07/30/15 11:32am

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An untouched five-story brownstone that had been owned by the same family for a century provided a blank canvas for CWB Architects, one of Brooklyn’s busiest specialists in high-end townhouse renovation. The 1870s structure was in dire shape when the new homeowners undertook a two-year project to convert the house, which had been chopped up into apartments, to a single-family dwelling for themselves and their two young sons.

“Nearly half the floor structure was cracked,” said Brendan Coburn of CWB. “The only things we kept were the front wall and two side walls.” The back wall and all the interior framing are new.

It was an opportunity to rethink the house from, as it were, the ground up. The 20-foot-wide building “is gigantic for a family of four,” Coburn said, “and that made figuring out how to arrange the program a bit tricky.” (more…)

07/23/15 11:00am

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Dar gitane  — “home” in Arabic plus “gypsy” in French — is both the name of Alina Preciado’s online home goods business and interior design practice, and also shorthand for her life story.

Born in California, Preciado took off for Europe at the earliest opportunity, studying architecture and design in Spain and woodworking in Denmark, where she learned “the culture of simplicity,” as she puts it. “There, even simple things are well thought-out, beautiful and functional.”

And she traveled the continents, collecting artisans’ contacts as she went. (She eventually got a Masters in Industrial Design from Brooklyn’s own Pratt Institute.)

About 15 years ago, Preciado rented a 2,000-square-foot loft near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on the seventh floor of a poured concrete building originally used as a textile mill and then by the military during WWII. She put considerable energy into making the raw space habitable.

“Whatever is here, I’ve put in over the years,” she says, including plumbing, wiring, a bathroom with a claw-foot tub, and the unfitted, farmhouse-style kitchen. (more…)

07/16/15 11:00am

JHID_FuLL_Res_Lafayette_Brooklyn-9“These clients were not afraid of color. They kept saying, ‘More!'” recalled Chelsie Lee, project manager for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design (JHID). The Portland, Oregon-based firm had been hired to furnish a young couple’s newly purchased 20’x45′ brick row house in Fort Greene.

The building had recently been gut-renovated by the Brooklyn Home Company, with a new two-story extension on the back and a new interior staircase.

“We did a little light remodeling, like adding doors to the built-in cabinetry in the dining room to make it symmetrical,” said Lee, but the designers’ mandate was to realize the vision of the new homeowners: décor that was bold and playful. (more…)

07/09/15 11:00am

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An artist and a cookbook writer needed a place to live and work. Her sculpture is large-scale; his profession requires a kitchen that can occasionally double as a TV studio.

After years of moving from one rental to another, they found a 3,500-square-foot co-op on the ground floor of an old Williamsburg warehouse and called on Elizabeth Roberts of Gowanus-based Ensemble Architecture to pull the space together to suit their needs.

Roberts carefully considered how to maintain the integrity of the existing industrial space while creating a functional, inviting residence with a bit of polish. “It was an important decision to leave the ceiling and columns and structure as they were, and let them be real features,” Roberts said. (more…)

07/02/15 11:00am

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OUT OF A 1930s WAREHOUSE on a commercial block between Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, architect Ben Herzog and Brooklyn-based interior designer Kiki Dennis conjured a family home that’s both fun and functional.

The homeowners, a couple with three young kids, had lived in the 25-foot-wide, three-story building for years. However, the “functional lifestyle things were not working for them,” Dennis recalled. The answer was a total renovation. (more…)

06/25/15 11:00am

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project. Produced and written by design journalist Cara Greenberg, you can find it here every Thursday at 11.

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The young British couple who bought a loft-like apartment in Jersey City’s Van Vorst Historic District called for decorating help on a relatively new resource: The New Design Project, a Williamsburg-based collaboration between Fanny Abbes, a designer, and James Davison, who handles the business end of things. Both are recent refugees from the world of finance.

The 1,600-square-foot unit, in a building that began life as a stable and was later used by the Metropolitan Opera for storing props and costumes, came pre-loaded with character, including exposed brick walls and heavily beamed ceilings.

But it has only one main exposure and was very dark, said Abbes, a Parsons grad who grew up in France and Africa and has spent her adult life in London, Paris and New York. “The big challenge was to increase light, drastically,” she said. (more…)

06/18/15 11:00am

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project. Produced and written by design journalist Cara Greenberg, you can find it here every Thursday at 11.

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WHO WOULDA THUNK IT: classic mid-20th century furnishings, both vintage and reissued, working so beautifully — and looking so natural — in a late 19th century limestone row house? The full-on renovation by Dumbo-based architects Delson or Sherman was an update of a one-family house. Once the reno was under way, Brooklyn-based interior designer Kiki Dennis came in to do the furnishing.

“We inherited a lot of original detail that needed restoring and refreshing, but all our interventions were primarily modern,” said Perla Delson. Chief among these were an all-new kitchen and three new baths, a reconfigured garden floor with a media room and music room, and two outdoor spaces. The backyard was redesigned, with landscaping by Mac Carbonell of Verdant Gardensand a new roof deck added.

The homeowners, a couple with two young kids, “knew what they wanted,” Delson said. “They really enjoy cooking and wanted a modern kitchen, not a kitchen that pretended to look old.” (more…)

06/11/15 11:00am

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design or renovation project, written and produced by Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday at 11.

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WHERE MOST PEOPLE SEE A WRECK, architects see glorious opportunity. So said Elizabeth Roberts, founding principal of Gowanus-based Ensemble Architecture, of this four-story brick row house whose new owners are a young family late of SoHo.

“The house was in really bad shape,” said Roberts of the neglected 20-by-36-foot structure, into which the architects managed to fit four bedrooms, a study, three full baths and two half baths.  “It had been vacant, water had been leaking for a few years, and the rear wall was falling down. The opportunity was there for opening it up a lot, and putting on a two-story addition.”

That 13-foot-deep addition was the project’s boldest stroke. Now, the new garden-level kitchen, as well as the back parlor on the floor above, open into a two-story volume containing a high-ceilinged dining space. (more…)

06/04/15 11:00am

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design or renovation project, written and produced by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday at 11.

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THE TRIBECA TRANSPLANTS who bought the wide brick row house in the heart of Cobble Hill knew from the outset there was no chance of a historical renovation. The four-story house had been broken up into three apartments and shoddily renovated in the 1970s.

“Almost nothing was original,” said Hope Dana of Platt Dana, the architecture team brought in to create a one-family dwelling and update the house from top to bottom. “There was no connection between the garden level and the parlor floor, all the brick was exposed, none of the fireplaces were working, and there was no original molding.” (The one exception was the molding around the arched entry doors at parlor level, which happily also remained.)

The parlor floor was one big room, with a tiny kitchen at the back. Yet the new homeowners “wanted to live in a traditional brownstone way,” said Dana, with two rooms on the parlor floor separated by pocket doors, and a kitchen on the garden level. (more…)

05/28/15 11:00am

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design or renovation project, written and produced by journalist/blogger Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday at 11 am.

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AFTER THE NEW OWNERS of this exceptional brownstone had shelled out the price of admission, “budget-friendly” became their decorating watchword. Tamara Eatonan up-and-coming interior designer, was on the case to help the couple, who recently relocated from L.A., create a fresh, lighthearted home for their young family within the envelope of a seriously detailed late 19th century row house near Prospect Park.

The house was in estate condition, with a load of original detail including mother-of-pearl inlay in woodwork around doors and fireplaces on the parlor floor. “There was not a ton we had to do,” Eaton said.

Because furnishings from the couple’s California residence were to be repurposed in this totally different setting, Eaton saw her challenge as “making their very modern things work in a traditional brownstone. We painted most walls white to freshen things up and make the woodwork feel less heavy, and because she is a fashion stylist, added a bit of gloss and glamour with fun wallpaper and light fixtures.”

A 25-year-old kitchen on the garden level was left untouched due to budget constraints. Eaton oversaw the revamping of four bathrooms with basic white fixtures, plus quirky wallpaper or bright paint just for fun.

See more after the jump.

Photos by Jeffrey Kilmer

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05/21/15 11:00am

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design or renovation project, written and produced by journalist/blogger Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday at 11 am.

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SOMETIMES A GUT JOB is the only answer, as was the case with this 15-by-44-foot four-story row house in Bed Stuy. It had been ripped apart by a developer and then abandoned during the recession, even becoming home to squatters for a time.

“It was a total wreck. There was nothing at all worth saving,” says Gitta Robinson of Brooklyn-based Robinson + Grisaru Architecture, the firm hired by new owners to transform a shell into a home.

Brick party walls and wood joists were practically all that remained. At least the joists were in decent shape.

The architects decided to keep them uncovered on the two lower floors, to add ceiling height, and painted them white. Exposed brick was likewise kept exposed.

“There was a debate on whether it would stay natural or be painted white,” Robinson recalls. Natural won.

Where a chimney breast was removed in the dining area at the rear of the parlor floor, above, the void was patched in with mortar. The homeowners — he is a graphic designer and she a landscape designer — loved the effect and kept it, even matching the mortar treatment on the rear wall of the parlor floor.

In a bold design stroke, the architects removed 2.5 feet of flooring at the rear of the parlor level, creating an open two-story slot that connects the garden and parlor floor acoustically and lets in extra light. Ideally, the architects and homeowners would have liked to replace the whole back wall on the two lower stories with glass, but a tight budget prevented it. (more…)

07/29/12 8:00am

THIS EDITION of The Outsider, Brownstoner’s Sunday garden column, is the last to be written and produced by journalist/blogger Cara Greenberg. It’s been fun… now get growing!

Sponsored By James Stephenson's Artist Garden.

James Stephenson brings 20 years of experience in high level hardscape design and all aspects of garden installation from planting to irrigation and lighting.

THERE’S REALLY NOTHING you can’t grow in containers, provided the container is big enough — trees, shrubs, grasses, bulbs, perennials, annuals. On a 4,000-square-foot bi-level roof terrace atop a converted factory building in Williamsburg, garden designer Rebecca Cole has done just that, creating an urban woodland for her client, with elements of prairie meadow, too.

The view is a triple whammy, with the East River, Manhattan skyline, and monumental latticework of the Manhattan Bridge all seen in close-up. It cried out for equally dramatic landscaping. The client, who is in real estate, hired Cole to turn the vast 11th floor terrace into something a couple could enjoy without feeling lost in space.

Cole, a well-known TV personality and author, created the look of natural landscaping, with metal cubes containing birch trees and grasses, ‘carpets’ of sedum, and lots of annual color. She carefully planned the placement of containers to break up the space into functional areas. “You can literally wander as you would through the woods,” she says, “taking different paths around birches and evergreens, coming upon places to sit, noticing pretty little ground covers.”

More after the jump.

Photos: Courtesy Rebecca Cole

 

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