written by:
photos by:
January 1, 2015
In an industrial part of Brooklyn, architect Sarah Zames transforms two unremarkable apartments into one modern space full of color and texture.
Open-plan living room in Brooklyn

With the help of Sarah Zames of General Assembly Design, Brian Crano and David Craig merged two apartments into one while preserving their general layout. One apartment serves as a space for entertaining while the other, housing a bedroom and home office, retains a more intimate character. 

Photo by 
1 / 9
Brooklyn kitchen with reclaimed materials

The open plan living room and kitchen areas utilize natural materials, from reclaimed oak flooring to custom-made cabinetry. The Oscar sofa by Matthew Hilton from Future Perfect marks off the living room area.

Photo by 
2 / 9
Copper and dark wood kitchen in a Vinegar Hill apartment

A large kitchen island makes up for the lack of upper cabinet space and separates the kitchen from the living room. The cabinetry is custom made by Henrybuilt, hidding all appliances other than the copper BlueStar range. 

Photo by 
3 / 9
Office area in vinegar hill apartment

Zames carved out a small custom office area under the stairs that lead up to the roof. 

Photo by 
4 / 9
rollout daybed for guests

The cabinet under the built-in desk opens to reveal a fold-out bed for guests. 

Photo by 
5 / 9
wallpaper in hallway of vinegar hill apartment

The once public hallway between the two apartments now boasts a bold wallpaper by Kravitz Design for Flavor Paper

Photo by 
6 / 9
bedroom in vinegar hill apartment

Zames decided on Farrow & Ball's Hague Blue color for the bedroom ceiling to make the space feel more intimate, but juxtaposed it with another wallpaper from Flavor Paper. The bed is from Room & Board and the Fawn tables are by Rich Brilliant Willing. 

Photo by 
7 / 9
sliding doors in vinegar hill apartment

A system of full-height panel doors rotate in the space, closing off the bedroom and walk-in closet from the home office—a key feature for the residents, who often work from home. 

Photo by 
8 / 9
sliding doors in vinegar hill apartment

The custom sliding doors are Zames's favorite detail in the home. "They are functional, but also manage to balance nice clean modern details without being cold," she says. 

Photo by 
9 / 9
Open-plan living room in Brooklyn

With the help of Sarah Zames of General Assembly Design, Brian Crano and David Craig merged two apartments into one while preserving their general layout. One apartment serves as a space for entertaining while the other, housing a bedroom and home office, retains a more intimate character. 

Moving from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, Brian Crano and David Craig struggled to find a worthy replacement for the sizable Victorian home they left behind. They finally saw potential in the exquisite views offered by an uninspired apartment building in Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill. The couple ended up buying two apartments on the top floor and enlisted the help of Sarah Zames, of Brooklyn-based General Assembly Design, to help them merge the two into one coherent unit. “They took a developer’s building that was built without anyone in mind and really sculpted it to be exactly what is right for them,” says Zames.

To bring order into the space, Zames divided the apartment in two directions. She pushed all the functional elements—including a bedroom and home office—against one wall to provide more room for leisure, in the form of an open-plan area for entertaining, on the other. 

The division is visible in the choice of materials and color. “We used raw and industrial materials on one side and brought more texture and color to the other,” Zames says. “In the public space all the walls are bright whites since they get a lot of great light,” Zames says, “and on the bedroom side we painted the ceiling a dark blue to make it feel quieter and calmer.” Connecting the two is what was once the building's public hallway, that makes a strong statement of its own with the help of wallpaper from Flavor Paper.  

The wallpaper reflects a desire on the architect’s side to create a balance between the natural and the synthetic. Although both the owners and Zames express a preference for natural materials, Zames was careful not to overemphasize their presence. ”I think if you use too many natural materials things can end up looking a little bit too ‘country-kitchen.’” In turn, Zames juxtaposed the raw wood and the custom cabinetry with dark colors and wallpapered walls, creating a space full of dynamic details.

Although extensive, the nine-month renovation was guided by a number of small but key decisions. “When we first started working together Brian picked out a copper BlueStar range for the kitchen,” Zames says. The strong presence of the stove initiated a lot of conversations about materials and colors and the final design was revealed as part of the process. “Maybe some designers and architects come with grand, sweeping gestures of how to transform the space, but I think it’s often a series of small decisions that end up making the design,” Zames says. 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016