Strip Show: Peeling Back the Layers in a Park Slope Brownstone

mariah rich brooklyn brownstone erin little photo 11

If you want to stir the pot at a dinner party, bring up the topic of original wood moulding: to paint or not to paint? We’ve found, over the years, that this is a surprisingly divisive question, so take heed.

Today’s house tour is for all those fervently in the No Paint camp, the champions of untouched wood detailing. In fact, the renovation of this 1899 brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn, was less about adding on and much more about removing all the layers that had been added over the years.

“The space was stuck in the eighties and needed some serious love,” says designer Mariah Rich, who redid the brownstone and now shares the house with her husband, Ray Kelly, and Lola, their 16-year-old teacup Chihuahua. “The kitchen floors were old beat-up linoleum, there were horrid ceiling fans in every room, and all the light fixtures had to be updated.” But: “Underneath it all was the original features of parquet floors, decorative plaster molding, and period built-ins. I knew it was going to be a very good before and after project.”

Fortunately one arduous task had been done before they began work: stripping the original dark woodwork of its white paint. “The story goes that it took over 100 gallons of stripper and six months of work by one craftsman to get everything back to its original state,” Mariah says. “Every time I look at the beautiful molding around the doors in the living room or the wainscoting in the dining room, I am in awe of not only the craftsmanship of the wood but also the patience and dedication it must have taken to bring it back to its original beauty.”

Ready for a look around? Let’s take a tour:

Photography by Erin Little, courtesy of Mariah Rich Studio.

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Above: “We are in the historic district of Park Slope, only a few steps from Prospect Park,” says Mariah. “The brownstone is technically two bedroom and two baths, but we have made the one of the bedrooms into our living room.”
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Above: Two towering fiddle leaf figs in the windows of the bedroom-turned-living-room emphasize the hight of the ceilings. “As an interior stylist, I’m always sourcing and hunting for pieces for both my home and my clients,” Mariah says. “My design style is definitely mixing vintage with new. My pair of vintage Michel Arnoult Roxinho leather slingback chairs that only seem to get better with age and have been with me for over 20 years.” Note also the Togo lounge chair at center.

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