Double Or Nothing: Jenny Dina Kirschner Merges Two Brooklyn Duplexes

two brooklyn duplexes merged to expand the ceilings in this living room

This duplex dweller with three young children had a dream. Well, actually, many. On her wish list: A lofty living room ceiling, a fairy-tale retreat for her daughter, creative storage built-ins – and bespoke extras for the very social lifestyle her family enjoyed pre-COVID (and will resume as soon as it is safe).

The Prospect Heights homeowners had two apartments side by side; they lived in one and rented the other. The time had come to combine them.

Cue the fairy godmother of decorating, Jenny Dina Kirschner, principal of JDK interiors and fellow Brooklynite. Her mantra: “Things can’t just be beautiful. They have to be practical.” The vintage library ladder in the mudroom rolls to reach the higher pistachio-green cabinets – and the bench, with silvery bolsters, is pretty but it is also where kids sit to pull on boots.

brooklyn duplexes merge to create space and height in this mint entryway

Like any wish maker worth her sparkles, Kirschner has the best resources at her fingertips – an orbit of exclusive tiles, fabrics, lighting and furniture mixed with retro and Target finds (see velvet quilt in master bedroom) for good measure.

“My client was aching for height in her living room. They had very low ceilings,” explains Kirschner. With a little magic and a lot of hard work, she had the second-floor bedroom walls (thick concrete slabs) moved back about 12 feet to create space for a soaring ceiling that holds, like a royal jewel, a Lladro porcelain chandelier.

One of two new entries opens into the mudroom, with cork wallcovering to complement the painted cabinetry. The dad and three kids each get one vertical row, from floor to ceiling, with hooks, backpack cubbies, charging outlets. The top cabinets hold suitcases and ski gear. (The mom has a full closet on the opposite wall.)

Kirschner sees potential where others may not. The bench was made from vintage Lucite legs – “almost like ice” – that she found on Chairish. She added cushions wrapped in embossed leather.

brooklyn duplexes bunk bedroom

The client wanted a whimsical bunk bedroom for her daughter – for future sleepovers. Kirschner redid the small, narrow space, adding a staircase with built-in drawers for treasures and reading lights at every bunk that turn on when extended. (The designer has two young daughters of her own. “I had to figure out how to install lighting without using sconces in the bunks, or the girls would bump their heads on them.”)

Kirschner found a butterfly sconce on Houzz and a faux finisher who echoed its vibe on the ceiling with gold-leaf, silver and champagne paint colors. She pulled in more pink with Cole & Son Woods wallpaper and two mini sixties stools scored on Chairish. “They came with the gold-leaf legs, but the fabric was beaten up,” she says. “I had them reupholstered in peachy pink, butter-soft shearling.”

In the master suite, with upholstered bed, a tiered nightstand lights the way. The sitting room has a 1990s chair in ivory alpaca and a fireplace that burns eco-friendly ethanol fuel. (The surround is Calacatta Gold marble from 1stDibs.) Since the couple loves entertaining – plus early coffee and late snacks – the suite features a kitchenette that’s almost a second kitchen, sans stove. An ice maker was a must for cocktail cubes.

The wet bar is in a large family room with drop-down movie screen and custom sofa. The bar top is etch-resistant Fusion Wow marble with leathered finish from Artistic Tile; take a seat on mint-green leather-covered stool cushions. Green glass sconces pop against Maya Romanoff wallcovering, handcrafted in Chicago and easy to wipe clean.

Photography by Ryan Dausch.

For more like these Brooklyn duplexes merged into one home, be sure to check out this Arts & Crafts style home.

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