This limestone Bed Stuy townhouse, in an impeccable row of same, was perfection on the outside. Its interior, however, had hopelessly dated kitchens and baths and an old-fashioned compartmentalized layout that didn’t serve the new owners, who are young professionals in the art and design fields, very well.
They called upon Linearscape Architecture, a LEED-certified Manhattan-based firm founded by graduates of Harvard University’s School of Design and the Southern California Institute of Architecture, to deliver a more open, flexible home with updated amenities.
Keeping the building’s two-family status, Linearscape created a three-bedroom owner duplex plus basement workspace on the lower floors, with a one-bedroom rental unit above.
The front parlor, which has extensive wood paneling and original plasterwork, was left intact. In the newly renovated areas, which include most of the rest of the house, the architects chose “a more modern language to treat the space,” said principal architect Rain Wang, striving for continuity by using cherry paneling and millwork in the new kitchen, baths and bedrooms. “We wanted to echo the original, but make it lighter.”
At the rear of the parlor floor, Linearscape took down walls to open up the kitchen and rebuilt an awkward, narrow stair between it and the floor below. They also relocated a half bath and converted the old dumbwaiter shaft to a light well extending from the roof to the floors below.
The idea on the bedroom floor was to “keep it flexible for different uses,” Wang said. A sliding door allows the bathtub area to open directly into the master bedroom, “instantly enlarging the entire space.” Other new doors enable a closet-lined corridor to be accessed three ways.
A modernist landscape in the backyard completed the project.
Zhong Tao Group was the general contractor.
Wood wall paneling in the front parlor inspired the extensive use of wood in newly renovated parts of the house.
In the new kitchen at the rear of the parlor floor, an existing window became a door leading to a small deck.
The original parquet floor was preserved in the master bedroom. The general contractor crafted the cherry headboard, closets and other millwork.
In the finished basement, which is used as a sewing room and art studio, the red barn door conceals a full bath.
A onetime dumbwaiter shaft along a party wall toward the center of the house was repurposed as a skylit light well.
The backyard garden comprises a mix of materials, including gravel, concrete pavers from Unilock and a wood deck. Trees planted at the rear will grow to eventually cover the blank brick wall.
[Photos by Andrea Patton]
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.
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