The Insider: Gentle Reno in Prospect Heights

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, our weekly in-depth look at a recent interior design/renovation project, here every Thursday at 11:30AM. Like The Outsider, Brownstoner’s new garden series on Sundays at 8AM, The Insider is written and produced by Cara Greenberg.


IT TOOK TERI BRAJEWSKI of TWB Design a full year of apartment-hunting to settle on what she calls a “petite three-bedroom” in an eight-unit building from the 1890s. It wasn’t just the intact woodwork and other Victorian niceties, including a fretwork archway, bay window, and tiled mantelpiece, that sold her on the ground floor unit, or even the private backyard. “It was one of the few I looked at and didn’t think, ‘If only I could tear this wall out…'”recalls Brajewski, an interior designer and co-owner of Interior Provisions, an online and by-appointment home goods shop in Nolita.

In fact, the long, narrow, 1,100-square-foot floor plan functioned so well for her family — she’s a single mom of two — that all the walls stayed right where they were. Brajewski lost no time gutting and replacing a full and a half bath; that’s been the major work to date. Other sprucing up includes floor refinishing, new lighting throughout, new furniture, and a carefully considered paint job with Benjamin Moore’s Natura line of no-VOC paints.

Brajewski is a LEED AP (accredited professional). She incorporated some sustainability principles, a water-saving toilet and the use of locally-made and vintage furnishings among them. Contemporary and mid-20th century pieces look magically at home in their surroundings. “The gracious scale of mid-century furniture works very well against a Victorian backdrop,” she says.

For now, Brajewski is living with the existing kitchen, though she bought a new dishwasher and washer/dryer, and the garden remains a frontier yet to be conquered. Brajewski “called in a ton of favors and got a lot of trade discounts” but estimates the cost of her improvements, including new furnishings, at about $100,000 for a civilian. The contractor was Jim Savio.

Above: The apartment’s front room is divided by an archway into areas Brajewski uses as a living room and a home office. The made-in-USA sofas are contemporary, from Thayer Coggin, but with a ’50s/’60s look. The vintage coffee table is from a shop in Hudson, NY; the rug from a sample sale. Cafe curtains were made by Angel Threads of Brooklyn.

Photos: Ofer Wolberger

See more, including a complete list of paint colors, after the jump.


Four different types of tile in the master bath are from Walker Zanger, all in variations of warm medium brown. The sink top is multi-colored onyx from ABC Worldwide, as are the window sill and door saddle. The custom walnut vanity designed by Brajewski was built by WCW Cabinets, the tall, thin medicine cabinets by JCP Cabinetry in Astoria.


The hand-screened wallpaper in the powder room is from NYC-based Jill Malek. The tiny sink is Villeroy & Boch. Tile is from Ann Sacks, and the ceiling light from Canopy Designs, Ltd., headquartered in Long Island City.


The dining room has a vintage tin ceiling and exposed brick inherited from the previous owners. The table is from Design Workshop, a North Carolina company, with recycled aluminum chairs from Emeco. The four-section wall unit is by Corey Springer of WUD, a Brooklyn furniture maker. The chandelier came from Rico on Atlantic Avenue.


Brajewski designed the button-tufted headboard and had it made by Younger Furniture in North Carolina of vintage fabric from Yoma Textiles. The silkscreened ceiling fixtures is from Galbraith & Paul, the sconces above the bed from Artemide.


Chris Packer of JCP Cabinetry in Queens built the maple veneer closets in Brajewski’s daughter’s bedroom with solid edging, so that it will last longer. Light fixture from Seascape.

PAINT COLORS, all from Benjamin Moore’s Natura line


Living Room – Guilford Green

Master Bedroom – Mellowed Ivory

Daughter’s Bedroom – Bunny Nose Pink, Suntan Yellow ceiling

Dining Room/Hallway – Timothy Straw and Mill Springs Blue

Master Bath, door – Fairview Taupe


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