Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Layers of History—and Color—in an Artist Couple’s 1828 Manhattan Townhouse

Search

Layers of History—and Color—in an Artist Couple’s 1828 Manhattan Townhouse

April 2, 2018

It’s fitting for an artist who loves “layers of history” to settle down in a building with a storied past. The 1828 Federal-style townhouse was originally built for a family before becoming the headquarters for an egg and poultry distributor in New York City’s Washington Street food market. When that market underwent an “urban renewal” in the 1960s, the townhouse earned landmark preservation status and was restored a decade later, then not touched again until the artist took an interest in it.

Soon after purchasing the house, the homeowner engaged Brooklyn architect Susan Yun and interior designer Penelope August—a longtime friend—to turn the rundown townhouse into a home (and while the remodel was under way, the homeowner married and now lives in the townhouse with her husband—also an artist—and their new baby).

When Yun and August embarked on the remodel, all the original Federal-style details were long gone, and during its most recent update, the stair had been moved to the back corner of the house, with the kitchen in the center, putting the living room in an awkward spot. Yun designed a new, gracious staircase in the center of the home and sited the kitchen at the back—to double its size and allow for views of and access to the rear yard.

Aesthetically, the artist and her design team knew what they did not want: to slavishly re-create a Federal-style home inside a box that had been stripped of detailing. “We did not want a period piece,” Yun says, “yet we did not want to make it a thoroughly modern house.” Instead, they wanted to create a sense of history, layered with the eclectic stylings of an artist. Let’s take a look.

Photography by Devon Banks, courtesy of Yun Architecture.

&#8
Above: “The house had fallen in disrepair over the years,” Yun says, “so we carefully restored the exterior of the house by upgrading the windows, the dormers, and the front-door wood enframement.”
 Before the remodel, the interior was clad in dated finishes, was wholly energy inefficient, and was not up to code.
Above: Before the remodel, the interior was clad in dated finishes, was wholly energy inefficient, and was not up to code.
The furnishings are a mix of the client&#8
Above: The furnishings are a mix of the client’s own collection and new acquisitions by interior designer Penelope August. For the living room, August purchased a pair of 1940s Danish teak chairs at auction. The rug is from Double Knot in TriBeCa.

The homeowner “has a fondness for old things,” says Yun, “which is why she wanted to buy the house.” The wood doors, flooring, and some bath fittings are reclaimed, and “many furnishings are from an earlier era.”

August designed a custom shelving unit out of painted wood and compressed cork to display art objects. (It was inspired by a Jean Prouvé design her client spotted at an art fair.)
Above: August designed a custom shelving unit out of painted wood and compressed cork to display art objects. (It was inspired by a Jean Prouvé design her client spotted at an art fair.)

“The client is one of my best friends,” says interior designer August. “We were roommates in our early twenties and have known each other for 30 years.” Their first professional task together was to go shopping “for as many original elements as we could find, including reclaimed floors, old doors, sink, and tubs. The feeling of the interiors came together from there,” she says.

The client&#8
Above: The client’s favorite color is yellow, according to Yun, and the Lacanche range set the color scheme for the kitchen. “I advocated for the marigold yellow enamel over a more lemon yellow,” August says, which echoes the “soft color scheme with accents of primary color I suggested for the parlor level.”

The overhead lights are custom, designed by August and made by glassblower Andrew O. Hughes in Rosaline colored glass, “reminiscent of the 1920s and ’30s,” says August.

 The countertop (plus backsplash and integrated sink) is made of cast terrazzo with polished glass chips from recycled glass bottles. The homeowner took inspiration from a vintage terrazzo table by Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata, and she and the interior designer selected the individual glass colors together.
Above: The countertop (plus backsplash and integrated sink) is made of cast terrazzo with polished glass chips from recycled glass bottles. The homeowner took inspiration from a vintage terrazzo table by Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata, and she and the interior designer selected the individual glass colors together.

The cabinets are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Calluna, and the walls in Benjamin Moore’s Atrium White. The copper faucet is from Waterworks, and the cabinet hardware is made of opal glass.

The townhouse opens onto the new central staircase, made of reclaimed heart pine treads (the same flooring used throughout the rest of the house—it&#8
Above: The townhouse opens onto the new central staircase, made of reclaimed heart pine treads (the same flooring used throughout the rest of the house—it’s sourced from Reclamation Lumber and treated with a white-tinted floor sealer) and a stained walnut railing. “The curve at the bottom has a kind of traditional feel to it,” says Yun, “but still feels quite clean and fresh.”

The panels beneath the staircase are painted millwork; the door leads to the cellar office and studio space.

The husband&#8
Above: The husband’s office has one of the house’s four working fireplaces, entirely vintage furniture, and his own artwork on the walls.
According to Yun, the client &#8
Above: According to Yun, the client “wanted one room to feel very old,” Yun says, “so we papered it in vintage 1920s wallpaper sourced from Secondhand Rose.”
&#8
Above: “The owners have eclectic tastes,” says Yun, “so we created opportunities for them to display their wide-ranging collection of art pieces.” A niche along the stair connecting the second and third floors holds a sculpture done by a friend.
 The exposed beams in the master bedroom are among the only original details left of the original house. &#8
Above: The exposed beams in the master bedroom are among the only original details left of the original house. “The wood was very dry and brittle,” Yun says, “so the team had it scrubbed with a wire brush and treated with tung oil.”
The fireplace surround is made of ceramic tiles, screen-printed with the homeowner&#8
Above: The fireplace surround is made of ceramic tiles, screen-printed with the homeowner’s artwork of a clock showing the passage of time, “which seemed fitting for a fireplace,” Yun says. For storage, she inserted a bank of drawers beneath the dormers in the master bedroom: “It’s a perfect place to put drawers because the ceiling becomes so low,” she says.
August commissioned the blue swirl ceramic tile from Haand; they were inspired by marbled tiles the homeowners spotted in an old house in the South of France. The bathtub was reclaimed from Big Reuse and paired with Waterworks fixtures in brass. The bathroom walls are Moroccan tadelakt. (Learn more in Remodeling loading=
Above: August commissioned the blue swirl ceramic tile from Haand; they were inspired by marbled tiles the homeowners spotted in an old house in the South of France. The bathtub was reclaimed from Big Reuse and paired with Waterworks fixtures in brass. The bathroom walls are Moroccan tadelakt. (Learn more in Remodeling 101: Moroccan Tadelakt Plaster Finish.)
The wife&#8
Above: The wife’s small street-level office overlooks the cellar studio space, shown below. A window into the studio is framed in brass.
The couple uses the basement level as a studio and exhibition space. The clients wanted to keep the stone foundation visible &#8
Above: The couple uses the basement level as a studio and exhibition space. The clients wanted to keep the stone foundation visible “as a relic of the age and history of the house,” Yun says. “It’s useful, though, to have an all-white space for showings—so we designed a folding wall to cover the brick and create a gallery effect.”
The existing rear porch was made of wood and was therefore flammable and not code-compliant, so a new metal porch &#8
Above: The existing rear porch was made of wood and was therefore flammable and not code-compliant, so a new metal porch “had to be carefully designed to fit in with the landmarked” exterior, Yun says.

For more remodels from across our sites, see:

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0