The Insider: In Total Redo, Awkward Brooklyn Heights Garret Becomes Airy, Inviting Home

When a couple with two cats, a piano and a load of “stuff” purchased a run-down apartment measuring barely 800 square feet, they called upon General Assembly to maximize the use of the space and make it a pleasant environment to come home to.

The two-bedroom apartment, on the top floor of a vintage row house, had “a weird layout and a lot of strange nooks and crannies,” said Sarah Zames, who founded the Gowanus-based design firm in 2010. On the plus side, it had “all this charm and character,” with brick walls, pine floors, high ceilings and ample natural light.

“Everything got stripped down to the studs and redone,” said Zames, with a brand new bath and kitchen located in their original positions to make use of existing risers.

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General Assembly’s team switched around the apartment’s two bedrooms so that the larger is in a rear corner of the apartment; the smaller, which serves as guest room and study, is now off the living room. Sliding doors on that smaller room open fully, “so you get a sense of the whole space,” Zames said. “It makes the apartment feel a lot bigger.”

“We did built-ins everywhere and tried to get in as much storage as we could,” said Zames, taking advantage of the high sloped ceiling. In another major move, they replaced an existing brick fireplace with a custom-built one made of steel, with a decorative finish of troweled concrete.

Zames balanced new steel detailing, the dark-hued fireplace, and a near-black wall and kitchen cabinets with white oak millwork and pale concrete in the bath and kitchen to keep things on the bright side, and made a point of incorporating the work of local lighting designers into the mix.

E.L. Contracting was the GC.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

The apartment’s entry door is down a flight of stairs. A new custom steel railing takes up minimal space.

The library ladder from Putnam Rolling Ladder Co. allows access to high-up storage and can be moved around the apartment.

Doors on the second bedroom/study slide open to create a long sight line through the space.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

The custom fireplace, with a troweled-concrete finish, anchors a corner of the living room.

There’s a pull-down projection screen above the piano for movie-watching.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

A custom sectional sofa came with the homeowners from their previous residence.

The light sconces on the wall are from Brooklyn’s Apparatus.

A new skylight in the living room further augments the abundant natural light.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

The kitchen is “tiny, but all you need,” Zames said, with custom-built cabinetry painted Black Blue from Farrow & Ball, and pulls from Liz’s Antique Hardware in Los Angeles. The countertop and backsplash are poured concrete. The light fixture above came from Brooklyn’s Workstead.

The farmhouse sink and faucet were existing and were retained; the range is a Bertazzoni. The floor’s pale gray chevron-patterned tile came from Stone Source.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

Patterned floor tile from Commune is a small detail that forms a threshold into the master bedroom.

General Assembly fireproofed the bedrooms’ original beams.

The custom dresser set into the wall is deeper than it looks, with most of its volume in a closet on the other side of the wall

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

Dark wall color (the same as on the lower kitchen cabinets) gives the guest room/study a moody aspect. In addition to the futon on the daybed, there’s one stored beneath that can be spread on the floor.

The cool light fixture over the bed is from Apparatus.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

All the built-ins in the apartment, including the daybed, storage and desk in this room, were designed by General Assembly and custom-built.

There’s a track for the rolling ladder above the desk.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

Once again, troweled concrete was the material of choice for the sink and tub surround in the skylit bathroom.

The sconce above the mirror is from Cedar and Moss, the Kawa pendant light from Souda, a Brooklyn maker.

The wall-mounted faucet is Watermark; the shower ring came from Signature Hardware. The floor is composed of 4″x4″ Polvere tiles from Stone Source.

The wall-hung Toto toilet is a space-saver with a nice clean look.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

See the apartment’s funky condition in the “before” photo below:

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn General Assembly Brooklyn Heights

[Photos by Joe Fletcher, except “before” photo]

Check out ‘The Insider’ mini-site: brownstoner.com/the-insider

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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