As so often happens, this Park Slope brownstone “lacked soul” after it was flipped by a developer, said Susana Simonpietri, who founded the Bed Stuy–based, full-service interior design firm Chango & Co. in 2009.
The building’s exterior, including the restored stoop and ironwork, “had been done beautifully,” she told Brownstoner, but inside, though high ceilings and broad archways remained, “there was no crown molding, no woodwork, no paneling” — and, unlike the new homeowners, a young family late of Manhattan, “no personality.”
Chango & Co. was called in to give the plain walls some adornment, as well as add badly needed storage — an eventual 60 linear feet of built-ins throughout the four-story, one-family house — and create a plan for nearly all-new furnishings, lighting, window treatments and artwork.
Simonpietri, originally from Puerto Rico, studied literature there and in Paris before realizing design was her true calling. She came to Brooklyn for a master’s degree in interior design from Pratt Institute, then worked for high-profile Manhattan firms including Benjamin Noriega Ortiz, Studio GAIA and architect Mark Zeff.
For the first four years of her company’s life, she said, “I handled everything on my own.” In the past three, however, commissions to design and decorate homes in the Hamptons, Connecticut, Manhattan and Brooklyn have exploded, and Chango & Co. now has a staff of 10.
Fox Force Five was the general contractor on this job.
The staircase was in great shape when Simonpietri’s clients arrived, but the walls alongside it were bare of detail. “We put in all the paneling you see throughout the house, all the molding and trim,” she said. “It was a very extensive amount of millwork.”
Simple white linen curtains frame the windows. Hardware throughout the house is a mix of nickel and brass.
Dark-stained floors were one of the developer’s fortunate choices and were left as is.
Fourteen-foot-high mirrors on either side of the fireplace in the front parlor were built on site. “We wanted to add light to the space and take the stress off large walls that would have otherwise needed artwork,” the designer said. At night, the mirrors double the light of the table lamps on consoles in front of them.
The spectacular vintage Sputnik chandeliers are from Italy.
The tin ceiling in the front parlor had been painted a glossy white; Simonpietri repainted it with a matte finish.
A table from Design Within Reach is surrounded by a bench upholstered with indoor-outdoor fabric and orange leather chairs that introduce warm color to the dining area. Two of the chairs have practical, washable slipcovers.
The new built-ins, which provide an abundance of storage for dishes and such, run parallel to the kitchen on the room’s opposite wall. All white, with Carrara marble countertops, “the kitchen was perfectly nice,” Simonpietri said — and so it was left intact.
A powder room on the second floor, which also serves the parlor level, is enlivened by an English wallpaper normally not for sale in the U.S., but available through Chango & Co.
Simonpietri changed the room’s lighting and mirror but left the existing pedestal sink.
A custom upholstered headboard in the master bedroom came from Currey & Company.
Beveled mirror inserts in the custom built-ins bring more light into the room. “We needed built-ins but didn’t want clunky masses of white doors and drawers,” Simonpietri said.
The homeowners already had some tufted, upholstered pieces of good quality and in good condition. Chango & Co. reupholstered them for the family/TV room on the second floor, and even modified the arms to make them a bit less traditional.
As elsewhere in the house, the moldings and built-ins are brand new.
In the pale-pink top-floor nursery, armchairs already owned by the family were freshened up with new upholstery.
[Photos by Ball & Albanese]
The Insider is Brownstoner’s in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here Thursday mornings.
Got a project to propose for The Insider? Contact Cara at caramia447 [at] gmail [dot] com
- The Insider: Young Designer Decorates First Apartment from Scratch for Park Slope Couple
- The Insider: Wide-Ranging Townhouse Reno in Park Slope Updates Space, Preserves Character
- The Insider: Spare Modern Decor Enhances Park Slope Limestone Beauty
Businesses Mentioned Above