Brownstone Renovation & Interior Design In Fort Greene Brooklyn

Good thing Park Slope-based designer Jennifer Morris has a background in the hospitality industry. When a couple who’d just bought a four-story, 18-foot-wide brownstone in Fort Greene called her mid-renovation for help “picking out finishes,” she naturally asked, “Where’s your layout?” The reply: “We don’t have one.”

The homeowners had no architect, though demolition and construction were already well under way. The garden floor, where the new kitchen was slated to go, had been gutted, the hallway opened up to the main living space. “They’d never done a renovation before and didn’t know what to ask or anticipate, or what the process should be,” Morris recalled.

Morris enlightened them about design coming before renovation — “not while you’re standing in a gutted space.”

She rolled up her sleeves, cleared her schedule, and created a new layout for all four floors, found a kitchen fabricator, selected materials, finishes, furnishings — “all in lightning speed,” said Morris, a former designer for the Rockwell Group, known for hotels and restaurants worldwide. “Fortunately, my background is ‘We need 500 chairs by tomorrow!’” (more…)

Brooklyn Interior Design: Hilary Robertson's Elegant Vintage Home in Fort Greene

When stylist Hilary Robertson moved to Brooklyn nine years ago, she left behind nearly all of her furniture in England. Finding the right kind of pieces to furnish her new home was initially challenging, but a visit to the Brimfield Antiques Flea Market in Massachusetts proved a revelation.

Robertson’s Fort Greene home isn’t jam-packed with the heavy, dusty cast-offs of other eras. Rather, a carefully curated selection of antiques adds character to the designer’s elegant aesthetic.



The extravagant but dilapidated brownstone at 7 Arlington Place in Bedford Stuyvesant, famed as the family home in Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, made headlines when it sold for $1,700,000 in 2013. Now newly restored and decorated, the home debuted Saturday as a bed and breakfast.

Built in 1887 in the Renaissance Revival style, the house was designed by one of Brooklyn’s finest 19th century architects, George P. Chappell. It is full of his signature original touches, such as as custom woodwork with foliate motifs you won’t find in any other row of brownstones. (more…)

Studio Apartment Interior Design In Park Slope

Japanese author Marie Kondo, famed for her “If it doesn’t spark joy, throw it out” manifesto, has nothing on Ilene Rosen. “She’s preaching to the converted,” said Rosen, who lives with her husband Mark Sherry, a pharmacologist, in a 510-square-foot studio overlooking Grand Army Plaza. “For me, the joy is not having stuff around, being able to see a long swath of kitchen counter with nothing on it, or a lot of empty floor space.”

The couple bought their apartment — one large square room with a galley kitchen and a bathroom behind a sliding barn door — a little over a year ago, downsizing from a two-bedroom, two-bath duplex in the neighborhood. “The children are clearly not coming back,” said Rosen, a partner in R&D Foods, the gourmet grocery and takeout shop on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. “It seemed like the right time to downsize.” (Her 21-year-old twin daughters have their own apartments, and their dad’s Manhattan pad to sleep in if they choose.) (more…)

Brownstone Interior Decorating In Park Slope

Intact original woodwork may top the “want” list for Brooklyn house-hunters, but once they get it, it can be a challenge for modern folks to work around. The elaborately carved moldings and doors in this late Victorian brownstone — shades of classical revival and Aesthetic Movement, with a helping of gingerbread thrown in — were in superb condition when a couple in the education field, parents of a young son, acquired the four-story, one-family house.

Though the new homeowners certainly appreciated what they had, they still wanted the décor to have a contemporary feeling. Right away, they called upon Brooklyn Heights designer Kathryn Scott to furnish the house in its entirety (they kept only a couple of chairs and some artwork from their previous home).“We gravitated toward simplicity to neutralize the ornate detail,” Scott said. At the same time, by choosing pale wall colors and pared-down, clean-lined furnishings, “we brought out the beauty of the detail by diminishing other distractions that would compete.” (more…)

Brownstone Renovation: Back Wall Replaced With Windows In Brooklyn

Photo by Ty Cole via Remodelista

It’s a simple fact: Brownstones weren’t built for light. Pre-renovation, the parlor floor of this 1899 Italianate row house in Carroll Gardens was dark and cramped, with interior dividing walls making it feel even narrower than its 14-foot width.

Drew Lang of Lang Architecture opened it up, creating the latest gorgeous example of a rear wall transformed by a wall of windows. The renovation was featured by Remodelista.

The redesign called for tearing out the back wall and replacing it with two stories of custom steel windows from A&S. Lang and his team carefully considered the proportions of the panes, and decided on 12.5-inch squares of glass. The windowed door on the parlor floor leads to a steel balcony with stairs to the garden.


Brooklyn Architect's Waterfront Penthouse on Columbia Street

There’s no question what sold Eric Liftin, founding principal of Dumbo-based MESH Architectures, on the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath top-floor condo that was to become his family’s home. It was the view and the view, not to mention the view.

Liftin and his wife, Elizabeth Schmidt, noticed the seven-story building under construction in 2012, a few blocks south of Brooklyn Bridge Park in the Columbia Street Waterfront district. They’d sold their apartment in lower Manhattan and were biding time in a rental. “We went up to the roof and looked out over the harbor, and immediately said, ‘We have to live here,’” Liftin recalled. (more…)

It’s School Week here on Brownstoner. Stay tuned for more school-themed posts celebrating the start of the school year.

PS 9 Apartments - Brooklyn School History at 279 Sterling Place

The old P.S. 9 Annex in Prospect Heights is one of those buildings that everyone stops in front of and wonders, “What exactly is it and how can I live there?” I did the same thing before I moved in, and I’m still learning about the genesis of the building.

Living in a converted schoolhouse with a mysterious history could not be a better fit for me. As the author of a series of historical novels, I draw a lot of writing inspiration from my apartment building. Rumor has it that silent-film star and original It Girl Clara Bow went to school here back in the day.

Just walking into the building, with its tall, imposing iron gates, wide stairwells and carpeted corridors makes me feel simultaneously like I’m stepping back in time and as though I’m reliving my middle school years.

Brooklyn Interior Design: Matt Austin's Modern Whimsical Bushwick Apartment

The Bushwick apartment of designer and decorative painter Matt Austin is a playground of visual creativity. He has playfully painted and paneled the third-floor railroad flat with care, and filled it with eccentric oddities — many of his own design.

When Austin moved in, the apartment was a wreck, said New York Magazine, which features the home in its Winter 2016 Design Hunting magazine. (The magazine is out this week in print but not yet available online.)

But the friend renting it to him gave the painter free rein to make any nonstructural changes he wished. After a good cleaning and a kitchen remodel — assisted by Austin’s plaster-specialist brother and a furniture-making friend — the apartment became a canvas for his ideas and a showcase for his product designs.


brownstone kitchen renovation

A few years back, when this 1910 limestone on an elegant park block changed hands, the house was in such a state of preservation that it still retained at least one working gaslight and a winding back stair, once used by service staff, from the kitchen on the parlor level to the floor below. That kitchen, in a two-story extension at the back of the house, needed radical updating. The lower level, where the laundry was, was full of exposed pipes and particularly uninviting.

Enter Gerry Smith, a residential architect based in Greenpoint. Smith was once, in his own words, “a diehard modernist,” but lately, he said, with more projects in brownstone Brooklyn, “I’m becoming very interested in modern insertions into a historical shell.”

As a friend of the new homeowners, Smith agreed to take on the job of revamping the whole extension. Working with Dean and Silva, a Brooklyn-based general contractor with an in-house millwork shop, he managed to keep considerable old-fashioned charm while bringing the space functionally up to date and linking it with the utility quarters below. The new space, now bathed in natural daylight, offers views of the garden that’s shared with the house next door.



It’s a tale as old as your vintage record player: A drummer and a carpenter go looking for a reasonably priced Brooklyn two-bedroom and instead end up renting a large ground-floor studio with an attached garage in Boerum Hill.

But in true Brooklyn do-it-yourself fashion, roommates Adam Finkelman and Evan Garfield transformed the apartment into the place of their dreams, as Curbed recently detailed. The garage became a space for dinner parties, band practice, and woodworking, while the duo used wood scraps from Craigslist to build out two 7-foot-by-7-foot lofted bedrooms.

Creative use of space? Another sign of the affordable apartment apocalypse?



No one in the world has a kitchen like this, except the owners of the wide, five-story brownstone holding these stunning faceted beechwood cabinets. They’re the handiwork of Workstead, a design studio with offices at the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus.

Functional considerations came first — how to create cabinet handles without hardware? — but aesthetics were never far behind. “We got to thinking about carving out material in order to create utility,” said Ryan Mahoney, one of three Rhode Island School of Design architecture school alumni, along with Robert Highsmith and Stefanie Brechbuehler, who comprise the small firm.

“We had the idea that instead of adding something, we would subtract wood to create handles for the cabinetry. Once we had this rule of thumb to go by and began to work with the material, we came up with this wedge-shaped profile for the cabinet faces and started getting interesting forms and patterns,” he said.

The designers lined up the sink countertop against the existing bank of windows at the rear of the house, eliminating the typical backsplash, to maximize the experience of looking out into the garden. The generous light that pours in through those windows makes the carved faces of the cabinets appear ever-changing, Mahoney said. “They can be subtle or dramatic, depending on time of day.”