Funky charm abounds in a chic but cozy Brooklyn brownstone
When Suzanne Myers and Adam Pincus moved from their Manhattan apartment to the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2009, they transformed a classic 1850s brownstone into a chic but cozy home for their growing family. Like many Manhattan transplants, the couple came to Brooklyn in search of more space and light--and the possibility of a yard where their small boys could kick a soccer ball around.
"I remember walking into this house for the first time," says Suzanne, a writer, producer, and film director. (She helped develop The September Issue, a critically acclaimed documentary film about Vogue editor Anna Wintour.) "We looked at each other and said, 'We love this. How can we make this work?'"
Make it work they did, choosing to see the bright side of the fact that the previous owners hadn't renovated in more than 40 years. "That left us a lot of funky charm to work with," Suzanne says. The happy discovery that they did not need to reconfigure the layout of the house (they live in the top three floors and rent out the ground-floor apartment) added to this cheerful attitude. But the decay of the old house's inner workings did dictate that it become a major renovation project.
Suzanne's father, renowned California modernist architect Barton Myers, drew up what plans they needed. "Stylistically, it's not his thing, but he does have a soft spot for traditional; he's from Virginia, after all," Suzanne says with a laugh.
When it came to decorating the house, Suzanne and Adam leaned toward a style that is a mix of off-center traditional and mid-century modern with a healthy dose of whimsy thrown in. The cobalt-blue kitchen was Suzanne's vision. The stainless-steel nautical hardware and collection of Bauer pottery are Adam's contribution. (A native Californian, Adam is head of content for a media agency and a television producer who recently worked with George Clooney on a documentary.) He has scoured flea markets and junk shops for Bauer since he was a teenager. He scored the antique tripod lamp that's now in the den at a Paris flea market and persuaded a skeptical flight crew to let him stash it in an overhead compartment for the trip home. He also found almost all of the doors and hardware for the house at salvage outlets.
The "parlor floor," or second level, is furnished with a mix of traditional furniture (the reproduction Chippendale sofa) and modern classics (the antique Corbusier armchairs), many of which are hand-me-downs from Suzanne's family. Much of the like-minded couple's decorating style seems to be intuitive. A rare moment of indecision over dining chairs for their olive-green metal dining room table was solved when they spotted at Ikea a smaller version of the classic Shaker chairs they were eyeing at Design Within Reach. The next floor up houses the master bedroom and a den/office/guest room. Suzanne, who loves wallpaper but didn't want to overpower the smallish rooms with pattern, satisfied her yen by papering just one wall in the master bedroom and den. The sophisticated effect makes a great backdrop for the couple's eclectic collections of furniture and artwork.
The boys' playroom and bedrooms are tucked away on the top floor of the house. It's a cozy, colorful hideaway with a spy's-eye view of the rooftops and gardens below.
The bustling Brooklyn neighborhood is overflowing with children, unique shops, and top-notch restaurants. "There are young families up and down this block," Suzanne says. "On Halloween, it's like Sesame Street. I can't believe how lucky we are to live this way in New York."
Architect: Barton Myers, Barton Myers Associates Inc., 1025 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024; 310/208-2227, bartonmyers.com. Contractor: Isogon Interum, LLC, 204 28th St., Brooklyn, NY 11232-1604; 718/369-9587.
Photography: Jonny Valiant
Produced by Sabine Rothman
Here, as in many Brooklyn brownstones, the parlor floor houses the kitchen and dining room.
"I imagined the inside of a Fabergé egg, all sparkling blue and white," is how Suzanne describes the inspiration for the color of the kitchen.
An Eileen Gray desk and a chair from a Paris flea market face Cole & Son wallpaper.
Art Nouveau-style wallpaper from Cole & Son in the master bedroom complements a vintage Eames chair.
Grass cloth warms the walls of the den/office/guest room. The marble fireplace is original to the house.
The top floor is the kids' domain, with this playroom and their bedrooms.