For a rare glimpse of a lavish 1839 Greek Revival townhouse and the fertile imagination of some 20 talented local interior designers, put the 2022 Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse on your must-see list. Its five floors, from garden to solarium, have been dreamily reimagined over a summer of whirlwind endeavors and will be open to the public from Friday, September 23 through October 30.
The house has a complicated history, with many owners and iterations. It was used as rental housing when it was first built, became a single-family mansion shortly thereafter, a multi-family in the 1930s, and returned to single-family ownership more recently. Jenna Chused of Dumbo-based Chused & Co. seems to have embraced all of her periods. Chused was fearless enough to tackle the biggest and most ambitious space in the house, the 66-foot-deep double living room, draping it in luxurious textiles and making it shine, from the glossy lacquered walls to the bookcases lined with mirrors.
Each oversized piece of furniture – a clever mix of antique and modern vintage – has its own inherent drama. A carefully restored Romantic painting from two centuries ago, hung like a tapestry on an Art Deco console, exemplifies the diverse mix. Chused’s intention to “bring the room somewhere more modern” allows for a 1970s serpentine sofa in deep burgundy and, in another of the room’s three seating areas, a supple mid-century leather sofa from the Brazil.
Beyond the etched glass pocket doors, a kitchen designed by Baxt Ingui Architects of lower Manhattan and Meghan Laky and Souhi Kim of BIA Interiors, is a confection of pale mauve cabinetry against large swaths of veined white marble. Light fixtures with milky glass globes from Circa illuminate a gigantic center island and channeled banquette spanning the entire room below the home’s sloping back wall.
Contributions from local artisans can be found throughout, including decorative leaded glass in kitchen cabinet doors, the work of Sunburst Studio in Sunset Park. Graffiti-inspired lighting from Greenpoint’s Avram Rusu studio distinguishes a back hall and powder room adjacent to the living room floor, which Red Hook-based designer Laurie Blumenfeld elegantly clad in textured gray grasscloth .
A grand staircase broken by a wide landing rises along the side wall of the living room to the upper floor, where an innovative guest bedroom by Michelle Ficker and Peter Dolkas, the young associates of Dumbo-based Studio Dorion, takes up the shape of a sleeping cabinet wrapped in utilitarian chino fabric. Perforated shutters made from standard pegboard, a modern Danish desk, and a 1930s Swedish chandelier complete this unusual space.
Collyer’s Mansion, the longtime home goods store on Lower Atlantic Avenue, created a soft pink bookcase with a New York vibe. “We were inspired by the idea of a women’s bookcase, not dark and moody, but light and bright,” said Mauri Weakley, partner of Laura Rucker in both the boutique and the design firm. associated. Most of the furniture in the room, which includes a pair of slipper chairs upholstered in exuberant bird fabric from Utopia Goods of Australia, one of their vendors, and a bubble chandelier by Julie Neill for Circa Lighting , can be purchased on their website, billed as the Showhouse Collection.
Another flight higher, Tara McCauley’s black-walled master bedroom is a “wild surreal dream,” said the designer, whose office is in lower Manhattan. She took on iconoclastic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli as her muse, centering the bedroom on a bed upholstered in Paris-themed Pierre Frey fabric and topped with a scarlet swag held by two disembodied hands. A pink convex mirror in an eye-shaped frame, an embroidered antique textile from the Paris flea market, a fringed leopard loveseat and a shiny nickel-finish sunburst chandelier all add up to what looks, in the designer’s words, to “a black and white film with touches of color.
There’s no shortage of trade shows at this year’s Showhouse. Manhattan-based Rupp Studio’s bedroom on the third floor is an alluring space with dark mottled walls and plum and gold furnishings. The shine comes from a sunburst fixture that hugs the ceiling and, set on shelves, ceramic pots in deep, saturated tones.
A comfortable, compact living room was inspired, said designer Jessica Stambaugh of the late JS Interiors of Brooklyn, now based in Nashville, by historic spaces once used for contemplation and conversation, in particular a 15th-century study with inlaid wooden walls of the ducal palace of Gubbio. , Italy, now based at the Met. Digitally printed green wallpaper with trompe l’oeil texture and a mix of local, global and handmade furnishings meet the designer’s goal of making the room a “fun and uplifting jewelry box.”
In 2014, the current owners of the townhouse converted the attic into a contemporary solarium, facing the open sky to the west. Drawing inspiration from “the historical use of sunrooms to grow citrus fruits”, Dumbo-based designer Meagan Camp relied on organic patterns. Green and white floral fabric predominates on a curtain wall and wide window seat; a massive black metal lantern connects the indoor-outdoor feel of the space.
The occupants of this fully-imagined home have children, apparently, as there’s a children’s bedroom on the top floor, described by designer Jenny Kirschner of Clinton Hill’s JDK Interiors as a “candy-coated dream.” The swirling, multicolored shapes of the hand-painted mural stretch across the ceiling, exuding a cheerful energy.
Harlem’s Antonio Deloatch built his sexy and sophisticated black and white bathroom around the popular Brooklyn Toile wallpaper pattern from local manufacturer Flavor Paper. “Every room should have a bit of sparkle,” he says — in this case, a pair of light-up cylinder sconces by Shakuff, made in Industry City.
The ambiance rooms on the ground floor have a very different semi-subterranean atmosphere. At the front of the building, two Atlantic Avenue decorating companies share a showroom where everything is for sale. Assembly Line offers home improvement and design services as well as furniture and lighting, and The Primary Essentials offers tableware, cutlery, textiles and gifts.
Emerging designer KD Reid has crafted an indoor living room that’s “a slice of Brooklyn,” the Hoboken-based designer said, featuring horizontally striped walls and rounded ’70s-inspired furniture from BoConcept. Next door, Circa 22’s space is a dreamy hideaway, with Flavor Paper’s lusciously colored tree of life on the walls, a crescent-shaped blue velvet sofa, two free-form coffee tables and a mirror shimmering sun. “The room had to have a swing,” said Daria Demin of the South Slope-based company. It is an elegant one, upholstered in gold fabric with long black pompoms.
The garden itself is the work of Nigel Rollings, centered on an orb-shaped water feature 12 feet in diameter, mounted on the back wall. Rollings, who teaches popular garden design classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, also landscaped the prairie-like roof, undulating with fall-flowering perennials and a lush deck next to the master bedroom.
The Showhouse is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursdays until 8 p.m. Admission fees support the important work of the Brooklyn Heights Association, including activism on behalf of the neighborhood regarding BQE repair and an effort to bring more small businesses to Montague Street. Tickets are $40 ($35 for BHA members, $20 for students).
[Photos by Susan De Vries]