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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 Gardensand 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.”

The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly look at the state of interior design and renovation in the borough of Brooklyn. It’s written by Cara Greenberg, a design journalist who blogs at casaCARA: Old Houses for Fun & Profit. Find The Insider here every Thursday at 11:30AM.


THIS c.1900 ROW HOUSE is about as green as you can get without being LEED-certified. “Our clients had a very strong green agenda, but a normal budget,” says Jeff Sherman of the DUMBO architecture firm Delson or Sherman, which took on the job of converting a three-unit house that had had the same owner for 50 years into a single-family residence for a couple with two kids.

“LEED certification winds up being a surprisingly expensive process,” Sherman explains, citing the paperwork involved in documenting sources and the required follow-up inspections. Instead, Sherman and his partner Perla Delson, who are accredited to do LEED projects, strove for maximum impact at minimum cost. The result is a project that still has “strong green credentials,” as Sherman puts it. The contractor was the Brooklyn-based Square Indigo.

The 20’x44′ four-story building is chock full of sustainable strategies, including radiant heat flooring, solar water heating, spray foam insulation, a high-efficiency boiler, and a whole-house fan (a rainwater collection system and photovoltaic panels are yet to be implemented). Daylight is maximized by enormous skylights, as well as the replacement of one-third of the back wall with expanses of glass. Materials were re-purposed whenever possible, even the little ‘Juliet’ balconies at the rear of the house, which are segments of the original fire escape.

Now sleek and utterly modern, the house had some old doors, mantels, pressed tin, and bathroom fixtures, all of which were salvaged, though not for use in this project. “The owners worked Craigslist and Build It Green to make sure any possible thing that could be used by somebody, was,” Sherman says. “The house was picked clean by the time we started.”

Photos: Seong Kwon

Much more after the jump.