When Samantha and Jonah Arcade and their two daughters outgrew their previous Brooklyn, NY apartment of six years, they never imagined they’d find room to breathe in a brownstone that was just 12 feet wide on each floor. But with Tirzah, 8, and Delaney, 4, a 1,000-square-foot home “wasn’t cutting it,” Sam admits. So about nine months ago, the family of four took a chance on a 1901 landmarked brownstone in need of a full renovation — from top to bottom, all four floors.
“We’d been searching for a home in Park Slope for what seemed like forever,” she says. “At one point we tried to buy a big house with friends and split it in half, but it got very complicated very quickly. About that time I said to Jonah, ‘we just need a little house, where are the little houses?’ When we saw our house we both said: ‘it is definitely little!’ But compared to what we were used to, even though it’s only 12 feet wide it really is a lot of house. On top of that, it has a lot of original detail, gorgeous ceiling moldings, original stained glass. I’m sure I was staring at those pretty windows while ignoring words like ‘complete electrical/plumbing updates,’ [and] ‘mechanical redo’.”
To tackle the overhaul, Sam, a creative director at an ad agency, and Jonah, a securities regulator, enlisted the help of architect Sarah Jacoby to helm the 2,400-square-foot transformation. The long list of renovations included enlarging the home’s garden level, adding a guest suite with a new bathroom and laundry room, adding a new kitchen to the parlor level, opening up the living room wall to expose the central staircase, and designing an updated master suite with ensuite bathroom, among other changes.
“While the renovation added many new features and opened up several spaces to create a better flow, the design was simultaneously careful not to overwhelm or compromise the spirit of the historic features,” Sarah says.
“The goal all along was to figure out how to make the house feel as wide as possible while preserving as much as possible,” Sam echoes. “The original details are actually quite grand, so we wanted to show them off as much as possible. Removing the wall between the front parlor and the original library (now kitchen) transformed the whole house. It exposed the central staircase which deserves to be seen. And Sarah’s design truly maximizes every square inch of space there is.”
While Sarah reconfigured the space to make it work for the family while honoring its past, she and Sam worked in tandem to infuse the home with energizing colors and other eye-catching design elements. Take a spin through the whole tour to see how color and history interplay harmoniously to give the Arcade family the space they need in the neighborhood they love. —Kelli
Photography by Ty Cole
Image above: “We are lucky that only a few families lived here before us, which is pretty [remarkable] considering she’s not a young house — part of the demo included removing gas lamp infrastructure,” Sam says. “And while we’re not the first family in Brooklyn looking to maximize square footage, when you’re working with just 12 feet across it takes on a whole new meaning.” By opening up the stair wall, Sarah was able to elongate the home’s design and make the space feel much larger. Chairs upholstered by Studio Four in their teal Jackie fabric, with Flock‘s Northmore Minor Teal fabric on the back.