“Welcome to the happiness set,” said Stephanie Thompson of her charming duplex loft in the former Ansonia Clock factory building on 12th Street. Surrounded by vintage finds and salvaged treasures, Thompson’s three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath co-op is as relaxed as it is beautiful.
Built in the late 19th century, this iconic factory turned co-op complex boasts gorgeous original wood-beamed ceilings, exposed brick, wood floors and oversized windows. Thompson, a writer, blogger, and self-proclaimed home decorating enthusiast, instantly fell in love with the character-filled loft upon first seeing it in 2002.
“I knew I didn’t want something modern or re-done,” said Thompson, who saw it as the perfect raw space for her growing family to make their own.
After purchasing the duplex, Thompson and her husband Geordie embarked on a two-phase renovation process. Starting with the kitchen first, the dropped ceiling was raised and the cramped galley space was transformed into an open area conducive for cooking and entertaining.
In 2007, a more extensive renovation was completed with the help of Brooklyn contractor, David Kordowski of Teddy Renovations. During a six-month period, the bathrooms were re-done, a linen closet was added, and all doors were replaced, among other things.
With the home now more livable for a family of four, Thompson began the painstaking process of finding furniture and décor to complement the unique space.
“I spent hours and hours clipping pictures from magazines to get inspiration, and found that I was most attracted to relaxed French country style. I’ve always loved the look of old farmhouses, attics and barns.”
Lending itself to a rustic, country style, Thompson decorated much of the home with salvaged, antique and found pieces.
“A lot of the furniture and décor in this apartment came off the street,” she explained. “People talk so much about recycling and the environment and yet they continue to buy new things that are being created at the cost of the environment. There is so much out there that can be re-used.”
Thompson’s talent for finding new uses for old things is apparent throughout the home. Adorned with weathered furniture and aged décor, this inviting home feels more like a country cottage in the south of France than the south Brooklyn.
In the kitchen, barnwood shelves, saved from a local shop going out of business, display a collection of antique scales and jars. A beloved bench, too old and rickety for sitting, was repurposed into additional kitchen shelving. In the dining area, the family gathers around a rustic wood table encircled by vintage Brooklyn Courthouse chairs.
An attractive bath just off the dining area feels more like a country potting shed, with antique gardening tools displayed on custom shelves made of recycled wood. Thompson, who loves to garden but doesn’t have a space to do so explained, “This was the closest I could get to having the potting shed I’ve always dreamed about.”
A colorful transom, made of antique glass panels cut and meshed together, brings natural light from the dining area into the windowless room. “There’s a lot of life left in these pieces,” says Thompson. “I love that they have a history.”
The feeling that one has been transported to a French country cottage is no more apparent than in the comfortable living area, with its high, wood-beamed and white plank ceiling and custom white bookcase.
“Friends often say, ‘We don’t feel like we’re in Brooklyn,’” Thompson said proudly.
Extraordinary finds from the sidewalks of Brooklyn – lamps, a vintage barrel, table and chairs – play prominently in the room. Thompson’s biggest coup, a long, weathered bench that sits at the base of the bookcase, was purchased for $30 from the owner of a closed-down gardening shop.
In the spacious master bedroom on the second floor, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, built by local craftsman Eric Sosa, complements the massive arched windows and original brick walls. The serene master bath, painted in pale green to evoke an earlier era, features a lovely penny tile floor – the same tile lining the floor of Thompson’s favorite neighborhood French café, Colson Patisserie. In the comfortable guest room, an industrial-style shelving unit (made of rusty pipes) instantly catches the eye. Thompson, who discovered the unit in the trash after a neighbor had discarded it, decided to make the unique structure a permanent fixture in her home.
“Though I may want my home to look like something out of a magazine, I don’t want to live having to worry about keeping things pristine,” said Thompson. “With two young boys, worn and weathered is the perfect style for us.”
A harmonious marriage of beauty and comfort, this charming 12th street home clearly reflects the love and care put into it.