall of appliances in the kitchen seems bit cramped for a 50′ house. Is that door next to the oven a closet or a stairway leading to the basement/cellar? Guessing it’s a stairway because if it were a closet, they could have integrated that space into the kitchen and gotten another 3′+ to work with. @expert: adding another lamp to the console table in the main parlor room will hide the TV cord.

  • I thought these poeple moved away…this is the woman who insulted all of Park Slope by talking disparagingly about how people dress here. Good riddance I say.

  • That black and yellow baby’s room is going to seriously traumatize that kid.

  • Love the gray matte paint on the textured plaster wall in the hallway, but the dark grey on the panels below is a bit dark with it…would like to see another color below, as the hall seems like it would be dark.

    Living room, in contrast, too bright white. Panels of wallpaper, odd choice. More white in form of shiny white cabinet below TV and white couch…too much glare. Dining room continues this unfortunate trend…I mean, how practical is having white slipcovered and skirted dining chairs…even in a house without kids? And I would like to see some color on those walls.

    I like the wood countertop a lot. The stove pushed up against the wall would bother me to cook at…an unfortunate design flaw of rental apartments here…why? Also, it bugs me to look at white painted detailed door trim next to the dark brown cupboards. It screams to me that the old wood trim should be brown, not the cupboards….it would be so much prettier than the modern cupboards. I would have liked to see some of those bucks used to strip the wood trim on this floor…would have done more for the place than any other design choice. Or maybe I just feel that way because the rooms on this floor, other than the hall, are just so bright white, as I know there are other ways to cut the glare, like with paint colors, without paying to have the carved woodwork stripped. But they used no color on the walls on this floor…I don’t get that choice.

    The kitchen fireplace is pretty, but looks croweded and dwarfed by those tall dark cabinets on either side. But then, I’d never design a kitchen in a room shaped like this with an island and basically a hallway next to it (on the fireplace side of the island.) I know that is a common choice in these parlor floor kitchens, but it always seems like a terrible use of space to me. So you end up with awkwardness like that unfortunate fireplace wall. And a kitchen that isn’t inviting, as I like kitchens to be, in addition to being designed well for cooking, which this one isn’t.

    I get that they put a frosted wall in the bath to get light into the hall, but if you can see the outline of those hanging medicine cabinets, you could see my outline while standing at the sink, and I wouldn’t like that. Reminds me of airport scanners. Would have put the glass higher on the wall, above head height. I would think that would still allow a lot of light into the hall. Then the medicine cabinets could have been hung directly on the wall…they are nice, as is the sink unit below them, but the cabinets look goofy hanging on those white poles.

    I like the pink room (well, except for that fluffy white rug.) Love the fabrics in colors and patterns in there. But the nursery, with a close-up of the bumper in the crib…I mean, really, designers should pay a little attention to basic crib safety recommendations.

    Love that bed…we should all get such hand-me-downs! But I find the black and white striped rug, and especially the walll treatment of fabric panels, off. The fabric panels seem somehow an uninspired way to put something of intereest on the wall. I can see using neutral colors to highlight to gorgeous wood of the bed, but don’t like these choices.

    I like the trees on the wall in the powder room, but I don’t think I’d like working next to the lime green wallpaper in the office.

  • East New York

    The home office wallpaper would give me vertigo, and the parlor is a bit bordello-ish, but nice overall.

  • ilovestoops

    Love it when a place has personality and quirky elements and contrasting elements! Also, unlike most others, I prefer some “imperfection” (cord showing is ok with me). The dark floors and walls, even in the kids room, are fantastic, although not all of the color and wallpaper choices are appealing to me. It also makes sense to me to have a mixture of quality and style (dining room chairs) – there’s the opportunity to add/change things later if the owners find something they like. The only thing I really don’t like that can’t be easily changed is the style of the kitchen cabinets.

  • srsqualms

    That’s a lot of look! I like it. (Gotta agree on the dining chairs though — they don’t quite fit.)

  • I love love love they way they kept the old but have a modern house.

  • minard

    Late to the party.
    I love these rooms! They are fantastically artistic.
    They are the opposite of sterile white cubes.
    Some of the color combinations are really inspired.
    Congrats to the designer.

  • minard

    Late to the party.
    I love these rooms! They are fantastically artistic.
    They are the opposite of sterile white cubes.
    Some of the color combinations are really inspired.
    Congrats to the designer.

  • Love the Royal Flush color sitting room and the patterned fabrics on the pillows etc. Since any of the Insider homes were not done up for me I never expect to like it all. It’s just fun to see what people do and how they solve design problems. Kudos Cara!!

  • slopemope

    wow i can’t stand this place. parlor, dining room are completely hideous. chocolate floors, light brown floors, light brown wood, white wood, black wood, natural wood…..black or chocolate cabinets and light brown island counter? i think the bed has each type of wood. the overdone bland geometric patterns make your eyes lose focus. wall art that looks like wallpaper from HGTV. Can house guests guests walking up the stairs actually see your junk hanging out as you primp in the mirror? that’s not a home, that’s someone who wishes they designed a nightclub in chelsea.

    i do like the stairs.

    But its always good seeing people making themselves happy. Its only money!

  • This one is not to my taste at all, especially the living room. Those ugly bars on the windows, and the whole narrow room is tackily arranged around the TV.