A Brooklyn Duplex Gets a Sophisticated Makeover After a 10-Year Absence

The library bookshelves are covered with some faux-mid-century gold wall hangings. Photo: Annie Schlechter

“There is a bit of a Rip Van Winkle feel about it all,” James Aguiar says, describing his move with his partner, Mark Haldeman, this past September into the same Park Slope duplex that they had rented from 1997 to 2006. Following that period, the couple decided to economize after buying a weekend house in Kingston, New York, and moved two doors down to a smaller space. But when their former apartment came back on the market and their pockets were much deeper, they snatched it up. The first time around, the décor was a bit cartoony (lots of taxidermy, a mannequin presiding over the second-floor landing). And for their smaller apartment, they had gone for eye-popping color, with a persimmon-and-lime-green living room anchored by a hot-orange couch. For this, their new old apartment, Haldeman and Aguiar decided to try something totally different.

“We saw this as the perfect opportunity to reinvent a whole new life in an old space,” says Haldeman, the U.S. regional manager of Paul Smith, who along with Aguiar, the fashion director of Modern Luxury, wanted to go with a slightly more sophisticated look. The rooms downstairs are saturated in rich colors and layered patterns, while the upstairs salon shimmers in pale hues contrasting with animal prints and porcupine-quill lampshades. (Billy Baldwin and Syrie Maugham would have felt at home here.) “I think we always look for the wrong thing to make it right,” Aguiar says. This can mean deconstructing a metal wall hanging found at Target and repurposing it as an ornamental detail on the front of a console in the library, or placing matching sofa-bed love seats covered in an ermine tail-motif fabric on a rust-colored area rug. “We spent ten years missing this place — it was our first home together,” Aguiar says. “The countless holidays and dinner parties. And, of course, we missed the 11 closets the most.”

*A version of this article appears in the January 23, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

A Brooklyn Duplex Gets a Sophisticated Makeover