There are few things as thrilling or as potentially terrifying at the beginning of an interior design project as a blank slate. Luckily for Dan Mazzarini of BHDM Design, that proposition also came with a trusting client, his friend Joe Mazias, and an apartment that was, in the designer's words, "kind of a slam dunk." A structurally sound, aesthetically vanilla two-bedroom in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn was well within his wheelhouse.
For his first home in the hip borough, Mazias chose a place that fits the real estate archetype many a Manhattanite dreams of when crossing the East River: a classic Brooklyn brownstone apartment in a picturesque neighborhood. The place was in good shape, if a bit dated, so the pair settled on an aesthetic overhaul throughout. The apartment's feel had to mimic Mazias's personal style—formal during the week and kicked back on the weekend. Thus, an orderly black-and-white respite for a buttoned-up lawyer, and a cool and welcoming crash pad for his frequent out-of-town guests.
Mazzarini's vision for the space included a full renovation of the outmoded kitchen and bath, a statement-making coat of glossy white for the floors, and a masterful mix of contemporary, midcentury, and antique furnishings, all rendered in reserved neutrals. "We wanted to keep the character, but update it for his lifestyle," says the designer. Some builders' special finishes betrayed a recent but soulless renovation, so the design team replaced the doors, trim, and floors throughout in styles that stayed true to the history of the building. The kitchen received the biggest transformation. Glossy cabinetry (an unrecognizable Ikea hack), bronze hardware, and a honed Nero Marquina backsplash in a herringbone pattern make an unabashedly luxe and modern statement against the otherwise eclectic decor.
The strict color palette of black, white, and gray, which reigns throughout the home, helps to maintain the cohesive feeing. "Neutral doesn’t have to mean monochrome," Mazzarini points out. And in this case it's far from one note. Bold geometric shapes, like the ones found on the new bathroom floor or the master bedroom's standout door knobs, lend the place a bespoke air.
"Joe didn’t want it to feel like 'ye olde Brooklyn.'" says Mazzarni. "There’s a sense of history here, but we polished it up." The most old-world element, a simple brick-lined fireplace, received a coat of white paint, as did the wood floors, creating a bright backdrop on which to layer in a few statement-making pieces and cozy classics suited to modern bachelorhood. Masculine staples mix with curvaceous midcentury finds in the living room, where a caramel-sheathed egg chair and vintage zig-zag seat vie for attention. A Restoration Hardware sofa is topped with custom leather cushions and framed by a pair of brass library lamps.
The recipe is echoed in the guest room, with one significant twist. The minimalist paint treatment—a chair-rail effect without the rail—echoes a traditional style but in an offhanded, cool iteration, a subtle homage to old Brooklyn and new. A West Elm daybed, a cheeky print found on Etsy, and an artful copper chair from Bend Goods round out the diverse space.