The Insider: Uber-Stylish Townhouse in Prospect Heights

The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly interior design and renovation column. It’s written by Cara Greenberg, also a contributing editor at the newly launched New York Cottages & Gardens, from which this post is adapted. Find it here every Thursday at 11:30AM.

SO MANY BELOVED SHELTER MAGAZINES have folded in the past few years that it’s especially heartening when a new title arrives on the scene. This spring marks the inaugural issue of New York Cottages & Gardens, a sibling of the existing Hamptons Cottages & Gardens and Connecticut Cottages & Gardens (you can pick up a copy at the Brooklyn stores listed at the end of this post, or subscribe by clicking here).

 

If you’re wondering what constitutes a New York “cottage,” editor-in-chief Kendell Cronstrom lays it out in his introductory letter: “Our brand’s notion of the term champions an overall contentment and satisfaction with where one lives,” he writes. Any housing type can qualify, “as long as the décor is good.”

Certainly that describes the sophisticated 1870s brownstone belonging to Mariza Scotch, an accessories designer; Diery Prudent, a fitness trainer; and their 12-year-old daughter. Converted with meticulous attention to detail by Murdock Solon Architects from a 3-family to a single-family home, the house is sparely but stylishly furnished with pieces individually sourced from mostly local artisans and suppliers.

Highlights include a professional-style cook’s kitchen and a backyard with a fitness system, designed by Prudent, that can be disassembled and stored away when garden parties are planned. The renovation contractor was Amaro Construction of Staten Island.

See the house in all its chic glory after the jump.

Photos: Tria Giovan

Silk saris from India hang on the wall of the perfectly intact front parlor. The steel chairs are by Dutch designer Martin Visser.


The oiled walnut and oxidized bronze ‘Fin’ table is by Brooklyn’s Selch & Co.


The custom credenza is by Aris Paganakis, the custom daybed from Brooklyn furniture maker Tom Edmonds.

 

Tom Edmonds also made the custom bed; the carved stand is from Journey Home in DUMBO.

 

The sink in the master bath comes from Duravit; other plumbing fixtures from Barber Wilsons & Co, Ltd., of London.

 

The hearth in the garden-level kitchen is well-used for grilling. Wide-plank birch flooring provides a warm contrast to the stainless steel cabinetry custom-made by Marlo Manufacturing of Boonton, NJ, normally a restaurant-supply company. The commercial-grade stove is Jade. Arne Jacobsen Ant chairs from Fritz Hansen.

 

The backyard’s rectilinear landscape design is the work of Brooklyn’s  Foras Studio.

 

Prudent’s ‘Fitnest’ can be disassembled and stored away under raised decking.

 

Find a copy of New York Cottages & Gardens at these Brooklyn stores:

ABC Stone
234 Banker Street

Abode New York
179 Grand Street

Artesana
170 Seventh Avenue

Baxter & Liebchen
33 Jay Street

Erie Basin
388 Van Brunt Street

Fabrica LLC
619 Vanderbilt Avenue

Haystack Home & Body
130 Clinton St

Home & Haven
177 Smith St

Modern Anthology
68 Jay St

Modest Designs
326 Wythe Avenue

Missed any installments of The Insider? Don’t fret. You can find them all right here.

30 Comment

  • Great meld of old and new. And what a cool looking couple..

  • What Cobblerkill says. I have always been so in love with metal and leather chairs, I will forgive them the modern bathroom. Interesting choice to close off the doors in the kitchen and use that space for a counter while leaving fireplace open and working. Oh how luxurious to have a working fireplace in the kitchen! (And traditional, depending on the age of the house.) Great blend of old and new — I like keeping the building envelope intact while updating with a mix of old and new furniture. Saris are original too.

  • What Cobblerkill says. I have always been so in love with metal and leather chairs, I will forgive them the modern bathroom. Interesting choice to close off the doors in the kitchen and use that space for a counter while leaving fireplace open and working. Oh how luxurious to have a working fireplace in the kitchen! (And traditional, depending on the age of the house.) Great blend of old and new — I like keeping the building envelope intact while updating with a mix of old and new furniture. Saris are original too.

  • I like the balance of steel and hearth in the kitchen.

  • this is just so fabulous. the decor may not to be my taste, but as a lover of tradition and classicism and as a preservationist, i think this is the best way to do a modernist interior in a 19th century brownstone. you don’t have to remove the plaster walls, all the moldings and mantels and doors, or for god’s sake pour a concrete floor in your parlor (remember that one?) to have a beautiful modern interior. this way the architecture and history of the house rises to meet modernism as an equal.

    really beautifully done. thanks for sharing this one, cara!

  • Stylish, fresh, comfortable, and non-destructive.
    I love it.

  • Neato, I’m going to subscribe! Such a cute, happy, stylish family. And they have the best names.

  • sorry but I detect so major OCD moments in this place…who places their pots and pans equal distances apart from large to small along with everything else in the kitchen…everything in the place feels very vapid to me (except for those gorgeous metal/leather chairs)…and, well, the building itself.

  • things were obviously set up to look their best but they look like real things owned by a real family as opposed to an institutional waiting room pretending to be a family home.

  • I love what they did with the glass wall and entry from the kitchen to the garden…more pics of it on architects site. No dark garden kitchen there…very nice melding of kitchen and garden into one flowing space.

  • It seems like such a perfect expression of the style of the couple. Also I love the fitness system in the backyard. I think I want one!

  • I think it would take a touch of OCDish tendencies to do a makeover of a brownstone using an architect to keep the original and create new details in a manner that works as well as this one does. At least it would for me…my tendencies come out when I try to organize some stuff or furnish a room, and then they retreat. To do a house, they’d have to come into play fulll time. I think that is true of architects and designers in general…it takes an enormous amount of attention to detail and patience to get a home to look this good…even the more artfully messy ones take as much (if not more) obsessive attention to every detail.

  • Is it cheap to get steel shelves from a restaurant supply company? I have a thing about open shelving–namely the trendiness of it–but if it’s an inexpensive alternative to custom cabinets, I like these.

  • Saris are not Original ideas for indians! Rather dull ones, these, look lik a po’ indian’s laundry line. Believe me, saris come much fancier.

  • Stunning…amazing… i am envious.

  • Stunning…amazing… i am envious.

  • We were lucky enough to have this house on the 2009 Prospect Heights House Tour. It’s really a gem and Mariza and Diery are both charming, lovely people. There’s a lot to like in this house but two details that wowed me back then were i) the original-to-the-house built-in walnut bookcase in the rear parlor (the edge of it is just visible in the photo of the daybed) and ii) the limestone window sills. I don’t recall which room/s had these (maybe on the 2nd floor?) but they are a gorgeous touch. I wondered whether they were a deliberate design decision or an inspired use of left over materials? Maybe Cara can confirm. Btw, this renovation didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a work in progress staggered over a number of years, so kudos for that too!

  • Really nice, very peaceful. Good minimalist design ca create such a relaxing environment; you can’t get stress out in a house like this, unless you think about paying for it too much.

  • Minard, you and I should gang up on “promenade.” Pretty vapid comments.

    Bathroom and kitchen are very nicely done.

  • @D in B – clearly hit a nerve on my comment of ‘vapid’…No need to gang up – just feel like everything is too “done”, fussed over and retentive… clearly my opinion. I think the house is rather fabulous and I really like the entry into the kitchen, if that helps!

    • Prom, I think you may have been reacting to the styling. These are, after all, photos by a top interiors photographer for a magazine. And there’s nothing more anal or OCD than styling an interior for a magazine; I know, I’ve done it. Each fern frond and blanket fold has to be just so.

  • Fabulous looking couple AND Home! As soon as I read the words “A PERFECTLY INTACT 1870s row house” I wanted to read it. And their family looks just like mine :) I loved it. Their daughter is gorgeous.

  • Fantastic glass curtain wall in the kitchen…we did something similar on our palor floor. Beautiful family and we love the spare aesthetic here. Thanks again Cara.

  • Any guesses as to the whites used for the walls/ceiling and trim? Looks like a superwhite or white with a touch of gray for the walls and a creamier trim? Very elegant.

  • To designed for me. Maybe done up for the shoot but doesn’t seem welcoming.
    Most fabulous? The family.