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More went into the renovation of this vintage wood frame row house than meets the eye, though architect Alexandra Barker of Gowanus-based Barker Associates Architectural Office (BAAO) has done enough such overhauls that she knew from the get-go what it would entail. “As soon as I saw it, I said ‘This is gonna be major,'” she recalled. Simple Wooden Box
The century-plus-old house required a full gut. The new owners were moving from an apartment to their first home, intending to convert the three-story building, which had been used as a two-family, to a single-family residence for themselves and their two children.
BAAO reinforced the party walls on either side of the building, reconstructed a ramshackle extension on the garden level and extended the two upper floors. They also redid the exterior facade, adding red cedar siding, restoring the cornice and replacing all the windows.
With input from her clients, Barker reconceived the interior layout, putting the dining room, kitchen and living room all on the ground level and the primary suite one flight up. The top floor contains bedrooms and a bath for the homeowners’ children and an art studio for one member of the couple.
The clients drove the decision to enter on the garden floor; a direct walk-out connection to the rear yard was tops on their wish list. “The only scenario that made sense was to put the living room at the back and the dining room in front,” with the kitchen in between, Barker said, as the house is only about 15 feet wide and the vestibule eats up space near the entry.
Two new baths on the upper levels and a powder room downstairs are all a cut above the ordinary, with unique tile treatments and strong color. The homeowners’ predilection for bold hues and patterning led to striking choices in wallpaper, tile work and paint throughout, starting with the deep teal walls of the dining area (top photo).
New mechanicals are housed in a closet on the top floor. “There’s nothing underneath the garden level — not even a crawl space,” Barker said.
The garden level entrance had previously been used to access a separate downstairs apartment. Barker removed a metal stair that once led to a parlor floor entry in lieu of a proper stoop.
An interior stair between the garden level and the floor above was lacking; BAAO built one.
Cement tiles in the entry vestibule are the same as those Ernest Hemingway favored for his Key West home.
A pocket door seals off the vestibule when weather dictates.
A combination of structural and decorative beams distinguishes the ceiling in the kitchen and dining areas.
Painted wood cabinetry was sourced from Park Slope Kitchen Gallery.
Lush, aquatic-themed Cole & Sons wallpaper, a green vintage wall-mounted sink and terra-cotta tiles make an eye-popping statement in the downstairs powder room.
Easy walk-out access to the garden was a must for Barker’s clients. A new wall of glass maximizes light.
Strong, deep color, like the blue accent wall in the primary bedroom, is a hallmark of the project.
The primary bath benefits from a skylight, even though it’s on the second floor.
Shimmering Moroccan zellige tile rims the marble tub and, along with luxurious gold-toned hardware, elevates the space.
The house-shaped outline of the child’s bed frame makes the pitched roof of the top floor seem even more lofty.
Sun-motif Popham tiles in the kids’ bath punches up an otherwise straightforward materials palette.
BAAO crafted a privacy screen of horizontal cedar boards for the deck off the top floor art studio.
The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable renovation and/or interior design project by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning.
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