We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
One morning in January 2021, new parents Will and Lauren woke up in their Brooklyn apartment with the sort of hangover that could only be possible from too much late-night champagne and tending to a 1-month-old baby. For the pair (she’s a product director at exercise equipment and media company Peloton; he’s a food and events entrepreneur), the nocturnal escapade led to a curious (and unrelated) epiphany: While many of their friends had retreated to the suburbs during COVID, they shared a sudden sense of clarity that their story in New York City wasn’t over. “From the ad hoc street performances to the exceptional meals in tiny corners of dimly lit restaurants to family brunches at ‘ours or yours,’ we wanted to be part of the [city’s] comeback story,” says Lauren.
The couple, who moved to New York nine years ago and wed at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, has always been charmed by the history of the Park Slope neighborhood and loved taking walks through its enchanting brownstone– and tree-lined streets. So it felt like fate when they found this early-1900s townhome, given they had always imagined their dream place pairing high ceilings and ornate molding with a modern, organic design. Because the space was in sorry shape (it had been renovated some 20 years prior, but the result was bleach), they tapped Brett Appel and Terri Lee of NYC-based Appel Architecture to replan the layout. Then they enlisted interior designer Crystal Sinclair, founder of her eponymous interior design firm, but not before presenting her with a series of Pinterest boards and saved Instagram posts of short-listed inspiration. They also threw in a Spotify playlist with groovy tunes that encompassed the chill mood they were after.
Amid all the excitement, there was one concern: “We were well aware of the dark vibes that Brooklyn townhomes can give off, with their long, windowless rooms and high ceilings,” shares Lauren. They wanted to make sure that the paint colors or light fixtures they introduced would ultimately brighten things up. That said, Sinclair was wary of going with crisp white walls. “I always say lean into [it]. If it doesn’t see a lot of natural light, play into it and go darker,” she explains, adding that creates depth with contrasting shades and various textures turned out to be the winning solution.
Exhibit A: the foyer, where dark green walls offset the nearby daisy yellow living room. The same trick can be seen in the kitchen, where powder blue cabinets cure the abiding brownness of the bespoke leather banquette, which Sinclair specifically designed to run the length of the long custom dining table. (Will and Lauren loved the idea of throwing their kids’ birthday parties there, with lots of children lining the bench, their hands sticky with cake.)
As far as furniture went, everything needed to be “easy to clean, hard to destroy, and generally void of sharp edges,” says Lauren. Sinclair delivered on the baby-safe, pup-proof brief with accents that were low on maintenance but high on style, such as an 1980s Danish-style lamp placed beside the bouclé sofa and a pair of sheepskin poufs that conjure strong hygge energy in the winter. To keep the floors natural, she introduced an off-white deep-pile rug of her own design in the living room, which is so fluffy to walk on that it doubles as a cushy play mat for the couple’s toddler, Julian. Equally, the room’s tour de force, a vintage brass chandelier made in Italy, remains far out of reach of little fingers.
In the couple’s bedroom, a moss green bed takes center stage, delivering a punch in form and function (the marshmallow-soft headboard keeps injuries at bay when little Julian inevitably crawls under the covers). The en suite bathroom, dominated by colorful marble and blue brick tiles, is a recent addition, but when they had it made, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. “To fit it in, we need to build a wall in the bedroom where [there previously] stood a beautiful original arch. We hate to lose this detail,” recalls Will. Luckily, Sinclair had just the solution: installing a fluted glass partition to frame the curved threshold (and create a luxury spa–like experience).
Given the home’s narrow footprint, getting everything to fit without crowding the space was no easy feat. “It was a bit like playing Tetris,” says Sinclair with a laugh. Luckily, it all stacked up in her favour.