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The new owners of a potentially sweet wood-frame rowhouse, swathed in vinyl siding, came to architect Alexandra Barker with a circa-1940 New York City tax photo in hand. They wanted to use it as a guide for recreating the look of the house in that era, but were afraid their love of modern design, light-filled spaces and bright color would conflict.

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In the case of this century-old wood-frame, the clients were a mother and a fifth-grader who had her own design ideas. "The daughter watches a lot of home shows and has strong opinions. From the beginning, she said, 'I want a marble kitchen,'" recalled architect Alexandra Barker of the Downtown Brooklyn-based Barker Freeman Design Office, who was hired to gut renovate the hopelessly dated kitchen and create a new powder room and master bath.