OUT OF A 1930s WAREHOUSE on a commercial block between Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, architect Ben Herzog and Brooklyn-based interior designer Kiki Dennis conjured a family home that’s both fun and functional.

The homeowners, a couple with three young kids, had lived in the 25-foot-wide, three-story building for years. However, the “functional lifestyle things were not working for them,” Dennis recalled. The answer was a total renovation.


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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.”

WELCOME to The Insider, Brownstoner’s weekly look at the multitudinous ways Brooklyn residents decorate and renovate their homes. Written and produced by Cara Greenberg, you’ll find it here every Thursday at 11:30AM.

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Open Air Modern offers authentic mid-century furniture along with out-of-print design, photography, and art books.

THE CLIENTS’ WISH LIST was not unusual: they wanted a home for themselves and their three young children that was “warm and comfortable, with a lot of play spaces,” says Kiki Dennis, the Brooklyn-based designer hired to pull together furnishings, paint colors, and final details upon completion of a top-to-bottom renovation.

A 19th century townhouse whose five floors had been broken up into apartments, it was re-designed by architect James Ramsay as a homeowners’ 5-bedroom, 4.5 bath quadruplex totaling about 5,500 square feet, plus a garden rental. The project was well under way when the current owners bought the building in mid-reno. There were few original details remaining except for stair balusters and some mantels. “Other architectural moves were more contemporary, almost minimalist,” Dennis says. Her clients were concerned that the house “not be too stark, but have elements of color and warmth.”

Dennis loved the steel-framed windows at the back of the parlor floor and the use of reclaimed teak in various areas. “We took cues from those materials, used a lot of neutrals, and added fun pops of color to bring the house to life,” she says. She also worked with the clients to buy art, an important factor in adding color to the space.

If this home looks familiar, it was one of several on the recent Brooklyn Heights House Tour.

Photos: Brett Beyer