Crown Heights: A Modern Twist on a Classic Brownstone

Think of the words “New York brownstone” and real estate dollar signs no doubt swirl through the mind. The architectural style earns its name from the material used; the term may have become synonymous these days with townhouses in general, but brownstone itself is a form of sandstone from the Triassic-Jurassic period, which was mined from quarries in the American Midwest and east coast regions beginning in the 19th century. It quickly became a popular building material, especially in the boroughs of New York, and has served as a defining element of the city’s aestheticism ever since.

Today, the brownstones of Manhattan and Brooklyn fetch a pretty penny on the market. Originally designed for the working-class demographic, gentrification and urbanization have pushed them into the luxury market, the land upon which they sit escalating these solid dwellings in value.

One such residence, located in the Crown Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn, was recently ushered into the 21st century by BFDO Architects PLLC.

The firm, which has since rebranded as BAAO (Barker Associates Architecture Office), was — and still is — a New-York based multidisciplinary practice. According to v2com, the firm seeks to explore spatial and material practices, specializing in “evolving relationships between inhabitants and the built environment.” Its portfolio includes projects in both the public and private sectors, including private residences, interiors, and institutional and retail projects on a local and international scale.

Spaces in this home are defined by built-in graphic millwork compositions and vivid three-dimensional treatments. Bold, bright tile work from Brother Cement Tile in the entry vestibule creates a vibrant first impression in the home. Original details have been lovingly restored in places, as seen with the grand door leading to the house beyond; it was repainted in a deep grey, allowing the ornamentation of its woodworking to complement, rather than compete with, the yellow-orange patterning on the floor and walls.

This pop of visual interest is carried beyond to the bannister of the staircase. The stairwell above was widened to provide more light from the sculptural skylight, making this an airy thoroughfare on both levels.

That same light floods down into the dining room. This space is visually defined by a sky-blue wall/ceiling treatment, as well as a geometric hanging light. Lighting choices throughout the home were sourced from Innermost Lighting.

On the other side of that blue wall is the powder room, lined in a dark Calico wallpaper. A narrow sink and mirror keep the space from feeling overcrowded.

Original elements are also maintained in the parlour, where the leaded glass cabinetry doors have been remounted on new cabinet boxes. These flank the gas fireplace, which has been kitted out with a white chevron subway tile. Sleek mid-century furniture keeps this space from veering too far into the traditional.

The custom finishes throughout the home are balanced with budget-minded choices. In the kitchen and bar areas, Ikea boxes with site-fabricated doors have been painted in a soft grey and white. A tiled backsplash creeps all the way up past the hood range, adding further depth.

Walnut cabinetry lines the walls of the den, a room that is flooded with light thanks to a windowed wall that overlooks the garden beyond. Another skylight overhead further opens the space.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is treated with the depth-affording power of paint; a grey-blue accent wall extends its boundaries past the corners of the ceiling, serving as an oversized headboard of sorts. This room overlooks a peaceful, planted roof deck.

In the master bath, antique grey stone slab, Waterworks fixtures, and a custom walnut vanity add a sense of luxury to offset the affordable subway tiles on the walls. The porcelain floor tiles were sourced from Classic Tile.

An office space sees the use of a bright blue in its built-in, L-shaped shelving, which frames a view of the street below.

Love the way colour is used in this Brooklyn home? Check out these seven colourful furniture pieces.