The Insider: Architect Wrangles New Family Room, Third Bedroom From Park Slope Prewar Co-op


After a decade in an L-shaped co-op on the ground floor of a stately vintage apartment building, its owners were ready for a major overhaul.

The couple’s two daughters, who had long shared a room, were now in middle and high school. They craved bedrooms of their own, as well as a place to hang out with their friends. Their parents were likewise overdue for more gracious space in which to entertain their own friends, and for a kitchen where the wife, an avid baker, could spread out and do her thing.

Enter Alexandra Barker of Gowanus-based Barker Freeman Design Office, a busy architect and member of the Pratt Institute faculty, who has breathed new life into many a tired Brooklyn row house and dated apartment.

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The full-on gut involved a number of big moves, including removing walls to open up the kitchen to the living and dining rooms and squeezing in a new master bath and walk-in closet. “We carved room for them out of the very generous living/dining space, in a zone where we could make the plumbing work,” Barker said.

Most transformative of all was the conversion of a basement room — originally an unfinished storage space that could only be accessed from outside — into a media/family room used primarily by the teens.

“It took a year to get the co-op’s permission to do it,” Barker said. Requiring the construction of a brand new stairwell, it increased the apartment’s square footage to 2,000 and its livability beyond measure.

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At the apartment’s entry is a new mud room with a dark slate floor.

A structural column clad in blackened steel and a long wall painted dark blue contrast dramatically with mostly white walls.

The open living and dining areas are to the left. The dining room, shown at top, has a steel and glass partition enclosing a small home office.

To the right is the new open kitchen, and a long hallway leading to three bedrooms, two baths and the stair down to the new family/media room. “That long, dark feature wall is sort of the organizer that binds all the private spaces,” the architect said.

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The bright living room benefits from bay windows that protrude from the corner of the building.

The homeowners chose the clean-lined modern furnishings themselves, with some professional advice.

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interior design ideas brooklyn

Her clients “wanted the warmth of wood in the kitchen, so we proposed a recessed wood ceiling surface made of the same oak as the floor,” said Barker.

Semi-custom cabinetry from Park Slope Kitchen Gallery provides abundant storage. The countertops are made of highly figured statuary marble.

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The salient feature of the new master bath is a stall shower clad completely in blue and gray penny tile.

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Custom millwork turned a radiator cover into a deep window seat in the lilac-colored girl’s bedroom.

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The girls’ bath was existing but completely redone. It features a steel and glass enclosure for the tub/shower, set between a black tile floor and black ceiling.

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interior design ideas brooklyn

What was once an unfinished basement full of cardboard boxes is now a room for games and movie-watching, with a large sectional sofa, built-in shelving and a porcelain tile floor.

[Photos by Amy Barkow]

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The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning.

Got a project to propose for The Insider? Contact Cara at caramia447 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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