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When interior designer Nora Calderwood and architect Adam Darter bought their 650-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in Park Slope, they knew they would need to renovate in a major way but on a scaled-down budget. A year later, the result is not only airy and light, it smartly blends original details with the owners’ forward-thinking design ideas.
The apartment had endured some wear and tear, and had been divided up into four small rooms. But the couple realized what could be found underneath the surface. “We were able to look beyond the tattered conditions of the apartment and realized that, with nine-and-a-half-foot ceilings and six south-facing windows, it had potential,” says Adam.
By removing the walls in the main area, Nora and Adam created a loft-like living room, open to the inventive kitchen and dining area. To maximize space and minimize visual clutter (which are musts in a small apartment), Adam designed a kitchen island unit that can be used as both an eat-at island and as a dining table that pulls out into the room for larger dinner parties.
“Our challenge was accommodating our style in a small space,” Nora explains. “We love eat-at islands for when it’s just us, but we like to entertain for our friends and wanted a larger dining table. At the same time, we didn’t want to clutter the space between the kitchen and living area with both an island and a table.” The solution offers options while maintaining a certain level of visual spaciousness.
The kitchen itself needed a full upgrade, which the couple masterminded as a place where warm wood meets a welcoming blue for the cabinets and a pleasing square subway tile for the backsplash. With one of the six large windows bathing the kitchen with light, even on a cloudy day, the simple palette comes to life and yet remains calm and sophisticated.
Built in the 1920s, the apartment still possessed some of its original details, such as window trims, wall decoration, and parquet floors. By preserving these graceful elements, the couple could find the right moments in which to insert both modern touches as well as handmade ones. Along one wall, they installed a floating credenza of their own design, wrapped in walnut. A Lindsey Adelman do-it-yourself light fixture hangs in the kitchen. In the living room they designed shelving using metal plumbing pipe from Home Depot and oak planks from Nora’s family farm in Maine—a nod to both the past and the present.
Achieving an affordable renovation in New York City is no small feat, especially now in Brooklyn. With a gentle touch and smart design, this couple transformed their new home without gutting it or breaking the bank.
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