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Dwell Home Tours

Boerum Hill Rowhouse

Boerum Hill, NY

City Modern Brooklyn Home Tour
Sunday, October 07, 2012

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A turn-of-the-century Boerum Hill rowhouse gets a meticulous makeover from its new architect–owner.

When architect Jordan Parnass and his wife, artist Melanie Crean, started looking for a Brooklyn brownstone in 2004, the prospects were dim. Every place they scouted was poorly renovated and overpriced—that is, until they found one that had languished on the market for a year. A turn-of-thecentury rowhouse in Boerum Hill that Parnass describes as a ”disaster,” the space had been chopped up and rented out by an overzealous landlord, leaving burst pipes, broken windows, and interiors so dilapidated that only a single marble mantelpiece could be saved.

The upside was Parnass didn’t have to pay for someone else’s hasty remodeling. Instead, he treated the home as a blank canvas, exposing the rear façade to sun with floor-to-ceiling windows and opening up the warren of rooms to make a light-filled central area traversed by a steel staircase. Parnass also excavated the cellar to create space for work (Melanie’s studio) and play (the couple have two sons: Micah, 7, and Shiloh, 4). Since they decided to “maximize public areas and minimize the size of the bedrooms,“ as Parnass explains, “every bit of square footage gets used.” The boys’ bedroom is “a little space capsule,” Parnass says, equipped with tightly engineered furniture for each of them, like custom desks and built-in bunk beds, dressers, and bookshelves. Even more ingenious is the decision to duplicate the electrical and HVAC systems in the room, which are split in two so that, if needed, they can create two small but serviceable bedrooms in the future.

Though the front façade retains its period look, the interiors mix styles and materials, from exposed brick walls and a mid-century glass Panton pendant lamp to thirties-era steel-tube-and-leather Breuer dining chairs and a vibrant collection of contemporary art. A priority for the couple was being able to display site-specific large-scale installations, like the dining room’s double-height digital mural by Tali Hinkis and a sculpture by Alejandro Dron in the light well between the kitchen and garden. “We generally like things that have a crisp, modern sensibility, and we like color,” says Parnass. “But it’s all about the juxtaposition of elements.”

-Kelsey Keith, Senior Editor, Dwell

About the Architect

Thumb Jordan Parnass AIA RIBA LEED AP
Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture

As Principal of Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture, Jordan has been the creative force behind the firm’s award-winning projects worldwide. With 20 years of experience, he has consistently kept the firm at the leading edge of integrating new technology and sustainable practices into the work.

Jordan partners with his clients to create timeless modern classics that maximize both livability and value. A long history of creating interactive environments and online works also informs the firm’s creative methodology and focus on experiential design. Every project is thoughtfully planned and managed to ensure the greatest return in beauty, efficiency, and comfort.

Jordan is a LEED Accredited Professional and holds a BA in Art and Semiotics from Brown University, and a Masters of Architecture from Columbia University.


Supreme General Contracting
Temp-Art Mechanical
Appliances: Gringer and Sons
Porcelain Flooring: Stonesource
Living Room Couch / Arm Chairs: Ligne Roset
Countertops: Paperstone
Bamboo Flooring: D&M Flooring

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Purchase a 2-Day Weekend Pass and receive free tickets to Meet the Architects Reception.

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