It’s an all-too-familiar New York story: Your landlord calls one day saying a relative is moving to the city, so your lease won’t be renewed, and you must vacate. That happened to Catherine Rossouw and Chris Fladgate, a couple in their forties with three children ranging from 8 to 12. So, they packed up their smaller Park Slope rental, and to help mitigate another moving situation opted to purchase. Specifically, a 4,000-square-foot, circa 1910 Tudor-style house with Arts & Crafts interiors in Brooklyn’s landmarked Lefferts Gardens enclave. It had good bones, recalls Rossouw, but “There were things about it that hurt my eyes”– chief among them Brazilian cherry floors former owners had installed and buffed to a high gloss. “They were really red and shiny, super blinding,” she says.
In the butler’s pantry, formerly a laundry room, Morris deployed light-colored cabinetry that may eventually replace the darker cabinetry in the main kitchen, and illuminated the scene with a yellow pendant.
Remedying this was no easy feat, remembers designer Jennifer Morris, who the couple engaged to revamp the interiors. “The home had seen a lot of bastardized renovations over the years,” Morris explains. “I told them that there were like six wood stories happening and they weren’t telling the original story of the house.” She unified the cacophony with dark stain on all the main-level floors except for the Greek key marquetry trims (a later addition) and applied a clear satin finish to the second level’s oak floors.
“The house was quite traditional, so we wanted something modern and comfortable to contrast that,” Rossouw adds. Morris picked up on her client’s love of pattern and wallcoverings to accomplish this. In the dining room, for instance, she lightened the brooding Arts & Crafts wainscoting with white paint, boxed the fireplace in large-format Thassos marble tile and added a graphic Artistic Tile pattern to the hearth floor. Then she covered the remaining wall space with a Holland & Sherry Deco-like paper. Furnishings were a blend of practical, accessibly priced pieces (a CB2 sideboard and host chairs) and other furnishings that speak to the period of the house through their handcrafted nature (a Larose Guyon chandelier from Room in Tribeca, a Wüd dining table). This approach threads throughout.
“I believe in having a hero in a space with a lot of supporting characters,” Morris deadpans. “They’re the things you see.” The living room has two heroes: a boldly patterned CB2 rug and the handcrafted chandelier from Brooklyn-based studio Materia (also through Room). The supporting roles are play by matching RH sofas and a Ligne Roset coffee table. Beautiful millwork and leaded glass windows made wallpaper feel excessive here. But, true to Rossouw’s love of pattern, this element often takes on the “hero” role in other rooms: Tilton Fenwick’s fawn-colored Angelina (from Hygge & West) in the entry, JQLYN & Co.’s blue Gaia in a powder room, Thibaut’s Honshu in another bath.
The result is a lightened, brightened space with contemporary references to its original stylistic underpinnings. “We’re bringing concepts from history, the beauty of Arts & Crafts,” says Morris. “But we don’t live in that period, so we made decisions on the philosophy behind those ideas: artists making handmade crafts.” William Morris himself would not be displeased.
Photography by Jacob Snavely.
For more like this Arts & Craft style home, be sure to check out this home in Cape Town.
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