A Groovy Two Story House Renovation in Williamsburg

A Groovy Two Story House Renovation in Williamsburg

I know a lot about renovations that take a long time. Of course, I’ll tell you that it’s almost never the contractor’s fault, but the answer on why renovations take so long depends on who you ask.  I recently came across this groovy two story house renovation in Williambsburg by architect Janet Cross of Cross Architecture in a daily post I received from fashion and trend blog Trendland.  It seems this renovation also took a long time to complete. The owner took the blame for it,  as you can see in the New York Times’ article I found after a quick search.

My takeaway on the results? I really liked the color scheme, the combination of wood finishes, the gorgeous artwork, the modern detailing of the steel and glass stairs, and the chalkboard paint.  Yup, the chalkboard paint.  I will be using that idea.

Take it in for yourself and then read the Times’ article about this ambitious project…









New York Times, “New Kids On The Block”


Published: January 2, 2013

THERE are renovations so ambitious and flawless you can almost see the contractors leaving the property carrying buckets of money.

So it is with the home built by Anthony Goicolea in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on a street in the throes of gentrification. It’s striking, if conspicuous, standing a story higher than the row houses it used to be a part of, a dazzling white block with many windows, the architectural equivalent of the cousin who made good and returns to visit his working-class relations.

The two-story row house originally in this space, which was demolished down to the basement and common walls that it shares with the neighbors, was 1,200 square feet. The new building is 2,000 square feet. The entrance level, an open kitchen and living space, has 20-foot ceilings; the wide stairs have thick glass banisters; the master bedroom, on the top floor, has sliding doors of translucent glass between master bedroom and bath, which can be opened so the claw-foot tub is part of the bedroom.

Mr. Goicolea, who shares the house with his partner, Paul Kelterborn, paid $625,000 for the building in 2006. Then, working with the Manhattan architect Janet Cross, he spent what he estimated as $950,000 to $1 million on the three-year renovation.

“It was supposed to be $750,000, and everybody told me it would take twice as long and cost twice as much,” says Mr. Goicolea, an artist, who is 41 but looks like a kid in his 20s and is charming and self-deprecating about what he spent. “I stopped building once for six months because I ran out of money.”

Where does an artist even get that kind of money? “I was doing pretty well before the recession,” Mr. Goicolea says, good-naturedly.

How well? “I have works in the permanent collection at MoMA, the Whitney, the Guggenheim and the Brooklyn Museum — all of them except the Met,” he says. O.K. he is told, that should do it.

He shows at Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea; his art — his Web site, anthonygoicolea.com — is eclectic. He draws, paints and does video and photography.

His partner, Mr. Kelterborn, 34, who stayed for part of the interview but then had to leave for work, is the programs manager for the Municipal Art Society of New York. They have been a couple for two years and laugh when asked how they got together — best to just say it was a social-networking site, they agree. Most of the furnishings in the home came from Mr. Goicolea. He is as open and amusing when discussing his profligate purchases as he is when talking about the house.

The slipcovered navy blue sofa in the open kitchen/living room, what did he pay for that? he is asked. Mr. Goicolea playfully lowers his voice. “Six thousand dollars,” he says, as if confessing to a threesome one intoxicated night in Istanbul.

“The thing that happened with the sofa, I was still paying gargantuan checks to finish the house, and I had a skewed perspective of what things cost,” he adds. “Now when I hear myself say that, I think I would never pay that. We want a chest of drawers, we saw one for $400, we’re saying, ‘Do we really need that?’ But then I was writing checks every other week for $30,000 and $40,000. I was just hemorrhaging and bleeding money, making work and trying to sell it to pay for it all.”

Checking his records, Mr. Goicolea learns that, when it comes to the couch, he was not as debauched as he thought. His Giovanni Erba couch, called the Something 98 Sofa, had originally been priced at $6,000 at ABC Carpet & Home in Manhattan, but he got it for $4,500 at a 25-percent-off sale.

And much of his furnishings are inexpensive, long owned and freshened up, or cleverly repurposed.

He’s found a way to make the house help pay for itself: he rents the basement studio to an artist friend. It looks out on a beautifully designed backyard, created by the couple, that has a wood deck and slabs of bluestone, interspersed with river stone. “You would think rocks would be cheap,” Mr. Goicolea says dryly. “These were, like, $1,000. There’s a stone yard in Bushwick and we drove down there and loaded up the car. We almost busted an axle trying to get them home.”

About Janet Cross, Cross Architecture

Janet Cross is both an architect and builder.

From 1990-1996 she worked closely with Architect Steven Holl on “Kiasma” a large art museum in Helskinki, and on an addition to Saaranin’s Institute of Science at Cranbrook. Since 1988 she has collaborated with artist James Turrell on his Roden Crater project, as well as his series of free-standing artworks. Working as an architect for the Whitney Museum, the Bronx Public Library and as Director of Operations for Ace Gallery, NY, she has also installed large scale exhibitions of Michael Heizer, Bill Viola, and Inugo Manglano Ovalle.

Janet has completed several commercial projects as well as townhouses. With the Italian design firm LO:TEK she built a home for Artist Lawrence Weiner and his wife Alice. The Weiner residence includes radiant heating as well as solar panels which produce almost one third of the home’s energy requirements.

As a great-great granddaughter of Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, Janet has served on the board of the National Association for Olmsted Parks. She is currently serving on the board of Glynwood Farm, a 250 acre estate devoted to sustainable farming practices, adapting old farmland to new uses.

Contact Information:

Cross Architecture PC
Janet Olmsted Cross A.I.A.
167 Madison Ave #301
New York, NY 10016
t 212.683.0480
f 212.683.4410