The Insider: Attic ‘Cabin’ in Fort Greene

Welcome to The Insider, here every Thursday at 11:30AM. It’s written and produced by Cara Greenberg, as is The Outsider, Brownstoner’s new garden series, every Sunday at 8AM. ALWAYS SEEKING LEADS TO WORTHY INTERIOR DESIGN AND GARDEN PROJECTS!!! Please contact caramia447@gmail.com


THIS MULTI-FUNCTIONAL SPACE at the top of a five-story brownstone was once “a weird scenario,” says Manhattan-based architect Ole Sondresen, who renovated the entire building for a pair of artists with two college-age children — a utilitarian attic, 22′x60′, divided up into “six or seven little storage spaces.” Now it’s a destination for the family, used for movie nights, games, and music-making. “It’s meant to be almost a cabin at the top of the house,” Sondresen says. “A getaway in one’s own space.”

Enhancing the cabin feeling is the unorthodox use of wood, wrapping around the entire ceiling and down the wall to become a bench under the windows. “We saw it as an upside-down space,” the Norwegian-born Sondresen says. “While the rest of the house has wood floors and plaster ceilings, this space has white painted oak floors and the warmth of wood as the ceiling.”

The contractor was William Dorvillier.

More photos and details of the attic loft, as well as the new kitchen on the parlor level, after the jump.

Photos: Ole Sondresen

 

A parged plaster screen for projecting movies was created on the existing brick wall, which was cleaned up and whitewashed. The wood is sustainable American cypress in 3″ planks. Simple point spotlights intended to highlight the texture of the brickwork are set into the ceiling. Instead of boxing out waste and vent pipes, the architects tried to make them “more Corbusian,” Sondresen says — “less sheetrock boxes, more expressed elements.” That approach also allowed them to take better advantage of the full width of the space. Furnishings are all from the homeowners’ collection.

 

The large ‘box’ along the left-hand wall is an old Georgian skylight above the house’s main stairwell. It was covered with a walnut top that has a piece of glass in it, allowing light to penetrate below. Four skylights perforate the ceiling in this section of the loft, which goes from 3’6″ high at the end to about 7′ in the middle.

 

Downstairs, at the back of the parlor floor, Sondresen gut-renovated the kitchen. “The challenge was the archway,” he says. “How do you marry the upper cabinets to the archway, and how do you introduce an exhaust hood?” The solution was eliminating upper cabinets entirely and building a custom hood with rounded corners out of cement board and plaster. The kitchen is IKEA, semi-customized. “We used basic carcasses from IKEA, and we lacquered their oak doors so you still see the grain a little.” The range was recycled from the old kitchen; the fridge (to the right of the door to the deck) is Liebherr, 24″ deep and 30″ wide, with custom lacquer doors.

 

The custom stove hood was “meant to be part of the plasterwork versus being an appliance,” the architect says. A white oak shelf cut to span the range curves in under the hood. The backsplash is simple white subway tile.

 

A 16′ long custom credenza in the dining area, made of white oak with thin (1/4″) sliding lacquered doors, holds dishes and glassware that would typically go in upper kitchen cabinets. The island is IKEA, with a thin top of statuary marble. The oak dining table belonged to the homeowners. Benjamin Moore‘s Super White paint was used throughout the house, for walls and moldings alike. “It feels like a raw chalky diamond plaster,” Sondresen says. “It has a drop of red in it and complements a lot of other tones and colors.”

 

Missed any installments of The Insider? Catch up here. For The Outsider; click right here.

 

20 Comment

  • that attic space is too cool. what a great escape!

  • callalily

    Wow, that kitchen is really interesting. I like the hood and the way it intersects with the shelf and subway tile. Over the other way across the room, I definitely would have built two vertical cabinets on either side of the chimney. Long, low, horizontal surfaces just do not work in brownstone buildings in my opinion, even if the finishes are modern. The proportions are just wrong. As for the attic, I like the wood on the ceiling, especially the sloping part. Again, I think I would have skipped the low horizontal shelves/seating. That blocky table-y thing next to the stair looks good.

  • callalily

    Wow, that kitchen is really interesting. I like the hood and the way it intersects with the shelf and subway tile. Over the other way across the room, I definitely would have built two vertical cabinets on either side of the chimney. Long, low, horizontal surfaces just do not work in brownstone buildings in my opinion, even if the finishes are modern. The proportions are just wrong. As for the attic, I like the wood on the ceiling, especially the sloping part. Again, I think I would have skipped the low horizontal shelves/seating. That blocky table-y thing next to the stair looks good.

  • For 2 years, when I was 7-9, I lived in a giant house built in the early 1700′s in Darien Connecticut. At the time, there were 13 people living in the house, so space was limited. I found a space in the attic with stained-glass windows and raw wood roof that I made my hangout, mostly to get away from the other 12! This space reminds me of that (although that was all peaks and dormers) – beautiful.

  • I like both spaces a lot, except something about the shape of that hood and the shape of the arch seems odd to me. the concept is great and the plaster hood looks very old world in a nice way. maybe it’s a italian/new mexico looking hood with victorian plaster that’s bothering me.

  • I love the credenza. Who made it?

  • My kind of kitchen, both the Ikea part and the white with pale gray part. The top-floor room is beyond creative, as is the arch “solution” in the kitchen.

  • My kind of kitchen, both the Ikea part and the white with pale gray part. The top-floor room is beyond creative, as is the arch “solution” in the kitchen.

  • snappyglitter

    LOVE the attic space. The furniture therein is doing nothing for me, but the space itself and the use of wood is spectacular.

  • NeoGrec

    Really love the attic treatment. Those”cheater” spaces (with the very low ceiling height on the street side) are a challenge and this is a very creative solution. I like the “faux plaster” stove hood. Credenza is elegant too. Though I agree with Mopar, that side of the room could do with more verticality.

  • Nice place. It’s always nice to see that there are some artists that aren’t renting in crumbling industrial spaces with cold floors, rats, and unwashed roommates.

  • Nice place. It’s always nice to see that there are some artists that aren’t renting in crumbling industrial spaces with cold floors, rats, and unwashed roommates.

  • Looks like a reasonably priced renovation. I love the attic space and the kitchen works even if it’s not high tech. Love the exhaust hood solution.

  • Ikea carcasses are all the rage (or should I say solution) for young cabinet makers and renovators. Sturdy and well-made, they’ve become the root-stock designers and carpenters graft their ideas onto.

    Love the sculptural stove hood…

  • Ikea carcasses are all the rage (or should I say solution) for young cabinet makers and renovators. Sturdy and well-made, they’ve become the root-stock designers and carpenters graft their ideas onto.

    Love the sculptural stove hood…

  • Panyl, be my guest. Advertising copywriting, after all, is what I do. If you need anything further…