While this stunning Boerum Hill, Brooklyn townhouse now boasts a gorgeous open living area and master suite, it didn’t always look quite this pretty—in fact, when designer Sarah Zames of New York-based design firm General Assembly came on board, she had a huge renovation on her hands.
“We bumped out the bottom two floors into the rear yard, using the extra room to create a wide open living area upstairs and enlarge the master suite downstairs,” says Zames. “We designed full-height windows to flood the entire space with light and air.”
The result is a contemporary take on townhouse living, with flowing spaces, mod light fixtures, and fun pops of color and pattern to accentuate the abundance of light. As the home is owned by a young family, the design is meant to be fun and kid-friendly.
“When we started on this project, the homeowner was pregnant with twins!” says Zames. “So, a lot of the design decisions had to do with efficiency and maximizing space. We also wanted to make sure that we maximized natural light as much as possible, and that was reflected in the finishes and space planning.”
The walls are painted a crisp white in order to allow the interesting decor pieces to take the spotlight, such as is the case in the living room—black and white patterned chairs play off a neutral textured rug, while the blue couch and hardwood table give the living room a touch of color. Plants and a statement light finish the look. “The fabric for the chairs comes from Zak + Fox,” says Zames. “It’s a designer that we really love in our office.”
This interesting mix of materials continues in the corner of the living room, with the patterned stools playing off the minimalist, yet glam, touches, like a gold-plated mirror and ceramic vase.
The renovated kitchen features a large island and a wall of windows that allows the outside in—and it just so happens to be Zames’s favorite design element in the home. “The large window wall is just so special, and allows you to feel connected to the outside in such a big way,” she says.
Similar to the way the patterns have been selected in the living room, the dark grey island balances out the other minimalist furniture choices in the kitchen. “The island is Aquasol Quartzite,” says Zames. “I love how it feels in the space—it balances the blank white cabinets by adding a little bit of texture. It's a natural material, but quartzite is a great option for countertops because it doesn't stain like many marbles.”
“We wanted to keep the cabinets bright and white, in order to reflect some of the natural light coming in through the adjacent windows,” says Zames. “So, it made sense to go with a slightly darker kitchen countertop to accentuate the cabinets above.”
As the master suite is on the bottom floor as opposed to upstairs, which is more traditional, Zames realized she had to take its location into account when designing. With a small window overlooking the lush new backyard, the bedroom has all the elements needed to be a quiet, calming oasis—and that’s precisely how it was designed.
“We wanted to create a peaceful space that felt cushioned by the outdoors and the surrounding building—I'm sure that it is a lovely refuge for them,” says Zames. This look is achieved thanks to the cozy textured throws, rustic hardwood side table, and neutral bedding—a perfect mix of soft elements in a crisp white space.
The master bath is equally cozy with dark floors, a hardwood cabinet, and a whitewashed shower and bathtub, and matte black fixtures.
In the powder room, an accent wall of light blue and white patterned wallpaper, as well as oversized blue faucets, steals the show. “The powder room is a tiny little space, and we thought that using a blue Vola faucet would be a great little pop of color in the tiny space,” says Zames. “And wallpaper in a powder room is always a great option—it's often an affordable way to add some nice texture.”
For the dining area, Zames decided to do something a little different. Instead of adding more of the rustic wood chairs for the farmhouse-style table, she opted for a white benches instead. “Benches are a great decision in a large space like this,” says Zames. “Right now, the people who live there are a family of four, but they love to entertain, and having a bench provides a lot of flexibility.”
“So many material decisions in this project were about contrast,” explains Zames. “The owners wanted to keep with some classic (and affordable) materials like subway tile, but in order to create a more interesting space, we thought it would be nice to balance those basic materials with more graphic plumbing fixtures and concrete.”
Another huge feature throughout the home was the modern lighting. “Lighting is something that we definitely spent a lot of time thinking through and picking for the space,” says Zames. “We always love to use interesting, decorative lighting for the spaces we design, and in this project, it was important to use unique pieces that popped to fill some pretty large spaces and help organize the space. We used a good amount of lighting from Rich Brilliant Willing, who are local lighting designers that we are big fans of. You can see their radiant sconces in the living room, and their branch sconces in the master bathroom.”
By making use of the home’s open layout and natural light, Zames was able to create a space that would serve as a calming sanctuary for the young family. The pops of color and pattern leave the home feeling bright and fun, while the mod details give it an extra level of sophistication.
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