Shortly after purchasing a late 19th century row house, one of the homeowners set about to do some demolition. “There were a lot of small, dark rooms, and he and a friend ripped out all the walls,” said architect Allison Reeves of Red Hook-based arDesign. “Then he thought, ‘Oh, maybe we should get an architect.'”
Reeves, who has 23 years of experience working on large-scale commercial and residential projects for renowned architecture firms, was just setting up her own residential practice and took on the job as her first solo project.
The three-story building hadn’t seen any renovation in decades. Now, it’s configured as a one-family, with an open living room, kitchen and dining room on the top floor, where they benefit from abundant light and a skyline view.
The renovation was a thorough gut, giving Reeves a chance to express her aesthetic in an interior that is stripped down to bare brick and wood, yet loaded with warmth and character. “I tend to be modern but not severe. I like natural materials and a warm palette,” she said. “Because this interior was totally demolished, we had the opportunity to be very selective about what we put back.”
Reeves’ team removed the rotted, sloping roof structure in its entirety, then rebuilt it very differently. The house now has what Reeves calls “a double flat roof,” with a higher flat section at the front of the building, a lower flat section at the rear, and a new clerestory window in the middle. “It visually adds extra space, though the overall height of the building only increased six inches or so.”
The homeowners found a Pennsylvania company (now out of business) that reclaimed wood from old barns, and used it for the new ceiling/roof beams on the top floor and for flooring throughout the house.
John Fasano was the general contractor.
A large slanted window on the front facade was a bold move. “We punched it out a bit and tilted it to maximize light and views,” the architect said.
Some of the new triple-glazed European windows are casements; others are tilt-and-turn.
The exterior brick was in poor shape. Reeves replaced it with new black brick.
From inside, the large picture window also functions as a window seat.
The interior brick just needed a good cleaning.
The homeowners’ furnishings include vintage Danish modern pieces and a sofa from Design Within Reach.
Reeves provided a kitchen layout, and the homeowners worked with a kitchen company to choose appliances, cabinetry and finish materials.
The new staircase replaces one that was “steep and tiny,” Reeves said, in the same general location. The oak treads were part of the same reclaimed barn wood haul. Eidan Dehri did the railing and other custom steelwork.
A glass panel in the floor allows light from a large skylight and glass doors and windows on the roof level to penetrate deep into the house.
The stair continues all the way to the roof, where there’s a roof deck and, mindful of the damage wreaked in local basements by Hurricane Sandy, a bulkhead containing the home’s mechanicals.
These include a hot water heater, condensers for the air-conditioning system and manifolds for the radiant heating that is installed underneath all the floors in the house.
The ceiling beams on the second floor, where there are two bedrooms and a bath, are original to the house.
[Photos by Lesley Unruh]
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