04/18/14 9:00am

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There is probably no more all-consuming home design trend in the last 35 years than the “great room,” a giant open plan room that combines family room and dining room with kitchen. This has resulted most recently in Brooklyn in flippers who rip all the walls out of 19th century houses and the building of so-called luxury apartments with tiny strip kitchens in the living room.

Now, according to The New York Times, renters and home buyers both are demanding separate kitchens and dining rooms, and builders are building them. The story details home hunters who purchased a one-bedroom Art Deco apartment in Kensington with a traditional kitchen and a townhouse in Ditmas Park with a separate kitchen and formal oak-paneled dining room. Above, the separate dining room and kitchen at Jessica and Doug Warren’s house in Clinton Hill. Reasons given include:

*Better for entertaining.
*Don’t have to see dirty dishes.
*Hides the prep work.

“So much new construction features open floor plans that there’s a pent-up desire for apartments with separate dining rooms and kitchen,” said one real estate agent. “For a certain demographic, they’re a definite selling point.”

The Times cited many new buildings with traditional floor plans, including one with pocket doors that let the inhabitants decide whether to open or close off the kitchen. All of them, tellingly, are in Manhattan where new construction is focused on the very high end of the market, except for one, the rental building at 250 North 10th in Williamsburg. A third of the studios there feature “single-opening galley kitchens separate from the living area.” They are priced at about $2,500 a month.

“People say, I’ve been looking for this,” said the developer. “Not a majority, but you hear it from people who like to cook. Nevertheless, they don’t want to cook in the middle of their living room.”

Which do you prefer?

The Separate Kitchen Makes a Comeback [NY Times]
Photo by Desire to Inspire

02/20/14 11:30am

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Design Brooklyn brings us some fresh shots and commentary on Prospect Park’s beautiful new LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

In a section of Prospect Park called Lakeside — until recently the somewhat neglected site of the Wollman Rink — a crisply beautiful new building has taken its place within the landscape. Designed by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in collaboration with the Prospect Park Alliance’s lead landscape architect Christian Zimmerman, the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center offers a year-round skating facility as well as a stunning example of how restoration can work hand-in-hand with modern design. (more…)

02/03/14 11:30am

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Many Brownstoner readers are familiar with the stunning Clinton Hill residence belonging to Jessica Warren of JP Warren Interiors. We published a story about the house on the Insider, and quite a few readers have also seen the house in person, either on a house tour or at one of the many cultural events the Warrens host. In an interview with Design Brooklyn, Warren discusses her creative process. A few select photos show new views of her house and how the furnishings have evolved over time. Design Brooklyn is an occasional column featuring Brooklyn interiors, both residential and commercial. The column is written by Anne Hellman, with photographs by Michel Arnaud. They blog at Design Brooklyn and Abrams published their book of the same name in October.

AH: How long have you practiced as an interior designer? How did you first get involved in it?
JW: I started my business, JP Warren Interiors, in the fall of 2011 when I was offered the opportunity to design the interior of a new home. I’ve always had a passion for modern furniture, and I have always been a thrift store junkie so I’ve been buying pieces and collecting for years. I had amassed furniture, lighting and objects in the basement of my old place and I thought I’d open an antique store or interior design studio when my daughter left for college. We also were renovating a house in Clinton Hill [shown here] which, when completed, got some press. In 2011, a person contacted me about a 10,000-square-foot new construction project. The client completely understood who he was hiring and that this was my first job. It was a great opportunity and the timing was right. I have been a student of design, art, and architecture my entire life. This work is my passion. I love Norma Kamali’s quote and agree that taste comes from a constant curiosity and interest in everything: “Taste is an evolution and refinement of one’s personal likes and dislikes. This evolution takes place with a constant curiosity and interest in everything. The editing consequently refines the choices and defines taste.” Renovating, restoring and designing my house was a tremendous education. I learned an enormous amount from all of the talented people who were involved. For my business, the fact that I had this house as my classroom and also that I was able to do something on this scale that expressed my point of view was incredible. I was able to hit the ground running with a distinctive look and approach. (more…)

01/29/14 11:30am

Windsor Terrace House

A somewhat mysterious party wall in a Windsor Terrace house ended up taking a renovation in some surprising new directions.

Tax records pegged the house as late 19th century, but clues hinted that it might date from the mid-19th century or even earlier. A peaked roofline in the front of the house just barely visible behind a porch addition looked Italianate-Gothic, as did a dilapidated hayloft behind the house. The house was 25 feet wide and attached on one side, but it had originally been a freestanding house.

The whole thing was a “conglomeration of really ugly boxes,” said architect Alexandra Barker. ”It had a double decker front porch, it had been a pitched roof house, and there was a giant two story box on the back.”

The clients, a couple with three children, didn’t give Barker a lot of directives, but were open to something modern. Their main requirements were four bedrooms upstairs and space for entertaining, since they are very social and often host neighborhood gatherings.

As the renovation progressed, however, it became clear that a whole new building was needed. (more…)

12/19/13 11:30am

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James Cleary Architecture recently completed a gut renovation of a four-story townhouse in Park Slope. The clients were primarily interested in creating a comfortable home for themselves and their two children. They didn’t want to make “any design moves that were too aggressive,” said Cleary.

Existing original detail was retained and, when necessary — as it was for the staircase — restored. Some of the front rooms and hall still have their original Victorian wood work around windows and doors. New design elements such as the kitchen and the rear wall of windows were carefully balanced with the existing architecture.

The house was reconfigured as an owner’s triplex over a garden level rental apartment, with four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in the triplex. On the parlor floor, the masonry rear wall was demolished and a new wall of full-height, custom-made steel and glass windows, with an integrated glass door, was installed (above). The door opens onto a new full-width steel deck and stair that leads down to a refurbished rear yard.

The kitchen found a new home in the center of the parlor floor. Its features include Silestone counters and back splashes, walnut cabinetry, and a niche lined in robin’s egg blue enameled steel.

The hardwood floors are new, and were stained ebony. On the upper floors, concealed skylights flood the bathrooms with light. Frosted glass doors to the bedrooms also bring light into the center stair hall. Mechanicals were upgraded throughout the house, including heating, air conditioning, plumbing and sprinklers. (more…)

12/18/13 11:30am

Bar Chord-C1

The building at 1008 Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park originally opened as a family-owned restaurant in 1927. Players for the Brooklyn Dodgers were known to stop in on their way to nearby Ebbets Field. The address has since lived through countless incarnations — lastly as a Mexican bakery — and now it has become Bar Chord, a neighborhood watering hole and music venue created by Christy and Jonny Sheehan. (more…)

12/02/13 11:30am

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In preparation for its 150th anniversary, the Brooklyn Historical Society pursued a vision of bringing the interiors of its attractively preserved building on Pierrepont Street into the 21st century, while still respecting the past. Working with Christoff: Finio Architecture, BHS created an airy, high-tech event space, dynamic new galleries, a reconceived shop supporting Brooklyn makers, and classroom space for student and community activities. (more…)

11/15/13 12:00pm

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We frequently fantasize about how we could renovate one of the relatively affordable, family-sized units in the Clinton Hill Co-ops to make the most of its World War II-era design. So it was with great interest that we came across this renovation of one of these apartments on Sweeten. (In fact, Sweeten has done several projects in these buildings, they told us.)

The homeowners had already been living in the apartment for 11 years. The biggest changes they made were opening up the space by eliminating non-structural walls and replacing the beat-up parquet with white oak flooring. They also redid the kitchen and bath. Click through to the jump for a few more photos and to the story for before-and-after shots.

Kyle & Angela’s Mid-Century Inspired, Clinton Hill Renovation [Sweeten] (more…)

11/07/13 11:30am

TEA Parlor Room

Ali Vanderpool and Ariana Villalta were working at a high end design firm in New York City when they decided to take the plunge and open their own residential interior design firm, The Elegant Abode, in 2011. They recently completed a revamp of a parlor floor in a Brooklyn brownstone.

The rooms were previously decorated in a very formal style with traditional fireplaces, red striped silk curtains, and a red Persian rug. The clients asked for a more relaxed and functional space where they could entertain guests and spend time together as a family — including their three girls and the family dog. The designers aimed to create elegant and sophisticated rooms that would also be practical and comfortable.

The designers updated everything, including the fireplaces, floors, millwork, lighting, window treatments and furniture. They chose a neutral palette (their signature), with accents of purple and green. Texture was incorporated in the jagged Mosaic Sentousai stone fireplace and nubby fabrics. They selected “modern, sleek and structured” furniture, including a Pucci bench and credenza from BDDW. The fireplace was designed to be the focus of the room, “without being fussy or formal.” (more…)

Breuckelen Berber 1

Handmade rug retailer Breuckelen Berber, located on the Columbia Street Waterfront, offers far more than an in-and-out shopping experience. Owners Nathan Ursch and Brin Reinhardt have created a space in which vintage Moroccan Berber carpets and other furnishings find a true home in a Brooklyn storefront. They had looked for a spot on Atlantic Avenue when expanding their business a year and a half ago, but Columbia Street was more affordable and, fortuitously, has since become a walking destination in its own right. (more…)

10/17/13 11:30am

Park Slope 1

In 2011, the owners of this South Slope property hired Leone Design Studio to convert the building, comprising three separate apartments, into a single-family home. Built in the early 1900s as an apartment complex, the structure never had a past life as a townhouse, and so displayed those characteristics one would expect: a large interior common stairway and no light penetrating from the back, only from a small skylight on the roof.

“It was dark in there,” said one owner, “and since our kids were one and three, they weren’t entitled to their own apartments yet. This was the principal reason for why the renovation was so extensive.

“These three-family houses were not the grand homes of upper-middle-class 1900s Brooklyn,” he continued. “They were built as functional housing for thrifty people who worked for a living, and who thus were not spending their discretionary income on frills. As a consequence, the house was notable not so much for its period wood paneling or molding, but for how solid it was.” (more…)

10/07/13 11:00am

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Outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz kicked off the Crown Heights North Association house tour Saturday, congratulating the group on the state of the neighborhood and their successful landmarking efforts. The group presented him with a Crown Heights-themed pillow, sewn by none other than our own Montrose Morris, who coordinated this year’s house tour from her home upstate and also wrote the program guide. “My dream was always to be Brooklyn borough president — nothing more,” Markowitz added, saying “I’m not leaving voluntarily. Term limits!”

After the jump, photos of some of the houses on the tour, taken with permission of the home owners. (more…)