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The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly series on interior design and renovation 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.


FROM A BEACH HOUSE in Santa Monica to a landmarked 1886 brownstone in Brooklyn: that’s the leap the owners of this one-family townhouse made, and many of their furnishings made it with them. “Making the house’s original detail and the clients’ cheerful graphic furnishings all work together was a blast,” says designer Lyndsay Caleo, who pulled together existing pieces with new paint colors, wall coverings, and other finishing touches.

Caleo is a partner in The Brooklyn Home Company, whose unique approach to development begins with the purchase and renovation of townhouse properties (they’ve done some dozen to date, and have a couple of new-construction projects in the works). The jobs generally include custom built-ins and cabinetry by Fitzhugh Karol, a sculptor, and often do not end until the home is furnished and decorated to the last detail by Caleo, TBHCo‘s in-house designer.

Here, there was just one major layout change, on the second floor. It had been chopped into four rooms and now consists of a master bedroom and new bath, two double closets, and a hot pink sitting room. The floors were mismatched throughout the house; TBHCo dyed them black and sealed them with a dark sealant to yield a rich chocolate brown.

The homeowners, he in the music business and she in fashion, wanted existing moldings and woodwork preserved, including a great deal of what Caleo calls ‘cake molding,’ the raised plaster detail on stairwell walls and ceiling friezes. “The fun challenge,” she says, “was bringing breath and lightness to a house that had been painted heavy maroon and gold, and making it feel relevant and contemporary.”

See and read more after the jump.

Photos: Emily Gilbert

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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