Harlem, New York
The Dearborn Residence, an 1890’s brownstone in Harlem, had the blessing of deep, rich, expansive woodwork throughout the parlor floor of the building, and it also had the curse of deep, rich, expansive woodwork throughout the parlor floor. The carving and wainscoting added character and narrative to the space, but starved the rooms of light. Our objective was to transform an otherwise dark and somber volume into a space of light and activity.
The resolve was to brighten all the other surfaces of the rooms: walls became museum white, kitchen surfaces stainless steel, and the owners’ beloved color of French blue would be the selection for all the objects in the room, even taking an iconic yet ordinary table and powder coating it blue!
To promote the transmission of light deeper into the volume, a series of programmed light boxes were introduced. The intervention responds to dining and entertainment needs, in addition to new fixtures and furnishings throughout. Translucent glass, stainless steel, marble, and mirror were introduced to transmit and reflect light. In order to preserve the character of the existing wood paneled wainscoting, the cabinetry pulls away from the walls and hovers above the floor. The existing formal dining room now houses the kitchen and the former kitchen has become a pantry and powder room.
Photos by Paul Finkel