The one-of-a-kind East Village home of recently married DJs and entrepreneurs Hannah Bronfman and Brendan Fallis has been featured in design magazines from Architectural Digest to InStyle. It isn’t just the outdoor shower, terrace or walk-in closet that has us impressed, but the incredible transformation the home was given under the direction of the couple’s friend and architect Jeffrey White, of the multidisciplinary design organization EAU.
After working with Bronfman and Fallis from the earliest stages of their home hunt, White shared a behind-the-scenes look at the home’s renovation, the benefits of including a designer and architect in the home search, and advice for homeowners looking to work with a design team on their own renovations. Love the home? It’s now for sale through Jonathan R. Stein of Brown Harris Stevens.
Three Floors, One Designer
“Depending on what a client is hoping to achieve, I think working with an architect/designer during the home buying process can be a great asset,” White says. Upon finding the spacious triplex, everyone knew that it had plenty of design potential. “My clients had a strong vision for how they wanted to live,” he says. “As an architect, it was my job to find the best way to adapt the space to achieve their goals.”
The entire home was renovated, but among White’s favorite changes was the replacement of the small living room windows with 11-foot French doors that open up to a Juliet balcony — and let significantly more sunlight into the home. “Most apartments in NYC do not have the ability to punch out larger windows,” he explains, “so it definitely has a special place for me, and I took advantage by using windows that we custom designed.”
Bronfman and Fallis were also open-minded about moving the bedroom from the mezzanine floor to the attic space, since it had direct access to the large rooftop terrace. By reframing the roof, Jeffrey was able to add an extra 10 inches of height to the room and fit in a fully operable 10-foot window wall.
Even after all of these changes, the home has been lauded for its consistent, clean design. Jeffrey believes this kind of result is best achieved by working with one team throughout the entire design process, rather than a separate designer and architect. “It allows for a streamlined narrative that appears minimalist but has impact through its consistency and richness in subtle variations,” he says.
The Best-Laid Plans …
When working on such a large project, White stresses the importance of taking your time and approaching the renovation in a systematic way with your design team. “It is important to let spaces marinate before analyzing,” he says. Before getting started, he breaks down the individual design processes to allow him to work through the details with the homeowners gradually: “I work very hard to develop schemes that are able to be built on-time and on-budget, as ultimately this matters as much as the final outcome of the design — building and renovating are expensive!”
But even the best-laid plans face unexpected hurdles, so White advises homeowners to build contingencies into project budgets — and most importantly, to “remain open-minded to what the space could be, not just what it is.” In Bronfman and Fallis’s home, moving the master bedroom to the attic meant they would need to walk one floor down to use the bathroom. But ultimately this allowed them to use the space more efficiently, and as a bonus, they were able to add an outdoor shower to their terrace. “In addition to being amazing on its own, it also solved the problem of having to walk down a flight of stairs to shower during the warmer months,” White says.
Practice Makes Perfect
While many homeowners may not think to include a design team in their home plans until after they’ve purchased the home, White is clear on the advantages of doing so earlier. “The sports analogy works well here: practice makes perfect,” he says. He knew Bronfman and White before working on this project. For other home hunters, the additional time with a designer helps to build a “trusting, honest rapport” that will see them successfully through the work.
Finally, White encourages home-hunters looking to build their dream home to dream big: “A great architect/designer is a problem solver, and hopefully they can help you make your dreams come true — and within budget.”
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