JUXTAPOSE IT’S NOT PERIOD: “We’re less afraid, now, of empty space; actually, we’ve come to value it as a luxury,” says the designer. “Furniture has an independent status. It can stand like the Bertoia chairs in a historic space and shine . . . the very juxtaposition highlighting the original house.”
An architect in her native Italy, Brooklyn-based Deborah Mariotti has worked as an interior designer since moving to the U.S. in 2005. On this project, a 19th-century brownstone in a historic district, she collaborated with clients raised in northern Europe. “We share the preference for preservation, and also the delight in juxtaposition,” Mariotti says.
“I would never delete history that has survived. In Italy, we have so many historic buildings, but we are used to integrating contemporary design with the old. The dialog between new and old is always interesting.”
To a great extent, the house was a time capsule. The previous owners—for about 40 years—had taken very good care of it but lacked the funds to upgrade or renovate. Some major repairs were needed, and systems had to be brought up to code. New plumbing and HVAC have been carefully integrated and hidden.
The original façade, staircases, woodwork, mantels, moldings, and most of the flooring had remained intact. During the renovation, a few minor walls were rebuilt to echo the original floor plan.
Paint colors and furnishings, especially, are decidedly modern, if already classics. Bridging the old and new are built-ins that blend with original woodwork, such as a bookcase added to an original arched niche in the dining room. A large entertainment center in the front parlor is not attached to the structure and can be removed.
New finishes are not copies of original material but were chosen for their decorative and handmade qualities. Figured cement tile, for example, is the backdrop for the kitchen spaces as well as a new laundry room. “The dark pattern really makes the reused antique marble sink stand out,” Mariotti says, “and one hopes it will making doing laundry more fun!”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Five handy, high-quality devices make carpentry jobs go smoothly.
Glasgow School in the Bathroom
A tutorial in bracing color and geometric, stylized forms.
STUFF MY M-I-L SCREWED UP
My mother-in-law is an active 83-year-old who still lives in her own home of many years. When we last visited, we were horrified to discover that she has hung a collection of disused and out-of season clothing on Romex electrical cable, which runs through the joists under the basement ceiling. Now we’re worried about other safety issues down there, too. —Anthony (and Julia) Wisniewski
MATCHING INTERIOR MILLWORK
If one lacks professional expertise, installing crown moulding, replacing missing bits of casing or trim around windows, and retrofitting lost baseboards may be an exercise in frustration. Especially when nothing in an old house is square! First learn about the role of trimwork, building up profiles, turning corners with mitered and coped joints, and what tools to use where.
The Tradition of Burnt Wood
An ancient Japanese method for finishing woodwork was adapted by bungalow builders, and it’s back in style.
“Turning the corner” is easily the most challenging part of any moulding installation or repair. It helps if you aced geometry in high school. For all others, learn to use a miter box, preferably one with a clamp. More experienced? Upgrade to a compound miter saw.
ARTS & CRAFTS DO-OVER
With generous living space yet a focus on the outdoors, an undistinguished cottage is rebuilt in the Craftsman tradition.
Salvaged icebox hinges make new cabinets look like vintage equipment.
ASK OLD HOUSE JOURNAL
ASK OLD HOUSE JOURNAL
A House unbungled
A couple embarks on the restoration of a diminutive house, aiming to reverse a mid-century Colonial style remodeling. Replacing one wall with a period colonnade lets light flow front to back.
thumbs up! thumbs down!
Best Of Show Or Worse For Wear? Digest Decides.
More Merchants Are Courting Cash
Surcharges for credit card purchases become common as businesses try to avoid swipe fees
The Mother Load
Her GH Alter Is Faking Her Pregnancy, But In Real Life, Amanda Setton Is A Busy Mom Of Three.
Baking in Brooklyn
She comes from Jamaican and southern roots, but now Shanika is transforming classic comfort foods into vegan delicacies with her family in NYC.
30 minutes with … Eric Adams
Eight weeks before the mayoral primary and second in the polls, Brooklyn’s borough president sharpens his case for more cops.
THE ITALIAN JOB
After 107 years, Di Pasquale’s finds a new home in Brewers Hill.
AirVPN: Excellent service that power users will love
An excellent service with a known history, a solid network, and very good speeds.
A SMALL PEARL ON LAKE COMO | MONTE SAN PRIMO
In 2019 I was working on an art project in Bellagio, Italy. This small pearl on Lake Como is dominated by a mountain called Monte San Primo.
GH: VALENTIN REACTS TO BROOK LYNN'S PREGNANCY
Valentin is left reeling when he comes face to face with a newly returned Brook Lynn and discovers that their one-night stand had lasting consequences: She’s pregnant!
Let's Get Physical
Having long marveled at the technology of the high-end workout equipment on the high seas, Porthole goes all in on putting together a home fitness center.