Lately I’ve spent a quite a bit of time in my tiny apartmentfantasizing about how much space we’d have if we could somehowmerge with the flat next door. It’s something all city-dwellersdream of, especially these days: pushing out a few walls andgetting more room.
That’s what a pair of creative professionals recently got todo in real life, in a Civil War-era building in Brooklyn Heights:seamlessly combine two warehouse-like units into one cohesive,serene space, with help from Shapeless Studio Architecture& Interiors.
“Before the renovation, the space was pretty unexciting,”reports Andrea Fisk of Shapeless Studio. “There were some exposedbrick walls, small rental-quality kitchens that seemed at least 20years old (one in each apartment), and standard 2 1/4-inch oakflooring.” To start, she and co-principal Jess ThomasHinshaw—with structural engineer Tom Gasbarro, ABS Engineering, and Sunshine RenovationsManagement—started by stitching together the two units at theseams. Instead of thread, though, the two spaces are joined withsteel and glass doors, a nod to the building’s industrialbones.
Robert and Sandy, the homeowners, “are very design savvy,”Andrea says. “They had a really good idea of the look they wantedto achieve from the outset.” In addition to industrial elements,the team went with rich textures like tadelakt and terrazzo, custommillwork (and generous amounts of concealed storage), and dashes ofochre and yellow amidst black and neutral finishings. “The finalapartment really reflects them,” says Andrea—and their youngdaughter, Mia, too.
Have a look:
Photography by HaganHinshaw, courtesy of Shapeless Studio Architecture &Interiors.
Above: The deep layout of the combinedapartments meant that some spaces were bathed in natural lightwhile others were set far back from the banks of windows. Thesolution? Embracing the dark. The entryway is furthest from thewindows, so it got a wash of blue paint on the walls and dark bluelinoleum on the floor. Above: The dark mudroom opens into thebright, open living spaces, which take advantage of the light.“The color throughout is Benjamin Moore’s CloudCover,” says Andrea, chosen out of a wide lineup of whitesbecause it worked with the laminate that covers a wall of cabinetsin the kitchen. “I think we otherwise would have chosen a whitethat was a bit warmer, however cooler whites have a really calmingquality, especially on overcast days. They make the space look soquiet and peaceful.”
Adding to the sense of calm: Madera’s Clinton Hill lightwood flooring throughout the open space. “Madera is another greatcompany based in Brooklyn,” says Andrea. “They have a versionof this floor that has more knots and character, which we’ve usedon other projects and it’s also great. Here, since the main roomwas so big, we wanted the floor to be very quiet, so we selectedthe knot-free version.”
Above: “Most of the millwork in theapartment—and the custom kitchen table—was made by our goodfriends at Armada, but thekitchen is actually made by Henrybuilt.” At right is theaforementioned wall of cabinets. “That wall is a real workhorseof kitchen storage. It has a built-in fridge, full-height pantries,and the wall ovens. That is how we were able to keep the other sideof the kitchen so clean and tidy,” adds Andrea—it’s allbehind closed doors. Above: The minimal Henrybuilt kitchen intone-on-tone black. “We did use decorative plaster behind thekitchen, which adds a bit of texture, and we decided on a shadethat was just a hair darker than the wall color,” says Andrea.“You have to be careful with plaster behind a kitchen, and thetype we used is water-resistant, so it is able to be washed with asoft sponge. The deep ledge behind the cabinetry also helps ushere, because the plaster backsplash is a bit farther back from thecooking surfaces than is typical.”
The workspace is lit with Trapeze 1fixtures by Apparatus. “We adore this fixture,” Andrea says.“We got the version with the porcelain shade, and when the lightsare on, the whole shade glows a little bit.”
Above: The vent hood is concealed with acoat of plaster. Note also the flush-mount electrical sockets. Above: The dining area at left (with aseparate family room behind it) and the living room at right.“The steel sliding doors were a really important element of thedesign,” Andrea notes. “They are a nice way to partition offthe spaces and allow the TV/family room to serve as a guest room ina pinch. There is also a drape that can be drawn at that opening inorder to block out light.” The custom doors, made by Armada, alsomark the former divide between the two apartments. Above: The story behind the unexpectedmarigold couch? Sandy, the owner, requested some color. SaysAndrea: “The bold yellow sofa works so well near the windows. Thewindows are south-facing, and in the late afternoon, the sun shinesthrough and hits the sofa directly, and it just fills the entireroom with a warm glow.” Above: Into the bedrooms. Above: More warm light and dashes ofyellow in Robert and Sandy’s bedroom. Above: A petite powder room is paperedin a design by Rebecca Atwood. Above: In Mia’s room, Armada built outa large built-in wardrobe. Note the charming triangle-shapedintegrated pulls: “That was something that we developed withArmada,” says Andrea. “We used triangles in a few places in theapartment, on custom little details. The custom stone kitchen tablehas some wood triangles poking through from the base. There aretriangle drawer pulls in the main dressing room, the main bathroom,Mia’s bedroom closet millwork, Mia’s playroom bench, and the TVroom millwork. Also, the custom steel and glass sliding doors havethe triangle on them where the doorknobs are.” Above: Another custom buildout inMia’s playroom: a daybed by Armada topped with a cushion inanother Rebecca Atwood design.
Not pictured: The terrazzo bathtub, sink, and floor in Mia’sbathroom, all from Eco-Terr.
Above: The main bathroom features anoversized walk-in shower done in waterproof tadelakt finish. “Ithas an intense buildup of several different layers, and the finalfinish coat needs to be rubbed with this black stone to make itextremely smooth,” says Andrea. “It also adds a slight bit ofnatural sheen just from being so completely smooth. We had a greatplaster artist apply this finish. This is a great thing aboutworking in Brooklyn; we have access to so many talentedcraftspeople.” (Read more about tadelakt here.) Above: The black-and-cream themecontinues here, with floor tiles from Mutina’s Mews line.“They’re nice because the shade varies slightly between tiles,but they are porcelain and indestructible,” says Andrea.
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