Interiorssneak peeks

A Crown Heights Family Makes It Work, in Style

by Annie Werbler

When Skye Parrott, a , and Jeremy Malman, the founder of  (a nonprofit group that teaches at-risk kids to restore vintage motorcycles), purchased the 1901 Crown Heights, Brooklyn limestone townhouse they now call home, it was apparent that a total gut reno was unavoidable. “There is a six-inch differential between the two sides,” estimates Skye, “which you can still see.” Years of neglect had ravaged the original interiors, and all that could be salvaged of them were the brick walls and wooden floor joists. Still, what seemed like a reasonable estimate for a nine-month renovation soon snowballed into 18, and after a year of waiting patiently while hemorrhaging cash, the young family was forced to move into an active construction site with their small children. The unforeseen expenses of a longer, more extensive project ate up a large portion of the budget that had been set aside for finishes. “All the money got spent on the stuff inside the wall,” says Skye. Scope creep forced the couple to get creative, and they were able to source brand-name appliances from Craigslist on the cheap, as well as to reuse most of the furniture from their former residence. Two bathrooms, a deck off the kitchen, and interior moldings have yet to be completed. “The nice thing about that stuff, though, is that it all can wait,” Skye reasons, in stark contrast to the structural reinforcements that took precedence over the rest of her wishlist.

During the pre-renovation planning phase, Skye and Jeremy allocated the two upper floors to their own 1,900-square-foot family home, where kids Stig, an eight-year-old boy, Oona, a three-year-old girl, and Marlowe, their cat, also reside. The structure’s two lower floors are dedicated to a rental apartment of equal size. When Skye and Jeremy were first looking to buy a home on a budget, they were realistic about the purchasing process. “We had to be flexible on everything, including the neighborhood,” admits Skye. It took six long months of searching and lots of failed deals until they found their current spot. “I would say it’s less that we chose this house, and more that this is the one that finally worked out.” Because they had been close to nailing down other prospects in the past, the couple got a momentary reality check after their contract for the Crown Heights house was finally inked. “We had to remind ourselves that since we were doing a gut renovation, what it looked like then didn’t matter,” she says. Now, after about a year of living in the home, the family loves their new neighborhood, and feels lucky that’s where they landed. Skye says, “People on our block actually say hello to each other!”

Skye and Jeremy haven’t decorated their home by any conventional rules, per se. Beyond selecting bamboo flooring and Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White wall paint, the couple has, “just filled our house with stuff we like, no matter what style or period it comes from,” Skye says. “Then, we try to find a way to make it work together.” There is a decidedly 1970s streak running through the space — from the orange sectional to the macramé hammock and glazed pottery, the home’s decor has got a tinge of disco hippie happening. Rather than attempting to sum up the vibe in any one way, “I think we both just want it to feel comfortable and cozy, and like somewhere that people, including kids, can live.”

The renovation drama has made these two homeowners all the more grateful that they never have to move again. “We’re just thankful! We feel very lucky that we bought our house, because it means we can stay in New York and not be locked into paying insane rents. It is such a luxury to have the kind of space we have here.” –

Photography by

The living room lacked much original detail, but the wooden joists were so beautiful that Skye and Jeremy decided to leave them exposed. A 1970s sectional by bears its original upholstery. "They're relatively easy to find in New York because no one has space for them," quips Skye. A coordinating arc floor lamp of the same era comes from Paris. Beside it sits the brass side table her grandparents picked up during a 1950s visit to Morocco.
Another view of the living room features a blue powder-coated side table from , which creates strong visual contrast against the orange sectional. The photograph on the wall, given as a gift to Skye by her former employer the photographer , is of artist as a teenager. Giving the planter a lift is a stack of giant fake books that were found on a trip upstate. They and the colorful rug are all vintage. Both of the room's poufs returned home with Skye from a trip to Morocco. A shaggy white Nesta rug from is somehow both vast and cozy, though Skye laments, "It sheds like an animal."
Jeremy fashioned bookshelves out of the salvageable portions of ceiling joists that needed to be removed and replaced. "I can't imagine a house that isn't filled with books," adds Skye.
Deco club chairs from the 1920s were Skye's first-ever furniture splurge. The worn leather seats are covered in a Senegalese wax printed cotton, while draped sheepskins hail from in Nashville. The black floor lamp is an find, as is the white credenza from the retailer's Stockholm collection, which Skye photographed in Sweden for its launch. "It's a good placeholder." Also boasting semi-permanent status is the gallery wall arrangement overtop. "I've moved this wall around four or five times trying to get it positioned just right. I like the way it's made the TV less of a focal point."
The kitchen and dining area as seen from the staircase. The doors will eventually open onto a finished deck, but in the meantime they let lots of natural light into the space. The backsplash tile is a standard white subway style from Home Depot, and the wooden knife strip comes from . Though the butcher block surfaces look great, "Eventually we'd like to do white marble for the countertop and maybe for the island as well."
Skye and Jeremy managed to get their dream kitchen cabinetry from by keeping things monochromatic. "I actually really like the cabinets because they just kind of disappear," affirms Skye. The cabinetry hardware is custom made in brushed brass. The stove, hood, and refrigerator are , which the couple sourced for one-tenth the retail price. Sink faucet is by .
A recent find from a trip to Tulum, the couple originally intended to install the hammock elsewhere in their home. "Even if it's a slightly strange thing to have in the kitchen," admits Skye, "by the window is a really nice place to sit. One of the best things about being a grownup is that you can hang a hammock in your kitchen if you want to!" The vintage red trash can was purchased at a yard sale. Another vintage find, the white cabinet from in Greenport, Long Island was once a store display fixture. The screen print on top of it came from . Next to that sits a bell jar containing an antler brought back from Montana by a friend of the couple. Finally, planters hang from the joists. The tethered glass balls are vintage fishing floats.
The dining area with a staircase leading to the house's bedrooms. Seeking an inexpensive solution to hide the sorry state of the stairs, the homeowners decided to cover them in sisal. "Turns out, it feels really good on your feet, and it's nice to have them less slippery for Oona," says Skye. The banister will eventually be finished as well. The large vintage table, which can accommodate 12, is a find. That, and the -hunted dining chairs, all came from a previous apartment. "The kids fight over the red chair for every single meal!" The wave print was a gift by , and the woven wallhanging beside it comes from .
The open area at the top of the stairs is used as a sitting area and office. Two skylights funnel sunshine into the space, but also make it a less-than-ideal place to hang artwork for fear of direct exposure. A floor lamp by can be switched on when needed. Skye's grandmother used the daybed as a little girl. "When I took the fabric off to reupholster it," she recalls, "I found that the person who made it had signed it by hand in pencil underneath, and dated it 1915." The new fabric was dyed by . An orange Turkish pillow made from an old kilim rug, a blue one from the store , and more sheepskins add h layers of luxury. Beside the daybed sits a vintage hospital table from . sells the famous "For Like Ever" print in the background.
The desk made its way from a parsonage to , where Skye scooped it up. "It's kind of heavy and Mission-style, and it doesn't really fit with the rest of our furniture, but I love the blue top." On it rests 's gold planter. A brightly-colored vintage quilt was found on and the vintage stool was purchased at . The small framed work is a newsprint collage from a small gallery in Paris. The black and white painting is by . Finally, the vignette is further enhanced by Stig's ghost cup and Oona's painted cow.
Like many parents, Skye and Jeremy put their bedroom low on the priority list. They do, however, "love how much light we get in our bedroom, and how visually calm it is compared to the rest of the house." For now the bed, flanked by simple PS side tables, sits on the floor until a suitable frame is located. Above it is a wallhanging from via . The trunk belonged to Skye's great, great grandfather and has his name stenciled on the side. The brass lamps are from , and the flower print by was a gift from Jeremy to Skye for Mother's Day.
The view from the master bedroom toward the closet. Skye acknowledges that "the arch is the only traditional detail we kept in the house." The rocking chair is a family heirloom from her grandmother, the silk pillows are by , the wooden mirror is a lucky yard sale find, and the yellow African hamper is from .
The master bathroom, looking towards the bedroom, has the distinction of being the only room in the house that Skye and Jeremy feel is totally done. "The vanity is actually an media cabinet that we mounted on the wall," she shares. Plain white subway tiles on the wall are accented by charcoal grey grout. Simple hex tile covers the floor. The vintage green vases were brought back for the family from a friend's trip to Berlin. The pairing of towels with a bathmat is the sort of high/low mix enjoyed by the homeowners.
This is Oona's room. Always one to see a silver lining, Skye doesn't mind that the two kids' spaces are on the smaller side, "Because it means we can't hold onto masses of stuff, and we regularly purge." The heart decals and wooden dollhouse come from , the papier-mâché giraffe was a gift brought back from Haiti from mother to daughter, and the rug is a vintage Moroccan boucherouite Skye picked up in Philly. The bed is from , "And it can expand as Oona grows." A vintage dresser in the corner was bought off . A wooden kitchen is made by from , and above it hangs a print that belonged to Skye when she was a kid.
Another view of Oona's room shows a cloud and raindrop mobile from . The framed print with lyrics from "You Are My Sunshine" and the fox pillow were sourced on , while the bed and patterned raspberry duvet come from . Bubblegum pink walls are a custom-blended color.
Skye says that "Oona's room is pretty much what I wish my room had looked like when I was a little girl." She gave lots of pretty things she had collected over the years, like the dreamcatcher and the butterflies under glass, to her daughter. The pen and watercolor drawing was purchased by Skye's mother in 1970s London, and the vintage yellow lamp was found at . It rests on a low cubby unit from .
Looking to increase the usable square footage of Stig's small bedroom, his parents were originally planning to build a loft. It was he who had the idea to install a teepee instead. "Kids go crazy for his bed," proclaims Skye. The white storage cart is from , and above it on the windowsill sits a "You Are Wonderful" print from . A dinosaur piggy bank that once belonged to Skye's brother threatens to demolish the entire scene. The yellow pendant light fixture is by . In the left foreground sits a vintage trunk.
As if the teepee wasn't cool enough, Stig uses a vintage storage unit from a school science lab as his dresser. Skye brought back the papier-mâché zebra helmet for him from Haiti. The framed Cadillac print is by .
Black lightning wall decals from are removable, and Stig will be able to take them down when he gets older, but we hope he doesn't. Skye shares, "The blanket was made for him when he was little." On the floor beside it rests an sheepskin.
"My favorite thing about my home is who I've made it with." - Skye Parrott and Jeremy Malman
The floorplan of Skye Parrott and Jeremy Malman's Crown Heights, Brooklyn limestone.

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