The Victorian builders of this bow-front brick row house went all out with detail. There’s no shortage of oak woodwork, gingerbread trim and stained glass panels.
But all that was only partly intact when Dumbo-based Delson or Sherman Architects were hired to rethink the deep four-story house for a young family. In fact, said Perla Delson, “It was a mishmash.”
The building had been carved up into nine illegal bed-and-breakfast units by previous owners, so the first order of business, Delson said, was “carefully undoing” what had been done, including the removal of partitions and extra bathrooms. Then they painstakingly pieced it all back together, “carefully salvaging and preserving what was good and restoring the rest to be consistent.”
As partner Jeff Sherman put it, “Half the project was preservation/restoration, cobbling together bits and pieces salvaged during demolition and reassembling. A lot of moldings are re-creations of those that were in the house.” The other half of the project, he said, was integrating state-of-the-art building systems.
About 50 percent of the bordered parquet flooring was replaced with matching material. Some door and window surrounds are new, some partly new, others original — and no one can tell the difference.
The homeowners live on three floors: the parlor floor, which has a dining room at the front, a living room in the center (where the house is widest), and a new kitchen and breakfast area in a narrower extension that is probably original to the house. There are family and guest bedrooms and new bathrooms on the two floors above, along with a newly constructed bi-level roof deck, which helps compensate for the small backyard.
The original oak pier mirror in the entry was retrofitted with new seating and storage baskets beneath.
The double door leading to the backyard is mostly original, as is the fireplace mantel, but the wide opening between the living room and kitchen is brand new.
The vertical members were salvaged, with the horizontal piece across the top “90 percent made from scratch,” Sherman said, “piecing together different moldings from different catalogues.”
The modern chandelier is from David Weeks Studio.
The stained glass window panels in the bay at the far end of the parlor floor are original to the house and were restored as part of the installation of all-new windows.
The panel over the sink, on the other hand, came from elsewhere.
Shop-sprayed lacquered wood cabinets with soapstone countertops, made by the general contractor, line both sides of the kitchen. The absence of upper cabinets keeps this vital circulation space feeling open.
The range is from Blue Star.
Delson or Sherman relocated existing gingerbread trim to improve the proportions of the breakfast area at the rear of the parlor floor, replacing missing spindles as necessary.
The central stairwell required some repair but is essentially original. The ornate light fixture was found in the house.
The architects advised on lighting and carpeting; otherwise, furnishings belong to the homeowners.
The copper-clad window bay opposite the fireplace in the master bedroom “was rotting off the building,” Sherman said, and had to be almost entirely rebuilt.
The homeowners had a stained-glass panel custom made for the master bath, backlit to emulate daylight. Delson or Sherman integrated it into a tub surround made of Lithoverde, marble offcuts bonded together to create giant slabs.
A towel warmer and custom vanity, whose mirror is sandblasted at the top to diffuse light, are among the bathroom’s other luxe details.
The dramatic hanging cast-glass Bocci chandelier is a favorite of the architects, well suited to the switchback stairs.
In the third-floor guest bath, the walk-in shower has an integrated marble bench with a skylight above.
The new roof deck comes off a room at the rear of the house known as the music room (one of the homeowners is a musician). A steel stair leads to a second level with a fantastic skyline view.
[Photos by Jason Schmidt]
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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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