This classic 1850s brick row house — one of five identical structures on a North Heights block — was quite a gem even before its extensive renovation.
In the hands of the same family for 70 years, until it was bought by a couple of British ex-pats in the art business, it had suffered decades of benign neglect.
Beyond that, “it hadn’t been touched, it hadn’t been chopped up, and the details, although needing a lot of work, were somewhat intact,” said Brooklyn Heights–based architect Lorraine Bonaventura, who was hired to make the house sparkle again.
“We kept the functions pretty much where they were,” Bonaventura said — the kitchen in its original place at the rear of the garden floor, for instance — but the job was still Herculean. The project was part restoration, including painstaking repairs to plasterwork and herringbone parquet floors, and part renovation, with a new kitchen and baths and brand new mechanicals.
The roof was removed and replaced, structural work undertaken, new floor joists and beams put in on all four levels, the cellar excavated and a new floor poured to allow for higher ceilings in the garden-level kitchen and dining room.
Plus under-floor radiant heat installed on the garden floor and in all baths, windows replaced with new custom mahogany weight-and-chain sashes with antique restoration glass, new mahogany exterior doors created per NYC Landmarks Commission requirements, exterior iron work restored or replicated from the original railings, stone mantels restored and new stone hearths inserted, chimneys relined…and on and on.
General contractor Eoin Killeen of Brooklyn-based Kleen Construction oversaw the immense project.
The entire parlor floor of the 20-foot-by-30-foot house is used as a living room. Furnishings and light fixtures, many in a mid-20th-century mode, along with art and modern Scandinavian pottery from the homeowners’ collection, make the house feel contemporary.
Excavating the cellar allowed for higher ceilings in the new kitchen. Custom wood cabinetry from Crown Point was inspired by original unfitted pantry cupboards found in the house. “We wanted the kitchen to look like it could have been there from the start,” Bonaventura said.
French limestone floors came from Exquisite Surfaces, the apron front sink from Shaws, the stainless steel undermount sink from Franke, the faucets from Perrin & Rowe and the counters of Concordia stone from Stone Source.
A mid-20th-century table and chairs from designer Paul McCobb’s Planner series mixes with older furniture and antiques in the garden-level dining room.
A collection of mostly Scandinavian 20th-century pottery fills shelves in the study adjoining the master bedroom.
The 19th-century maple bed in the homeowners’ son’s room is a family heirloom.
[Photos: Hulya Kolabas]
The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. The stories are original to Brownstoner; the photos may have been published before. Got a project to propose for The Insider? Please contact Cara at caramia447 at gmail dot com.
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