A Design Duo's 19th-Century Brooklyn Townhouse Is Filled With Art They Love

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By Julia Brenner / Published by Julia Brenner
Built in 1890, this recently renovated townhouse balances a beautiful mix of styles and eras.

James Veal and Christine Stucker of Stewart-Schafer, a multidisciplinary design and architecture studio, brought their professional experience and love of art and custom design to the renovation of their own Brooklyn townhouse. 

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Located on Washington Avenue, the renovation process was an ongoing work-in-progress since Veal and Stucker purchased the residence in 2013. They noted that the "bones of the home were in great shape, so the bulk of the project was in the interior design." 

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Some of the key selling points of the townhouse were the enduring original features, such as original wood beams and brick walls. So, the husband-and-wife team sought to update it in ways that would improve functionality and freshen the space, while respecting the home's historical integrity. 

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The renovation of the 2,100-square-foot interior involved refinishing the floors, changing the lighting and hardware, painting the entire home a bright, crisp white, and installing custom light fixtures specifically designed to accentuate the high ceilings. 

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Given the home's structural narrowness (Christine notes that their "home is very narrow"), they looked for ways to make the space feel more open using smart space planning and an airy aesthetic by maintaining a light tonal palette throughout.  

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While they embraced an understated aesthetic, the home feels elegant yet welcoming, due to the natural warmth of walnut, which is used in the flooring, doors, accents, and credenzas. Touches of blackened steel, used in their custom-designed lighting fixtures and an abundance of vibrant art, add additional character and moments of visual interest. 

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Creating a "sanctuary of relaxation and tranquility" was especially important when designing the living room, which is where the young family spends most of their time. Christine notes that, "There is no better way to unwind after a long day than by enjoying a home-cooked meal and watching the fire in the living room." To achieve this mix of calm and warmth, they infused the room with their "most prized furnishings," including their own custom pieces and treasured artwork and momentos they've collected from their travels. 

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"Art is a very big source of inspiration for us, and we love to surround ourselves with interesting paintings and sculptures." -Christine Stucker

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As avid travelers who source many of their clients' projects with one-of-a-kind finds from around the world, it was a true labor of love when it came to choosing pieces for their own home. 

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Most of their art is from London and Germany, including work by Victor Pasmore, a favorite artist of theirs whose work they first discovered while in London. Christine explains how they discovered him after "seeing one of his works through the window of a tiny gallery while shopping for a client. We went inside and bought almost all of the dealer’s collection of Pasmore’s work." Other unique finds include a pair of leather-and-chrome Arne Norell chairs purchased in Amsterdam, a Paul McCobb credenza, and Icelandic sheepskin hides. 

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The comparatively long master bathroom features a large shower with a glass wall that's intended to open up the space visually, while separating the shower from the rest of the room. A double vanity and custom mirror creates a bright and airy look that "creates the illusion of increased width." 

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They created a relaxing bedroom that doubles as a nursery by using a neutral color scheme and breaking up the room with the help of decor and accents. 

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Christine and James describe their personal aesthetic as a blend of modern and vintage, with European influences and Japanese undertones echoed throughout. It's their balanced mix of restraint and luxury, classic and contemporary, that worked together to create an elegant yet truly livable home. 

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Project Credits:

-Homeowners: James Veal and Christine Stucker

-Project Architect and Designers: Stewart-Schafer