Let There Be Light

One of the strongest gestures to define a space is the manipulation of light. It enlivens space, creates connection to the environment beyond, and makes a space feel larger than the confines of its perimeter. This light filled renovation was designed by the bay area based architecture firm of Malcom Davis. When I saw the images of this 1905 family row house, I responded to the simplicity of implementing a few broad design choices, which transform the space. The key to the success of this project lies not only the amount of glass, but thoughtful and creative placement. For example, the shower entry from the deck creates an ‘outdoor shower’ in the summer months, and a frosted glass on the door provides privacy when needed. Similarly, the rear elevation of the home treats the entry to the basement level with equal consideration to its occupants. What a lovely decent, providing light and view. Light from above from the ridge skylights creates a wash of light, filling the entire space, diffused by the frosted glass, managing light quality and focusing views out the clear glass doors to the garden.

The architect opened the central core of the house by relocating the main staircases, installing interior glazing at both floors and walls, and adding ridge skylights. Exposed steel moment frames provided the necessary structure to open the floor plan and allow for larger areas of glass. The material palette of natural cedar shingles, painted wood paneling, marble, exposed steel, and board-form concrete creates a modern yet timeless aesthetic that complements the original house.

Images and excerpts sourced at Malcom Davis Architects.


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Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth Roberts is a NYC designer, who renovated a beautiful  Brooklyn brownstone in Clinton Hill. I recently saw the home published, and was immediately taken back to the spirit of place, and to the wonderful years I lived in the hood. It seems Elizabeth and I share a design philosophy and approach. Her home is an exercise in simplicity and restraint. Absence of color, with the exception of that present in functional objects found in their inherent texture and pattern. The space is white and bright, with depth and contrast grounding the environment with deep chocolate oak floors. The furnishings are modern with clean lines, yet there is respect for the historic qualities and embellishment of the architecture of the built space. The fireplace surround, and beautiful millwork, such as the front entry door, are a beautiful example of how historic detail as a backdrop to modern furnishings can create a rich and eclectic environment.

“The Clinton Hill Residence is an Italianate brownstone located in Brooklyn, NY. The building was constructed in 1866. Today the 5 story building is broken into a 2-family residence – with a 2 bedroom rental unit at the garden level and a 6 bedroom single-family residence occupying the top 4 floors. Before the renovation the house was in a state of disrepair and had been converted into a 6-kitchen SRO. The only remaining historic detail was the original wood staircase, several marble mantles, parquet oak floors and some of the original plaster ceiling molding. During the renovation the house was completely transformed with 4.5 new bathrooms and 2 new kitchens in locations where bathrooms and kitchens did not previously exist. The mechanicals of the building were replaced and the house now has a high-efficiency gas boiler supplying radiator heat throughout the house”. elizabethroberts.com

Thank you Elizabeth, for this breath of fresh air.
All images courtesy of the designer’s website.




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