Interiorssneak peeks

A Landmarked Park Slope Brownstone Awakens with Vibrant Color

by Kelli Kehler

1st Street Brownstone

When Samantha and Jonah Arcade and their two daughters outgrew their previous Brooklyn, NY apartment of six years, they never imagined they’d find room to breathe in a brownstone that was just 12 feet wide on each floor. But with Tirzah, 8, and Delaney, 4, a 1,000-square-foot home “wasn’t cutting it,” Sam admits. So about nine months ago, the family of four took a chance on a 1901 landmarked brownstone in need of a full renovation — from top to bottom, all four floors.

“We’d been searching for a home in Park Slope for what seemed like forever,” she says. “At one point we tried to buy a big house with friends and split it in half, but it got very complicated very quickly. About that time I said to Jonah, ‘we just need a little house, where are the little houses?’ When we saw our house we both said: ‘it is definitely little!’ But compared to what we were used to, even though it’s only 12 feet wide it really is a lot of house. On top of that, it has a lot of original detail, gorgeous ceiling moldings, original stained glass. I’m sure I was staring at those pretty windows while ignoring words like ‘complete electrical/plumbing updates,’ [and] ‘mechanical redo’.”

To tackle the overhaul, Sam, a creative director at an ad agency, and Jonah, a securities regulator, enlisted the help of architect Sarah Jacoby to helm the 2,400-square-foot transformation. The long list of renovations included enlarging the home’s garden level, adding a guest suite with a new bathroom and laundry room, adding a new kitchen to the parlor level, opening up the living room wall to expose the central staircase, and designing an updated master suite with ensuite bathroom, among other changes.

“While the renovation added many new features and opened up several spaces to create a better flow, the design was simultaneously careful not to overwhelm or compromise the spirit of the historic features,” Sarah says.

“The goal all along was to figure out how to make the house feel as wide as possible while preserving as much as possible,” Sam echoes. “The original details are actually quite grand, so we wanted to show them off as much as possible. Removing the wall between the front parlor and the original library (now kitchen) transformed the whole house. It exposed the central staircase which deserves to be seen. And Sarah’s design truly maximizes every square inch of space there is.”

While Sarah reconfigured the space to make it work for the family while honoring its past, she and Sam worked in tandem to infuse the home with energizing colors and other eye-catching design elements. Take a spin through the whole tour to see how color and history interplay harmoniously to give the Arcade family the space they need in the neighborhood they love. —Kelli

Photography by Ty Cole

Image above: “We are lucky that only a few families lived here before us, which is pretty [remarkable] considering she’s not a young house — part of the demo included removing gas lamp infrastructure,” Sam says. “And while we’re not the first family in Brooklyn looking to maximize square footage, when you’re working with just 12 feet across it takes on a whole new meaning.” By opening up the stair wall, Sarah was able to elongate the home’s design and make the space feel much larger. Chairs upholstered by Studio Four in their teal Jackie fabric, with Flock‘s Northmore Minor Teal fabric on the back. 

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“I was inspired by colors in the stained glass," Sam shares. "Especially the cobalt blue, it's so vibrant and fun. We are so lucky that our former neighbor and dear friend, Kate Reynolds, is half of the design duo behind Studio Four NYC. She and her partner Stacy Waggoner's showroom is like a candy store for pretty things. Seeing all their gorgeous patterns helped me break up with turquoise and lean into that gorgeous blue. I love all the fabrics, wallpapers and rugs we chose, but my most favorite is the handwoven electric blue fabric Studio Four's in-house weaver, Soraya Shah created [for these chairs]. It's spectacular. And my daughter, Tirzah, got to see the work in progress on the loom. Then it became fabric. In. Our. Home. That blew her mind.”
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The Arcade family: Jonah, Samantha, Delaney and Tirzah. Sam says, “We are a Brooklyn-loving family of four. All of us love going out for sushi. Some of us love theater. One of us would really, really love to get a dog - we are currently in negotiations on the matter.”
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"The geometric Kelly Wearstler Cubist Chandeliers [in the living room] provide a juxtaposition with the soft ceiling medallions," architect Sarah Jacoby says.
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Original wainscot paneling remains preserved in the garden-level family room. Stills from classic 1980s movies pop off of the walls, painted in Benjamin Moore's "Tropical Dusk."
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The 1901 brownstone's original millwork was updated to accommodate a wet bar and wine fridge - something Jonah really wanted in the family's new home.
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Sam says, "Before we finalized the plans, I wrote Sarah an email titled: nooks and crannies. She's incredibly skilled at finding space where there isn't any and making sure the layout is functional, practical, but still beautiful. She worked miracles, in the kitchen especially. We threw a lot at her to fit in the space - a new powder room, an island, a library ladder, a built-in banquette with enough room to actually sit and eat - all without removing the fireplace, of course. She made it all work beautifully. We have a library-inspired kitchen. That's pretty neat.”
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"The kitchen was relocated to the parlor level where the original library was," Sarah says. "The sliding library ladder allows access to the upper storage that takes advantage of the high ceilings. The pop of blue on the island carries through the house and is inspired by the original stained glass." Light fixture is a Circa Bistro chandelier designed by Ian K. Fowler; the island is painted in Benjamin Moore's "Starry Night Blue."
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"The prior family loved carpet," Sam shares. "When we ripped it up, we expected disaster but underneath was all this gorgeous wood, some with inlay detail! Preserved and waiting. That was an exciting day.” But it's safe to say the gorgeous original stained glass windows and marble waterfall countertop steal the show in this scene.
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"A strip of wall between the fireplace and new powder room in the kitchen provides a tiny opportunity to display objects," Sarah says.
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In the tiny powder room, another chance for color and pattern - wallpaper is Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC Exotic Fruit in cobalt, the sink is by Duravit, faucet by Kohler, mirror by Anthropologie, light fixture by Schoolhouse Electric.
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In the master bedroom, wallpaper by Studio Four and Eskayel (in Parvati Cerulean) and a Worlds Away Turner Pendant bring both energy and sophistication.
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The bed linens and frame are kept simple to let the wallpaper shine.
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"The master bathroom was added to the second floor to create a master suite with a walk-in shower," Sarah says. A black and white color palette was employed by way of cement tiles from Mosaic House.
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Tirzah and Delaney's room has a fun pink and turquoise theme. The trim is painted in Benjamin Moore's "Peony" and the ceiling is outfitted in Chasing Paper's Star Bright wallpaper in Turquoise.
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"The pitched roof and exposed beams make the top floor playroom a fanciful and private space where the girls love to make up imaginary worlds. A teal magnet wall features their masterpieces," Sarah says.
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The girls' bathroom is no less inspiring and playful with Caitlin McGauley Elephants Wallpaper in pink, turquoise penny tiles, and light fixtures by Schoolhouse Electric. The utility-style wall-mount sink by Kohler echoes the historic feel of the 1901 brownstone home.
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The stairwell is made personal with a family photo wall. Don't miss the stained glass skylight in the ceiling above!
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Architect Sarah added a guest bedroom to the home's garden level along with new glass doors that lead out to the garden. Benjamin Moore's "Yellow Green" and patterned carpet add the Arcade family's signature whimsical touch.
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What the Arcade family loves most about their home is each other (and hopefully a dog someday).
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The 1901 landmarked brownstone's floor plan. The home, in Brooklyn, NY's Park Slope neighborhood, is 2,400 square feet split up over four floors.

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Comments

  • Oooh….this home features all the things I LOVE about well-design interiors: wallpaper, color, art and historic details. Swoon. Kudos to the architectural team for maximizing/re-arranging the space while retaining the historic integrity of the Brownstone. And bravo Studio Four…the textiles and patterns are perfect. As we work through the rooms of our own home (an 1895 build), I’m going to use this as inspiration! You’ve managed to design rooms that (each) possess their own distinctive feel and yet work cohesively when taken as a whole. Well done! Enjoy it. (There are so many amazing dogs up for adoption…I bet one would love living here too.)

  • An avid follower of this site, seldom commenter, but this house – my goodness! It’s so beautiful and thoughtful and actually brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing! #dreamhousedreams

  • A stained glass skylight?!?!!!!! I had to keep going back to that photo to make certain I wasn’t in some magical daydream! BEAUTIFUL!

  • So inspiring! Well designed, personal, fun, classic. Clean not cold, warm not cluttered. Much harder to pull off than it seems and they make it look easy!

  • What a beautiful tribute to an old home. You kept all the wonderful features of this gem and added modern touches/conveniences. Amazing — hope your new home brings lots of wonderful memories!

  • Straight into my Inspiration Folder you go! Fabulous.

    Everything is perfect. Nothing more to be done except adopt that pooch!

  • Definitely bookmarking this one.

    But what about that master closet?!? It looks as big as the master bedroom — would love to see pictures of how it is organized!

  • Oh wow! Seriously fabulous with burst of colour and fun at every turn. Please tell me about the guest room flooring as I’m intrigued.

  • Wow, wow, wow! I haven’t visited your site in a while (follow on insta and facebook, just haven’t clicked over) and this stunning home tour welcomes me back. Bright, beautiful color and so cheerful!

  • What a delight, I would like to copy at least 5 ideas from this home.
    Can you tell me how well the small sink in the powder room works? It is darling, but doesn’t the water splash on the walls.

    • Thx! It does splash a bit, but we were confined by code & had really no other choice. I think it helps that the Koehler faucet doesn’t allow a strong spray so there’s less of a splash factor.

  • Love!!! I’m in the midst of renovating foursquare with similar bones so the mix of modern with traditional (and color!) is inspiring! Related — is that an Ilve oven?? I’m struggling with finding appliances that ‘work’ visually.

    • It is! It was a splurge but it’s the only one that sort of look les library-esq to me. Which I realize is completely ridiculous. BUT I love it. Much more than our previous (Viking) range. And the customer service thus far has been great!

  • This is so beautiful. The colours and patterns look so fresh and unique and the fittings and fixtures (that Kelly Wearstler light!) complement the existing architectural features perfectly..

  • I love the trim and stained glass, that unusual purple family room, and the kitchen light fixture. They’ve managed to add new and original elements without distracting from the old. Very jealous of these kids! I would note, though, that 2400 square feet is not “small”!

  • All the Design and color combination are wow !! The 17 Number is awesome stairwell designed. My baby like this designing work very much.

    Nice master bedroom is designed here. Please make some horrible noise in this to make the picture perfect. Thankyou !!

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