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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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…)

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What did your Brooklyn row house look like originally? What year was it built? Who was the architect? Was it a two-family, one-family or something else? These are all questions original blueprints can answer. You may want to know because you are renovating, you have a passion for old houses, you are a new owner or you’re just curious.

Finding your original blueprints requires some legwork, ingenuity and persistence, as Brownstoner reader chemosphere recently discovered when researching his house in Flatbush.

He posted about the process, what he found and questions about the 100-year-old shorthand he was trying to decipher in a few separate posts in the forum. He has kindly allowed us to use those posts and the pictures of the blueprints he found to discuss in more detail how to find and read your original blueprints. (more…)

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The architects at OPerA Studio took a crumbling townhouse at 463 Carroll Street in Gowanus and transformed it into a modern four-bedroom home with new facades and Juliet balconies. The client was a developer who intended to sell the house.

“The concept was to create a modern dwelling that retained the warmth and texture of a traditional townhouse,” OPerA’s Thomas Barry told us. Exposed brick walls and warm reclaimed wood in the window surrounds and stairs help balance out the house’s modern feel.

“The deep wood window surrounds create a play of shadows on the facades while providing a natural materiality, but rendered in a modern formal vocabulary,” he continued. “This balance is carried inside with the details of the stairs and the continuation of the play of warm and cool material combinations.”

The house required major structural repairs. The underlying wood frame structure was so termite-damaged that the “brick facades were literally hanging on nothing,” Barry said. OPerA Studio removed the facades, shored up the unstable wood framing, repaired the foundation and replaced the cellar slab. Then new facades were built at the front and back with a 2-by-6 wood frame. Half the floor joists were replaced.

After the renovation, the 2,400-square-foot home has three and a half baths, a blindingly white chef’s kitchen, gas fireplaces and a double-height master bedroom on the third floor. It hit the market with renderings in the fall of 2013 and sold for its aggressive asking price, $2,649,000, last December.

Click through to see photos from before and after the renovation. What do you think of how it turned out?

Major Renovation in Works at 463 Carroll Street [Brownstoner]
Photos by OPerA Studio

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The Bed Stuy mansion at 247 Hancock Street that is asking $6,000,000 was featured on NBC’s “Open House” Sunday. If you haven’t been inside or met owner Claudia Moran yet, this is a great tour. Check it out here. You can also read all about Ms. Moran and how she found the house and restored it in the profile we wrote in July.

Photo by Halstead

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It’s been about two years since Chetrit Group broke ground on the long-stalled — and also big and ambitious — mixed-use hotel/apartment/retail complex at 500 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, and not much has happened since. But when we stopped by yesterday, we saw hardhats working on the foundation. Last time we peeked, it was just dirt, so this is a major advance.

In the meantime, after already changing once before, it seems the architect has switched again, from Gene Kaufman to Kutnicki Bernstein, and the design has also changed – we are now on Version No. 5. About a month ago, Curbed dug up interior renderings on the website of Raad Studio, which appears to be handling the inside.

The renderings are pretty mind blowing. How do you like the sexy siren hanging out at the indoor-outdoor fire pits, above? There’s also a babe in a pool — and a pretty good looking bathroom — with a shower that strikes us as roomy enough for two. (See them all here, in full size glory.)

Click through for lots of construction-site photos and to see a progression of exterior renderings over seven years. This should be quite the development, if it ever gets built. What do you think of it?

500 Metropolitan Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
502 Metropolitan Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Rendering by Raad Studio

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We are smitten by the latest home to be featured on Design Brooklyn for several reasons:
*The open plan kitchen is a thing of beauty. Appliances are enclosed in a navy-colored l-shaped room divider that looks like a sculpture. The matching cabinets above look like a painting in the center of the tiled kitchen wall. This is the best open plan kitchen we have ever seen.
*The unique kitchen island transforms into a pull-out table that seats 10. Row house owners with parlor floor kitchens too narrow or shallow for a separate dining area should consider this brilliant idea.
*It’s a 650-square-foot one-bedroom and was renovated on a budget.
*The layout and ideas are highly relevant to Brooklyn tenement apartments as well as new construction.
*The owners preserved original details, such as parquet and window surrounds, plus upgraded the bath while keeping its 20th century tile and tub. This was partly a cost savings move, but the results look great.
Naturally, the owners are an interior designer and an architect. Here are all the details — and extra-large photos — from writer Anne Hellman and photographer Michel Arnaud.

When interior designer Nora Calderwood and architect Adam Darter bought their 650-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in Park Slope, they knew they would need to renovate in a major way but on a scaled-down budget. A year later, the result is not only airy and light, it smartly blends original details with the owners’ forward-thinking design ideas.

The apartment had endured some wear and tear, and had been divided up into four small rooms. But with some consideration, the couple realized what could be found underneath the surface. “We were able to look beyond the tattered conditions of the apartment and realized that, with nine-and-a-half-foot ceilings and six south-facing windows, it had potential,” said Adam.

By removing the walls in the main area, Nora and Adam created a loft-like living room, open to the inventive kitchen and dining area. To maximize space and minimize visual clutter (which are musts in a small apartment), Adam designed a kitchen island unit that can be used as both an eat-at island and as a dining table that pulls out into the room for larger dinner parties. (more…)

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It seems that every time a brownstone is listed as a House of the Day, the debate begins. How much will it cost to renovate and decorate? Estimates of $500,000 and over a million are common numbers thrown around. But what about those of us who want to renovate a brownstone and aren’t sitting on $2,000,000?

The naysayers will say if you don’t spend several hundred thousand dollars, then you’ll be living in a Home Depot special. I will say that renovating and decorating a brownstone can be done nicely and on budget with a lot of research and patience.

I also understand that having this entire debate is from a position of privilege — if you’re in the market for a brownstone in Brooklyn these days, whether your renovation budget is $50,000 or $2,000,000, you’re doing fine. But with that being said, here are some tips to help with renovating and decorating. (more…)

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Arts blog Hyperallergic has published some very cool photos of a Clinton Hill mansion, showing the interiors and decor as they were in the 19th century. The house, 353 Clinton Avenue, is no longer standing.

The photos surfaced as part of an auction at the Swann Galleries that takes place December 11. Lot 47 of Sale 2370 consists of seven albumen prints in a gilt-lettered leather album with marbled endpapers. The date of the album is estimated to be approximately 1876 and the photos show elaborate Aesthetic Movement, Neo-Grec and Japanese influenced interiors with painted ceilings, wallpaper and gas lighting. The spaces include the main hall, a reception room, library, drawing room (pictured above), family room or living room, dining room and a butler’s pantry.

We’re guessing from the type and arrangement of rooms that this house was wider than the average row house. The butler’s pantry is especially elaborate and interesting, with copious room to display plates, bead board backing, and Japanese-influenced cupboards and divided lights that would later become common in early 20th century bungalows. The home belonged to industrialist and chemist W.H. Nichols.

Click through to see all the photos.

19th-Century Photos of a Brooklyn Brownstone [Hyperallergic]
Photos via Hyperallergic

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The new-construction townhouse at 259 Hoyt Street whose construction we have been following is now on the market and asking $2,749,000. The interiors strike a nice balance between modern and traditional that seems well suited to the neighborhood, in our opinion.

The overall look is not unusual for new construction, with its modern staircase and rear wall open to the garden, but it looks better executed than most, at least in the photos. The moldings have a little more heft and detail than usual, the modern-style windows and doors look large and substantial, and the kitchens and baths are nicely understated.

It’s set up as an owner’s duplex over a two-bedroom garden rental. Click through to see more interior renderings.

We wish we had an updated photo of the exterior, and will try to get one soon. When we saw it last, it looked like it would fit in nicely with its older surroundings. The architect of record is Eric Safyan, according to permits.

Do you think this is an appealing new-construction townhouse? What do you think of the price?

259 Hoyt Street [Corcoran]
New Three-Story Brick House Going in on Hoyt [Brownstoner]
Photos by Corcoran
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Here’s a glimpse of what the inside of 60 Water Street in Dumbo will look like. Interior renderings are up for the units, which started leasing in early October.

The interiors are sleekly minimalist. The palette is gray and white. Although pricing is on the high end for Brooklyn (the building is next to the Brooklyn Bridge, with views), units don’t look over-the-top luxurious but well designed. We like it.

Click through to see more. What do you think?

60 Water Street Listings [Ideal Properties]
Rentals Launch at 60 Water Street With Studios Starting at $2,964 a Month [Brownstoner] (more…)

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During the winter, when we can’t open the windows, we work on “clean” projects, such as sewing new curtains. We save up messy and toxic tasks such as plastering and stripping for spring and summer. We’ve accomplished quite a bit this year, although not as much as we hoped. Our agenda was to finish all the woodwork and the plastering. What we actually accomplished was rehabilitating the built-ins on the garden floor. (more…)