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Before/After: A Remodelista’s Refreshed Parlor Floor Flat in Brooklyn Heights, NY


Before/After: A Remodelista’s Refreshed Parlor Floor Flat in Brooklyn Heights, NY

January 13, 2020
julie carlson josh groves brooklyn heights apartment remodel
Above: At home in Brooklyn Heights.

When my husband, Josh, and I told friends we were moving to Brooklyn Heights from our hometown of 20 years, Mill Valley, CA, they were curious. Why would you move to gray, dreary NYC with its punishing winters and hot, humid summers? But with our two children (actually, young adults) in college on the East Coast, it made sense. And we were ready to experience NYC life after a long spell in CA.

We were lucky enough to find a parlor floor flat in a Brooklyn Heights brownstone that hadn’t been updated for a couple of decades, so it was a blank slate. (An added plus: it’s four doors down from my Remodelista cofounder and childhood friend Francesca Connolly.) The floor plan was functional, so we didn’t have to move walls or do any structural work. The main challenges: the kitchen and bathrooms were in need of attention, and a tiny room off the living room was going to have to serve as a guest room/study.

The first person we called was Francesca’s brother Malachi Connolly, a New York/Cape Cod-based architect, preservationist, and longtime board member of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust.

“The architecture was already there—the high ceilings, the molding, the gracious proportions—but it was being dragged down by some of the decisions from the previous renovation,” Malachi says. “To right the wrongs, we squared off the cased openings between rooms to give some scale, and added new case moldings to provide visual support to the large window and crown molding that was original to the apartment. We also painted the entire apartment—walls, trim, and casework—in Benjamin Moore’s Atrium White to unify the spaces.

“When it came to the 8-by-14-foot study, it was like a puzzle. The space needed to serve several functions; it had to act as a guest room that could comfortably sleep two people with a full bathroom and also double as a study/TV room. I looked at a lot of Japanese architecture, including capsule hotels and Joe Colombo prefab modular living units, to see how small spaces could be successful maximized without feeling cramped. The end result is an overachieving space that features elements stacked together, included a loft bed, a slim couch and TV below, a small closet, a writer’s desk, and a full bathroom with a cat box closet.”

Join us for a tour:

Photography by Matthew Williams with styling by Alexa Hotz.

julie carlson remsen street remodel living room
Above: The Crosby Mirror is from UK/NY-based Ochre (bought off the floor during one of their NY sales). The Totora reed basket is from Apiece Apart’s NYC shop (they no longer carry the baskets, but you can find them online at Inti Earth). The planter perched on the midcentury stool is by NY Magazine editor and Renaissance man David Haskell. The pair of landscape paintings flanking the fireplace is by Truro, MA, artist Rob DuToit.
julie carlson 25 remsen dining room
Above: The blackened steel Winnisook Floor Lamp is from one of our all-time favorite makers, Rhinebeck, NY-based Sawkille (we first posted on them a decade ago). The Thonet midcentury modern bent plywood chairs are from eBay, and we found the Belgian white oak table at a Summerhouse warehouse sale in Mill Valley.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 20
Above: The vintage Lotte Boslund table lamps are from Modern Cabin in Brooklyn. The Cove Sofa for Cisco Brothers is from John Derian, and the oil painting that hangs above is another Rob DuToit work. The hand-dyed linen-backed Velvet Pillows are from UK textile artist Kirsten Hecktermann, who works out of her studio in Suffolk. “Each length of fabric goes through up to 10 baths of different colors to achieve subtle variations,” she says. “I work outside, so I’m reliant on the weather, though the most favorable time is actually a cold frosty overcast day as it is the best way to see the color develop.”
julie carlson remsen street remodel atlas shelving
Above: The white oak and cold-rolled steel ASR Wall-Mounted Shelving System is from Newburgh, NY, design and fabrication specialists Atlas Industries, one of the first companies we featured on Remodelista more than a decade ago. The handblown glass Cherub Lamp is from Ochre, and the framed photo above the Thonet chair is by Ilisa Katz Rissman.
BeforeAfter A Remodelistas Refreshed Parlor Floor Flat in Brooklyn Heights NY portrait 6
Above: Josh and I found our SubZero refrigerator on Craigslist (our ever-resourceful friend Marc Agger, Francesca’s husband, arranged transport to Brooklyn from the Upper West Side). I bought our Frisbee Trash Bin, designed by French industrial designer Frédéric Perigot, at ABC Home (it’s also available from Luminaire). The small oil painting of Rome rooftops is by the late Provincetown/NY painter Arthur Cohen.
julie carlson kitchen
Above: My inspiration for the kitchen was English couturier Anna Valentine’s London apartment, which we featured on Remodelista a few years back (see Kitchen of the Week: A Culinary Space Inspired by a Painting). For similar, minimally detailed cabinets, we turned to Brooklyn-based Jeremy Pickett of Pickett Furniture (one of our earliest Remodelista advertisers, back in the late aughts). The countertops are Carrara marble and the wall-mounted Chicago Kitchen Faucet with articulated spout is a model we’ve used before; it’s well priced, American made, and incredibly durable.
julie carlson remsen street remodel paper towel holder
Above: My obsession: keeping paper towels off the countertop. We installed a dowel in the cabinet above the sink, which accommodates two rolls. Next to the sink, a small enamel tray from Japanese company Noda Horo holds a Riess Enamel Measuring Jug stocked with Iris Hantverk brushes and scrubbers.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 21
Above: I dithered on the kitchen pendant decision, so as a placeholder, we went with hardware store porcelain fixtures and decorative oversized Nostalgic Collection lightbulbs from Bulbrite, discovered at John Derian’s West Village shop.
julie carlson remsen street remodel stove
Above: We chose a Bertazzoni PRO304GASX Range for its good looks and relatively slim profile (compared to a Wolf or a Viking). A flowerpot by Ben Wolff holds wooden spoons, and a pewter pitcher from Match holds metal utensils.
julie carlson remsen street remodel washing maching
Above: A stacked Bosch Washer/Dryer is concealed behind a full-length cabinet door.
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Above: The Thompson 6-Drawer California King Storage Bed is from Urban Green Furniture in Brooklyn; it’s draped in an oversize Rough Linen Orkney Linen Coverlet filled with pure Sonoma wool. The glossy white Jielde Signal Lamps are from Lancaster, PA-based Horne. The Tablo Tray Table by Design House Stockholm works well as a low-profile bedside table and is available from Olson & Baker. The oil still-life painting over the bed is another work by Rob DuToit.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 12
Above: The hand-dyed linen-backed Velvet Pillows are from textile artist Kirsten Hecktermann. I found the Paulistano Chair with white canvas cover at the DWR outlet in Brooklyn. The floor lamp is from David Weeks Studio.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 13
Above: The Paul Resika work on paper of the Provincetown pier was a wedding present from the artist, and the tall Paul McCobb dresser is from Symmetry Vintage, an excellent source for reconditioned pieces by the midcentury modern master. Owner Matthew W. Herschel sources pieces from all over the country; see his offerings at Symmetry Vintage.
julie carlson remsen street remodel mccobb dressers
Above: A pair of refurbished Paul McCobb dressers from Symmetry Vintage is topped with a Shaker-style peg rail from Peg and Rail. The Hector Medium Table Lamps by Original BTC are from Horne. A trio of hanging baskets from Italian designer Daniela Gregis holds scarves, gloves, and other essentials.
julie carlson remsen street remodel dressing room
Above: The dressing room cabinets are original. The 1970s Marimekko dress belonged to my mother, who wore it to many a cocktail party on the Outer Cape. The vintage handblown opal glass Wohlert pendant, designed by Danish architect Vilhelm Wohlert and sourced from Lanoba Design in Jersey City, previously hung in a Danish courthouse.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 14
Above: The Framed Medicine Cabinet in polished chrome is from Restoration Hardware, and the Jasper Morrison Glo-Ball Zero Sconce for Flos is from DWR. The Vero Washbasin with Chrome Metal Console is from Duravit, and the Single-Lever Mixer in Chrome is from Dornbracht, both sourced from AF Supply in NYC.
julie carlson remsen street remodel loft bed
Above: The small room off the living room serves as an office, guest quarters, and TV-watching space. Working with architect Joseph Vidich of Kin & Company, Malachi designed a crisp blackened steel railing and handrail. The bedcover is from Erica Tanov and the Tolomeo Clip Spot reading lights are from DWR. Wade Cotton, an architectural designer, worked closely with Malachi as an associate, especially on this all-purpose room.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 8
Above: Malachi designed a small desk to fit discretely in a corner, illuminated by a bronze Jielde Signal Desk Lamp  from Horne. The birch plywood peg board is from Kreisdesign. (See Remodelista contributing editor Justine Hand’s Easy-ish DIY: Oversize Plywood Pegboard with Shelves.)
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 6
Above: In the guest bath, the Vero Washbasin with Chrome Metal Console is from Duravit, and the Single-Lever Mixer in Chrome is from Dornbracht, both sourced from AF Supply in NYC. The wall-hung toilet is from Geberit.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 7
Above: The shower fittings are from Dornbracht, via AF Supply.
brooklyn apartment matthew williams julie carlson 10
Above: The pièce de résistance: a built-in niche for the kitty litter box (you may recognize our cat, JoJo, from the cover of The Organized Home: Simple, Stylish Storage Ideas for All Over the House).
the floor plan. 39
Above: The floor plan.


25 remsen living room before
Above: The living room was painted forest green. Photo by Mel Walbridge.
25 remsen living room before 2
Above: A view toward the main bedroom. Malachi squared off the opening that leads to the vestibule, which is more in keeping with the architecture of the apartment. Photo by Mel Walbridge.
25 remsen kitchen before
Above: The original kitchen. Photo by Mel Walbridge.
25 remsen bedroom beofre
Above: The master bedroom was painted periwinkle blue; note the low door frame, which Malachi raised to be in proportion to the high ceilings. Photo by Mel Walbridge.
25 remsen study before 2
Above: The small room off the living room was previously used as a children’s bedroom. Photo by Mel Walbridge.
25 remsen study bath before
Above: One of two original bathrooms. Photo by Mel Walbridge.

For more Remodelista editors’ dwellings, see:

Before & After: Remodelista Contributing Editor Izabella Simmons Shares Her Scandi-Inspired Remodel

Rehab Diary: Sleuthing for Space in Christine Chang Hanway’s London House

Remodelista Contributing Editor Justine Hand’s Cape Cod Cottage

A Bedroom Refresh for a Remodelista Editor

Before & After: A Remodelista Editor’s Dated California Kitchen Gets a Refresh

Rehab Diaries: A Wellfleet Guest Cottage Revived on Cape Cod

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Frequently asked questions

Who is Julie Carlson?

Julie Carlson is the editor-in-chief of the home design and renovation website, Remodelista.

What is the Remsen Street Remodel?

The Remsen Street Remodel is a home renovation project of Julie Carlson's own Brooklyn brownstone that was unveiled on the Remodelista website.

What changes did Julie Carlson make during the renovation?

Julie Carlson renovated her brownstone from top to bottom, adding a new kitchen, bathrooms, roof deck, and more. She also made some major structural changes such as removing walls to create an open floor plan.

How long did the renovation take?

The renovation took around 16 months to complete.

What was the inspiration behind the design?

Julie Carlson's design inspiration for the Remsen Street Remodel was to create a cohesive, personalized space that reflected her family's personality and lifestyle. She wanted a modern, airy space with a mix of old and new elements.

How did Julie Carlson incorporate sustainability into the renovation?

Julie Carlson made sustainability a priority in the renovation by using eco-friendly materials and methods such as radiant heating, energy-efficient windows, and locally-sourced materials.

Were there any challenges during the renovation?

Yes, there were challenges during the renovation, such as unexpected plumbing issues and the need for additional electrical work. However, Julie Carlson was able to navigate and overcome these challenges with the help of her team of contractors and architects.

Can I hire Julie Carlson for a renovation project?

While Julie Carlson is not currently taking on renovation clients, she does offer design consultations through the Remodelista website.

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