The Insider: Catching Up on Brownstoner

LATELY I’VE BEEN LAX in posting links to The Insider, my weekly interior design/renovation column that appears every Thursday morning on the Brooklyn real-estate website For the record, I’m aggregating the most recent here, and resolve (Happy New Year!) to be more consistent in the future.

Brooklyn Heights Brides’ Row Gem Restored to Perfection



Quick, Cost-Conscious Townhouse Reno in South Slope



Dark and Narrow Carroll Gardens Brownstone Becomes Light and Airy Home

Clinton Street Townhouse renovation by Lang Architecture.


South Slope Home Goes Bold Outside and Bright Within



A Gowanus Wood-Frame House Doubles in Size, Discreetly

Photo: ©Julieta Cervantes


Park Slope Gut Reno Splashes Out on Kitchen and Master Bath



“Modern But Warm” Duplex for a Prospect Heights Family




The Insider: Farmhouse Feel in Fort Greene



Today, my column on, the Brooklyn real-estate website, is another wreck transformed — this one by architect Elizabeth Roberts with uncommon smarts and taste. Above, the dining room in a new two-story addition, seamlessly integrated with the garden. Check out the full post, including a really great farmhouse kitchen, here.

Still Here

FOR THE RECORD, I’m still here. Bouncing back and forth between East Hampton and Brooklyn, and heading for a record low number of casaCARA posts this month. Reasons why:

  • Work. I’m starting a second weekly column on, the behemoth Brooklyn real estate website — a garden series called The Outsider, and it will debut on Sunday, April 22 (the first time the 7-year-old site has had any weekend content, I believe). Between that and The Insider, my Thursday interior design/reno column for Brownstoner, I’ve been following up leads, uploading photos, doing phone interviews, and trying to keep designers and projects straight in my mind.

  • Celebrations. My birthday was in Brooklyn this year, on a Sunday with the Prospect Heights garden, below, in full bloom. Then there was Passover with back-to-back seders, a couple of dinners out to catch up with old friends, and a bit of big-city shopping and cultural activity (Dr. John at BAM and Death of a Salesman — first time in years I haven’t been disappointed in a Broadway play).

  • Bummers. The deal I was hoping to make this spring, on a 1962 modernist house in East Hampton, below, seems to be dead in the water (near the water, rather: Gardiner’s Bay). The owner, still ambivalent about selling, strung me along yet again and told me I should look for another house. Which I have been, though interesting properties out here are few and far between; I’m more conscious of bad architecture, bottom, than good. I threw the Viking runes and they counseled patience, always good advice for a rash Aries like me. I figure if I’m meant to have that place eventually, I will. If not, well, maybe I’ll end up with something that suits me even better.

  • Renovation. Prepped the basement in my Boerum Hill building for a new concrete floor and masonry repair this week, which entailed going through years worth of stored tools and other items to see if there was anything worth salvaging. It was hard, dusty work. The house is very old, c.1830, and has had its original dirt floor since we bought it 33 years ago. This job is long overdue.
  • Gardening. Meanwhile, I’m proceeding in Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.), below, as if I’m not going anywhere. Planted two dogwoods (a kousa and a Florida) and three red-twig dogwood shrubs. Today I’m putting in a small red Japanese maple and some lilac bushes given me by a friend. It is beautiful here, and I do love it.

  • New prospects. I’m turning my attention to three-family houses in Brooklyn for rental/investment (Bed-Stuy is in my price range, and I’m planning to explore Bushwick). My real-estate soul is restless!

Too bad to be believed: typical Hamptons “architecture,” above. Yard sale wasn’t bad, though.

The Insider: Shipshape Kitchen in Brooklyn Heights


THE LATEST IN MY WEEKLY INTERIORS SERIES for is this warmly appealing, functional kitchen by North Fork, L.I.-based designer Kate Altman. Not long ago, it was an “impossibly bad” ’70s galley kitchen. Now it has floor-to-ceiling storage and two showstopping features: a lipstick-red Italian range, and a custom porcelain backsplash inspired by antique Chinese patterns but whimsically including the Brooklyn Bridge.

To see lots more pictures and read all about it (and catch up with previous installations of “The Insider,”) click yourself right on over here. And don’t be shy about commenting on the Brownstoner site. It’s really fun for me to see the comments roll in there (37 last week!)

The Insider: Clinton Hill Classic in Modern Dress


Hard as it may be to believe, ten years ago this immaculate 1873 brownstone on one of Clinton Hill’s most elegant blocks was chopped into six SRO [single room occupancy] units, sharing four kitchens between them. Its wood floors were so grimy no one knew they were parquet. Its imposing arched entry door had cardboard panes instead of glass. The sky was visible through holes in the top-floor ceiling.

When the current owners — a couple with two teenagers, who live on three of the four floors and rent out the garden level — bought the building in 2001 and embarked on a renovation, the house more than met them halfway…

To read all about it and see lots more pictures, click here.