The Red Hook home was once a warren of dark rooms.

The residents furnished the interior themselves, even hand-picking the exposed reclaimed beams from a barn in Pennsylvania. The dining table and shelving unit are 1970s vintage and the sofa is from Design Within Reach (left). The height of the top level varies from around nine to 12 feet.

When Joe and Ali Pivar purchased their 1890s townhouse in Red Hook in late 2012, their realtor told them they got the last good deal in the transitioning Brooklyn neighborhood. But like all good deals, it came with a downside. The house, unaltered since the ’70s, was a warren of small, windowless rooms, serviced by ancient utilities. 

Architect Allison Reeves was renovating a townhome in Red Hook when she discovered that the existing redbrick facade was falling apart. With contractor John Fasano, she put in a new exterior of dark bricks, punctuated by a slanted pane of glass by Bieber Windows. A new roof supports a deck as well as the home's mechanicals, which the residents opted to move out of harm's way after Hurricane Sandy flooded other homes in the area.

Architect Allison Reeves was renovating a townhome in Red Hook when she discovered that the existing redbrick facade was falling apart. With contractor John Fasano, she put in a new exterior of dark bricks, punctuated by a slanted pane of glass by Bieber Windows. A new roof supports a deck as well as the home’s mechanicals, which the residents opted to move out of harm’s way after Hurricane Sandy flooded other homes in the area.

Photo: Lesley Unruh

A gut job was needed, which Joe largely took on himself. By the time the couple met their architect, Allison Reeves of ardesign, through friends, the house had been hollowed to a shell. “Whenever there was an option between something fussy and something stripped down, we chose the latter,” says Ali. The simplified interior allowed Reeves to focus on the one feature the owners wanted most: light. 

The residents furnished the interior themselves, even hand-picking the exposed reclaimed beams from a barn in Pennsylvania. The dining table and shelving unit are 1970s vintage and the sofa is from Design Within Reach (left). The height of the top level varies from around nine to 12 feet.

The residents furnished the interior themselves, even hand-picking the exposed reclaimed beams from a barn in Pennsylvania. The dining table and shelving unit are 1970s vintage and the sofa is from Design Within Reach. The height of the top level varies from around nine to 12 feet. 

Photo: Lesley Unruh



In her design, Reeves “flipped” the layout of the two floors the couple use—totaling 1,200 square feet—putting the kitchen and living area on the top level and the bedrooms on the level below, in order to maximize illumination in the places where Joe and Ali spend most of their time. She removed the old pitched roof, and, by installing heavy-duty reclaimed timber beams, was able to raise the ceiling to almost 12 feet in the front half of the house. The heightened volume provides space for a large glass bulkhead above the stairs. Additional light funnels in through an oversized, angled box window that takes the place of two existing windows in the new dark gray brick facade.

Shop the Look

Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant

First introduced in 1952, the George Nelson Bubble Lamps by Herman Miller are definitively mid-century modern, and are so iconic that they are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The George Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant follows the same production process of the original design, where a soft plastic is spray-coated around a steel wire frame to achieve the shape.

West Elm Dark 2-Piece Terminal Chaise Sectional

Hand upholstered in the USA, our Drake Sectional’s loungy, extra-deep terminal chaise lets you sprawl out in complete comfort and style. We gave it crisp lines, tapered legs and grid button-tufted back cushions that keep it always looking neat and chic. It’s available in your choice of fabric so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Helio Prisma Pendant Light

The Helio modern pendant light originates from Niche’s taller and more slender Pharos pendant and is designed for versatility. It is compatible with both 120v and 240v electrical settings and ready for use with an array of different lamping options, including incandescent, LED and compact fluorescent bulbs. The delightfully compact shape of the Helio modern lighting collection works well when grouped together using a Niche Pack Canopy.

The guest room features a bed from West Elm.

The guest room features a bed from West Elm.

Photo: Lesley Unruh

See the full story on Dwell.com: In Brooklyn, an 1890s Townhouse Is Reborn With Tons of Light and a Crisp Black Facade

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