The Insider: Young Couple Goes Crazy for Color After Fort Greene Renovation


“These clients were not afraid of color. They kept saying, ‘More!'” recalled Chelsie Lee, project manager for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design (JHID). The Portland, Oregon-based firm had been hired to furnish a young couple’s newly purchased 20’x45′ brick row house in Fort Greene.

The building had recently been gut-renovated by the Brooklyn Home Company, with a new two-story extension on the back and a new interior staircase.

“We did a little light remodeling, like adding doors to the built-in cabinetry in the dining room to make it symmetrical,” said Lee, but the designers’ mandate was to realize the vision of the new homeowners: décor that was bold and playful.

Adding the new extension meant losing square footage at the rear of the parlor floor, so there wasn’t enough space for the existing kitchen, a dining room and a living room on that level.

“We debated whether to put the dining room downstairs, connecting to the garden,” said Lee, “but ultimately decided that because the clients entertain a lot, it was better to have the dining room near the kitchen” — on the parlor floor, with the living/family room below.

“We tried to resolve the lack of a living room upstairs by adding a sofa between the dining room and the kitchen, so you can sit and be comfortable while someone’s cooking. It gets used a lot.”

JHID designed a dining table (shown above) from two slabs of walnut, with a series of turquoise butterfly joints. Vintage Paul McCobb chairs around the table were lacquered turquoise as well.

Four shades of red form a geometric pattern on the back of the bookshelf wall, which is used not for books but for a collection of handmade wood, ceramic and glass objects. The chandelier is from David Weeks, the sofa from Ligne Roset.

See and read more below.

Photos: Andrew Cammarano

Among the changes JHID made to the kitchen were a new white stove hood (replacing a stainless steel one) and a white ceramic tile backsplash. The walnut countertop remains; the stools are walnut as well. The Topan pendant lights are a Verner Panton design.


The designers liked the the idea of contrasting the white walls of the parlor floor with a darker color for the family/living room on the garden level (it’s Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal). As the two floors open to each other, they painted angled shapes on the wall to mark the transition. The custom sofa is upholstered with vintage Peruvian blankets, collected over time. Chelsie Lee designed the fir coffee table with a chevron-patterned top.

JHID_FuLL_Res_Lafayette_Brooklyn-3  JHID_FuLL_Res_Lafayette_Brooklyn-4

In the master bedroom (one of three bedrooms in the house), gray walls and an ebony-stained bed — custom designed by JHID — are offset by a vivid Turkish kilim. Leftover pieces of the blankets used to upholster the downstairs sofa were recycled as throw pillows for the bed.

JHID_FuLL_Res_Lafayette_Brooklyn-2The clients told the designers to “go crazy with color” in the top floor guest room, so they did.


The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, produced and written by design journalist Cara Greenberg. You can find it here every Thursday at 11.


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