Design Brooklyn: Bar Chord in Ditmas Park


The building at 1008 Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park originally opened as a family-owned restaurant in 1927. Players for the Brooklyn Dodgers were known to stop in on their way to nearby Ebbets Field. The address has since lived through countless incarnations — lastly as a Mexican bakery — and now it has become Bar Chord, a neighborhood watering hole and music venue created by Christy and Jonny Sheehan.

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Serendipitously, the project of making the space into a bar brought the interior closer to its origins than it had been in decades. The couple planned to install wood after removing what appeared to be linoleum flooring, but when they received a call from their close friend and contractor, the renovation took a lucky turn. He had uncovered hexagonal tiling nearly perfectly preserved underneath the final linoleum layer. When they showed the find to the owner, who remembers his family’s restaurant from when he was a child, he was moved to tears. They got to work carefully removing the remaining linoleum from the floor.

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Christy and Jonny have lived in the neighborhood for ten years and when they refurbished their own home a few blocks away they made sure to keep any wood that was removed and other elements for future projects. Jonny is a skilled carpenter and he crafted drink rails out of 100-year-old two-by-fours found in their house and secured them to the bar’s walls at just the right height. He constructed low tables out of reclaimed wood, gas piping, and door hinges found at Build It Green in Gowanus.

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A deep L-shaped banquette toward the back of the bar was built out of pieces salvaged at Build It Green and reupholstered in black patent leather and tufted velvet by Stitch, based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A vintage mirror found during the brownstone renovation of the Sheehans’ friend and co-designer Leslie Linksman of LQ Design has been fitted sideways above the couch.

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Vintage bar stools line the zinc bar, and above hang ceiling fixtures found around the corner at Collyer’s Mansion, another recent newcomer to the neighborhood that sells everything from lighting to locally made home products (see below).

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A friend of the Sheehans who is a vintage guitar collector provides guitars for sale, which also act as one-of-a-kind décor. Bar Chord hosts live music events almost every night.

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With the good fortune of discovering an intact tile floor, which displays a lovely red and white pattern, and a building team consisting of good friends and Jonny himself, the couple were able to open Bar Chord’s doors in May 2013 after only five months of construction. The space offers a welcome glimpse of the past while catering to the neighborhood’s present (and likely future) transformation.

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Collyer’s Mansion

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Mauri Weakley opened this inviting home goods and design shop at 368 Stratford Road just over a year ago. Originally one of three small storefronts that included the Vox Pop coffee shop on the corner and a Tarot card reader, Collyer’s Mansion offers a wide yet carefully curated range of both vintage and artisanal objects, from lighting fixtures and rugs to cutting boards, handbags, and original artwork. Weakley and her fiancé Ben Heemskerk stripped the space to its bones, painting the brick walls white and staining the ceiling beams dark. They also clad the store window in wood and peeled away carpet to put the existing concrete floor to good use.

Design Brooklyn is an occasional column featuring Brooklyn interiors, both residential and commercial. The column is written by Anne Hellman, with photographs by Michel Arnaud. They blog at Design Brooklyn and Abrams published their book of the same name in October. 

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