A Family’s Elegant, Relaxed Brooklyn Brownstone

A Family’s Elegant, Relaxed Brooklyn Brownstone

A Family’s Elegant, Relaxed Brooklyn Brownstone


Elizabeth Hannan


A Sunset Park-based family enlisted Homepolish designer Crystal Sinclair to renovate the spaces of their three-story brownstone into the stuff dreams are made of.

Photos by Seth Caplan.

The saying goes “out with the old, in with the new,” but we here at Homepolish prefer to take the best parts of each, creating a space that pays homage to a home’s past while also looking ahead to the life events it will host in the future. For Homepolish designer Crystal Sinclair, a three-story Sunset Park brownstone had the bones she needed to craft a comfortably elegant, timeless home for client Elizabeth Hannan and her family.

The brownstone’s long history was a perfect match for Elizabeth and her husband – who happens to be a history teacher himself – but it lacked the graceful quality needed to accommodate the family’s laid-back lifestyle. The couple reached out to Homepolish just as they were closing on the lease, and then it was off to the races. Elizabeth knew exactly what she wanted in a home: a fresh, open space that rides the line between rustic and modern, while also providing features that fit the family’s everyday life.

Starting out, the project wasn’t all peaches and cream; the first-floor den had to be converted into a kitchen, while the third-floor kitchen had to be gutted and made into a bedroom. The hard work began once the building renovation was done and over with, but it felt like second nature to Crystal, who has always dreamed of designing a brownstone. The one and only challenge she encountered along the way was the kitchen; anyone who lives in New York City knows that because limited cooking space is a common woe, you have to get creative. Crystal approached the situation with an air of ingenuity by choosing to craft wooden shelves that paired perfectly with the calm, cool, and collected aesthetic of the space brought to life in pieces like the luxuriously large Kohler sink. Crystal also thought it wise to paint the wooden floors a lovely rustic white in order to open up the space and give it just the airy feel that this cozy family home needed.

Because the client was starting completely from scratch, Crystal was able to build the beautiful space from the ground up. The designs were drawn up for areas that would meld effortlessly with the family’s hobbies and habits. In particular, the rows upon rows of book storage space were an absolute must for the couple of two private school employees, as well as a delightfully snug reading nook to post up in on a rainy day. One aspect of this project that she particularly loved to work on was the custom-made fireplace and mantel. As hard as it might be to believe, this archetypal brownstone structure didn’t exist when the couple first signed on the dotted line, but Crystal masterfully incorporated cool, modern materials like marble and mirror with the revamped room in order to create a quintessentially classic fixture that will give a relaxed, sophisticated ambiance to the space for years to come.

They often say that the devil is in the details, but the final touches were a breeze for Crystal. A home should always welcome its guests with a chic “hello,” so she opted for an understated entrance that whispered and didn’t shout. The gray-blue F. Schumacher wallpaper palette, the minimalist treads, and the bold black railing made for a dignified, luxurious first look into the home. Head up the stairs and you’ll find a soothing space with unconventionally darker details that defy the rules and stun with its results – the master bath. The patterned Ann Sacks tile mesmerizes the mind while additions like the floating wooden vanity (sourced from the same salvation yard as the wood from the kitchen) calms the spirit, much like the rest of this project that was smooth sailing from start to finish.

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