Name: Katherine & Albert
Location: Prospect Heights — Brooklyn, New York
Size: 4-story limestone building. Phase 1: one-floor, 938 square feet. Phase 2: 2-floor, 3-bedroom, 1,876 square feet (tenants live on the other two of the floors)
Years Lived In: 3
Katherine, a stylist, is very particular about, and sensitive to, her immediate environment. So, it was with great patience and fortitude that Katherine managed to thrive during her family's three-year marathon of camping out in the kitchen and dining room, while she renovated their home.
Katherine, her husband Albert, and their two children live in what will eventually be just a kitchen and living room in their two-floor home. For financial stability and construction site purity, Katherine and her family have remained on one floor while the other was first being rented, and now being renovated.
Their brownstone is four floors. Rather than take the bottom two floors, Katherine and her family chose the middle two floors. Katherine explained that in this type of structure, the priority has to be either light or privacy — but not both. That means that in exchange for tenants who walk through her family's living space to access their top floor apartment, Katherine's family gets great sunlight on the third floor and access to the rear garden on the second floor.
As construction continues, Katherine and her husband sleep in the kitchen alcove on a bed behind a slatted wooden screen. Their children sleep on mattresses in the living room. Upstairs the rooms are being prepped to become a series of bedrooms and a bathroom. Spending every weekend in construction mode for three years has taken its toll on the family, for sure. Katherine says her husband is handy but "married me for my tools." The bulk of the renovation, then, falls on Katherine's shoulders — she sets the pace and makes the aesthetic decisions every step of the way.
The few finished vignettes give a clear indication that Katherine's final product will be a spectacle to behold. Katherine is not about aggressive design. Her approach is much more subtle — rescuing vintage pieces, bringing them back to life, and juxtaposing them with anything that feeds her fancy. Katherine is a wonderful scavenger whose finds don't end up looking like a garage sale. They look purposeful and beautiful. Like they was always meant to be together.
I can't wait to see the second phase completed — not because I am sleeping on a bed in the kitchen, but because it is going to be full of wonderful surprises.
Apartment Therapy Survey
Style: A modern, minimal sensibility, linking old with the new, adding a dash of humor.
Inspiration: Everything! I love so many different styles that my home becomes a personal playground. If I have to name a few, I would say my kids, movies, travel, fairytales, Tifenn Python's paintings, home-made, 50's & 60's interiors, Victorian collectibles, my Dad's shrine in the basement, taxidermy, my Grandmother's house, and more.
Favorite Element: The 1500+ hand picked salvaged bricks that we scoured the city to find to fill in our backyard. Some of our "prize antique bricks" have the names "Rose" and "King" stamped on them.
Biggest Challenge: Squeezing my family of 4 into a 938 square foot space. Three years ago we bought a 4-story limestone building in Prospect Heights. On a tight budget and needing the rental income to pay the mortgage, we decided to renovate and live on just one floor until we saved enough money to renovate and take over another floor. My Dad came up from Virginia and we spent the summer renovating the parlor floor, which would serve as our living, dining and kitchen areas. All of our bedrooms would later go on the second floor. In the meantime, the 4 of us have lived on the one floor in an open mini loft-like space — very challenging. We ended up incorporating ideas that would provide a little more privacy and space: screen, trundle bed/couch, etc. Last June, our tenant's lease ended, my Dad came up again, and we began to work on Phase 2, our 2nd floor. We are finally days away from moving out of the 'small space living' of the first floor into our new bedrooms on the second floor. My only concerns are whether I will be able to sleep without the hum of the refrigerator, and how I will ever repay my Dad for all the help that he has given us!
What Friends Say: "It looks so spacious and uncluttered, especially with two kids."
Biggest Embarrassment: Our peeling bathroom door (with the word "save" scribbled on it) that has been waiting to be stripped for 3 years now.
Proudest DIY: My ability to do halfway decent plasterwork.
Biggest Indulgence: A Thermador stove because I love, love, love to bake!
Best Advice: I could fill this column two-fold with renovation advice. Instead, I'll stick to design advice — the best interiors evolve over time.
Dream Source: To have all of our lighting designed by Lindsey Adelman
• Oven: Thermador
• Dishwasher in island: Bosch
• Refrigerator with black board inset: Kitchen Aid
• Integrated Stainless Steel counter: American Circle 718.388.9637
• Sink & washboard: Franke
• Architect for floor plans: Fanny Mueller
• Cabinetry: IKEA
TEMPORARY MASTER BEDROOM NOOK
• Custom kid's trundle bed: Radek Szczesny
• Wardrobe: Horseman Antiques
• Toilet: Toto
• Sink: Duravit
• Cabinet: Broan
• Subway tile: Bella Tile
• Penny tile: Nemo Tile
• Shower unit & faucet: Justime
• "Amazing" tile guy
To see more of Katherine's finished bathroom, checkout Katherine's Red Bathroom.
For a full kitchen tour, checkout Katherine Makes It Look Easy.
Images: Jill Slater
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