The Insider: Designer Conjures Style in Cobble Hill Rental With Ingenious, Inexpensive Ideas

In six years as an associate at Gensler, the behemoth global architecture firm where he developed concepts and strategies for major corporate clients, and five more years designing residences for private clients at some of Manhattan’s toniest addresses, interior designer Raphael Paul DiTommaso worked with budgets that knew no limit.

120 Pioneer street

Photo by Alyson Ludlow via The Corcoran Group

Little Red Brick House in Red Hook with Backyard Studio, Garage Asks $1.495 Million

This quirky little red brick townhouse in Red Hook was built in the mid 19th century. Located at 120 Pioneer Street, it has low stairs, flat stone lintels, a barely recessed doorway, with simple square patterns on the bracketed cornice and inside the doorway.

276 13th street

Photo by Russ Ross via The Corcoran Group

Minimalist Two-Bedroom Condo in Park Slope with Private Balcony Asks $985,000

This two-bedroom in a 2007 condo building is one of those studies in the moderate evolution of Brooklyn apartments in the last decade or so. Located at 276 13th Street, the fairly generic seven-story structure is composed of two volumes, one set back with an entrance on 13th street and 12 units above, another occupying the street corner, with commercial space on the ground level and three units above. Despite the gray panel clad facade and awning reminiscent of the 1970s, the interior is not cheaply built.

interior design ideas

Photo by Chalom + Blaylock Photography

The Insider: Historic Hoboken Firehouse Transforms Into Light-Hearted Bachelor Pad

Hoboken’s Engine House No. 5, built in the closing years of the 19th century and now a four-unit residential building, took on several feet of water during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Subsequently, the two ground floor apartments were thoroughly renovated.


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Neo-Grec in Greenpoint and Three More to See This Weekend, Starting at $789,000

These open house picks have in common late 19th century to early 20th century shells with some fine interior details and a range of updates, some old, some new.

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This steamy weekend’s open house picks span a range of Brooklyn styles of domesticity, including a full designer remake with central cooling in Bushwick, options for revamping a historic home in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and the potential for hopping into move-in ready houses in Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach, both with pools, and the latter with a garage and an extensive backyard patio with a trellis.

First, at 789 Bushwick Avenue in Bushwick, there’s a fully renovated brick Neo-Grec duplex over a garden rental with a parlor possessing immaculately preserved details. The entrance progression contains stripped wood doors with carved panels, a stylish carved bannister and pier mirror in the lobby and French doors into a front parlor that features a wood mantel with fancy scrolled brackets and an ornate cast-iron summer cover. The updates in the kitchen are glistening white and stainless steel, and some of the wainscoting is painted white to match. With four bedrooms and two full bathrooms on the top floor, half bathroom in the parlor and another in the rental, it’s asking for $1.995 million.

Then at 205 Lefferts Avenue in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District, we have a 1906 two-story brick row house with a barrel front that has lots of details inside, such as bordered parquet floors, built-in cabinets, wainscoting and trim, as well as some unfortunate drop ceilings and a backyard that could use some love. The floor plan shows an apartment on each level and a covered patio through the kitchen on the first floor. The listing says it has six bedrooms, but the floor plan shows perhaps three. It’s asking for $1.525 million.

Further south at 1638 Ryder Street in Marine Park, there’s a 1928 detached single-family home on the market with parquet floors, stained glass in the dining room and a dog-leg stair to the three bedrooms upstairs. There are updates like new floors in the kitchen, the basement is refinished and the listing says there’s a backyard pool and a garage. It’s looking for $799,000.

Finally, at 41 Ebony Court in Gerritsen Beach, a 20th century brick standalone home only a few blocks from Plumb Beach Channel that looks to have been updated relatively recently, with wood floors downstairs, tile floors in the kitchen and a long wall of Shaker-style cabinets and new-looking carpeting in the three bedrooms upstairs. The house is located on a double lot with a garage and has an extensive backyard patio with a trellis and a pool for cooling off in this heat. The asking price is $665,000.

789 bushwick

Photo via The Corcoran Group

789 Bushwick Avenue
Price: $1.995 million
Area: Bushwick
Broker: Corcoran (Mark Martov, Michelle Moshe)
Sunday, July 21st, 8 am – 10 pm

See it here ->

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Photo via The Corcoran Group

205 Lefferts Avenue
Price: $1.525 million
Area: Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
Broker: Corcoran (Keith Mack, Sylvia Dimova)
Sunday, July 21st, 12 – 1 pm

See it here ->


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marine park

1638 Ryder Street
Price: $799,000
Area: Marine Park
Broker: Compass (Louis Belisario, Gregory Valvo)
Sunday, July 21st, 12 – 1:30 pm

See it here ->

gerritsen beach

41 Ebony Court
Price: $665,000
Area: Gerritsen Beach
Broker: Fillmore Real Estate (Nick Parascandola)
Sunday, July 21st, 3 – 5 pm

See it here ->

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This week, we look back at four of our featured listings from six months ago, focusing on homes in Carroll Gardens, Greenpoint and Crown Heights. How did they fare?

Starting us off: the entrance to 207 President Street delivers you into a tall-ceilinged living room with tin ceilings, arched doorways and ornate chandeliers. The parlor-level kitchen, set in what was once the rear parlor, has an original mantel, exposed plumbing, stainless steel appliances, and open shelving anchored in exposed brick walls. A small deck has stairs to the lush backyard garden. This former House of the Day sold in March for $3.35 million, which was $100,000 below the asking price.

Next, this condo in Greenpoint’s storied Pencil Factory is a two-bedroom, two-bath unit with an open living/dining room and kitchen and plenty of windows except in the wet areas. After a change of broker, this former Condo of the Day is back on the market at a reduced price of $1.195 million.

After that, we have this two-story wood frame townhouse in Greenpoint that seems to date from the late 19th century based on historical maps. It has three lovely slate mantels, two with the original faux marbling, two with their original summer covers, and one with an original stove insert. Very little is pictured but the photos show a parlor and the entry are still intact, including woodwork, moldings, and stairs with stained newels, railings, and balusters. Otherwise, 29 Sutton Street appears to be in rough condition and in need of the usual full renovation. This former House of the Day is currently off the market.

Then in Crown Heights, there’s a three-story Renaissance Revival row house that has a barrel-fronted facade, bracketed cornice and foliate details. It’s set up as a three-bedroom floor-through over a two-bedroom duplex with a parlor-level deck and ground-level garden access. This former Open House Pick sold in April for $1.76 million, which was $39,000 below the asking price.

207 president street

207 President Street
Price: $3.45 million
Area: Carroll Gardens
Broker: Douglas Elliman (Lindsay Barrett)
See it here ->
Sold in March for $3.35 million

122 west street

122 West Street, #2P
Price: $1.25 million
Area: Greenpoint
Broker: Compass (Danielle Lurie, Molly Gyllenhaal )
See it here ->
Still available for $1.195 million


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29 sutton

29 Sutton Street
Price: $q.5 million
Area: Greenpoint
Broker: Corcoran (Damon Bodine, Riana Bodine)
See it here ->
Currently off the market

homes for sale

1311 Union Street
Price: $1.799 million
Area: Crown Heights
Broker: Massada
See it here ->
Sold in April for $1.76 million

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One glance at the detailed, gleaming woodwork on the interior and it’s perhaps no surprise that this late 19th century manse was built for a family in the lumber business.

The house on the market at 76 St. James Street in Kingston, N.Y. was built in 1892 as the home of Frank A. and Florence L. Palen. The location, roughly two miles from the Kingston waterfront, was close to the booming business center of town and a popular location for wealthy business owners to build new homes.

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The H. W. Palen lumberyard on Pine Street in 1887. Map by Sanborn Map Company via Library of Congress

The Palens did the same, building their house near the family lumber business. Frank’s father, Henry W. Palen, founded a sash and blind factory in 1862. The enterprise expanded to include lumber and coal. After some schooling, Frank joined his father in the growing business in the late 1880s. The H. W. Palen enterprise was one of the many businesses in Kingston supplying materials for the construction industry during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1887, at the age of 22, Frank married fellow Kingston native Florence L. Humphrey. Five years later they settled into their new home at 76 St. James Street.

No contemporary accounts of the construction of the house have been uncovered so far. The house was listed in the National Register in 2005 and the nomination notes that the house was a statement of success and a way for Frank to show off the family products and using the craftsmen of the business. No single architect or builder is identified.

H W Palen

1910 advertisements for H. W. Palen’s Sons. Images via Kingston Daily Freeman

By the time the house was constructed the family business was producing a vast array of building materials. Ads placed in local papers from the early 20th century show the company offering window glass, mirrors, roofing paper, plaster, lime, ladders, columns for pergolas and more. So the supposition that the Palens worked with their own company craftsmen and builders to construct the house is highly likely.

On the exterior, the house is a lively, late 19th century explosion of Colonial Revival style. The design inspiration is visible on the front facade in the Palladian window, fanlight, swags and columned porch.

76 saint james street kingston

Frank and Florence moved into their new home and began their family, welcoming son Harry in 1893 and in 1897 Frank, Jr. When Frank’s father died in 1893, Frank continued the family business as H. W. Palen’s Sons. It was incorporated in 1902 with Frank, Florence and brother Edgar N. Palen as directors. They expanded the business in 1903, building a brand-new facility at 519 Broadway, just about a mile away from the old lumberyard on Pine Street.

A portion of that old location on Pine Street has been in the news recently. The block is the location of the historic African Burial Ground, documented in historic records but covered by waves of construction until any visible evidence was lost. A thorough study by Joseph E. Diamond established the location of the burial ground as partially on the old H. W. Palen property. When a portion of the property went up for foreclosure auction in 2018, the community sprang into action to ensure the preservation of the burial ground. Their efforts were successful and this summer the land was acquired by the Kingston Land Trust in partnership with non-profit Harambee. The organizations hope to secure more funding to clear the overgrown site, support a design process and transform an existing house into a visitors center.

76 st james street

The H. W. Palen’s Sons complex on Broadway in 1913. Image via Kingston, New York (on the Hudson) City of Civic Pride and Industrial Growth

Frank A. Palen’s involvement in the family business doesn’t seem to have lasted too long past the move to the 519 Broadway location. He ran into some personal business issues a few years later, filing for bankruptcy in 1909. He served as the President of a Manhattan construction company, which failed, leaving debts and loans due. In reporting on the issue, the Kingston Daily Freeman noted that H. W. Palen’s Sons would be unaffected. Sadly, the bankruptcy filing occurred just months after the death of son Frank, Jr. at the age of 11.

By 1910 the Federal census shows Frank, Florence and their remaining son Henry had moved to Manhattan, listing them as living on West 102nd Street and Frank as still working in the coal and lumber industry. In 1913, local papers reported that the business was closed, staff laid off and the coal portion of the business to be sold off. At some point, the company appears to have been bought and operated under new owners. It would continue in business until the mid 20th century.

After Frank and Florence left 76 St. James Place the house passed through a number of owners. But while there have been some renovations, the original woodwork appears to be intact. Other details survive too, according to the listing the original speaking tubes are still present.

The house aims to impress right at the entry, with an intricately paneled stair enclosure with dentil trim, a built-in bench and an arched opening filled with turned balusters.

76 saint james street kingston

A fretwork screen graces the archway into the parlor where the wood detail continues. The intricate diamond patterned parquet floor seems to have an equally interesting border, although its a bit hard to tell from the listing photo. Delicately patterned windows include swags and other Colonial Revival inspired flourishes.

76 saint james street kingston

The swags continue in the dining room, this time ornamenting the wooden mantel of the corner fireplace. According to the listing, there are three wood-burning fireplaces in the house. More dentil trim traces the door and window surrounds.

76 saint james street kingston

The kitchen has been updated, but some original door trim survives. The tin ceiling was added around 2004 according to the National Register nomination.

76 saint james street kingston

Follow the woodwork upward for six bedrooms, three on each of the upper two floors.

76 saint james street kingston

One bedroom, the original sewing room according to the National Register report, benefits from a location in the rounded bay, making for a window-filled room. There are more glimpses of parquet floors and original moldings.

76 saint james street kingston

Another bedroom has a built-in window seat.

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The bedrooms of the top floor are more modest in detail but wood moldings are still evident here along with atmospherically sloped ceilings.

76 saint james street kingston

There are two full bathrooms. This one includes a wooden ceiling with some 20th century tiles and fixtures.

76 saint james street kingston

The house sits on a quarter of an acre, with a koi pond and fruit trees.

The house is listed for $474,999 by Roadman Etienne of Bhhs Hudson Valley Properties.

76 saint james street kingston

76 saint james street kingston

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kingston

76 saint james street kingston

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kingston

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In the News

Be inspired to explore history, dance and activism with a special workshop by Kriyol Dance! Collective at Brooklyn’s historic Wyckoff House.

A dancer from the arts collective will be leading a movement workshop for all ages this weekend on the grounds surrounding the farmhouse. The free workshop is part of the museum’s project, “Protest Garden: Historical Resistance and Radical Cultivation in Brooklyn.”

Launched this summer, the project invites local artists to explore the house and garden and bring their own sense of art, social justice and activism to visitors. Workshops, performances and a “self-care garden” will be presented over the course of six months.

wyckoff house

Photo via Wyckoff House Museum

As part of its participating in the project, Kriyol Dance! Collective brings its tradition of socially engaged art by leading a series of workshops that explore the history of the site and its peoples through movement and shared experience.

The next Kriyol Dance! Collective workshop takes place on Saturday, July 20 from 2 to 3 p.m. at Wyckoff House at 5816 Clarendon Road. The workshop is free and one of several events happening at the farmhouse that day. For full details visit the Wyckoff event page here.

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Looking to buy a townhouse or brownstone? Join us for Brownstones and Townhouses 101, an evening of conversation with real estate experts to demystify the process. Get an assessment of the market, learn what to look for when buying, how to secure financing (especially in complicated situations), landlord basics and what kind of renovations to do to maximize livability and therefore your investment.

Also, learn what the most common misperceptions are among buyers. “As a broker, my job is to make sure that buyers understand the condition of the house,” said Ravi Kantha, senior real estate adviser at Leslie J Garfield.

Photo by Susan De Vries

“This is not always easy — we need to make sure buyers understand what they’re buying because deals will fall apart if they get to the inspection and find out that the house will require far more work than anticipated. So we often introduce buyers to architects, designers and contractors to ensure they’re as informed as possible.”

Sponsors include Leslie J GarfieldBolster, California Closets and Brian Scott Cohen at Wells Fargo.

Snacks and drinks will be provided by Oaxaca Taqueria.

The third in the Brownstoner Home Events Series, Brownstones and Townhouses 101 will take place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 12, 2019, at the Brooklyn Historical Society, located at 128 Pierrepont Street.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

The evening is FREE to the first 25 people who reserve tickets here.

To learn about hosting and sponsorship opportunities for Brownstoner Home Events, please get in touch here.

Here’s a renovated two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of an early 20th century Queen Anne in Bay Ridge that has an updated kitchen, some original moldings and room for an office in the turret. It’s at 352 76th Street in Bay Ridge on a block that appears on historic maps between 1893 and 1905.

The recently renovated kitchen has new Shaker-style cabinets, stainless steel appliances and a stone countertop. In the photos, there’s a small IKEA outdoor cafe table in the kitchen, but the floor plan says it’s 14 feet wide so there’s room for more.

The floors are all hardwood, by appearances, and the doors and windows have historic details like corner blocks, fluting, six-panel doors and recessed panel wainscoting. The room inside the turret and one bedroom have crown molding, and both bedrooms have original baseboards. The 900-square-foot space has plenty of closet space, including a pantry, a walk-in closet, two small closets in a pass-through between the two bedrooms and another in the other bedroom. The bathroom isn’t pictured in this listing, but in a previous listing, it has white tile walls and a shower with rain glass doors.


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The building itself is a classic Queen Anne style with a stone-clad wall and columns on the front porch, vinyl siding on the front up to the side gable and shingles on the turret. The planted front yard has a cute sculptural niche, and although we can’t identify the figure we want to know the story. It’s also only a half block from the 77th Street R train, which is 14 stops from Lower Manhattan. It’s renting for $2,200 in a listing by Susan Chung for Compass. Is it a good deal for the location?

[Listing: 352 76th Street | Broker: Compass] GMAP

352 76th Street

352 76th Street

352 76th Street

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The winners of the 2019 Building Brooklyn Awards have been announced.

Among those receiving prizes this year are James Corner Field Operations for Domino Park, which opened last summer, and prolific Brooklyn architecture firm ODA for their adaptive reuse project at 10 Jay Street in Dumbo.

ODA is also winning another award for the first phase of Denizen Bushwick, their two-block development at the southern end of the former site of the Rheingold Brewery in Bushwick.

brooklyn army terminal

Brooklyn Army Terminal Phase V. Photo via Brooklyn Army Terminal

Other recipients include Dattner Architects for their expansion of Steiner Studios and Alive Structures for their Kingsland Wildflowers green space project at Broadway Stages in Greenpoint.

The event is happening on August 5 at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. Festivities kick off at 6 p.m. For more details, including how to purchase tickets, click here. Brownstoner is a media sponsor for the event.

Full list of winners below:

domino park opening

Domino Park. Photo by Susan De Vries

OPEN SPACE
Domino Park
Developer: Two Trees Management
Architects: James Corner Field Operations
Builder Firm: Two Trees Management

NATIONAL GRID Award for SUSTAINABILITY
City Tech / CUNY – New Academic Complex
Developer: City University of New York
Architects: Perkins Eastman
Builder Firm: Sciame Construction, LLC

kingsland wildflowers

Kingsland Wildflowers at Broadway Stages. Photo via Kingsland Wildflowers

COMMUNITY EDUCATION
Kingsland Wildflowers at Broadway Stages
Developer: Broadway Stages
Architects: N/A
Builder Firm: Alive Structures

ADAPTIVE REUSE: OFFICE SPACE
10 Jay Street
Developer: Triangle Assets
Architects: ODA New York
Builder Firm: MJM Associates Construction

ADAPTIVE REUSE: MIXED USE
Empire Engine Firehouse
Developer: Erica Hohf and Julian Laverdiere
Architects: Dameron Architecture
Builder Firm: Think Construction

TerraCRG Award for LARGE SCALE RESIDENTIAL
Denizen Bushwick Phase 1
Developer: All Year Management
Architects: ODA New York
Builder Firm: All Year Management

MID-RISE RESIDENTIAL
100 Steuben Street
Developer: Greystone Development
Architects: AB Architekten
Builder Firm: The J Companies, LLC

cian duignan

25 Kent. Photo by Cian Duignan

COMMERCIAL CATALYST
25 Kent
Developer: Rubenstein Partners
Architects: HWKN
Builder Firm: T.G. Nickel Associates

INDUSTRIAL: MODERNIZATION
Brooklyn Army Terminal Phase V
Developer: New York City Economic Development Corporation
Architects: WXY and Mancini Duffy
Builder Firm: Hunter Roberts Construction Group

INDUSTRIAL: EXPANSION
Steiner Studios Stages 25-30
Developer: Kent Steiner, LLC / Steiner NYC
Architects: Dattner Architects
Builder Firm: Steiner Building NYC

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In six years as an associate at Gensler, the behemoth global architecture firm where he developed concepts and strategies for major corporate clients, and five more years designing residences for private clients at some of Manhattan’s toniest addresses, interior designer Raphael Paul DiTommaso worked with budgets that knew no limit.

But in his own white-on-white home of ten years, a 1,100-square-foot railroad-style rental apartment on the second floor of a classic brownstone, everything was done “very inexpensively,” he said, and the watchword is IKEA.

DiTommaso, who currently works as a freelance creative director for design firms and real estate companies,  did 100 percent of the work on the apartment himself, which he gradually upgraded with the help, he said, of “about 6,000 YouTube videos” (and the approval of his landlord).

The work included complete overhauls of the apartment’s bathroom and kitchen, which hadn’t been touched since the 1960s, as well as cosmetic improvements, from plastering over acoustical tile ceilings to covering deteriorated walls with fake-brick MDF paneling, painted over with sand-enhanced white paint to convincingly emulate real exposed brick.

Find your Brooklyn design inspiration

There is a goodly amount of vintage detail in the spacious apartment, originally a three-room flat that had two rear additions over the years — one now a dining room, and the other a study with windows on three sides. DiTommaso augmented the vintage elements, which include two marble mantels, parquet floors, tin ceilings, four-panel 19th century doors and later French doors with transoms, with additional moldings on ceilings and walls.

When it came to furnishing and decorating, DiTommaso said, “I can’t think of anything I spent more than $60 on.” Numerous pieces were found on the street, including a heavy steamer trunk “that I sat on until my brother came to help me carry it.” Gifts from family and clients, including a (knockoff) Mies van der Rohe chaise in the study and Marcel Breuer’s caned Cesca dining chairs, elevate the look.

Among the many styling tricks are LED strip lights fastened with double-sided tape to the rear edges of open shelves, and a hand-me-down sofa upholstered with cut-up IKEA drapes, IKEA Gurli throws and Velcro tape. What looks like an old Hudson River School painting in a gilded frame over the kitchen sink is actually a gessoed-over poster bought for $30 at Brooklyn’s Big Reuse (formerly Build it Green).

DiTommaso grew up in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill and earned his Interior Design degree at the School of Visual Arts. His parents are Italian and he speaks the language fluently. So it’s not surprising that he used an Italian word to express the guiding principle of his décor: sprezzatura, an art history term for “studied informality,” he said. “Everything’s a little bit classical, but feels modern and casual.”

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

The windowless central room, used as the main living space, would be dark but for the all-white scheme, lighting from various sources, and use of IKEA mirrored tiles over the mantel.

The chrome directors chairs were $40 at a local antique store. DiTommaso fashioned the coffee table out of oak panels left over from a Rockefeller Center law firm project he worked on.

In frames above two Besta cabinets from IKEA are large lithographs left behind in DiTommaso’s parents’ Canal Street loft in the 1970s — one an Abraham Lincoln speech, the other an excerpt from Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Other cabinetry throughout the house was made by DiTommaso out of plywood and whitewashed. The bust (originally from Restoration Hardware) was discarded by a client.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

DiTommaso opened up an existing framed doorway that had been covered over to house a fridge and created a pass-through to the galley kitchen. The kitchen is entered via a door from the adjacent dining room.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

DiTommaso gutted the kitchen, removing a dropped ceiling and three layers of wallpaper.

The stainless steel cabinets are from IKEA, and the counters are made of Carrara floor tile found on sale at Lowes.

The walls are covered with four by six-inch sheets of textured fake-brick particle board painted with a mix of joint compound and sand. “What makes the walls really look textured is the uplighting behind the backsplash, where I located all the outlets to conceal them,” he said.

Except for a Bosch dishwasher, the appliances were budget-friendly. DiTommaso used two half-fridges to allow for extra counter space and the pass-through to the living room.

Total cost for the kitchen: about $4,000.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

The dining room and study, toward the rear of the apartment, are located in adjacent extensions that were added on to the building at different times.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Furnishings in the study are all IKEA, found or gifted. The original moldings stand out along a mostly bare wall.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble HillInterior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

“The bathroom demo’d itself on top of me one day while I was in the shower,” DiTommaso said, precipitating its immediate renovation.

The walls are pre-finished laminate floor planks and the ersatz exposed brick, the floors a simple hex tile. The counter and backsplash are remnant pieces of Caesarstone, with a $100 vessel sink from IKEA and mirrored cabinets from the same source.

The real expense was the freestanding tub, about $1,300 from Signature Hardware. “Given the bathroom is off the living room, I wanted it to feel less like a loo and more like a glossy little box. I flipped the swing of the door so that if the door is open a crack, all you see is the handsome tub.”

Total materials cost: about $6,000. Labor cost: $0.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

A pass-through central space framed by French doors on either side already contained roomy closets when DiTommaso took over the apartment a decade ago.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Raphael Paul DiTommaso Cobble Hill

In the bedroom, located at the front of the building, the white scheme prevails. “I’ve tried color, but it’s not me,” the designer said.

Drum shades throughout the apartment are from IKEA, as are the drapes, bedding, nightstands and lamps.

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

Check out ‘The Insider’ mini-site: brownstoner.com/the-insider

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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