The Insider: Gentle Reno in Prospect Heights

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, our weekly in-depth look at a recent interior design/renovation project, here every Thursday at 11:30AM. Like The Outsider, Brownstoner’s new garden series on Sundays at 8AM, The Insider is written and produced by Cara Greenberg.


IT TOOK TERI BRAJEWSKI of TWB Design a full year of apartment-hunting to settle on what she calls a “petite three-bedroom” in an eight-unit building from the 1890s. It wasn’t just the intact woodwork and other Victorian niceties, including a fretwork archway, bay window, and tiled mantelpiece, that sold her on the ground floor unit, or even the private backyard. “It was one of the few I looked at and didn’t think, ‘If only I could tear this wall out…'”recalls Brajewski, an interior designer and co-owner of Interior Provisions, an online and by-appointment home goods shop in Nolita.

In fact, the long, narrow, 1,100-square-foot floor plan functioned so well for her family — she’s a single mom of two — that all the walls stayed right where they were. Brajewski lost no time gutting and replacing a full and a half bath; that’s been the major work to date. Other sprucing up includes floor refinishing, new lighting throughout, new furniture, and a carefully considered paint job with Benjamin Moore’s Natura line of no-VOC paints.

Brajewski is a LEED AP (accredited professional). She incorporated some sustainability principles, a water-saving toilet and the use of locally-made and vintage furnishings among them. Contemporary and mid-20th century pieces look magically at home in their surroundings. “The gracious scale of mid-century furniture works very well against a Victorian backdrop,” she says.

For now, Brajewski is living with the existing kitchen, though she bought a new dishwasher and washer/dryer, and the garden remains a frontier yet to be conquered. Brajewski “called in a ton of favors and got a lot of trade discounts” but estimates the cost of her improvements, including new furnishings, at about $100,000 for a civilian. The contractor was Jim Savio.

Above: The apartment’s front room is divided by an archway into areas Brajewski uses as a living room and a home office. The made-in-USA sofas are contemporary, from Thayer Coggin, but with a ’50s/’60s look. The vintage coffee table is from a shop in Hudson, NY; the rug from a sample sale. Cafe curtains were made by Angel Threads of Brooklyn.

Photos: Ofer Wolberger

See more, including a complete list of paint colors, after the jump.


Four different types of tile in the master bath are from Walker Zanger, all in variations of warm medium brown. The sink top is multi-colored onyx from ABC Worldwide, as are the window sill and door saddle. The custom walnut vanity designed by Brajewski was built by WCW Cabinets, the tall, thin medicine cabinets by JCP Cabinetry in Astoria.


The hand-screened wallpaper in the powder room is from NYC-based Jill Malek. The tiny sink is Villeroy & Boch. Tile is from Ann Sacks, and the ceiling light from Canopy Designs, Ltd., headquartered in Long Island City.


The dining room has a vintage tin ceiling and exposed brick inherited from the previous owners. The table is from Design Workshop, a North Carolina company, with recycled aluminum chairs from Emeco. The four-section wall unit is by Corey Springer of WUD, a Brooklyn furniture maker. The chandelier came from Rico on Atlantic Avenue.


Brajewski designed the button-tufted headboard and had it made by Younger Furniture in North Carolina of vintage fabric from Yoma Textiles. The silkscreened ceiling fixtures is from Galbraith & Paul, the sconces above the bed from Artemide.


Chris Packer of JCP Cabinetry in Queens built the maple veneer closets in Brajewski’s daughter’s bedroom with solid edging, so that it will last longer. Light fixture from Seascape.

PAINT COLORS, all from Benjamin Moore’s Natura line


Living Room – Guilford Green

Master Bedroom – Mellowed Ivory

Daughter’s Bedroom – Bunny Nose Pink, Suntan Yellow ceiling

Dining Room/Hallway – Timothy Straw and Mill Springs Blue

Master Bath, door – Fairview Taupe


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24 Comment

  • I like it.

    I love the parquet floors with all the nail marks in it.
    I like most of the finishes as well. One of the other rooms has different floors?????

    This kind of RR apartment is nice, i could live in that. I just would have of made on of the smaller bedrooms a complete walk in closet – storage area…

    but I like this reno- a lot

    • stargazer, I have an aptmt that is almost exactly like this one and it too has different floor across the rooms – ie the living rm and formal dining rm are those nail head ones vs the hallways, bedrms are the long white oak strips (no nail heads). I was told by the experts here that this is not a RR aptmt as thre are hallways vs RR don’t and one has to walk thru (not by) the rooms

      • Yes, now that I think of it, you are right, a true RR there are no hallways, and this one does have them. I do stand corrected.

        My grandmother had the real RR on 5th ave between 58 /59….no windows in the middle 2 rooms….a fun apartment never the less….

        Usually the floors in the main rooms were nicer, so I am assuming that is the reason for the different woods.

  • When I’m a bajillionaire, I wish to live in something like this… when I’m 80 and if there’s any bstones left to go around.

  • Nice. I agree with stargazer on loving the floors with the nail marks.Of course, I love the parlor room the best. This is well done.

  • unless it was very good condition already, the estimated 100k spend (the mkt value if no trade discounts etc) to renovated this is pretty low considering the nice outcome and what others on this insider thread has spent for their renov.
    love that combination of tile shapes in that full bath – same color but the the different shapes yielded a very nice outcome; noting that for the next renovation

  • This is very nice, especially for $100k.

  • Seems kind of gloomy. Even Ofer Wolberger can’t make it look good to me.

  • Very nice. I note the liberal use of sconces, which makes for nice lighting effects. I am in love with that onyx sink top and the brown-green ’70s style bathroom even though I think a ’70s style bathroom is a bit odd in a Victorian :) But charmingly so.

    • More4less is right – the living room/study, hallway and back bedroom are original flooring. The smaller bedrooms are narrow plank and someone put the wider plank in the dining. The floors were extremely dark when the apartment was purchased and it was a pleasure to see the light bright wood come forth.

  • That is one of the prettiest filigree screens I have seen. I like how it is supported by slender ionic colonnettes that match the ones on the fireplace mantle. This apartment looks beautiful and although the bathroom tiles are not my taste, I appreciate that they are very nice and au courant. I think this is a very cheerful and attractive home. Thumbs up!

  • By the way, the powder room does not appear on the floorplan.

  • 100K for a gutted and redone bathroom and refinished floors and paint?!?

    The apartment’s lovely, but by her own admission the major work was the bathroom – which didn’t move. So, what happened?

    Is it the furnishings and fixtures?

    • moving location of plumbing is expensive but so is replacing all the plumbing in its existing location. I moved my plumbing a little and that cost money but the bigger cost was replacing all the old pipes behind the wall. also, carpentry work is mad expensive – I find it to be the most expensive if one is using a really good carpenter

    • nice stuff can add up real fast – ie that fancy paint for the whole aptmt is probably 4-5k, faucets are $400 each, nice door handles are $250 each, shower head is $700, etc that’s just the hardware cost so it can add up fast. once one uses fancy stuff, the tally goes up real fast. Of course one can use more regular stuff and have a nice outcome but it wouldn’t be this nice. that said thought, $100k aint cheap for what was done but it is cheap vs the cost of other projects highlighted here before in this thread

      • The full scope of the work included more than meets the eye. Every electrical duplex was replaced & some electrical was added, ceiling lights were added in each bedroom, every light fixture was replaced expect for the 2 in the kitchen. Using a no VOC Natura paint added to the cost but was better for my family and the environment. Due to prep work of the walls the paint job was actually considerably more. While plumbing was kept in the existing location, the master bath was brought down to brick and the powder room not to far behind. More4less is right, carpentry is a big number, even simple work like revamping the shelving in the kitchen pantry. Tile work was actually my biggest trade expense but they did an amazing job for me even cutting 4″ strips of the circle tile out of a 12″ sheet to create the border. And yes, all the furnishings are new except for the wall unit in the dining room which will travel with me where ever I go. Oh and the powder room is off the hallway next to the master bedroom – it just looks like a closet. Thanks to everyone for taking a look!

  • nice living room, but what’s with the ugly vanity in the bathroom again, are we back in the seventies? what will b next, “wood” panels on the walls?

    Giyora Tsafrir

  • nice living room, but what’s with the ugly vanity in the bathroom again, are we back in the seventies? what will b next, “wood” panels on the walls?

    Giyora Tsafrir