The Insider: Architect-Fashion Editor Couple Creates Stylish Perch Atop Heights House

Photo by Luca Pioltelli

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It was the three huge skylights that first sold architect Kevin Baxter of Baxter Projects on the 800-square-foot condo on the top floor of an old brick row house near the East River.

Baxter, who went on his own in 2014 after working for I.M. Pei and other high-profile firms, renovated the space as a home for himself and his wife, Christene Barberich, cofounder of the lifestyle website Refinery29. His goals included bringing in more light, leveling the terribly uneven floors, sneaking in lots of hidden storage, thoroughly revamping the kitchen and bath, and generally making the place fresh and livable.

While keeping the footprint pretty much the same — there’s a main living space with an open galley kitchen, plus two bedrooms and a bath under a loft the couple uses as a home office — they nevertheless “tore up everything, including the floors,” Baxter said. “It was all so old and cheaply done.”

“The most important thing I needed to do was level the floors — there were four inches between the highest point and the front door.” That was done by ripping off the old flooring, then adding lumber as needed to the sides of the exposed joists. New wide-plank oak flooring was laid over plywood and matting to minimize noise in the apartment below.

Baxter also rebuilt the loft with a new plywood deck and new stair; installed a large new picture window in the living room, capturing a river view; gutted and redesigned the kitchen and bathroom, with all new plumbing; and reconfigured a previously cramped corridor leading to the bedrooms and bath underneath the loft.

Greenpoint-based Mon-Rad Construction was the general contractor.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Project Brooklyn Heights

Photo by Winnie Au

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

Photo by Winnie Au

Photo by Winnie Au

Photo by Winnie Au

A custom sofa by McGrath II and vintage Milo Baughman lounge chairs, recovered in pink Ultrasuede, furnish the living area.

An existing wood-burning fireplace was a plus.

The new wide-plank oak floors were whitewashed with a 50/50 mix of paint and water.

Walls were painted Farrow & Ball‘s All White in the main living space.

The newly installed picture window, seen below under construction, is visible on the left in the photo above.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

Baxter fit all that’s needed, including an 18-inch dishwasher in the new island, into a tricky kitchen called a dead-end galley. “It’s a kitchen that has only one way in or out. Two people have to coordinate their movements,” he said.

L. J. Campanella & Son, a specialty contractor in Bay Ridge, made the concrete island, sealed for food safety.

The wood-topped counter stools are from Target.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

One of the bedrooms, painted a restful deep blue (Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball), contains a plywood laundry cabinet with a stacked washer/dryer.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

Inspired by “old institutional spas from the 1920s and ’30s,” Baxter chose three different ceramic tiles from Daltile for the bath, and installed radiant heating underneath the floor.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

A space-saving open staircase with metal handrails leads to an upper-level home office. Pegboard on the loft was chosen partly for its graphic interest.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Baxter Projects Brooklyn Heights

The low ceiling in the loft is not an issue, Baxter said, because the homeowners are seated while it’s in use.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Heights Baxter Projects“Before” plans, left; new layout, right.

[Photos by Andrew Kist, unless otherwise noted]

The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning.

Got a project to propose for The Insider? Contact Cara at caramia447 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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