The Insider: New-Construction Townhouse in Boerum Hill

THAT’S SOME SUPER-MODERN townhouse among the brownstones, above, but to my surprise, the often snarky commenters on Brownstoner seem to like it. Most of them anyway. I was afraid the architects, Ben and Christine Hansen, might be raked over the coals.

You’re looking at the rear view, by the way — there’s a kitchen in that zinc-clad cantilevered extension. Go here to read the whole thing.

The Insider: Working with Woodwork in Park Slope

WOW, 59 comments and counting on today’s Brownstoner post… granted, many of them are the same people back-and-forthing about how much the job cost (I’m hoping the architect will weigh in on that and put the matter to rest).

The project, by Neuhaus Design Architecture, interested me because it made use of virtually every bit of the existing Victorian woodwork on the parlor floor of this Park Slope brownstone, while still accommodating a functional modern kitchen.

And I love the tub, which was original to the house but which was moved into its own alcove to create a luxurious ‘bathing room.’

To take a look for yourself (and read those impassioned comments, which are a lot of fun for me in contrast to the quietude here at casaCARA), go right here.

That Deck Again: The Finished Product


INDULGE ME ONE LAST POST about my new deck, and then we’ll move on to other topics. The job is done as of this afternoon — it took 3-1/2 days, and I think the builders did a stellar job. Grateful shout-out, too, to my architect friend, Jifat Windmiller, who conceived the deck plan for me. (To see the horrifying “before” pictures of just a week ago, go here.)


When Jifat stopped by this evening to see it, she was surprised that the half-moon doors, which now form the entrance to the shower stall from the inside of the platform, weren’t used as a wall facing toward the backyard. That’s how she envisioned it, but we’d kind of left that up in the air. I thought I could handle that bit myself; I designed the shower enclosure in about 15 minutes and sketched something up for the builders. Now Jifat finds that big square outer wall “too solid” and wants me to cut a hole in it, or a matching half-circle. Hmmmph.


We shall see. I like being sheltered in the shower by nearby trees and don’t care that there’s no direct view of the woods from the shower itself. The square wall of cedar looks pleasingly Japanese to me. But the truth is, I see her point. It’s mostly it’s that I don’t want to call the builders back here for minor tweaks that could be costly.

There’s still a lot to do in terms of landscaping around the new deck, and I’m raring to move ahead on the bathroom reno. But right now I’m savoring this accomplishment, at least for a few days.

One more day of guesses on the cost of the deck, and then I’ll reveal the magic number. For a chance to win a copy of the 1970s-vintage book, East Hampton: A History and Guide, send along your best guess in the comments on this post or either of the two preceding deck-related posts.

Stone Barns, 147 Acres near New Paltz $1.9M


HERE I THOUGHT I WAS HOT STUFF, owning a few ordinary properties. Then along comes an e-mail from Tyler Hays, who thinks in tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of square feet, and acreage in the hundreds as well.

Tyler, who owns a furniture company called BDDW, recently moved his manufacturing operation from Brooklyn to Philadelphia, where his new workshop is a 100,000-square-foot tannery in the Port Richmond section, and his family’s new home, in Fishtown, a 30,000-square-foot former Catholic school (BDDW still has a Manhattan showroom on Crosby Street in NoHo.)


He also owns an 1844 inn in Shandaken, N.Y., in the Catskill region, as well as the subject of this post: a pair of old stone horse barns on 147 acres 15 minutes north of New Paltz on the west side of the Hudson River.

It’s hard to believe such an elegant turn-of-the-20th-century complex exists in this part of the world. It looks like something out of Brideshead Revisited. Built originally for Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne, a “wealthy industrialist and philanthropist,” it was later used as a Utopian school for boys.


Tyler bought the barns about 4 years ago to use as a workshop. Since moving to Philly, which he “absolutely loves” (he and I have a lot in common), he also became a father for the first time, and those long car rides “aren’t as much fun as they used to be,” he says. “I hate to sell it, but I can’t justify carrying it just to look at it once in a while.”

There’s also a 19th century farmhouse, which is itself a charmer. I’d take just that; wouldn’t know what to do with the barns. But perhaps someone out there does?

BROWNSTONE VOYEUR: Small and Stylish in Carroll Gardens

BROWNSTONE VOYEUR is a joint project of casaCARA and Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. Look for it every Thursday on both sites.

ROBERT FARRELL, an architect and interior designer, has lived since the mid-1990s in a 600 square foot rental on the ground floor of a Carroll Gardens row house, with lumpy plaster walls and a tiny, tubless bathroom.


He stays mainly for the garden, a fifty-foot swath of lawn at the end of which he has constructed a romantic outdoor pavilion draped with nylon parachute cloth.


A corrugated plastic roof and waterproof parachute fabric make the garden room usable eight months a year.

Essentially a 15’x40’ rectangle, the apartment is bisected by a wood-and-glass room divider. The entry is into the kitchen/dining room; a home office is squeezed into one corner. The only other room is what Robert calls the “living bedroom library guest room den.”

To give the space more definition, he hung two sets of double curtains on either side of the existing divider, on rods five feet apart – linen on the outside, sheer underneath. “It softens the space and provides a choice of opaque or filtered light,” Robert says. “It also creates depth and drama: ‘What’s behind the curtain?” (Clothing, as a matter of fact.)


A sense of order prevails, thanks to a clear, linear furniture plan.

Liberal use of the same gray-green neutral paint on walls, carpeting and the drapery divider gives the apartment a cohesive feel. White accents like the mid-century Ant chairs and the glass light fixture in the dining room stand out. Strong doses of red in pillows, art, and glassware punch up the scheme.

Accessories include tribal weavings, baskets, and Danish modern glass. Each piece is carefully chosen and deliberately placed. “In a small apartment, you can’t have things scattered around,” Robert says. “Find the perfect place for each thing.”


The armoire and a pair of carved wood armchairs were found in a flea market.


A geometric kilim under the dining table is the only large area of pattern in the apartment. A glass table  opens up the space.


A precise arrangement of framed Op Art, historical prints, and patterned pillows brightens the area around the bed.