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It Takes Two: A Pair of Brooklyn Heights Apartments Reconfigured Into One, by Shapeless Studio

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It Takes Two: A Pair of Brooklyn Heights Apartments Reconfigured Into One, by Shapeless Studio

October 26, 2020

Lately I’ve spent a quite a bit of time in my tiny apartment fantasizing about how much space we’d have if we could somehow merge with the flat next door. It’s something all city-dwellers dream of, especially these days: pushing out a few walls and getting more room.

That’s what a pair of creative professionals recently got to do in real life, in a Civil War-era building in Brooklyn Heights: seamlessly combine two warehouse-like units into one cohesive, serene space, with help from Shapeless Studio Architecture & Interiors.

“Before the renovation, the space was pretty unexciting,” reports Andrea Fisk of Shapeless Studio. “There were some exposed brick walls, small rental-quality kitchens that seemed at least 20 years old (one in each apartment), and standard 2 1/4-inch oak flooring.” To start, she and co-principal Jess Thomas Hinshaw—with structural engineer Tom Gasbarro, ABS Engineering, and Sunshine Renovations Management—started by stitching together the two units at the seams. Instead of thread, though, the two spaces are joined with steel and glass doors, a nod to the building’s industrial bones.

Robert and Sandy, the homeowners, “are very design savvy,” Andrea says. “They had a really good idea of the look they wanted to achieve from the outset.” In addition to industrial elements, the team went with rich textures like tadelakt and terrazzo, custom millwork (and generous amounts of concealed storage), and dashes of ochre and yellow amid black and neutral finishings. “The final apartment really reflects them,” says Andrea—and their young daughter, Mia, too.

Have a look:

Photography by Hagan Hinshaw, courtesy of Shapeless Studio Architecture & Interiors.

the deep layout of the combined apartments meant that some spaces were bathed i 9
Above: The deep layout of the combined apartments meant that some spaces were bathed in natural light while others were set far back from the banks of windows. The solution? Embracing the dark. The entryway is furthest from the windows, so it got a wash of blue paint on the walls and dark blue linoleum on the floor.
the dark mudroom opens into the bright, open living spaces, which take advantag 10
Above: The dark mudroom opens into the bright, open living spaces, which take advantage of the light. “The color throughout is Benjamin Moore’s Cloud Cover,” says Andrea, chosen out of a wide lineup of whites because it worked with the laminate that covers a wall of cabinets in the kitchen. “I think we otherwise would have chosen a white that was a bit warmer, however cooler whites have a really calming quality, especially on overcast days. They make the space look so quiet and peaceful.”

Adding to the sense of calm: Madera’s Clinton Hill light wood flooring throughout the open space. “Madera is another great company based in Brooklyn,” says Andrea. “They have a version of this floor that has more knots and character, which we’ve used on other projects and it’s also great. Here, since the main room was so big, we wanted the floor to be very quiet, so we selected the knot-free version.”

&#8\2\20;most of the millwork in the apartment—and the custom kitchen tab 11
Above: “Most of the millwork in the apartment—and the custom kitchen table—was made by our good friends at Armada, but the kitchen is actually made by Henrybuilt.” At right is the aforementioned wall of cabinets. “That wall is a real workhorse of kitchen storage. It has a built-in fridge, full-height pantries, and the wall ovens. That is how we were able to keep the other side of the kitchen so clean and tidy,” adds Andrea—it’s all behind closed doors.
the minimal henrybuilt kitchen in tone on tone black. &#8\2\20;we did use d 12
Above: The minimal Henrybuilt kitchen in tone-on-tone black. “We did use decorative plaster behind the kitchen, which adds a bit of texture, and we decided on a shade that was just a hair darker than the wall color,” says Andrea. “You have to be careful with plaster behind a kitchen, and the type we used is water-resistant, so it is able to be washed with a soft sponge. The deep ledge behind the cabinetry also helps us here, because the plaster backsplash is a bit farther back from the cooking surfaces than is typical.”

The workspace is lit with Trapeze 1 fixtures by Apparatus. “We adore this fixture,” Andrea says. “We got the version with the porcelain shade, and when the lights are on, the whole shade glows a little bit.”

the vent hood is concealed with a coat of plaster. note also the flush mount el 13
Above: The vent hood is concealed with a coat of plaster. Note also the flush-mount electrical sockets.
the dining area at left (with a separate family room behind it) and the living  14
Above: The dining area at left (with a separate family room behind it) and the living room at right. “The steel sliding doors were a really important element of the design,” Andrea notes. “They are a nice way to partition off the spaces and allow the TV/family room to serve as a guest room in a pinch. There is also a drape that can be drawn at that opening in order to block out light.” The custom doors, made by Armada, also mark the former divide between the two apartments.
the story behind the unexpected marigold couch? sandy, the owner, requested som 15
Above: The story behind the unexpected marigold couch? Sandy, the owner, requested some color. Says Andrea: “The bold yellow sofa works so well near the windows. The windows are south-facing, and in the late afternoon, the sun shines through and hits the sofa directly, and it just fills the entire room with a warm glow.”
into the bedrooms. 16
Above: Into the bedrooms.
more warm light and dashes of yellow in robert and sandy&#8\2\17;s bedroom. 17
Above: More warm light and dashes of yellow in Robert and Sandy’s bedroom.
a petite powder room is papered in a design by rebecca atwood. 18
Above: A petite powder room is papered in a design by Rebecca Atwood.
in mia&#8\2\17;s room, armada built out a large built in wardrobe. note the 19
Above: In Mia’s room, Armada built out a large built-in wardrobe. Note the charming triangle-shaped integrated pulls: “That was something that we developed with Armada,” says Andrea. “We used triangles in a few places in the apartment, on custom little details. The custom stone kitchen table has some wood triangles poking through from the base. There are triangle drawer pulls in the main dressing room, the main bathroom, Mia’s bedroom closet millwork, Mia’s playroom bench, and the TV room millwork. Also, the custom steel and glass sliding doors have the triangle on them where the doorknobs are.”
another custom buildout in mia&#8\2\17;s playroom: a daybed by armada toppe 20
Above: Another custom buildout in Mia’s playroom: a daybed by Armada topped with a cushion in another Rebecca Atwood design.

Not pictured: The terrazzo bathtub, sink, and floor in Mia’s bathroom, all from Eco-Terr.

the main bathroom features an oversized walk in shower done in waterproof tadel 21
Above: The main bathroom features an oversized walk-in shower done in waterproof tadelakt finish. “It has an intense buildup of several different layers, and the final finish coat needs to be rubbed with this black stone to make it extremely smooth,” says Andrea. “It also adds a slight bit of natural sheen just from being so completely smooth. We had a great plaster artist apply this finish. This is a great thing about working in Brooklyn; we have access to so many talented craftspeople.” (Read more about tadelakt here.)
the black and cream theme continues here, with floor tiles from mutina&#8\2 22
Above: The black-and-cream theme continues here, with floor tiles from Mutina’s Mews line. “They’re nice because the shade varies slightly between tiles, but they are porcelain and indestructible,” says Andrea.

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