Dezeen Magazine

Photo of Carroll Gardens Townhouse dining area and stairs

Oak panels and slatted screens adorn Carroll Gardens Townhouse in Brooklyn

New York studios Starling Architecture and Emily Lindberg Design have renovated a Brooklyn townhouse for a young family, combining two units into a single home and unifying them through the use of white oak.

The Carroll Gardens Townhouse was previously laid out as a two-family dwelling, but the owners needed more room for their growing kids, so decided to connect the units.

Staircase screened by white oak slats
White oak acts as a unifying element throughout the renovated townhouse

Starling Architecture and Emily Lindberg Design were initially briefed to convert and cosmetically upgrade the townhouse, and add spaces such as a mud room, work-from-home and living areas, and a large dining room.

Once the project was underway, the scope expanded to include a complete overhaul of the layout, a new staircase, an extensive millwork package, and the replacement of the furniture and artwork.

Large dining area with built-in bench and walnut table
A large dining area was created to accommodate group gatherings

"Aside from giving everyone a little more space to work, live and grow, we also quickly focused on bringing in more light and connection between the various levels," said Starling Architecture founder Ian Starling.

Spanning five storeys, the building has a total living area of 3,700 square feet (344 square metres), with four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms.

Kitchen featuring oak millwork and grey stone counters
Oak millwork continues in the kitchen, which was relocated from the centre of the house

Rearranging the program involved moving the second-floor kitchen from the centre of the plan to the south facade, where it received much more light.

The dining room occupies the adjacent space, enveloped in European white oak panels that extend from a long built-in bench seat, across the ceiling, and down to a slatted screen in front of the stairs.

Living room with a sofa, armchair and coffee table
Cool hues offset the warm oak flooring throughout the home, including in the lounge area

A walnut table with rounded corners provides enough space for hosting friends and extended family.

White oak is continued on the staircase across all levels and the flooring throughout, to a corridor and the mudroom, powder room, office and wet bar at garden level.

Dimly lit hallway with staircases to the right
Oak panels define a corridor at garden level

"All wood for the house was sourced from the same mill in Belgium, where they custom fabricated and finished it to our exact specifications," said Starling.

"All of the panels were CNC cut, so we were able to specify exact panel sizes based on as-built dimensions and each panel was divided into equal veneer widths."

Minimal mud room with oak cabinets and slate flooring
A mud room was created as part of the renovation scope

The earthy tones of the wood helped to guide the remaining decor choices, which include cool blue undertones offset by family-friendly materials like purple slate and clay brick.

Cork lines the office space, while the children's playroom in the cellar features brighter colours without feeling too juvenile.

"With a new layout overall, the clients were in an 'out with old in with the new' mentality, going forward with some bold splashes of color along the way," said Starling.

"There is a purity about much of the palette, working with organic texture and form rather than applied pattern," added Lindberg.

Cork-lined office space featuring a blue chair
Cork covers the walls in a room used as an office

Starling Architecture is based in Brooklyn, while Emily Lindberg Design has a presence in both New York City and Providence, Rhode Island.

The two studios previously collaborated on a similar project for friends of the Carroll Gardens Townhouse owners, who recommended them for this job.

Children's playroom with colourful artwork and decor accents
Brighter colours are introduced in the children's playroom, located in the cellar

Brooklyn's townhouses are in high demand, and new owners waste no time in renovating these historic buildings to meet their needs.

Recently completed examples include a property on Warren Street, for which Studio Vural used Kyoto merchant houses as a reference point, and a home in Park Slope that was designed to meet Passive House standards.

The photography is by Eric Petschek.

Project credits:

Architecture: Starling Architecture
Interior design: Emily Lindberg Design
Contractor: Euro Art Construction
Wood surfaces: Madera Surfaces

More images

Starling Carroll Gardens Townhouse
Starling Carroll Gardens Townhouse
Starling Carroll Gardens Townhouse
Starling Carroll Gardens Townhouse
Starling Carroll Gardens Townhouse
Starling Carroll Gardens Townhouse