Before + After

This 650-Square-Foot Brooklyn Apartment Was Upsized for a Mother and Daughter Duo

The renovation meant one extra room and lots more sunshine
The living room was given a lightloving makeover with soft tones and sheeny fabrics. The room plays host to a pair of...
The living room was given a light-loving makeover, with soft tones and sheeny fabrics. The room plays host to a pair of reupholstered Maralunga chairs by Cassina, a custom red-oak coffee table by Jack Rabbit Studio, and a vintage Berber rug from The Stonehouse. The crown jewel, however, is the dusty pink daybed with integrated storage. Upholstered in Pierre Frey Freddo fabric, the custom-made piece by Stitch NYC cleverly conceals the radiators.Photo: Kyle Knodell

When Brett Masterson first became acquainted with the creative professional next door, he hardly could have imagined that their neighborly friendship would turn into a steadfast creative collaboration. “She was looking for someone to design her new one-bedroom nest, after having traded in her two-bedroom apartment in the same co-op,” says the architect, who helms Brooklyn-based Masterson Architecture & Interiors. As a recently divorced mother of a seven-year-old girl, and as someone who had lived in Brooklyn for over 17 years, the homeowner knew her priorities. “I was keen on carving out two separate bedrooms so that my daughter and I would each have our own space. Also, because I was starting a new chapter in my life, I wanted the space to very much feel like a reflection of me, my interests, and my personal style,” she shares.

AFTER: A custom floating console on the left now provides a landing zone with concealed storage for shoes. The space is enlivened by a ceramic sculpture, Jawscape by Krista Louise Smith, and a custom mirror by Skilset.

What followed was a Pinterest palooza: Favorite rooms were pinned and unpinned, artworks and design pieces were edited and refined, and boards were created and taken down. It all happened very quickly, until, everything seemingly fell into place. “I actually felt like Brett understood my aesthetic right away, and he helped me understand it as well. He did a lot of sourcing based on those references—fixtures, fabric samples, and hardware, which we met several times to review,” says the homeowner. “She wanted it to feel clean, a little spare even,” says Brett. “It had to be chic without losing out on comfort, warmth, and functionality.”

BEFORE: The hallway served its purpose, but was frightfully dreary.

AFTER: Brett created an arched access point connecting the living room to the newly subdivided bedrooms. The wall earns a vintage flair, thanks to natural brass-finish switches from Forbes & Lomax, an Allied Maker MQuan Half-Circle sconce, and a relief, “Expansion of Time III” by Thea Rose Gregorius.

Given that the space measured only 650 square feet, the pair had to be really strategic about storage. “It was important for [my client] to have a place for everything to avoid clutter.” The solutions, he found, lay in tailored storage devices that could be concealed when not in use. An arts and crafts cabinet was conjured up for the daughter; a shoe cabinet was introduced in the entryway; and an “appliance garage” was brought to life to double as a coffee station.

BEFORE: Prior to the renovation, the kitchen wasn’t the most sun-blessed. It had a gloomy backsplash and poor millwork.

AFTER: For the kitchen, Brett got creative with storage. A floor-to-ceiling pantry unit went up on one wall, a panel-ready fridge and pull-out vertical cabinet was installed on another. “With heavy-duty storage relegated to the side walls, we were able to go cabinet-free on the wall above the cooktop,” says Brett, who instead added in a single open shelf to maintain an open feel.

AFTER: The L-shaped Carrara marble counter features integrated PITT burners and a ROHL widespread faucet in unlacquered brass. The backsplash features Delft tiles in five different shades of white, while the wall sconce is the Ada by Brendan Ravenhill.

AFTER: Located between the kitchen and the living room, the dining room is a sunny bolt-hole with vintage Dutch chairs from Van Der Most Modern, an Atelier Vime pendant fixture, and an antique round table bought at auction.

The minimalist decor makes the home feel like a soothing sanctuary. Big west-facing windows ensure plenty of natural light, while the material palette has a light-as-air quality. Case(s) in point? The floors and walls, which respectively wear a bleached white oak and a Vintage Taupe by Benjamin Moore. But what really sets the home apart is that every piece of furniture, every object, tells a story. The punk-ish jawbone sculpture at the entryway, for example, is by the homeowner’s friend, Krista Louise Smith, and the vintage Maralunga chairs are ones she found and snapped up on Chairish. (Brett had them reupholstered in a chunky bouclé from Pierre Frey). In the archway leading to the bedrooms, a floor-to-ceiling mirror does more than just lend light and depth to the small space. It also functions as a dressing area, an impromptu selfie spot, and a dance stage for the homeowner and her daughter. The chubby custom coffee table by Jack Rabbit Studio, which takes center stage in the living room, is also admittedly a favorite of hers.

BEFORE: The home previously housed only one bedroom, not nearly enough for the mother and daughter, who were keen on having their own spaces.

AFTER: “The footprint of the large single bedroom was subdivided, and two separate sleeping spaces were created for the homeowner and her daughter. I changed the orientation of the bedroom entrances by adding a small recessed hallway along the living room wall, framed by a large arched opening,” says Brett. The room features an Up Down sconce from In Common With, a Gridy Fungi shelf from MenuSpace, and more often than not, a Maine Coon cat curled up in a corner.

Photo: Kyle Knodell; Styling: Jamie Perez Herrera

Pared-back it might be, but the home is anything but spartan. “We sourced textiles, art, and lighting fixtures that would bring warmth, texture, and color to offset the architectural palette,” says Brett, citing examples like the vintage Moroccan rug in the living room and the rattan pendant crowning the antique dining table. By the homeowner’s own admission, though, it’s the custom daybed in the living room that serves as the centerpiece of the home. “It’s large enough to fit me, my daughter, our Maine Coon cat, and then some,” she chuckles. “It’s where we play, watch, read, and sometimes eat. And most days, it’s also where we wind down to watch the sunset.” After all, perched on the seventeenth floor and facing downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, the views are quite something—both inside and out.

BEFORE: The former bathroom had a tub, but was hardly a conversation starter.

AFTER: The bathroom is a daisy oasis with a walk-in shower, a custom marble sink, white Delft tiles, and an Allied Makers Mini Orb sconce. The natural brass fixtures are from Watermark.

Photo: Kyle Knodell; Styling: Jamie Perez Herrera