BROWNSTONE VOYEUR: Collecting Local Art in Clinton Hill

BROWNSTONE VOYEUR is a joint project of casaCARA and Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. The series, which has been a regular Thursday feature on both sites, is going on hiatus for the summer. This is the last installment of the season; look for it to return in the fall.

A 20-FOOT-WIDE BROWNSTONE in Clinton Hill, replete with 1870s detail — wide moldings, a flat arch opening between the front and rear parlors, a bay window at the rear — is the perhaps unlikely showcase for a locally acquired gallery of very modern paintings, and look how well it works.

The homeowners, Richard Montelione, an attorney, and Jack Esterson, an architect, enjoy browsing local fairs and shows of student work at nearby Pratt Institute to add to their collection, which they display against soft brown walls (Benjamin Moore’s Jamesboro Gold, to be exact), outlined with crisp white moldings.


On the parlor floor, above and below, furniture sources are: white sofa, Room & Board; coffee table, Gueridon; orange Ellipse chair, Modernica; Danish modern end tables, Horseman Antiques on Atlantic Avenue; TV credenza, Design Within Reach; white leather club chairs, Room & Board; round coffee table, ABC Carpet. The table lamps are Italian, from The End of History in Greenwich Village.





The dining table, below, is from Desiron and the leather chairs from Crate & Barrel.






Brownstone Decorating: Parlor Tricks

DECORATING A 19th CENTURY PARLOR  for 21st century life can be a challenge.

Kathryn Scott

Brooklyn Heights / Kathryn Scott

Brownstone parlor floors tend to be:

  • long and narrow
  • dark in the middle

and have:

  • no obvious place for a TV
  • no obvious place for a sofa (the Victorians sat on nothing longer than a love seat, and very stiffly at that)

So what are ya gonna do?  What seems to work best, when a parlor floor is one long (say, 13 x 45 foot) expanse, is putting the sofa parallel to the two front windows, a foot or two in front of them, perpendicular to the long wall.

The other possibility is lining up that 8-foot sofa with the long wall, but that often blocks either the entry door from the front hall (bad feng shui), or the beautiful marble mantel (don’t you just love Brooklyn?)

Boerum Hill / Julia Mack

Boerum Hill / Julia Mack

Take a look at how these Brooklyn-based designers dealt with the thorny where-to-put-the-couch problem: all the same way, as described above.

Cobble Hill / Julia Mack

Cobble Hill / Julia Mack