New York-based firm BAAO Architects first caught our eye with its work on a classic brownstone in Crown Heights, transforming the interiors into a modern oasis. This multidisciplinary architecture and design firm has a knack for developing, in its own words, “multivalent spatial solutions”; its projects in both the public and private spheres are beautifully functional.
Watermark House is the firm’s latest reimagining of a classic space in favour of a clean, contemporary aesthetic. This 2,500 square foot, semi-attached brick townhouse is located in Brooklyn, New York. Areas of the dwelling had not been updated in more than 50 years. BAAO was tasked with ushering this time capsule into the new millennium while preserving certain key elements. The beautiful staircase, the pocket doors, and the fireplace mantel were selected to remain, while the rest of the home would be transformed into a functional dwelling for the clients, a family of five.
The existing layout of the garden level made spaces quite dark and did not take advantage of the three exposures. It was completely opened up to create an airy, foot-traffic-friendly main floor. A brand-new entry vestibule was lined with porcelain tiles that flow into the living spaces, a choice that strategically directs the eye towards the kitchen. Here, a 13-foot island is the focal point of the open-concept layout and provides plenty of surface area around which the family can gather to eat, work, chat, prepare meals for the week, etc. This workstation is further defined by a massive 5-foot stainless-steel sink. Porcelain wraps the counter and extends onto the floor, offsetting the warmth of the custom white oak and painted cabinetry. These neutrals are infused with a welcome pop of colour in the form of a green tile backsplash.
The front of the home features a simple dining room, while the back of the home is divided into an office and pantry (accessed via a step up to the left of the kitchen) and a living room. The living room features arched windows and a patio door, which offer views of the garden beyond and access to the side yard. Custom millwork frames the TV and conceals a coffee station, making this a communal gathering space for the family. A powder room beyond is fitted with black and white tiles and an antique brass pedestal sink, nodding to the history of the home and its original character.
Upstairs, the parlour level—which had not been updated in over half a century—was converted into a master suite. The original parlour doors, which were kept, open to a sitting room at the front of the house. The original mantel is surrounded by concrete tiles. Situated at the back of the house, the master bedroom offers views of the rear yard. The bathroom, lined with porcelain, features a steam shower, freestanding tub, and a custom vanity.
On the top floor, the couple’s three children—two sons and a daughter—can enjoy their own private spaces. The boys share a “jack and jack” style bathroom, which is accessed through both of their respective bedrooms, while the daughter’s bathroom features a vaulted ceiling. The children’s bedrooms are thoughtfully finished with wallpaper touches and playful paint colours.
Because the clients had an existing relationship with Watermark Designs, a Brooklyn-based plumbing fixtures company, the kitchen and bathrooms throughout the home feature these products and are, as such, treated as showpieces of the renovation. These bold-yet-minimalist fixtures add a light-catching, metallic gleam in each space, offering a touch of industrial chic to the warm family home.
Images via v2com