BY CARA GREENBERG, BROWNSTONER
The farsighted couple who purchased this two-story row house had to look past its awkward layout, acoustical tile ceilings, floral wallpaper and linoleum floors. Once it was theirs, they called upon Keren and Thomas Richter, the husband-and-wife team who make up Williamsburg-based interior design studio White Arrow, to reorganize the space and breathe new life into it.
Per their clients’ wishes, White Arrow designed a two-bedroom homeowner’s apartment on the top floor of the 20-by-55-foot building, with a rental unit below. “They wanted light over garden access,” Keren Richter said (the homeowners can reach the garden through the shared basement, which has laundry facilities and a powder room).
In a near-gut reno, White Arrow improved the flow of the rooms, moving and removing walls judiciously to create a more open feel.
“The biggest challenge was trying to make this railroad apartment light and airy, given there aren’t many windows,” said Keren, a California native whose art history degree from Columbia and background as an illustrator and prop stylist served her well in making the transition to interior design. Thomas, originally from Germany, comes from the world of art direction and visual effects.
“We used light materials, bleached the floors, and shifted a wall so the bathroom would have some natural light” from an existing skylight, the designer said. They also salvaged antique doors with glass panels to allow light to pass from room to room. To make the space feel overall more spacious and airy, they installed crown moldings throughout, “to draw the eyes up.”
A calm color palette, bleached floors, a Shaker-style kitchen with blue custom cabinets and an artful mix of new and vintage furniture all contribute to the fresh, youthful feel of the space.
Another key move, to restore a sense of period, was replacing long-lost wood trim throughout, including new baseboards, door and window casings as well as crown moldings, sourced from Dykes Lumber.
Budget was most definitely a consideration. Among the cost-saving measures: refinishing the existing pine subfloors, purchasing high-end appliances through Craigslist, and finding doors, lighting and hardware at salvage and vintage shops.
After ripping up old carpet and linoleum, the existing subfloors were sanded and bleached, saving big bucks over new flooring.
White Cloud by Benjamin Moore was the color of choice throughout the space. Vintage panel doors found on eBay and in salvage shops were painted dramatically dark (Ben Moore’s Onyx Paint) for contrast.
The door at the rear of the entry hall leads to the rental unit. The homeowners’ two-bedroom floor-through is upstairs.
A long canvas sofa by Meritalia, found through AptDeco, a furniture resale site, anchors the living room. Other furnishings, including the 1970s Italian chairs, dhurrie rug and even the decorative fireplace mantel, were all found on eBay.
White Arrow removed half a wall to make the kitchen more open to the main living space and decided to forgo upper cabinets for a more spacious feel.
A Bertazzoni oven, Bosch dishwasher and 28-inch Sub-Zero fridge were all found on Craigslist.
Vintage Finnish dining chairs by Ilmari Tapiovaara, found online, and a formerly dark mid-century credenza were revived with fresh coats of paint. The chandelier is from Park Studio LA.
A bed from Muji, a vintage Paul McCobb dresser and a black-and-white IKEA rug furnish the master bedroom. White Arrow created the throw pillows of African mud cloth.
The bathroom is painted Stiffkey Blue from Farrow & Ball. Cement floor tile with a star pattern came from Manhattan’s Amethyst Artisan. Basic white wall tile from Daltile was a budget-friendly choice.
The pharmacy-style vanity is Restoration Hardware.
For comparison’s sake, check out the house’s front entry hall in its “before” state, below:
The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning. Got a project to propose for The Insider? Contact Cara at caramia447 [at] gmail [dot] com.