When it came to reimagining the interiors of a 110-year-old townhouse, Kate Abt and her clients, Jon and Sarah Bresler, wanted to keep as much of the existing structure as they could. The couple, who have a young daughter, hoped “to honor the details and history of the house while updating it and bringing in a more modern day feel and aesthetic.”
But the historic abode, which contains four bedrooms and four baths spanning 2,800 square feet, needed a substantial revamp—one that called for extending the rear and lowering the basement to make room for the growing family.
“We really liked the juxtaposition of the old and new with the addition of a modern rear to the home,” says Abt. One of the elements they sought to keep intact were the oak floors in the two front rooms, which feature inlaid mahogany. “They’re full of soul and character,” says the designer. “They add so much charm.”
The oak pocket doors between the stairs and main living room were also left untouched. “A previous owner had painted the doors' inside edge so they would match the white casing, but we stripped them and brought them back to their original oak wood,” Abt reveals. Many of the vintage radiators were also preserved, along with the oak-paneled staircase. “It adds a richness and patina to the home that you just can’t get from new construction,” she asserts.
The most drastic transformation took place in the heart of the house: the kitchen. “Being in the center of the home, it needed to not only function well, but also look good,” Abt says. Taking into account the dwelling's narrow layout, she aimed to maximize square footage, ultimately sacrificing a bit of storage space to accommodate the couple’s request for a more expansive stovetop. “My clients love to cook, so it was important to have as large a range as possible,” she explains.
Another culinary must-have? BlueStar appliances. “They had already done some research and fell in love with the line—not only for their function, but also their beauty...and the fact that they are produced not far from them, in Pennsylvania,” Abt says, adding that the couple wanted to integrate as many locally sourced custom items as they could.
Despite a few public utility delays, the year-and-a-half-long project unfolded rather seamlessly—though one bit of news did prompt the designer to make a slight adjustment to her initial plan: “The happiest surprise and change was finding out I needed to design a sweet nursery for a special little girl!” she enthuses.
Tour the rest of the lovely family home below.
The cozy, intimate space features plenty of custom touches, including shelving by Allen Built and a bespoke coffee table.
Chairs: Studio McGee. Rug: Surya. Lights: Visual Comfort. Pillows: Etsy.
“I think we all love the kitchen the most,” Abt gushes. “It is the heart of the home and a space for quiet family time or gathering with extended family and friends. It’s where happiness and memories are made.” A custom fabricated soapstone sink was a must, along with a dog feeding and water station on one end of the island.
Cabinetry and kitchen island: MD Custom Cabinets. Stove, refrigerator, and range: BlueStar. Heated floors: Architessa. Chairs: Four Hands. Pendant lights: Safavieh. Vintage rug: Jean Palmer. Faucets: Brizo.
The sun-filled space connects to the backyard through retractable doors, allowing for easy indoor-outdoor entertaining.
Light: Rejuvenation. Cabinetry: MD Custom Cabinets. Cabinetry paint: Grey Owl, Benjamin Moore. Table: custom. Chairs: Rove Concepts. Flooring: Architessa. Bins: Crate & Barrel. Door: Loewen.
The main bedroom—which Abt describes as “a calming and relaxing space with a neutral palette”—showcases custom linen draperies and bespoke built-ins by Allen Built.
Rug: Surya. Pillows: custom (blue) and Studio McGee. Bench and bed: clients’ own. Bedding: Studio McGee. Sconces: Visual Comfort.
Glass-paned iron doors lend the serene space a sleek and modern look.
Countertop: Quartz. Vanity: custom by Allen Built. Bath tub: Fergusson Showroom. Lighting: Visual Comfort.
Coated in Benjamin Moore’s Snowfall White, the cozy spare room features a Wayfair bed flanked by custom walnut nightstands and sconces from Hudson Valley Lighting.
Pillow: custom. Door: Loewen. Flooring: Universal Floors.
"The clients fell in love with the wallpaper, and the powder room was the perfect place to make an elegant showstopper," Abt says.
Wallpaper: Meadow, Kelly Ventura. Mirror: Rejuvenation. Sconce: Visual Comfort. Sink and faucet: Kohler Purist. Cabinetry: custom-made by Allen Built. Marble countertop: custom.
At just 18 feet wide, backyard underwent a complete renovation to accommodate the young family. "Every inch counted," says landscape architect Joseph Richardson, who designed the green space. Working in tandem with the architect and interior designer, he and his team worked to maximize the tiny rear yard, incorporating a cooking and eating area directly off the kitchen via large folding doors, along with a fire pit and a hidden parking spot. "The fence is a key design element," Richardson notes. "Its thin profile is devised from two-inch steel posts and high-grade cedar planking to take up as little space as possible." The result? A surprisingly spacious outdoor area.
Table and chairs: Kingsley Bate. Fire pit: Paloform. Flooring: Kansas limestone.
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