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History Lessons

Moving from an Upper East Side townhouse to a spanking-new condo duplex in Dumbo left a mother craving warmth and character.

The master bedroom. Photo: Brittany Ambridge
The master bedroom. Photo: Brittany Ambridge

Cookie-cutter condos abound, with their sparkling white rooms and open space; the trick is knowing how to decorate and warm them up without denying the context of their overall design. Caroline Grant and Dolores Suarez (a.k.a, Guini, to her friends), who founded Dekar Design in 2003, have honed their talents addressing such balancing acts — creating intimacy and charm in restaurants like Bobo, Rosemary’s, Claudette, and their latest, Rosemary’s Pizza, and for a range of clients’ projects. “We try to balance the old with the new,” says Suarez, “because we always look to the architectural bones of the space, so even if a client wants to make it look very prewar, you have to take direction from the architecture.” Here is what they did to create a cheerful, cozy nest to make a mother and her baby daughter feel right at home.

Dekar’s client always dreamed of having Gracie wallpaper, and it’s lavished in her master bedroom, seen above. The woven rug is from Brunschwig & Fils and the chair is from Jonathan Adler. The fireplace is from Hearth Cabinet and the surround is custom-designed by Dekar.

“We walked in and thought, This is just a big box. We need to divide the space,” Grant says. “Guini and I always like to have distinct areas in restaurants and homes to make you feel like you are moving between rooms. So we tried to figure out how to define the space.” Here, the living room, which opens onto the terrace, is grounded by a rug from ABC Carpet and a sofa designed by Dekar upholstered in Holly Hunt mohair fabric. The two side chairs from Oly Studio are upholstered in Rogers & Goffigon fabric. “We used an Apparatus light with pendants hung at different heights, which added more irregularity, a little more asymmetry. Everything was so straight lines and perfect.” Photo: Brittany Ambridge
“The fireplace was one of the big drivers,” Grant says. “There was one straight wall, so we bumped out part of it to make it look as if there was an actual chimney, and then we added this fireplace with a surround that we designed.” The vintage mirror above is from Mecox Gardens. Photo: Brittany Ambridge
The garden off the living room abuts the Brooklyn Heights Promenade so that the borrowed view includes planting beyond the actual garden space. The furniture here is from Blu Dot, and the space becomes an alfresco living and dining area in the warmer months. Photo: Brittany Ambridge
To define the dining area between the open kitchen and living room, Dekar covered the inset wall by the table with a patchwork of mercury mirror, “which makes the space feel a little wider, and also at night reflects the light and bounces it around and gives a nice twinkling feel,” Grant says. Photo: Brittany Ambridge
The nursery is its own little world, with wallpaper by Studio Four and a ceiling covered in custom wallpaper by Spoonflower. The rug is from Stark and the window-seat cover is by Carolina Irving. The overhead light is from Laviva Home. Photo: Brittany Ambridge
“The master bath was the size of a New York City studio apartment,” Suarez says. Their client felt she could forgo the bathtub, and in its stead Dekar designed her longed-for vanity station. “We built that out and added the wallpaper from Studio Four — it made it seem like it was always there.” Photo: Brittany Ambridge
“These days, everyone works from their laptops,” Suarez says of the reasons to turn the third bedroom into a guest room instead of an office. “Our client has lots of friends who visit and she really wanted to give them a proper guest room.” And one they will never want to leave, with wallpaper from Lee Jofa, a rug from Anthropologie, and a roman shade from Kravet with Samuel & Sons trim. Photo: Brittany Ambridge

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A Spanking-New Dumbo Condo With Warmth and Character