Case study: Park Slope Fixer-Upper

The lower part of the front facade has been completely re-done – its design is inspired by the storefront that was originally build in the 1920s and later removed.

The project consists of a conversion of a 140-year old, 3-family townhouse into a modern 2-family configuration, with a ground floor rental and an owners’ duplex above.  The property sits on a 16-foot wide lot; the building belongs to a series of brick structures built in the area around 1880 from the Ansonia Corporation, to house their employees that worked in their new Park Slope factory.  Originally with 3 units (one per floor), later in early 1900s it had its first floor converted into a commercial space – with a horizontal addition at the front of the structure that eliminated the stoop and provided two separate entries to the apartments and the new store.

 

View of the duplex living room – with the kitchen in the foreground and the custom steel doors opening to the deck at the back

The house had no historical detailing worth keeping; it was purchased in bad structural condition, damaged after several rounds of alterations, and lack of proper maintenance. As a result, other than the exterior building shell, everything had to go.

In order to bring more daylight into the garden level, we opted to remove the non-historic brick façade of the first floor, and rebuild the storefront – as it appeared in the historic photos from 1940s.  Architecturally, this also allowed to visually differentiate the volume of the first floor addition, from the original masonry structure of the 1880s.  Since the building is located within a NYC – designated historic district, the proposed design had to be approved by Landmarks Preservation Commission.

 

The cabinets at the owners’ unit kitchen are custom-made, out of dark stained white-oak, and birch plywood boxes. Kitchen counters and backsplash are engineered quartz. Hardwood floors are white oak finished with a natural water-based coating.

A reproduction of an antique French Louis XV Marble Mantel – bought from 1stdibs is a focal point of the living room

Shared bath at owners’ duplex has white Carrara wall tile and black cement floor tile

Custom Slatted screen at stairway connecting the two levels discreetly accommodates storage space and a powder room.

 

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For the parlor level, the goal was to have an uninterrupted, open space that maximizes flexibility and daylight. With the house located on a relatively busy street, it was decided early on to have the open kitchen centered, and the living room at the back – which is much quieter and can take advantage the full width of the floor, and is quieter.  To maximize the daylight, and connect  – visually and physically – to the outdoors, a 10 foot-wide opening was introduced at the back;  Custom steel doors open up to a steel and cedar deck, which provides access to the rear yard.

At night, the neighboring brick wall along the rear lot line is illuminated, and extends the sight-lines of the interior at all 3 levels – visually extending the space and further connecting the outdoors.

At the upper bedroom level, the main challenge was to accommodate the 3 bedrooms and 2 baths in a relatively small floor-plate. The two bathrooms are located back-to-back in the middle of the space, with the master bath access to the master bedroom via a walk-in closet – ie creating an en-suite master bedroom.

Both units have a high-efficiency concealed split-type HVAC system for heating and cooling, with the outdoor units located on the roof.  The indoor mechanical equipment and ductwork has been discreetly integrated into the interior of the space, keeping the ceiling height maximized while allowing a good flow of air throughout the house.

Rental unit kitchen has semi-custom cabinets with painted, “shaker” style door fronts, quartz countertops, and brass hardware.

Oak wood floors wrap up at the back of the owners’ kitchen island to anchor it visually into the space

Owners’ duplex master bathroom has Thassos floor and wall tile, and wall- mounted vanity from Duravit.

 

Owners’ duplex walk-in closet is small but functional. Floral wallpaper is by Ellie Cashman

the smaller bedroom belongs to the little princess – two of the walls are covered with wallpaper from Rebel Walls

a tall window to the small bedroom brings daylight to the stairway and some interest to the space

This French mirror and the floral wallpaper are two of the elements that bring in color, and balance the clean and lines of the interior.

 

 

 

Detail shot of the custom slatted screen at interior stairway. Similar to the cabinets – it’s built with solid white oak wood, which is stained a dark color.

View of duplex kitchen with custom cabinetry and coat closet. Countertops are engineered Quartz, faucet from Danze

Custom-designed hidden cabinets located at the two ends of the kitchen counter help keeping them un-cluttered.

 

 

The slatted wood screen creates a speak-easy style entry to a small but full of character powder room, tucked under the stairway to the upper level.

 

Completed rear facade featuring the wide opening at parlor level, a steel & cedar deck and stairs to the rear yard.

 

Check out an article on NYTimes about the project


Team Credits:
Architecture & Interiors: reBUILD Workshop – Themis Haralabides AIA, Ruben Hernandez-Correa, Gabriela Escalera-Joy
Mechanical: Calvin Tran
Lighting: Francis Milloy / FMLD
Photography: © reBUILD Workshop
General Contractor: reBUILD Workshop, 2017-2019