Overlay Office has renovated a 19th-century New York City townhouse to create House Offset. Located in South Slope, Brooklyn, the three-unit condominium uses classic design and sustainable materials that reinvent and enhance common contemporary renovation methods. It features increased natural light, open floor plans that maximize interior space, and outdoor spaces for each apartment.
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While the house underwent significant interior transformations, much of the exterior design was left to preserve the building’s relationship to its surrounding neighborhood context. The front façade is painted with two shades of black paint, with rounded arch shapes over a few windows. This feature is a callback to scalloped windows and roofs common in the neighborhood.
The lower third of the street-facing elevation is clad with shou sugi ban, a charred timber cladding that provides weathering and pest resistance. This visually complements the black brickwork above. The stoop at the entry forsakes traditional materiality and instead uses dark terrazzo stairs to reinforce the color scheme of the front façade.
House Offset’s residential units comprise two bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths, as well as generous living spaces. Each apartment also has a private outdoor patio with patterned tiling, synthetic turf, and powder-coated metal railings. On the ground level, the patio leads to the backyard, while on the top floor, residents have access to the roof deck.
The primary interior finishes are black and white and serve as elegant monochromatic backgrounds for brightly colored and richly-patterned furniture and fixtures. Overlay Office worked closely with suppliers for customized architectural details. These include suppliers like Durat, for the 100% recycled plastic “terrazzo” solid surfaces, and Watermark Brooklyn for the colored kitchen and bathroom plumbing fixtures. The designers also referenced the scalloped pattern from the front façade in interior details, ranging from the rounded edges of solid surfaces to the barrel-vaulted ceilings.
Overlay Office challenges ubiquitous renovation aesthetics through thoughtful design choices in the project. The attention to materiality and bold patterns and colors accentuate the townhouse without sacrificing elegance. Instead of a conventional refurbishment project, the simple yet effective customizations expand the vocabulary of the building and create a homey space for residents.
Images by Ryan Lahiff, courtesy of Corcoran