WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project. Produced and written by design journalist Cara Greenberg, you can find it here every Thursday at 11.
WHO WOULDA THUNK IT: classic mid-20th century furnishings, both vintage and reissued, working so beautifully — and looking so natural — in a late 19th century limestone row house? The full-on renovation by Dumbo-based architects Delson or Sherman was an update of a one-family house. Once the reno was under way, Brooklyn-based interior designer Kiki Dennis came in to do the furnishing.
“We inherited a lot of original detail that needed restoring and refreshing, but all our interventions were primarily modern,” said Perla Delson. Chief among these were an all-new kitchen and three new baths, a reconfigured garden floor with a media room and music room, and two outdoor spaces. The backyard was redesigned, with landscaping by Mac Carbonell of Verdant Gardens, and a new roof deck added.
The homeowners, a couple with two young kids, “knew what they wanted,” Delson said. “They really enjoy cooking and wanted a modern kitchen, not a kitchen that pretended to look old.”
Mechanically speaking, they kept existing radiators but put radiant heat floors in the new kitchen and baths, as well as central air and a whole-house fan hidden near the top-floor skylight.
A new deck and stair off the dining room, accessed through a modern stained glass door that replaces an existing window, links the parlor floor to the garden, as the above photo shows. Contemporary hand-crafted, limited-production furnishings include a console from BDDW and dining table by City Joinery.
Chairs are from Hudson Furniture. Poul Henningsen’s striking ‘Artichoke’ chandelier, a 1958 design available through Design Within Reach and elsewhere, makes the commitment to modernist decor loud and clear.
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Photos by Jason Schmidt
Between the dining room and parlor, a George Nelson bubble lamp, vintage Milo Baughman tub chairs, and a Jens Risom ottoman keep the mid-century modern theme going. The mahogany fireplaces have new ceramic tiles reminiscent of the original.
Designer Kiki Dennis chose Farrow & Ball’s All White for walls throughout the house. “We made a considered decision to allow woodwork to be the focal point,” she said — also evident in the neutral furnishings. In the front parlor, a curvaceous 1950s sofa designed by Vladimir Kagan, upholstered in chenille-like indoor-outdoor fabric, nestles into the bay window.
A Kagan slipper chair and leather-and-wood armchair with ottoman, all in current production, and a Jens Risom coffee table, along with a George Nelson bubble lamp, magically complement the mahogany paneling and woodwork (which is quite plain for the late Victorian era). The rug is from Fort Street Studio.
The kitchen has bamboo cabinetry and a floor of rift-sawn oak bordered with the same dark soapstone used for the kitchen counter and apron sink. Upper cabinets are stainless steel with glass panels.
Only the garden level, where the “music room” is located, was gutted and reconfigured.
The cast glass globes of a bubbly light fixture by Bocci extend from the top floor to the floor below, an intriguing contrast with the stair’s ornate spindles.
The Mad Men-era lounge chair and ottoman in the master bedroom come from Suite NY. The stools at the foot of the bed are vintage Vladimir Kagan.
The third floor roof deck is entirely new, with paving stone and furniture to match that of the back garden.
On the top floor, along with two children’s bedrooms, there’s a well-stocked library. The dyed plywood bookshelves in the library have exposed edges.
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