A Family Home Transformed In Bedford-Stuyvesant
When you work in design, there’s nothing better than seeing the ways in which the work you do in a home can help to improve the lives of the people who live there. It’s even more special for us because residential design is something that we rarely get the chance to do. Just a few short months ago we got the chance to experience just how much fun a home remodel project can be when we partnered with LOWE’S to make over a home in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Everyone deserves a beautiful place where they can live peacefully, pursue their dreams and build memories with their families. And while there’s always more to making that dream a reality than the design of the space, it’s amazing to see how good design, like the right clothes, can change the way that people feel.
After a short casting call with LOWE’S, where we focused on identifying a local homeowner here in Brooklyn, we met Jodi Querbach, the head of programs for Brooklyn Community Services – one of the borough’s oldest organizations for charitable outreach to the community. We also met her husband Kemis, a chef who helps manage the tastiest menus for New York restaurants, like Miss Lily’s, and who hails originally from Jamaica. As we looked through all of the applications that had come into LOWE’S, their story was immediately engaging. Kemis is of Jamaican heritage and Jodi is caucasian. They are blended family of seven, with three young children and two older teens. And they were in search of design that told their story at home, while also helping to make it a relaxing retreat for the entire family.
The objective was to design open plan living and dining area, that was 1200 square feet. With a traditional layout of a Bed-Stuy brownstone, the living room is in the front of the home and the dining area is oriented in the the back. During our early walkthroughs the space felt disjointed, with a mix of modern furnishings and vintage pieces. And the color palette did not complement the home’s historic architecture. The family wanted a space that reflected their heritage and style. For Jodi, our focus was on femininity, her love of vintage pieces and art. For Kemis, we wanted to represent his Jamaican heritage. The two also had very different takes on color. Kemis loves bold tones like deep and bright reds while Jodi favors soft neutrals like gray and blue. And then there were the kids, and all of the needs for storage and durability that life with five children entails. So the mission was this: to create a colorful yet feminine space with a modern look and vintage pieces that would reflect a deep connection to Jamaican culture while standing up to the rigors of day-to-day life with five kids and providing storage for a house with seven people in it. We had our work cut out for us, and only 48 hours to get it all done.
As the sponsor of this home makeover, LOWE’S was there to give us everything we needed to transform this home, from paint to furniture and accessories. It was an exciting process, working with LOWE’S to restore the home to it’s original glory, but in a completely modern way. At the start of the design process, there were plenty of clues to let us know what the home originally looked like before it had been bought by the family five years ago. Our first step was to paint the entire space to highlight it’s original architecture. We went for a unique shade of Architectural Gray by HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams. The color has a tint of lilac in it, making it soft and neutral, with just a little bit of color. With five men in the home, we knew it might be hard to get them to accept a pastel, but they embraced it. And the shade was the perfect contrast to the black stair rail and door that was original to the home. We also wanted to restore things that had been covered up. The original fireplace was covered over in plaster, so we went about designing a mantel, with a mix of wood accents and moulding from LOWE’S to recreate style that would have been seen in the home almost two-hundred years ago.
With a truckload of lumber, tools and trimmings from LOWE’S, we worked with our contractor, Will Johnson, to design and build a brand new fireplace mantel to be the new centerpiece of the living room. We also removed the failing bookshelf from the nook near the window and created a new built-in, 5-level shelving unit to replace it. It was an incredibly fun part of the project, and it paid off big time with two beautiful new features that look as if they are original to the space. We painted the mantel black to mirror the door and stair railing.
Furnishings were picked with culture in mind. Swan-style side chairs were a modern and fun addition for the children. They loved swiveling in them. A Beni Ourain-inspired rug brought home a Moroccan touch. In the dining room, the woodgrain table and Cherner-style dining chairs were streamlined and modern, but also added an island feel, with warm wood. Behind the table we hung artwork, Gold #2, by a local artist, Valincy-Jean Patelli. It was an exciting addition, as the children got to meet Valincy, a local artist from their community, who came during the installation to help hang the piece.
A seating area was also carved out behind the dining room, featuring Jodi’s original windsor bench and a gold accent table from ATG. The gold metallic tone of the art in the dining room, was reflected in the gold accents in the seating nook and living area, helping to connect the open plan space. The final note in the seating area, a limited edition print from Tappan Collective – Palm Shadow 2 by David Kitz. The piece is a quiet reminder of island life, a way to bring Kemis’ Jamaican heritage home.
In the entryway, we wanted to bring in something that was missing – a beautiful light fixture. Striking, artistic lighting is something that homes in Brooklyn are known for, and yet this home was missing one. The perfect piece was brushed allen + roth bronze pendant from LOWE’s. The finish was perfect as it added a vintage feel, something Jodi loves. We hung the fixture and added a ceiling medallion for some architectural detail.
In the end, we were happy to work with LOWE’S to transform a local family home into what one of the children called, “paradise on world tour”. And you can get a piece of paradise too, buy shopping the pieces in the images above.