When Skye Parrott, a photographer and creative director, and Jeremy Malman, the founder of Worth Motorcycle Company (a nonprofit group that teaches at-risk kids to restore vintage motorcycles), purchased the 1901 Crown Heights, Brooklyn limestone townhouse they now call home, it was apparent that a total gut reno was unavoidable. “There is a six-inch differential between the two sides,” estimates Skye, “which you can still see.” Years of neglect had ravaged the original interiors, and all that could be salvaged of them were the brick walls and wooden floor joists. Still, what seemed like a reasonable estimate for a nine-month renovation soon snowballed into 18, and after a year of waiting patiently while hemorrhaging cash, the young family was forced to move into an active construction site with their small children. The unforeseen expenses of a longer, more extensive project ate up a large portion of the budget that had been set aside for finishes. “All the money got spent on the stuff inside the wall,” says Skye. Scope creep forced the couple to get creative, and they were able to source brand-name appliances from Craigslist on the cheap, as well as to reuse most of the furniture from their former residence. Two bathrooms, a deck off the kitchen, and interior moldings have yet to be completed. “The nice thing about that stuff, though, is that it all can wait,” Skye reasons, in stark contrast to the structural reinforcements that took precedence over the rest of her wishlist.
During the pre-renovation planning phase, Skye and Jeremy allocated the two upper floors to their own 1,900-square-foot family home, where kids Stig, an eight-year-old boy, Oona, a three-year-old girl, and Marlowe, their cat, also reside. The structure’s two lower floors are dedicated to a rental apartment of equal size. When Skye and Jeremy were first looking to buy a home on a budget, they were realistic about the purchasing process. “We had to be flexible on everything, including the neighborhood,” admits Skye. It took six long months of searching and lots of failed deals until they found their current spot. “I would say it’s less that we chose this house, and more that this is the one that finally worked out.” Because they had been close to nailing down other prospects in the past, the couple got a momentary reality check after their contract for the Crown Heights house was finally inked. “We had to remind ourselves that since we were doing a gut renovation, what it looked like then didn’t matter,” she says. Now, after about a year of living in the home, the family loves their new neighborhood, and feels lucky that’s where they landed. Skye says, “People on our block actually say hello to each other!”
Skye and Jeremy haven’t decorated their home by any conventional rules, per se. Beyond selecting bamboo flooring and Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White wall paint, the couple has, “just filled our house with stuff we like, no matter what style or period it comes from,” Skye says. “Then, we try to find a way to make it work together.” There is a decidedly 1970s streak running through the space — from the orange sectional to the macramé hammock and glazed pottery, the home’s decor has got a tinge of disco hippie happening. Rather than attempting to sum up the vibe in any one way, “I think we both just want it to feel comfortable and cozy, and like somewhere that people, including kids, can live.”
The renovation drama has made these two homeowners all the more grateful that they never have to move again. “We’re just thankful! We feel very lucky that we bought our house, because it means we can stay in New York and not be locked into paying insane rents. It is such a luxury to have the kind of space we have here.” – Annie