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Rowhouse Modern

A family with two young daughters gut renovate a neglected 1890 rowhouse in Park Slope.

The living room. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have
The living room. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have

The ubiquitous rowhouse started popping up around the city in the late-18th and early-19th centuries as popular single-family dwellings. As the name implies, they were built with matching brick, then later brownstone, limestone, and terra-cotta façades, bringing architectural uniformity to city living.

Today, as popular as ever, they still might look cohesive from the street, but once inside, owners have customized to their heart’s and wallet’s content in order to make city living that much more palatable. Entrepreneur Tim Cotton, and his wife, Anne-Laure Py, who owns the Craftspring boutique in Gowanus, moved to Brooklyn in 2014 in search of a house that would accommodate their growing family — they now have two daughters. They found their diamond in the rough, an 1890 four-story rowhouse in a landmarked district of Park Slope. The house hadn’t been renovated or updated in decades. So with their architect, Brendan Coburn of CWB Architects, they gutted the whole thing and opened up the back, including the living room, seen above, to bring in air and light. “The steel windows at the rear of the home,” project manager Leah Solk of CWB says, are thermally broken to reduce heat loss in winter. An Energy Recovery Ventilation system was installed, allowing fresh air to be continuously circulated throughout the house. The mechanical design was by ZeroEnergy Design. The sofa and ottoman are from Luminaire with curtains by Ruben Ruenes. The light is by Workstead, and the area rug is from a trip to Morocco. The interiors were decorated by Fearins Welch Interior Design.

The geometry of the brass panel from Atelier Delalain, above the fireplace, and the green tile backsplash from Mosaic House edging in from the kitchen give the living room a fresh,updated Bauhaus feeling. The back of the house was extended allowing for the sunken living room. There is a penthouse addition as well. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have
The kitchen is open to the parlor-floor living room and dining area with a Dot Collection ceiling-light fixture from Lambert Fils and an oven and hood from Miele. The millwork is by Pilaster Inc., and the drawer pulls are from Rocky Mountain Hardware. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have
The dining area facing the kitchen features another hanging Dot Collection light fixture by Lambert Fils and a custom table and bench by Max Wang Studio Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have
“The open sculptural stair tower was designed to function like that of a traditional rowhouse stair but with a smaller footprint,” Coburn says. “The stair space also strives to foster family communication, making open living spaces visible between floors.” The staircase was fabricated by Arcways. “Oak was used throughout the home as a unifying material,” he adds. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have
“We totally redid the garden and worked with a dear friend, Shanti Nagel, and her landscaping company, Design Wild,” Cotton says. Nagel brought in nature from the penthouse to the basement level, seen here, and the parlor-level garden, which is accessed from stairs off the living room. “Tim loves to garden, and it’s a place where we spend a lot of time with the girls,” Py says. “Especially up on the roof. It’s also great to have a grill, a real luxury in New York.” Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have
The “Olympian White” counter stone from ABC Stone adds to the sparkle of the master bath with Popham Design’s Hex Dot floor tile. The drawer pulls are from Restoration Hardware, and the faucets are from Dornbracht. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have
Up on the roof, there’s a bar, deck, and a cozy built-in bench within the railing by Max Wang Studio. The steel windows and doors are by Dynamic Architectural Windows and Doors. “The project took about three years — from first seeing the house to moving in,” Cotton says. “We love the block, and we loved the idea of designing all aspects of the house together with our architects.” Photo: Kevin Kunstadt; styling by Mieke ten Have

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