Like so many architects, Jess Thomas prefers a clean-lined, clutter-free look. But she also welcomes in warmth and more than a touch of sentiment. That was especially the case in the gut renovation she and her husband, Hagan Hinshaw, a director-producer, recently completed of a formerly crumbling brownstone in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant.
A founding partner of Brooklyn’s Shapeless Studio, Thomas received her master’s degree in architecture from Columbia and is an alum of design-build firm Made, a longstanding member of the Remodelista Architect-Designer Directory. She and her partner at Shapeless, Andrea Fisk, were launching their new firm while the Putnam Townhouse, as it’s called, was still under way. The project presented Thomas with the opportunity to act for the first time as her own client, indulge her fondness for interesting lighting and tiles, and to show what her work is all about.
Research led them to Villa Lagoon Tile of Gulf Shores, Alabama: “Apparently, they had been contacted about the pattern in the past but no one had wanted to commit to the mold fees necessary for remaking this tile,” says Thomas. “They offered to help with these fees if they could then sell the tile. You can now find it on their site as Key West Cement Tile.” Added bonus: Because the couple had to order a minimum amount, they ended up with leftovers that now line the entry of Thomas’s brother’s house.
The construction was done by a best-of-Brooklyn team: contractor M Square Builders and millworker James Harmon of Workshop Brooklyn. In the living room the work involved, among other things, restoring the parlor opening to its original size and removing the tin ceiling that covered plaster remains. The ceiling now has a re-creation of the original plaster crown and “a large new medallion to give a sense of a center in an asymmetrical room.”
The sofa is Hem Design Studio’s modular Palo Corner Sofa and the coffee table is the Tablo Table by Normann Copenhagen. On the front wall, the OGK Safari Daybed, a Danish classic, stands under a Workstead Wall Lamp. The hanging light is a Noguchi Akari.
The French door to the back garden and all the windows are new. The parquet floor was removed throughout—”it was in terrifying shape,” says Thomas—and the exposed pine subfloor was finished with water-based Bona Naturale.
The cabinetry is all the work of James Harmon, who collaborated with Thomas to come up with an integrated pull that “both feels good and achieves a subtle elegance,” she says. The stove is a Bertazzoni, as is the four-burner cooktop.The counter and backsplash are Bianco Carrara marble and the wall lights are Bernard Schottlander’s Mantis Sconces. The stainless steel sink is the Blanco Quatrus and the pullout faucet is Kohler’s Purist in matte black.
The cotton Kaftan is a Sir/Madam design that comes in five colors.
See more of the townhouse and rental apartment at Shapeless Studio.
Here are three more architects’ house overhauls:
- The New Pioneers: An Architect’s Own One-Room Family House
- Two Young Architects Tackle Their Own Brooklyn Townhouse
- Bathroom of the Week: Simon Astridge’s Plant-Filled Japanese-Style Bath in London
Frequently asked questions
What is the article about?
The article is about a gut renovation of a Brooklyn townhouse by architect Jess Thomas of Shapeless Studio. It focuses on the warm minimalist design of the renovated space.
Who is the architect of the renovated space?
Architect Jess Thomas of Shapeless Studio is responsible for the gut renovation of the Brooklyn townhouse featured in the article.
What is the design style of the renovated space?
The design style of the renovated space is warm minimalist.
What were the major changes made to the townhouse during the renovation?
The major changes made during the renovation of the Brooklyn townhouse featured in the article include opening up the space, creating a central courtyard, and incorporating natural materials such as wood and stone.
What was the inspiration for the design of the space?
The inspiration for the warm minimalist design of the renovated Brooklyn townhouse was the natural environment surrounding the space.
What materials were used in the renovation?
Natural materials such as wood and stone were used in the renovation of the Brooklyn townhouse featured in the article.
What is the overall aesthetic of the renovated space?
The overall aesthetic of the renovated space is warm and inviting, with a focus on natural elements and minimalism.
What challenges did the architect face during the renovation?
The architect faced challenges such as working with an irregularly-shaped space and finding ways to incorporate natural light into the design.
What is the end result of the renovation?
The end result of the renovation of the Brooklyn townhouse featured in the article is a warm, minimalist space that allows for ample natural light and a connection to the surrounding environment.