Rachel & Gretchen Start from Scratch

Rachel & Gretchen Start from Scratch

Jill Slater
Jan 27, 2010

Name: Rachel and Gretchen
Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Size: 1,000 square feet 1-3 bedroom
Years lived in: 6 years

Rachel and Gretchen, both university professors, had a minimal cosmetic clean up in mind when they bought a run down 3-unit building on the western edge of Park Slope. The unexpected arrival of a carpenter at their doorstep — Rachel's step-brother Marco she hadn't seen in many years — changed all that.

Marco ended up moving in and the second floor — what is now the kitchen, living room and master bedroom — ended up "down to the rafters and joists." Because the building is not a brownstone, and not historically significant, Rachel and Gretchen didn't feel bad gutting the place and introducing an entirely new character and style.

Rachel refers to the renovation as an "iterative process." Without much of a set plan, the developments followed the ideas, opinions and skills of all three. Gretchen was more in charge of opinions and less hands-on whereas Rachel had put herself through college doing interior renovations and lead Marco in carpentry and installation.

Along the way, there was a lot of hard work, and many adventures including a fire having to do with polyurethane and a careless floor finisher. The finished home is full of inexpensive, creative solutions for an incredibly light-filled, hand-crafted, loft-like home.

Check out Rachel and Gretchen's kitchen tour on thekitchn.com

Apartment Therapy Survey
Style: eclectic/modern/mixed/international

Inspiration: Hard to point to anything in particular. It's really a collaboration between us and Marco (stepbrother, genius, lunatic), I guess three lifetimes of keeping your eyes open.

Favorite Element: Exposed beam on the stairway, window from the bedroom to the kitchen (thanks Rohit), pitch on the ceiling.

Biggest Challenge: carrying the 12' x 10" glass plates five blocks, up two flights and placing them on top of the kitchen and bedroom walls

What Friends Say: "It's like you're not even in Brooklyn anymore."

Biggest Embarrassment: it's still not finished.

Proudest DIY: Pretty much the whole thing! We gutted it, yielding about 100 cubic yards worth of debris and started up from scratch.

Biggest Indulgence: Bathtub and the bathroom floor tiles — the tiles are hand-cut (by us) slate from chalkboards that were salvage from NYC public schools.

Best Advice: move the kitchen to the center of the apartment — originally it was where the bedroom is now (thanks mom!).

Images: Jill Slater

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