Create an ideabook for your next remodeling project!
Browse more than 1,000,000 photos from top designers and save your favorites
The row house was built in 1863 and is located in Brooklyn’s historic Boerum Hill neighborhood. The clients are special friends of Brendan's (he and the husband have known each other since childhood). This made the stakes high. "These are clients whom I love dearly,” he says. “I worked very hard to make this house a home for them."
This room is the parlor, where Brendan and Erin preserved the historic details but added modern touches. Note how the mirror reflects light, practically making it an extra window.
"Row houses typically have straight run stairs that are stacked one atop the next," he says. The clients wanted to find a way to make movement between the garden floor (the floor above the cellar) and garden easier.
“We decided to turn the staircase that connects the garden floor to the cellar around, pointing it down toward the garden. In doing so, we created a double-height slot of space in the staircase area with a two-story wall of glass that opens directly to the garden. This slot also offered a great opportunity to create a two-story bookcase that could hold the clients' collection of books and antique model trains.
The randomly hung lights "are meant to feel a bit like stars in the night sky."
The open stairway keeps the family room visually connected to the bookcases and lets mom and dad "hear what sort of nonsense was going on in the playroom below," Brendan says. "Most of the bookcases are within reach without requiring excessive gymnastics, but we did design the bookcase so you could put a board across the gap from one side to the other and stand on it to fill the shelves."
"We love to find unique pieces for our clients that can be mixed with things they already own," says interior designer Erin Fearins. This includes sourcing things from all over. "There are great local stores such as antique stores and fabricators where we have things custom made or refurbished."
As for the garden-level floor, Brendan says, "The space at the bottom of the stairs is a kids' playroom—the odd leftover space under the stair was turned into a playhouse—with portholes and a small tunnel for toy trains and toy horses."
Oh, and about those circles Brendan says, "Portholes are way fun! It needed to be whimsical, and yes, there is a fort behind the portholes and the stair—good times!"
Natural light "is an obsession of our practice," Brendan says. "Probably any architect in NYC shares this obsession. This house happens to have a south-facing garden. Because of that, we decided to open as much of the wall as was physically and financially possible to the garden and south light. Bringing light deep into a dark row house and creating a strong physical and visual connections between the inside spaces and garden spaces is always very important to us."
The sea-anemone inspired light fixture from Robert Abbey adds a touch of whimsy.
Brendan packed a variety of uses into the backyard. "The driving idea was to create a kids' play space in the garden—the lawn and the bluestone patio next to the house, and a sandbox that is hidden below the wood that is just beyond the glass. There is a nice adult dining area at the far back. The dining area has a big planter behind it will be very lush when it fills in. They also plan to plant a tree closer to the house to provide additional shade," he says.
"I love these buildings—and buildings in general," Brendan says. "I do think well designed buildings and spaces have the ability to make peoples lives better." Amen!
All photography by Francis Dzikowski of Esto