On a snowy day just before the Christmas of 2005, Bennison Fabrics’ Gregg Mitchell and his brother shook hands with their realtor on the steps of this brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn. For a while, the Mitchell men and their wives had been playing around with the idea of moving their two families into a building outside the buzz of Manhattan, where they felt the schools and community would help their young children thrive. Admittedly, they were hardly taking the idea seriously. Then this 1880s-era home came on their radar, and they were hooked.
In all its 130 years, only five families (including the Mitchells) have owned the brownstone. And we all know what fewer owners means: minimal opportunities for a home to be stripped of its charm. To this day, original plaster ceiling work, oak floors and built-in cabinetry shine in each room, giving the space the grandiose feeling of a bygone era. Even better, without owners coming and going, the home stands free from trendy, flash-in-the-pan additions and tweaks.
All of the above make the Victorian a home run stylistically. It did take some major elbow grease to make the house logistically work for these modern families, though. Firstly, the brothers had to reconfigure the layout of the single-family home in order to turn it into two independent units. Gregg, his wife, photographer Andrea Chu, and their son, Nico, got the garden and ground level, while Gregg’s brother, his wife and their son nestled into the top three floors. Then, over the course of a year the house got new windows, plumbing, updated kitchens and fresh bathrooms.
Overall, Gregg says the renovation taught him some valuable lessons: “It’s better to do something right the first time,” he says. “In hindsight, [I] came away with an appreciation for quality work and materials. I [also] learned to design not for the moment… but for living with it forever.” Without a doubt, Gregg and his family’s hard work has afforded them the latter. The brownstone is classic, yet modern. In fact, it’s probably one of the most timeless homes we’ve ever featured. Scroll down to check it out, and enjoy! —Garrett
Photography by Andrea Chu
Image above: This built-in banquette has become the centerpiece of the family’s dining room thanks to gorgeous upholstery by Bennison Fabrics. It’s the first of many Bennison works you’ll see featured throughout Gregg and Andrea’s home.
Wall upholstery – Bennison Fabrics
Chairs – Tolex
Portrait of girl – Andrea Chu
Upholstery, throw pillows – Bennison Fabrics
Photograph of car – Ken Richardson
Cabinetry – BDDW
Range – Viking
Wall color – Benjamin Moore “Decorator’s White”
Wainscoting color – Benjamin Moore “Paper White”
Chair upholstery – Bennison Fabrics
Gregg & Andrea’s Bedroom
Bed – BDDW
Bedding – Bennison Fabrics
Bed spread, pillow – Marimekko
Mobile – The French Circus
Apple art – Peter Arkle