The Insider: Pre-War Gut in Brooklyn Heights


    The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly, in-depth look at a recent renovation and interior design project here in the borough of Brooklyn. It’s written and produced by Cara Greenberg, a local blogger and design writer. Find it here every Thursday at 11:30AM.

    IT’S ALWAYS ILLUMINATING to get a glimpse into architects’ own homes. This one, a 2,700-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 3-bath in a venerable 1920s building, is home to Hope Dana of Platt Dana Architects and her family.

    They bought the bright, sprawling apartment in 2008 and “basically gutted the whole thing,” Dana says. The contractor was Jeffrey Wong of Uniform Teamwork.

    The floor plan didn’t change radically. “It was a series of little rooms, and it’s still a series of rooms, but we raised all the openings to make them feel more connected to one another,” says Dana. Between the living and dining rooms, for example, a wide space formerly filled with French doors, above, now reaches to the ceiling instead of stopping two feet short of it — a simple change that dramatically increased the sense of openness and modernity.

    Furnishings are mostly classic modernist designs, sparely deployed. “It’s less about decor and more about letting light in,” Dana says. “I don’t like clutter.”

    More, including ‘befores,’ on the jump.

    Photos: Karen Cipolla

    The south-facing 5th floor apartment looks right into the treetops. The existing herringbone floor was “in terrible shape,” Dana says, so they replaced it with a new  floor in clear white oak, also laid in a herringbone pattern. It was left unstained and coated with polyurethane.

    Furnishings include a leather LeCorbusier sofa and armchair from Cassina and a zebra-patterned plywood chair and tea cart by Alvar Aalto, from Artek — 20th century icons all.

    Three ‘before’ shots, below, show the original opening between living and dining rooms, as well as dowdy Colonial Revival-style corner hutches, extraneous moldings, and chair rails, all of which came out. Only the existing plaster crown moldings were spared.


    The kitchen cabinetry is from Bulthaup, a high-end German kitchen company. The countertop with the pronounced veining is Calcutta marble from SMC Stone in Brooklyn; the desk is white lacquer. In the dining room beyond, there’s an Eero Saarinen pedestal table, Marcel Breuer chairs, and an Isamu Noguchi paper Akari lamp.

    A closet in the entry hall was removed and the space incorporated into the brand new kitchen. The Bulthaup cabinetry mixes shiny white acrylic and aluminum front panels. The chrome wire stools are Harry Bertoia’s 1952 design for Knoll.


    A 4th bedroom is used as a library/media room and painted a cozy tan.

    The three-windowed master bath has a custom wood vanity of white oak, and ‘Bloom’ wall tile from Stone Source. The floor is Calcutta marble.

    A second bath is traditional in feeling, with the tub lined up along the wall. There are oversized (4″x8″) subway tiles on the walls, 1-1/2″ Calcutta gold marble tiles on the floor.





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