January 2020


It’s a sad story too often told, of a house hastily renovated by developers and done so poorly, it has to all be done over again.

That was the case with this vintage rowhouse, whose new owners contacted James Veal and Christine Stucker of the Clinton Hill-based design firm Stewart-Schafer to, among other things, open up the cramped garden level and reimagine the developer’s sterile, uninviting kitchen.

The gut reno that followed was total. “We have a minimal Scandinavian aesthetic in general, and we wanted to create a clean space with endless storage,” Stucker said. “When there’s original molding and detail, we work with it, but this was a blank slate.”

Stewart-Schafer removed walls, a powder room and an existing closet to create an open floor plan, stripped out garish lighting and wiring that was not to code, replaced dark flooring with new white oak, added decorative oak-clad ceiling beams, designed sleek millwork, and installed new appliances and countertops.

By blowing out the back wall and inserting an oversized fixed window and sliding door, they gave the space indoor-outdoor flow and their clients a garden view.

The back wall was designed with “minimum borders,” Veal said. “We got cost-effective aluminum windows and designed it to hide the profile, so you get an amazing premium look.”

All-new millwork in rift white oak veneer was custom designed and built, then finished with a special durable finish imported from Europe. “The grain is sequenced, so it’s like one big piece,” Veal said.

The countertops are Caeserstone, the warm gray wall tile from Clé.

The modernistic light fixture above the center island came from NYC-based Workstead.

Stewart-Schafer designed the cabinetry with finger grooves in lieu of hardware, a cost-saving measure as well as a design feature.