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Remodelista Love Match: An “Old World Yet Modern” Brownstone Revival for a Stylish Young Couple

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Remodelista Love Match: An “Old World Yet Modern” Brownstone Revival for a Stylish Young Couple

May 20, 2024

At Remodelista we love acting as a design dating service. Here’s a recent NYC example:

“We found Anshu and Bill during the depths of Covid through a Remodelista post,” Adrienne Totoro tells us of Anshu Bangia and Bill Agostinho, the couple who together run Bangia Agostinho Architecture. “We were drawn to their old-world-yet-modern aesthetic—every project of theirs feels fresh without losing the integrity of the original structure.”

Adrienne is an interiors consultant and a specialist in store visualization and branding (she previously headed Chloe’s visual and store planning department); her husband, Stefan, works in impact investing and has a way with plants. She’s from Oklahoma, he grew up in Wales, and they came to the design table with a lot of ideas (plus art, furniture, family relics, and potted plants). Anshu and Bill joined them in the house hunt that led to their Brooklyn Italianate brownstone next to Fort Greene park. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of unglamorous work required—”the underlying elegance and proportions were visible but the entire house required upgrading,” says Anshu. And, yes, there was a lot of high hopes for what could be.

“What struck us from our initial phone conversation was their description of the project not as a list of renovation programs and logistics, but how they wanted to feel in the space,” says Anshu. “Stefan and I both grew up in places that are quieter, less frenzied than the city we live in, and we knew a key parameter would be creating a base that is grounding and comforting for us and our family and friends,” says Adrienne. Take a look at the results of this meeting of creative minds.

Photography by Pia Ulin, styling by Hilary Robertson unless noted, courtesy of Bangia Agostinho Architecture.

the four story brownstone dates to \186\1. the architects note that phase two o 17
Above: The four-story brownstone dates to 1861. The architects note that Phase Two of the renovation process is next: the repair and resurfacing of the façade. the four story brownstone dates to \186\1. the architects note that phase two o 18Above: The existing two-story back extension had extensive water damage and black mold and required rebuilding. “It had disproportionate arched French doors that were completely alien to the original,” says Anshu. “We worked closely with the Landmarks Preservation Commission and incorporated brick details into the new build that are continuous with the sister adjacent houses.” The windows are by Marvin.
work on the 3,500 square foot interior was, in the architects words, &#8\2\ 19
Above: Work on the 3,500 square-foot interior was, in the architects words, “a process of preservation, restoration, and new intervention” beginning at the parlor level: the living area now flows into a new dining room and kitchen, all of which have new wide-plank floors by Madera. Adrienne assembled the furniture and lighting throughout.

The large velvet sofa from DWR and Essenza Suspension Lamp are among the few new items: “we like things that mean something to us and we know that repurposing vintage is better for the world.” The couple bought the banana palm plant when it was small and they were living in Philadelphia: “It’s made four moves with us.”

the house&#8\2\17;s fireplaces were reactivated with new gas inserts and re 20
Above: The house’s fireplaces were reactivated with new gas inserts and refurbished mantels. The Chinese watercolor on parchment paper was passed down from Stefan’s grandparents who lived in Asia for many years and the gilt wood coffee table came from Adrienne’s family.

“Ornate moldings were retained where possible, those affected by layout change were carefully re-created and matched,” notes Anshu. The walls throughout are painted Benjamin Moore White Dove, one of our 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ White Paint Picks.

adrienne sourced their \1940s french credenza from joseph barry interiors in lo 21
Above: Adrienne sourced their 1940s French credenza from Joseph Barry Interiors in London. The painting is by Brooklyn artist Joe Henry Baker.

Showcase Construction served as contractor:”when you go through a multi-year project together, there are bound to be heavy times,” says Adrienne, “but it was always comforting working alongside Bill and Anshu, and the same goes for the construction team from Showcase.”

the open dining area is demarcated by a slightly lower, more intimate ceiling.  22
Above: The open dining area is demarcated by a slightly lower, more intimate ceiling. Adrienne had the table made from an old barn door and iron Slim Base Pair legs found at From the Source in NYC. The refurbished French 1970s Dining Chairs are from a collection available at Joseph Berry Interiors. The glass light is a Disc Pendant by Brooklyn design studio In Common With.
prior to the renovation, the kitchen was situated the basement level, as was tr 23
Above: Prior to the renovation, the kitchen was situated the basement level, as was traditional. “The main level felt long and narrow and led to a dining room in the rear extension,” says Anshu.  The architects integrated the new dining area and kitchen with custom cabinetry in “muted, matted-finished” plain-sawn oak to “complement the historical detailing without being antiquated or fussy.” The built-ins were made by Janik Furniture Specialist.
the island is curved to have a soft profile and lead the eye out to the garden. 24
Above: The island is curved to have a soft profile and lead the eye out to the garden. The island top, counter, and backsplash are Dolce Vita quartzite from ABC Stone. The duel-fuel range is a Thermador. The pendant light is a Lamina Linear by Santa & Cole.
  the vintage stools were purchased at the williamsburg flea and the unlac 25
Above:  The vintage stools were purchased at the Williamsburg Flea and the unlacquered brass faucet is from Newport Brass. The painting over the backsplash shelf is by Nadia Tuercke.
the extension opens to a four foot wide balcony leading down to a welsh style g 26
Above: The extension opens to a four-foot-wide balcony leading down to a Welsh-style garden.

“One of the main concerns for any typical Brooklyn townhouse is access to natural light in the central zone,” says Anshu. “The extensive structural rebuilding of the rear addition allowed us to open up the kitchen with large-scale windows to the garden. The view of the trees coupled with the indoor plants gives the space the feeling of an orangery.”

the original kitchen mantel was carefully removed, restored, and relocated to t 27
Above: The original kitchen mantel was carefully removed, restored, and relocated to the new kitchen. The sconce is Wo & We’s Three-Way Adjustable Wall Light over a Tombstone Chair by Fort Standard.
the powder room is painted colorado clay by benjamin moore and has a sink of re 28
Above: The powder room is painted Colorado Clay by Benjamin Moore and has a sink of remnant onyx from ABC Stone and a Graff faucet.
the front stair and mirror are restored originals. the pleated anders light is  29
Above: The front stair and mirror are restored originals. The pleated Anders Light is by Pinch. The Aged Brass light switches throughout are from Forbes & Lomax.
adrienne and stefan&#8\2\17;s room has original wooden shutters that were r 30
Above: Adrienne and Stefan’s room has original wooden shutters that were restored and reinstalled. Their bed is the Björksnäs from Ikea paired with K’ang Hsi period Chinese scrolls handed down from Stefan’s grandparents and bedside tables found on Craigslist. 

Note the subtly textured walls: to set a calm, relaxed tone, they’re finished in limewash from Bauwerk. Read our Remodeling 101: Everything You Need to Know about Limewash Paint.

the bedroom has a sitting area with a fireplace and haitian carved wood screen, 31
Above: The bedroom has a sitting area with a fireplace and Haitian carved wood screen, an heirloom from Adrienne’s grandparents. Styling by Carin Scheve.
the chrome armchair is a \1970s milo baughman design for thayer coggin reuphols 32
Above: The chrome armchair is a 1970s Milo Baughman design for Thayer Coggin reupholstered in a Knoll fabric. Custom closets of white oak and cane line the dressing area between the bedroom and bath. (For DIY ideas with readymade cane, see 8 Economical Rattan Projects.)
a blu bathworks&#8\2\17; azure bathtub, clé tiles (see our trend alert 33
Above: A Blu Bathworks’ Azure Bathtub, Clé tiles (see our Trend Alert on indoor brick flooring)—and a deck—in the main bath.

“Heating and cooling is via a central heat pump system, supplemented with radiant heat under the tiled bath floors,” notes Anshu.

the custom wall mounted vanity is rift cut white oak with a navona travertine c 34
Above: The custom wall-mounted vanity is rift-cut white oak with a Navona Travertine counter from ABC Stone and Vola brass faucets. The Robern medicine cabinet is flanked by Kassandra Thatcher sconces commissioned from the artist by Adrienne. Styling by Carin Scheve.
&#8\2\20;slabs of navona travertine are built out at one end of the bath to 35
Above: “Slabs of Navona Travertine are built out at one end of the bath to define a seamless walk-in shower overlooking the greenery on the terrace,” says Anshu. SMC Stone of Brooklyn fabricated all of the stonework. Styling by Carin Scheve.
the guest room&#8\2\17;s refinished iron bedstead belonged to adrienne& 36
Above: The guest room’s refinished iron bedstead belonged to Adrienne’s grandmother and was used by her mother in college. Adrienne’s parents bought the kilim in Santa Fe in the 1980s, and the linen curtains came from her grandparents’ house on Long Beach Island, NJt—they fit perfectly, no alternations needed.
the guest bath&#8\2\17;s tub is tiled with clé zellige in golden henna 37
Above: The guest bath’s tub is tiled with Clé zellige in Golden Henna. The speckled white brick floor tiles are Clé Guild New California Willow. The canvas shower curtain is from Quiet Town.

Looking for your own aesthetic love match? Browse the Remodelista Architect and Designer Directory to find the design firm for you.

Here are three more projects by Bangia Agostinho (they’re Brooklyn-based and, yes, members of the Remodelista directory):

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