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Living Small in an Architectural Landmark, Brooklyn Edition

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Living Small in an Architectural Landmark, Brooklyn Edition

January 21, 2013

Injecting a modern sensibility into the context of a grand landmark prewar Brooklyn building was always going to be a tricky proposition. Leave it to Workstead to manage it with equanimity, intelligence, and grace.

Asked to refinish and furnish a 1928 prewar apartment in 47 Plaza Building, designed by the eminent Rosario Candela and often referred to as Brooklyn’s Flatiron Building, Workstead (a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) came up with a simple strategy involving a single paint color and a predominant material (natural wood) to create their own masterpiece of modern living—practical and functional but elegant as well.

Photography by Matthew Williams.

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Above: The paint color used throughout was French Gray by Farrow and Ball; used to paint the original trim and moldings as well as the new casework. The Truncheon Suspension Lamp by Cmmnwlth, a Light Extending Table by Matthew Hilton, and Kingstown Barstools by Studio Dunn are all made of wood, the predominant material used in this refurbishment. The Eames dining chairs with wood dowel-legs maintains this consistency.

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Above: In the kitchen, only the cabinet faces were replaced (the architects saved the existing cabinet boxes), freeing up the budget to allow the clients to focus on other improvements, such as new countertops and fixtures.

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Above: A signature Workstead Bent Wall Lamp hovers over the contemporary oak furniture of UK company Another Country. The wood floors, which are original to the apartment, were sanded and refinished as part of the refurbishment.

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Above: "The inspiration for the breakfast nook was a traditional “Eck Bank,” which can often be found in classic Swiss/German homes. It’s a built-in bench, usually in a corner, with a table. This was a very tight space, so we had to think creatively in order to fit a breakfast nook," says Ryan Mahoney, the Workstead partner in charge of this project. This custom-designed built-in table and bench works on various levels; as a place to eat in the morning, a central location for homework, a flexible office/work nook, and a storage space (located under the bench). " It’s really quite a multi-functional little spot," says Mahoney.

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Above: The entry hall is an orchestration of family organization. There are four lockers—one for each member of the family—and each one has open and closed storage, hooks for hanging coats and bags, cubbies below for shoes, and small compartments for cell phones and other accessories.

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Above: Spanning the width of the lockers is a solid white oak bench—a convenient place to sit while taking shoes off and on.

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Above: New custom wooden handles are integrated into the design of the cabinets; adding warmth to the cabinet faces.

N.B.: For more Workstead projects see An Urban Cabin Made in Brooklyn and Workstead Visit in Cobble Hill.

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