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

IN THE MID-’80s, a developer chopped up a former YMCA building in Brooklyn Heights, creating condominium apartments with dropped ceilings and sorry little galley kitchens. When a couple in the arts — she’s a fashion editor, he’s a screenwriter — bought a 1,344-square-foot duplex in the building a few years ago, they called on Brooklyn-based designer Elizabeth Roberts to help them realize the potential they knew was there.

Roberts removed walls, raised ceilings and doorways, and re-thought the uninspired staircase to the upper level, where three bedrooms were converted to a master bedroom and a home office (there’s a powder room on the lower level, a bath-and-a-half upstairs). Most strikingly, the kitchen area was opened up to bring in light and make the space more conducive to entertaining.

Fred Taverna of New York Interior Construction (212/251-0790) saw the project through. Total cost: approximately $300,000.

“When they purchased it, it was an apartment,” says Roberts. “Now it’s a loft.”

Photos: Sean Slattery

More, including ‘befores’ and construction shots, after the jump.


Welcome to The Insider, Brownstoner’s Thursday series exploring the creative ways we renovate and decorate our homes here in the county of Kings. The Insider is written and produced by Cara Greenberg, a veteran design journalist and Brooklynite who blogs at casaCARA: Old Houses for Fun and Profit.

You’d never guess from the vinyl-clad exterior of this Red Hook row house that something dramatically loft-like is going on inside. Architectural designer Elizabeth Roberts transformed the space within, including a formerly unfinished, unheated basement, to create a bright modern home for her clients — Brandon Holley, the editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine, and John Deley, a pianist and composer. “We took down every interior wall and dug down to gain some ceiling height in the basement,” says Roberts, principal of a 4-person firm in Clinton Hill.

The 20’x50′ basement level became the main living space. Roberts opened up the back wall and spanned it with glass sliding doors, poured a concrete floor, and inserted a new kitchen and bath. A flight of monumental wood steps leads down from a street-level entry foyer and sleeping loft. Until recently, there was a two-bedroom rental apartment on the building’s second floor. That has been incorporated into the growing family’s living space, with three new bedrooms and two baths (the new top floor will be the subject of a future post).

Above: Elliptical table from Kartell, Mies van der Rohe chaise from Herman Miller, vintage fireplace.

More photos and details on the jump.

Photo: Sean Slattery