Casey & Kumar’s Clinton Hill Co-op Renovation – Part II!

We’re back with an ambitious renovation in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill Co-ops! We first introduced this project on the Sweeten blog with a focus on the transformable bedroom designed to disappear into the living area. Now, we can have a look at the rest of this gorgeous home and other thoughtful ways a family of four united conventionally distinct spaces to create an elegant machine for living, dining, and entertaining.

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Before buying, Casey and Kumar, who are both designers and artists, thought hard about whether they could find a home that would allow their family to stay in New York; moving out of the city for more space seemed like the only option. But when they found a one-bedroom in Clinton Hill with a wall of south-facing windows, the pair posted their project on Sweeten to find a contractor who could manage major renovations in each room. We introduced them to Sweeten Expert Kris who helped bring the couple’s collaborative drawings to life.

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To make a one-bedroom work for their four-person family, Casey and Kumar closely examined routines and patterns in their daily lives. Their sons (Luc, 2, and River, 4) need quiet when they go off to bed early each night, and they tend to colonize space with toys and play — all of which suggested the use of the master bedroom as the nursery. As that decision crystallized, Casey and Kumar focused on optimizing the living space in ways that would make it feel as open as possible, preserve natural light, and allow typically distinct spaces to share square footage and core functions.

The biggest challenge, having assigned the only bedroom to their children, was locating their own. Their design for a wall of custom millwork that deploys a pull-down bed surrounded by retracting walls allowed them to trade in floor area otherwise devoted solely to sleep for more play space and more work and entertaining space.

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Casey and Kumar envisioned the kitchen as a central part of the main shared space of the apartment and found a number of ways to integrate prep and cooking utility without making visual intrusions into the dining and living area. They decided to forgo an upper line of cabinets to keep sight lines clear across the space, and they chose a striking combination of natural wood and stone materials to dress up the millwork as a piece of furniture. The understated wall of square doors next to it opens an intricate array of pull-out compartments dedicated to specific uses, almost like a piece of luggage. Before drawing the kitchen cabinets, Casey and Kumar comprehensively documented the exact storage requirements they needed to accommodate, to guarantee a precise fit. Finally, they situated the fridge, freezer, and pantry just across from the kitchen, with a single integrated design that also conceals the apartment’s only structural column.

All of this works together to allow the kitchen to be a social space – on display as a backdrop to the life of the dining and sitting areas.

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In the bathroom, Casey and Kumar aimed for a general upgrade that would make the room serviceable and comfortable without being a stark departure from the building’s modernist design origins. The focus of this effort was curating a collection of classic fixtures featuring simple geometries—uncomplicated fixtures on a clean backdrop of tile.

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Across the board, Casey and Kumar sought alternatives to the standard palette of new materials often seen in renovations. They wanted to avoid glossing over the particular history and character of the building with a layer of ‘newness’, looking instead to keep the finishes in line with what was there before. By picking up on material cues from their favorite furnishings, this family was able to infuse many technical design decisions with uncharacteristic and inspiring warmth!

Flex-room Selects >> black shelving brackets: Home Depot / cut and sanded red oak boards: Prince Lumber / walls and millwork: Benjamin Moore White Dove (OC-17) / custom cabinets, millwork, and sliding walls: designed by Casey and Kumar

Kitchen Selects >> floors: 24″ x 24″ tiles Cleft Slate / counters and backsplash: soapstone / stove and fridge: Miele / dishwasher: Bosch

Bathroom Selects >> floor: Inca black stone mosaic tiles / wall: white ceramic square tiles / toilet and washbasin: Duravit / medicine cabinet and bathtub, drain and spout: Kohler / shower set: Hansgrohe 

Sweeten handpicks contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your project on Sweeten.

  • MajaNotMaya

    I love this idea of kitchen as backdrop to living room. It’s so true – everybody does these really cabinet-heavy kitchens in small spaces. Now I want to tear all mine out and re think.

  • Ry

    this looks so great but i do wonder how much discipline it takes to live like this. Are these extreme Marie Kondo types or could the average young professional family make this space work? either way —- soooo so gorgeous.

  • Kirsten

    Beautiful! I love the clear, uncluttered spaces/wall spaces, the materials you use and multi functional bedroom. Would like to see a pic of the nursery too.

  • FDR Driver

    How often do y’all just leave the murphy bed down? I don’t know if I could be trusted to stow the bed away every single day but what a nice way to clear space for weekend play dates and parties.

  • Audrey

    I have already started a design that is very similar to this in my apartment. the color scheme is similar, but my floors have been stained walnut. I am very interested in making my one bedroom my home through retirement and I also let my child have the bedroom, as she is a teenager who has to have a space to call her own. When she leaves for college, I will finish the house off for a single woman living alone in NY for part of the year and somewhere warm for the other parts of the year.

  • Casey

    Thank you so much for the comments!
    I have to say, the apartment does take some discipline, but most of that occurs when we’re out in the City, not in our home. When walking around we can look, browse, admire, but, with less than 800 sq ft, the four of us have to consider every little thing we bring home. We don’t have a junk drawer!

    Every morning I put up the Murphy bed. It’s so much easier than making a bed, and no you do not have to make the bed before you close it ;).

    I am no Marie Kondo type! We have a storage unit.

    We make it work because we want to live in our neighborhood. I love it here.

  • Roisin

    I love this, and bravo to your family for making it work with such style! We looked at Clinton Hill Co-Op apartments, but did not think of this sweetened solution.

  • Casey

    Thanks Roisin!

  • Kaity

    AMAZING! We tried to do this for our 1 BR on the UWS, and unfortunately, our Resource Furniture dining/queen bed piece ended up being sent back because the wall wasn’t structurally sound to withstand the pressure :-( Now we’re moving to the burbs!

    You guys did a beautiful job! Question — dying to know where your kitchen island stools are from!

    • Casey Leigh Atre

      I hope you found a nice place in the burbs! We found the stools in a home and decorative shop on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

  • Carolann

    Love the simple approach you took in the bathroom – nice reminder that not everything has to be high design!

    • Casey Leigh Atre

      Thanks Carol. I love simple and clean bathrooms.

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  • Brande Kristell Halász

    Hi! I LOVE your couch. Where did you purchase it or who makes it? Thank you :)

    • Casey Leigh Atre

      Hi Brande,
      The couch and the most of the rest of the furniture is from Penn Furniture, our 4th generation family owned furniture store in PA. http://www.pennfurniture.com/

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  • lois

    I love the sliding doors (weird thing to love) and have been looking for a good reference – who did yours?

    • Casey Leigh Atre

      Hi Lois,
      Thanks for the question. Our contractor Kris custom made all of the sliding doors and the pocket door. They’re beautiful!

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  • Daniel Torres

    @caseyleighatre:disqus My wife and I are looking to do a very similar style project here at CHC. We were wondering if we could pick your brain on a private thread? My email is unvd3les@gmail.com

    Thanks in advance!

    • Casey Leigh Atre

      Hi Daniel,
      I rarely am on here. Just saw this! I’ll email you.

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