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Take the Stairs: A Brooklyn Apartment with a ‘Hobbit-Like’ Attic and Double-Height Ceilings

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Take the Stairs: A Brooklyn Apartment with a ‘Hobbit-Like’ Attic and Double-Height Ceilings

August 8, 2022

It was the sky-lit double-height living space that clinched the deal and convinced architecture firm Khanna Schultz‘s clients to buy the three-level Brooklyn apartment sight unseen (the pair were out of state and had to rely on real estate listing images)—this despite the home’s small, “Hobbit-like” attic and an unusual upside-down layout: “In the 1980s the townhouse was divided into two large apartments. Our clients’ apartment, occupying three floors at the top of the building, had been modified to include a double-height space taking over part of the old attic. This space is unexpected and bright, especially after the trip up two flights of stairs. It also has access to a rear terrace, so it made the most sense to put the public spaces there, with bedrooms below,” explains the architects.

While the couple kept the inverted floor plan (along with the original marble fireplaces), they gutted nearly everything else. “The clients wanted to completely overhaul all the finishes, fixtures, and appliances, all of which were badly in need of an upgrade, rethink the millwork to maximize storage, upgrade the glazing, and make something of the deck area.” Follow along as the architects give us a tour—starting from the top.

Photography by Julian Wass and styling by Carin Scheve, courtesy of Khanna Schultz, unless otherwise noted.

Attic

&#8\2\20;our favorite moment is the walnut wood box hovering above the doub 9
Above: “Our favorite moment is the walnut wood box hovering above the double height space which makes an exciting moment that is unusual in the context of a townhouse,” says the Khanna Schultz team. The wood-clad attic sits above the living area and has windows that overlook the dining space. The ceiling is low here, measuring just 7 feet high, lending the room, which is used as a den and guest room, a distinctive coziness. The Mario Bellini “Le Bambole” Lounge Chair & Ottoman are from B&B Italia.

Third Floor

the walnut wood walls in the attic wrap around and turn into a walnut wood ceil 10
Above: The walnut wood walls in the attic wrap around and turn into a walnut wood ceiling for the living area. A pair of Gwyneth Swivel Chairs, designed by Gwyneth Paltrow for CB2, were reupholstered in brown velvet. On the walls is Benjamin Moore Calm.
no detail was too small. khanna schultz redesigned all the built ins, the stair 11
Above: No detail was too small. Khanna Schultz redesigned all the built-ins, the stair railing, as well as the HVAC vents (in the shape of slim, rectangular cutouts).
garden place brooklyn townhouse khanna schultz deck
Above: The owners don’t have access to the garden below, but they do have this lovely deck, just off the living area, designed by Julie Farris of XS Space.
looking from the living space to the dining area, to the right of which is the  13
Above: Looking from the living space to the dining area, to the right of which is the kitchen.
&#8\2\20;materials were carefully selected to be both earthy and modern.&am 14
Above: “Materials were carefully selected to be both earthy and modern.” Chairs by Simonini (purchased from 1stdibs) surround the oak Bok Table from Industry West. The chandelier is from Apparatus.
the lower cabinets in the kitchen are painted benjamin moore westcott navy. the 15
Above: The lower cabinets in the kitchen are painted Benjamin Moore Westcott Navy. The floors throughout are white oak—rift and quarter sawn, stained, with a matte finish.

Second Floor

&#8\2\20;careful thought was given to tie the spaces materially and visuall 16
Above: “Careful thought was given to tie the spaces materially and visually up and through the apartment especially given the upside-down nature of the floor plan which asked the visitor and inhabitant to move up two floors before arriving at the public spaces. In this vein, the stair was rehauled and railing updated to create a continuous visual line up to the public spaces. ” Photograph by Navajeet Khatri.
a bedroom with built in closets with rattan doors. 17
Above: A bedroom with built-in closets with rattan doors.
a closeup of the marble fireplace in the bedroom. 18
Above: A closeup of the marble fireplace in the bedroom.
the team designed storage built ins to surround the windows in the main bedroom 19
Above: The team designed storage built-ins to surround the windows in the main bedroom, using walnut wood panels to reference the attic box. Note that the same cabinet door knobs, from Schoolhouse, are used for the built-ins on every floor. The black ceiling light is from In Common With.

First Floor

garden place brooklyn townhouse khanna schultz navajeet khatri
Above: Guests enter on the parlor floor and immediately head up the stairs to reach the apartment. The floors are made up of Belgian Reproduction Circle and Losange terracotta tiles in Flemish Black, from Clé Tile.

Aside from the team at Khanna Schultz, the couple worked with:

  • General Contractor: REDOnyc
  • Landscape Design:  XS Space
  • Structural Engineering: Ross Dalland, P.E.
  • Mechanical Engineering: On Point Engineering
  • Loose furnishings: Mims Design Co
  • Selective artworks: by Nancy Hubbard and Alex Strada via 3walls

For another project designed by Khanna Schultz, see The Architect Is In: A Brooklyn Townhouse Grows Around a Roof Garden.

For another landscape project designed by XS Space, see Landscape Designer Visit: A Small Brooklyn Backyard Where ‘Every Detail, Every Inch’ Is Important.

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