House Tour: Jon Improves on the Stark White Box

New York

Photos by Jon Crawford-Phillips

Name: Jon and Ro
Location: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NY
Size: 1,100 sq ft, 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom
Years lived in: 1 year

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Not everyone enjoys stark white walls and flush flush flush as is all the rage among residential architects over the past few years. Jon of house call fame, for one, loves the visual impact of molding. Inspired by the brownstones in his Brooklyn neighborhood, he decided to bring some of that turn-of-the-century texture to what was once a bland office space in a 4 story walk-up...



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The difference is striking. While the apartment had already been renovated when Jon and Ro moved in, the renovation was 'characterless.' A huge leap in size from their old apartment, Jon wanted to feel like every inch of this spacious 2-bedroom was used to the best of its abilities. So, he took some sage advice from an architect friend and opened both of the bedrooms (via pocket doors) onto the living room. When all the doors are open, the living room seems huge. And when the doors are closed, the pattern of molding is continuous across the entire wall and looks rather stately. Jon considers the extensive molding throughout the apartment to be the "closest to a grand look, without being too fussy."

Jon's renovation is incredibly meticulous and impressive. While it is his first home renovation, Jon started working on it after coming off a full renovation of his company's office space. As a result, he was already experienced at sourcing exotic details, and hardware, working with suppliers, and envisioning a complete space. Of course, it doesn't hurt that his contractor was equally meticulous, offering great solutions and solid skills.

To be sure, Jon says, there was no "massive splurging" during the furnishing phase. He and Ro researched all the furniture online and via design blogs so that they could make all the purchases within a month of moving in. The only pieces they brought with them from their former apartment was the ABC couch in the living room and their noguchi table (also in the living room.)

It's a stunning space made all the more impressive when one is privy to the before photos....

Apartment Therapy Survey
Style: We wanted something that was a bit of a hybrid: contemporary yet traditional; clean yet comfortable; grand yet inviting. And something that was our own – thoughtfully designed and unique.
Inspiration: Our inspiration was one part the beautiful high ceilings and moldings of old-school Brooklyn Brownstones, and one part the clean grand geometry of classic Georgian homes. We fell in love with the baseboard first, and everything pretty much followed from that.
Favorite Element: The lighting throughout – the natural light that floods the apartment in the morning, the recessed lighting that washes the wall panels and the dining room pendant that fills the room with a lattice silhouette.
Biggest Challenge: Getting the geometry right. Symmetry was a big part of the design aesthetic and it was a real challenge to make all the elements (the wall panels, the double doors, the furniture and the lighting) work in and of themselves, and also fit the geometry of the space.
What Friends Say: That it’s surprisingly big (to be fair, we did previously live in a 385 sq ft walk-up in Greenwich Village). We reoriented the space to make every square foot usable, and doubled the closet space to help the living space feel spacious.
Biggest Embarrassment: When we had our first friends to stay, they locked themselves in the guest bedroom for about an hour. That’s how we decided to put handles on the inside of the doors….
Proudest DIY: Turning two beautiful leather panels from a built-in headboard into benches that sit either side of the TV.
Biggest Indulgence: The David Trubridge Kina lamp over the dining room table. I lived in New Zealand before moving here and he has long been a favorite designer. We couldn’t believe it when we saw this lamp on sale 50% off at DWR just as we were finishing up our renovation.
Best Advice (we received): To knock through the walls between the living space and the bedrooms. We talked through the plans with architect friends of ours and they immediately saw the potential to create an expansive living space that could be converted back to individual rooms by simply closing off the doors.
Dream Source: Friends – we’re lucky enough to have friends who are furniture designers, artists and photographers and they live all over the world. We’d love nothing more than filling our home with things they’ve created.

Resource:
Contractor: Chris Larkin at Synchro. According to Jon, "he’s an extraordinary craftsmen and I’d highly recommend him."
Dining Table: CB2

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(Images: Jill Slater)

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