48-kitch-to-middle-rmBROWNSTONE VOYEUR is a joint project of casaCARA and Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.

THE GRAND SCALE and intricate plasterwork of June and Stephen Negrycz’s Congress Street brownstone are impressive, maybe even a little intimidating. But the warmth of the furnishings takes the formality of the architecture down a notch.

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The chocolate brown walls of the front parlor, above and below, echo the color of the buildings across the street. Orange-and-white striped ticking slipcovers enliven carved wood turn-of-the-century office chairs. The rugs are flat-weave copies of expensive Sumacs. Turns out the oversized chandelier, from a local antiques shop, was a bit of a bargain too, as was pretty much everything in the house.

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In the butterscotch-colored mid-section of the triple parlor, below, a curlicued brass chandelier hangs low over a gleaming mahogany tea table and four cozy chairs. There’s a wall of books, artwork in gilded frames, and rich-colored Oriental carpets on the parquet floor.

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Steve, an artist and decorative painter, and June, an interior designer, bought the 1850s house in 1977 in basically intact condition. “It was a time capsule,” as Steve put it. “The keys were in the locks. Victorian wallpaper was peeling off the walls.” They live on the two lower floors, each about 1,500 square feet, and rent out the upper three.

First they had to rewire and re-plumb the entire house and replace two dozen windows. For the first few years, they lived with contemporary furniture from their previous apartment. Gradually, antiques took over.

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A chandelier hung lower than normal creates intimacy despite high ceilings. Four chairs around a square table are used for lounging, reading, and casual meals.

The couple acquired most of their mid-19th century mahogany furniture, including the scroll-back sofa, claw-foot tables, and chests flanked by carved wood columns, for a few hundred dollars here and there when the style, known as American Empire, was out of fashion (the pieces have approximately tripled in value).

More recently, they’ve freshened up wall colors, bought new rugs, and re-covered upholstered pieces, including the four library armchairs and the master bedroom headboard and settee, in French wool bought for $5 a yard on the Lower East Side.

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Their savings on the eleven-foot white oak bookcase that turns the middle parlor into a library could pay for several European sojourns. Made in China and marketed by a Belgian company, they saw it on a trip to France in the French equivalent of Pottery Barn and ordered it. Lamps, wiring, and ladder included, the unit came to $5,500, including shipping. A custom-made version could be four times that.

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June and Steve bought the Sheridan-style dining table at the Triple Pier Antiques Show for $1,000, the dining chairs for $40 apiece in a Philadelphia antiques shop. Glass ranging from Baccarat crystal to $10 flea market finds is grouped for impact.

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To screen off the kitchen from the formal dining room, which overlooks the garden, June made a voluminous curtain out of tangerine-colored burlap. (They plan to renovate the 1970s kitchen.)

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June designed and made the fanciful headboard out of plywood, fiberfill, and inexpensive fabric.

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A vintage hat box collection adds color to the serene blue bedroom.

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