Yvonne Elia February 27, 2021 Home Design
One of the things that makes family heirlooms so special are the stories they collect over time. Objects give us the ability to recall adventures that have been told and retold, or spark the memory they carry. Cherished items often cross oceans, countries, and generations to create their stories, probably with a few scratches and bumps along the way. It’s as if these treasures traveled down the branches of our family tree and ended up in our living rooms.
When Samantha and Jonah Arcade and their two daughters outgrew their previous Brooklyn, NY apartment of six years, they never imagined they’d find room to breathe in a brownstone that was just 12 feet wide on each floor. But with Tirzah, 8, and Delaney, 4, a 1,000-square-foot home “wasn’t cutting it,” Sam admits. So about nine months ago, the family of four took a chance on a 1901 landmarked brownstone in need of a full renovation — from top to bottom, all four floors.
Image Above: Nasozi Kakembo shares how important it is to showcase images and reminders of her family and Ugandan heritage for the benefit of her son in their Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn brownstone tour. This wall-hanging comes from Nasozi’s family, purchased in Liberia by her mother in the 1970s, “although the design provenance is Ivory Coast.” It is an example of her deliberate decorative process to instill a global and empathetic worldview in her son through the objects she places in her home.
Image above: Matthew and Lauren’s second bedroom in their Chicago, IL home was given purpose with a daybed built by Lauren’s father and Matthew. The bed is styled with pillows for a faux backrest to make the room versatile between an extra living space and a place for overnight guests.
While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.
If you could completely reimagine your life, unbeholden to your past, what would it look like? When Sarah Reid’s son Zane turned 18, she experienced a “what am I doing with my life?” moment. She’d been working in non-profit administration but had always wanted to do interior design for spaces that served low-income communities. Thus was born her business, Small Victories Design. A move from Massachussetts to California facilitated this transformation. In the move, Sarah left behind thrifted finds that filled her attic, basement, and garage. As a “borderline hoarder,” leaving them behind proved difficult. But in having the courage to let go of one incarnation of herself (and most of the objects that made up that life) she embraced another.
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