This recently gut-renovated 1860s townhouse in the lower Slope has some trademark signifiers — besides the generally thoughtful and sensitive design — that Elizabeth Roberts and her team at Gowanus-based Ensemble Architecture were here. (more…)
It was a lucky score: an 1890s brownstone in Carroll Gardens with an exceptionally long (70 feet) parlor floor and a load of well-preserved detail. The new homeowners came to Brooklyn-based architect Kim Hoyt for help creating an owners’ duplex out of two separate flats, as well as a new kitchen at the rear of the parlor floor. (more…)
This month marks Brownstoner’s Steel Anniversary. We’re taking some time to look back at our past, even as we design a new future.
A sunken living room with a fireplace. A bathtub with a view. A secret garden. Balconies and roof decks. Even a 40-foot-tall fluorescent light installation running from basement to roof.
In designing his home in Red Hook, a circa-1900 brick row house on a cobbled street one block from the water, and carrying out a near-total renovation of what was little more than a shell, Thomas Warnke put in pretty much everything he ever wanted. (more…)
Not everyone could get away with an apartment that feels like a nightclub, but Vikas and Vishal Sapra, brothers as well as roommates, come by the black walls, mirrored bar and bubble chandelier honestly. Vikas is a renowned DJ and founder of the soon-to-launch music app Rippi; Vishal works for a creative and technology agency.
After meeting designer Stefania Skrabak of Art Home Garden while they were all working on an event for the men’s online magazine UrbanDaddy, the Sapra brothers hired her to take their chaotically furnished two-bedroom Bushwick rental to a new level of organization and stylishness. (more…)
Evan Schwartz and his wife, Rebekah, were “tired of spending all their money on rent,” so they left Park Slope and migrated south to Bay Ridge.
“At first I pooh-poohed the idea, but 24 hours later it was a done deal,” said Schwartz, an interior designer for private clients and Homepolish, a company that provides affordable by-the-hour design services. “The streets are wide, it’s quiet, there’s good food. Yes, the commute to Manhattan is annoying, but the rent is reasonable and you get more space.” (more…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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.