Good thing Park Slope-based designer Jennifer Morris has a background in the hospitality industry. When a couple who’d just bought a four-story, 18-foot-wide brownstone in Fort Greene called her mid-renovation for help “picking out finishes,” she naturally asked, “Where’s your layout?” The reply: “We don’t have one.”
The homeowners had no architect, though demolition and construction were already well under way. The garden floor, where the new kitchen was slated to go, had been gutted, the hallway opened up to the main living space. “They’d never done a renovation before and didn’t know what to ask or anticipate, or what the process should be,” Morris recalled.
Morris enlightened them about design coming before renovation — “not while you’re standing in a gutted space.”
She rolled up her sleeves, cleared her schedule, and created a new layout for all four floors, found a kitchen fabricator, selected materials, finishes, furnishings — “all in lightning speed,” said Morris, a former designer for the Rockwell Group, known for hotels and restaurants worldwide. “Fortunately, my background is ‘We need 500 chairs by tomorrow!’”
What could have been a disaster “ended up being really fun,” Morris said. Her clients, who may have been clueless about the construction process, turned out to be fearless when it came to making design decisions.
“They wanted more color, more pattern, more life,” said Morris, who found this a refreshing change. “I’m so used to clients being trepidatious and saying, ‘We may want to resell in a couple of years.’” In this case, she said, “They wanted to be blasted with color.”
See how the rest of the house turned out, below.
The front parlor is probably the most neutral room in the house, but note the ceiling’s light blue tint — it’s Benjamin Moore‘s In Your Eyes. The front and rear parlors are essentially one long room, tied together partly by similar floor coverings — Moroccan rugs from Imports from Marrakesh, a New Jersey warehouse. The round coffee table came from the same source.
The parlor sofa is from Room and Board, the bookcases from Restoration Hardware, the mirror over the mantel from the Wisteria catalog, striped drapes from Holland and Sherry. The leather armchair was an Atlantic Avenue antique store find.
The kitchen used to be located in the rear parlor (above), now a media room with vintage audio. The tobacco-colored walls are Benjamin Moore’s Gold Rush, with mid-20th-century chairs from Brooklyn’s Horseman Antiques. Cushion and window fabric is from Clarence House, with Roman shades made by David Michael Interiors.
The garden level had already been gutted by Brooklyn-based contractor Rupert Darling, with brick and ceiling beams exposed, when designer Morris came on the scene.
A daffodil-yellow sink designed by Jonathan Adler for Kohler, a turquoise pendant lamp from FIND in Gowanus, and ornately patterned Moroccan tiles from Mosaic House indicate the homeowners’ fresh and fearless approach to color. The yellow clock, already in their possession, was a starting point. Custom cabinets by Rupert Darling.
The warmth of the wood floor and natural brick in the dining area are enhanced by a mid-century table and chairs found on Atlantic Avenue and glass pendant lights from Niche Modern.
Benjamin Moore’s Blue Danube and Christian Lacroix wallpaper from Osborne and Little make a strong impression in the master bedroom, enhancing the beauty of the window moldings. The window shades are made from Elitis fabric, sold through Angelo Donghia. The bed and bedside tables are from Blu Dot, the lamp from CB2.
[Photos: Seth Caplan]
The Insider is Brownstoner’s 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.
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