A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette

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By Arlene Hirst / Published by Dwell
With a monochromatic makeover, a pair of designers revive a common Brooklyn brownstone apartment.

Ed Parker and his wife, Barbara Tutino Parker, spent the first 10 years of their New York City life in a rental loft above a factory in Bushwick, Brooklyn. But eventually the couple, who met while students at Carnegie Mellon University, where she was an exchange student from Rome, grew tired of renting and decided it was time to buy a place of their own. With the city’s notoriously high cost of real estate, they knew it wouldn’t be easy. It took them two years to find the right fit, a 1,000-square-foot apartment in Park Slope.

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 1 of 12 -
A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 2 of 12 - To make the interior of their 12-foot-wide Brooklyn home feel larger, designers Ed Parker and Barbara Tutino Parker used Farrow & Ball paint in All White for the floors and applied Benjamin Moore Super White with a flat finish to the walls. They also rearranged the floor plan. 

To make the interior of their 12-foot-wide Brooklyn home feel larger, designers Ed Parker and Barbara Tutino Parker used Farrow & Ball paint in All White for the floors and applied Benjamin Moore Super White with a flat finish to the walls. They also rearranged the floor plan. 

While it wasn’t perfect—its long and narrow railroad-style layout was only 12 feet 6 inches at its widest—the couple sought a place with character, and this place had character to spare. A four-story brick structure built around a hundred years ago, it had distinctively historic bones. "There are lots of apartments in Brooklyn like this," says Ed. "It’s a pattern-book building," he adds, meaning that he suspects its design was taken from a book of architectural plans.

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 3 of 12 -
A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 4 of 12 -

Both employed at architecture firms—he’s a principal at 1100 Architect and she’s an associate project architect at Perkins Eastman—the couple never thought twice about a renovation. They set to work on the plans before they even closed on the unit. "We were excited about making the place our own," says Barbara. 

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 5 of 12 - "When everything is painted white, you can really feel the spatial flow and the sectional geometry, which is interesting because it goes from being a rectangle to a square," Ed notes.

"When everything is painted white, you can really feel the spatial flow and the sectional geometry, which is interesting because it goes from being a rectangle to a square," Ed notes.

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 6 of 12 - The large front parlor was turned into a music room that flows seamlessly into a long dining room. A USM credenza holds vinyl and booze. Music flows via a Pro-Ject Debut III turntable, a pair of Elipson Planet L speakers, and a Music Hall Audio amplifier.  

The large front parlor was turned into a music room that flows seamlessly into a long dining room. A USM credenza holds vinyl and booze. Music flows via a Pro-Ject Debut III turntable, a pair of Elipson Planet L speakers, and a Music Hall Audio amplifier.  

They called in Lennie Construction, a contractor with whom they had previously worked, and had the team take down the walls between a small bedroom and a sitting room next to the master bedroom, a move that opened up the space and allowed them to add back-to-back closets to create much-needed storage.

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 7 of 12 - In the kitchen, a PH 50 pendant by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen hangs overhead; the window is covered in a decorative cast-iron metal security grate from King Architectural Metals. The painted patterned floor is by Lillian Heard Studio. 

In the kitchen, a PH 50 pendant by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen hangs overhead; the window is covered in a decorative cast-iron metal security grate from King Architectural Metals. The painted patterned floor is by Lillian Heard Studio. 

Demolition took two months, during which the Parkers worked out the remaining design details; after it was completed, the couple had a contractor perform the electrical work but did nearly all of the remaining jobs themselves, such as painting and changing all the existing hardware. The architects’ biggest design decision was to paint everything—floors, walls, ceilings—white. With everything white, "you can see the way light and shadows vary as they move through the apartment," says Ed. They were careful to keep or reuse most of the moldings and cabinetry. "We let the details speak for themselves," says Barbara, explaining the painstaking job of removing the molding from the modern dining room and installing it in the more traditional TV room. 

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 8 of 12 - The TV room features a USM credenza for the television; the couple’s Petrie sofa is from Crate and Barrel. The coffee table is custom.

The TV room features a USM credenza for the television; the couple’s Petrie sofa is from Crate and Barrel. The coffee table is custom.

When furnishing the space, they used a lot of pieces they already owned, including a Crate and Barrel sofa they had bought 10 years before—their first purchase as a couple. They designed and built a dining table and a coffee table and spent most of their budget on lighting, adding fixtures from Flos, Artek, and Foscarini.

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 9 of 12 -
A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 10 of 12 - Elbow chairs by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn surround a table of the couple's own design. By removing walls in this space, extra storage was possible. The trio of A330S pendants are by Alvar Aalto for Artek. The painting, The Look, is by Ed Parker. 

Elbow chairs by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn surround a table of the couple's own design. By removing walls in this space, extra storage was possible. The trio of A330S pendants are by Alvar Aalto for Artek. The painting, The Look, is by Ed Parker. 

The couple are at once thrilled with the new home and smitten with its old-fashioned charm. Ed muses, "There’s something about traditional domesticity." 

A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 11 of 12 - Stained-glass windows mark the facade of the Park Slope building. 

Stained-glass windows mark the facade of the Park Slope building. 


A Pair of Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette - Photo 12 of 12 -

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