The clients’ over-arching goal for this project was to take a multi-family row house in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood and create a financially and environmentally sustainable home for their young family. The existing layout was great - an owners' duplex plus cellar with three floor-through tenant apartments above - but the building’s structure was failing and all the systems needed serious upgrades. The clients described their ideal space as a de-stressing sanctuary in the lower duplex with access to a small back yard. Above, they sought desirable, but not extravagant, two-bedroom tenant apartments. Renovation of the façades and rear yard were also on the list. Although the building was not in a landmarked district, the owners chose to be sensitive to the vernacular of the neighboring buildings and CWB based new details at the front facade on historic profiles found nearby.
At the start of the project, the clients both answered a questionnaire. We distribute the same questionnaire to all new residential clients to assess the elements that are key to the way they live in their day-to-day life. They both mentioned a love of mid-century design and a desire to reduce clutter. There was a short list of “wants” that drove the design: a modern staircase within the duplex, a modern kitchen, and a mid-century inspired fireplace. CWB looked at the owner’s unit as open plans within which the modern elements could be arranged to define the space. The parlor floor is the public zone: kitchen, dining, family room, and office, while the garden floor contains the private spaces: bedrooms and bathrooms. The services are on the cellar level, including a playroom and laundry, complete with a laundry chute from the garden floor. The parlor floor uses shifting volumes to maintain a modern, open space from front to back that is inviting rather than cavernous.
The wood slat wall in the kitchen hides essential pieces of program: an entry drop-zone and coat closet, a pantry, powder room, and stair. With its open risers and steel and wood slat handrail, the modern stair makes up the other half of this functional core. The full height refrigerator is hidden in the pantry to allow the main living space to remain open and clutter-free. The completely reconstructed 650 square foot rear garden maximizes the limited space available for outdoor entertaining. The new roof deck provides the tenants with a hangout space that incorporates the solar panels which provide a large portion of the energy needed to run the building.
This project was featured in New York Living, Re-Inventing Home.