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Before & After: A 2,500-Square-Foot Pre-War Brooklyn Apartment Opens Up by Relocating the Kitchen

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Before & After: A 2,500-Square-Foot Pre-War Brooklyn Apartment Opens Up by Relocating the Kitchen

October 18, 2021

Dubbed “Brooklyn’s Champs-Élysées” by the New York Times, Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights is a grand thoroughfare that counts among its architectural gems Grand Army Plaza, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Brooklyn Museum—all within a half mile of each other. Nestled among these landmarks are elegant pre-war apartment buildings, like Turner Towers, Brooklyn’s first residential high-rise and where we discovered this impressive renovation by Frederick Tang Architecture.

Like many pre-war apartments, this one was larger (at 2,500 square feet) and airier (thanks to high ceilings) than most, but an awkward layout had its cramped galley kitchen shunted to one end next to small rooms that were originally intended to be servants’ quarters. The homeowners, a couple who work in the arts, hired Frederick and his team to rectify the outdated design by relocating the kitchen to the heart of the home.

“It was really important for the clients to move the kitchen and create a more open floor plan,” says Frederick, whose firm also collaborated on the interior design. “This would fulfill their love to cook and entertain. But working within the confines of the pre-war building is tricky. It was a balancing act to preserve some historic detailing while creating a more open modern home for a family.” As far as we can tell, it was a balancing act that he pulled off with finesse.

Join us for a tour. And be sure to scroll down for before shots and layouts.

Photography by Gieves Anderson, courtesy of Frederick Tang Architecture.

a built in bookcase and peg rail make this gracious entry feel more casual and  9
Above: A built-in bookcase and peg rail make this gracious entry feel more casual and cozy. The vintage German opaline glass Bauhaus pendant is from 1stdibs.
&#8\2\20;the client had many pieces collected from family members, includin 10
Above: “The client had many pieces collected from family members, including antiques from their childhood. We embraced this and added subtly through new necessities and accessories. Vintage lighting became a key to this process. It bridged the gap between something old yet modern while providing accents throughout the home,” says Barbara Reyes, Director of Design, Interiors + Branding at Frederick Tang Architecture.
tiny no more, the kitchen, inspired by california mid century design, is now ce 11
Above: Tiny no more, the kitchen, inspired by California mid-century design, is now centralized and open to the dining room. The lighting fixtures here are 1960s Scandinavian pendants by Arnold Wiigs Fabrikker from 1stdibs; the leather Afteroom Plus Stools for Menu are from DWR.
&#8\2\20;we love the custom cherry millwork, from the sliding panels to the 12
Above: “We love the custom cherry millwork, from the sliding panels to the integrated handles, and the beautiful black soapstone counter with apron front sink and integrated drainboard,” says Barbara. The wall-mounted tap is from Chicago Faucets, one of our favorite sources for faucets. (See 10 Easy Pieces: Traditional Wall-Mounted Faucets.)
in the dining room, more vintage lighting in the form of a \1960s equator pend 13
Above: In the dining room, more vintage lighting in the form of a 1960s Equator Pendant by Jo Hammerborg for Fog and Morup from 1stdibs.
the firm designed the custom walnut closets. the floor lamp is a noguchi. (see 14
Above: The firm designed the custom walnut closets. The floor lamp is a Noguchi. (See 11 Times Noguchi Lamps Stole the Spotlight, Plus 5 to Buy.)
&#8\2\20;the owners had a specific vision,&#8\2\2\1; says barbara. & 15
Above: “The owners had a specific vision,” says Barbara. “Nothing was to feel too precious, but instead lived-in and relaxed and for all elements to integrate with the historic bones of the space.”
a light filled kid&#8\2\17;s bedroom. 16
Above: A light-filled kid’s bedroom.
&#8\2\20;we knew we wanted this to be playful and cheerful, but not themati 17
Above: “We knew we wanted this to be playful and cheerful, but not thematically ‘kid’-like,” says Frederick of the bathroom for the clients’ young daughters. “This bathroom really started with the tile [which has] geometric shapes in relief designed by Kho Liang Ie for Mosa. The tile felt perfect for this project—simple and neutral but with fun geometric texture.” The mix-and-match colorful plumbing fixtures are by VOLA; the wall lights from Barn Light.
in lieu of the staff rooms, there&#8\2\17;s now a guest room, office, and b 18
Above: In lieu of the staff rooms, there’s now a guest room, office, and bathroom.
in the guest bath, the walnut millwork and mirror were custom designed by frede 19
Above: In the guest bath, the walnut millwork and mirror were custom-designed by Frederick Tang Architecture. The zelig tiles are from Mosaic House; the German theater wall lights are by Cosack from 1stdibs. (See Water Colors: 10 Favorite Bathrooms with Retro Colored Fixtures.)
the new, more modern layout, now with a centrally located kitchen and guest qua 20
Above: The new, more modern layout, now with a centrally located kitchen and guest quarters in lieu of staff rooms.

Before

the old layout. note the tiny galley kitchen all the way on the right side. 21
Above: The old layout. Note the tiny galley kitchen all the way on the right side.
the former tight galley kitchen. 22
Above: The former tight galley kitchen.
one of the staff rooms was used as a utility closet. 23
Above: One of the staff rooms was used as a utility closet.
the old dining room. 24
Above: The old dining room.

For more Brooklyn homes we love, see:

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