A light renovation brightens and freshens up a circa-1900 apartment for designer Jennifer Morris and her family.
This classic four-story Park Slope brownstone had been updated by its previous owner, a contractor, who had “already done the big stuff — the kitchen, air conditioning, a security system,” said Jennifer Morris of JMorris Design, a Brooklyn-based interior design studio specializing in finishes and furnishings.
So Morris was able to forget about the function and focus on the fun. Her goal was to create something “textured and expressive.”
“The parlor floor was very much intact,” Morris said, with elaborate original woodwork, mantels and delicate plaster decoration on the ceilings and on friezes running along the top of the 12-foot-high walls. But the plasterwork had been “gunked up” over the years and was hardly pristine.
Good thing Park Slope-based designer Jennifer Morris has a background in the hospitality industry. When a couple who’d just bought a four-story, 18-foot-wide brownstone in Fort Greene called her mid-renovation for help “picking out finishes,” she naturally asked, “Where’s your layout?” The reply: “We don’t have one.”
The homeowners had no architect, though demolition and construction were already well under way. The garden floor, where the new kitchen was slated to go, had been gutted, the hallway opened up to the main living space. “They’d never done a renovation before and didn’t know what to ask or anticipate, or what the process should be,” Morris recalled.
Morris enlightened them about design coming before renovation — “not while you’re standing in a gutted space.”
She rolled up her sleeves, cleared her schedule, and created a new layout for all four floors, found a kitchen fabricator, selected materials, finishes, furnishings — “all in lightning speed,” said Morris, a former designer for the Rockwell Group, known for hotels and restaurants worldwide. “Fortunately, my background is ‘We need 500 chairs by tomorrow!’”