This is The Insider, Brownstoner’s weekly report on a recent renovation/interior design project in the borough of Brooklyn. It’s written and produced by Cara Greenberg, who blogs at casaCARA: Old Houses for Fun and Profit. Find it here every Thursday at 11:30AM.
WILLIAM CALEO’S BUSINESS is doing what he loves to do: renovate vintage townhouses. A former actor, he bought and refurbished his own Park Slope brownstone in 2004, later founding the Brooklyn Home Company with several partners. To date, most of TBHCo’s dozen or so projects have been traditional brownstones converted to floor-through apartments and sold as condominiums. There are two new-construction projects in the planning stages, including an 11-story building on Bergen Street between Third and Fourth Avenues.
The Brooklyn Home Company is a one-stop shop with an artistic bent — a real-estate development company with its own in-house construction firm, architects, and design team, all the way up to sales and marketing. Caleo’s sister Lyndsay is the creative force behind the company’s interiors. When a project is ready for market, TBHCo will fully stage one unit per building with furnishings custom-designed for that unit, often by Fitzhugh Karol, a sculptor and furniture designer.
Each unit in a TBHCo building is treated entirely separately — no cookie-cutter design here. “Every space has a certain spirit to it,” Lyndsay says, even when it’s little more than a shell. She sees her task as “getting the details right while respecting what’s already there,” re-using old brick and wood wherever possible. “They have a beautiful patina that took 100 years to acquire.”
The parlor floor of this classic 1870s brownstone — a 20’x80′ building with lots of existing detail and an extension dating back almost to the time of its original construction — was part of the company’s first project. “I poured my guts into it,” Caleo says, even painstakingly going over the wide plank floors “probably ten or twelve times” with low-grit sandpaper. They sold the apartment to Lesley Townsend, who runs Manhattan Cocktail Classic, an annual cocktail festival. Lesley selected the paint finishes and furnishings, choosing to keep some of Fitzhugh’s imaginative pieces.
Much more on the jump…
Photos: Emily Gilbert www.emilygilbertphotography.com