A tasteless remodel undone in Boerum Hill.
In Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, a family of four gained valuable square footage when they moved into a new house in the neighborhood they already lived in and loved. While upgrading in size and gaining backyard space, the owners also inherited a host of architectural, structural, and cosmetic problems. The historic home, built in 1901, was not in great shape, and any character details of the original structure had been carelessly stripped. Along with Bangia Agostinho Architecture, the owners set out to restore the home to its original glory, while respectfully adding their own modern stamp. “It was important for the owners to have the new house be in context with the neighborhood, but not exactly imitate a traditional town house,” says Bangia Agostinho principal Anshu Bangia. Inside, the clients’ affinity for clean, modern design was realized, punctuated by details fabricated from salvaged materials.
When the owners found the house, it was severely neglected, structurally unsound, and thoughtlessly stripped of architectural detail. At the exterior, imitation stone-asphalt shingles blanketed the facade in a confused mosaic pattern. Through the exterior overhaul, the team intentionally “avoided using ornate moldings or superficial references to traditional forms,” explains Bangia. Integrated with the classic molded bricks, oversized windows, flanked by honed bluestone sills and lintels, offer subtle hints to the modern interior to be unveiled inside.
A common theme of the remodel was the incorporation of salvaged material, both from the original house and outside sources. Collaborating with Peter Buley of Analog Modern, the original hemlock fir joists of the house were repurposed into the main entry door. Adjacent to the door is a bench made from a heart pine beam, sourced by Buley. The beam had been charred during a circa-1900 fire, and subsequently painted over during the last 100 years. The unique piece now finds its home in the entry foyer.
On the first floor, the kitchen features simple white IKEA cabinetry juxtaposed with a natural wood surround for the hood, also repurposed from the original fir beams.
The decidedly modern dining and kitchen areas open to the backyard through a floor-to-ceiling steel-and-glass door, fabricated by Optimum Window. One of the owners’ favorite features of the home is the “ability to connect the inside to the outside seamlessly,” Bangia describes. The living area serves as “a place for the kids to dance or ride a skateboard, a casual space that reflects the way they live.”
A salvaged pine bookshelf is a focal point of the home and complements the oak stair. The anchoring bookshelf is open on both sides, and follows the stairs to run for a full two floors.
On the top floor, the bookshelf becomes a storage cabinet at the entry to the master bedroom. A well-placed skylight illuminates the staircase.
The master bedroom features shorter planks of five-and-a-half-inch-wide white oak flooring. Their warmth is enhanced by the wall color, Benjamin Moore Abalone, the only departure from white anywhere in the house. The bed is from CB2, and side table is from Environment 337.
Another incorporation of the original fir beams can be seen in the bathroom’s medicine cabinet frame. An oak vanity and David Weeks Studio Boi sconces complete the space.
Opposite the master bedroom on the top floor lies the sunny kids’ bedroom. A double-sided wardrobe provides storage, and functionally divides two separate sleeping areas. Further storage is placed along the window wall that faces the backyard.
The rear facade is a surprisingly modern counterpoint to the traditional front. Here, traditional brick is traded for modern stucco.