Frederick Tang Architecture has completed the renovation and interior design of a 2,500-square-foot, 13th-floor apartment in Brooklyn’s Turner Towers, a grand pre-war, art deco building dating to 1926. Located on Eastern Parkway, the apartment overlooks both The Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Designed for a couple who work in the arts and their two children, the renovation balances reverence for the apartment’s history with contemporary, custom details inspired by the family’s artistic sensibility and casual lifestyle.
The project began by reconfiguring the original layout to open up the home and centralize the kitchen. “We had to make this apartment work for a modern family,” says Frederick Tang, principal of Frederick Tang Architecture. While boasting generously proportioned living areas and tall ceilings typical of classic prewar apartments, the original kitchen was cramped, penned in by walls on all sides, and bordered by two small rooms originally designed as staff quarters.
The firm relocated the kitchen to the apartment’s core, opening it up on two sides and connecting it to the dining area via a black soapstone bar with custom cabinetry in white lacquer. “The owners are passionate about cooking and entertaining so they wanted to make sure they could create a large kitchen space that would allow them to socialize with their guests,” says Tang. Adjacent to the new kitchen, the original small staff rooms were reshaped into an office, guest bedroom, and guest bathroom.
Throughout the home, interiors were streamlined and custom built-ins were integrated to optimize casual family interactions and entertaining. “The owners had a specific vision. Nothing was to feel too precious, but instead lived in and relaxed,” says Barbara Reyes, Frederick Tang Architecture’s Director of Design and Interiors. “And for all elements to integrate with the historic bones of the space.”
In the kitchen, custom cabinetry inspired by mid-century Southern California woodwork is made of deep auburn cherry with integrated handles and sliding doors. A backsplash of White Encaustic tiles from Clé accentuates a jet-black soapstone countertop, which includes an apron-front sink and an integrated, subtly sloping drain board. The space is lit by a Polish opaline industrial flush mount.
Opposite, a matching soapstone bar with concealed storage and wine fridge opens onto the dining area and includes a pocket for two Cognac leather stools by Afteroom for MENU. Above, a trio of 1960s Scandinavian pendants by Arnold Wiigs Fabrikker light the kitchen and bar.
Throughout the home, “vintage light fixtures add a layer to the apartment's history, and 1st Dibs became a great resource for one-of-a-kind pieces from the past and from afar,” says Reyes.
The dining room is anchored by another bold vintage fixture: a deep orange, 1960s Equator Pendant by Jo Hammerborg for Fog and Morup. A custom reading bench designed by Frederick Tang Architecture and upholstered in IKAT from Fabricut hugs the dining room window bank, while a vintage Danish media cabinet, an heirloom from the owner’s parents, lines another wall.
The adjacent entryway is punctuated by a vintage German Opaline Glass Bauhaus lighting fixture, a Shaker-style hook/shelf system, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases leading directly to the light-filled living room and main bedroom. Custom walnut millwork complete with wardrobe storage, vanity nook, and with brass hardware line one wall of the main bedroom, which also includes a standing Noguchi lamp and a vintage Werner Herzog poster from the client’s own collection. The piece joins the family’s larger art collection, which collectively reflects their extended creative community and personal work.
The bathrooms are accented with bold color and pattern. In the kids’ bathroom, mix-and-match hot pink, yellow, and blue plumbing fixtures by VOLA join dimensional wall tiles by Kho Liang and yellow lighting fixtures from Barn Lighting. In the guest bath, a custom walnut mirror and shelf are embedded into a wall painted deep turquoise and partially clad in midnight blue Zelig Tiles by Mosaic House. Faceted sconces by Cosack continue the vintage lighting theme; they were originally installed in a German theater, a playful nod to the clients’ creative interests.