This Williamsburg Home Once Owned by the Host of Blue’s Clues Is Now a WFH Haven for Its New Owners
It’s still industrial, but with a softer touch.
Published May 21, 2022 10:45 AM
If it wasn’t for Steve Burns, the actor and musician best known as the host of Blue’s Clues, interior designer Melissa Lee’s clients wouldn’t be living where they are today. It was Burns who first saw the potential in an old garage-slash-woodshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, back in 2013 and decided to convert it into a house. “We owe some credit to him for the very unique architecture,” says Lee, the founder of local firm Bespoke Only. “He wanted to create a tucked-away haven in the bustling city.”
Unsurprisingly, the big draw for Lee’s clients, a young couple in the tech industry who bought the place in April 2021, was the indoor-outdoor flow. Accordion glass walls frame the spacious courtyard that sits at the heart of the home, and there’s a skywalk on the second floor that leads out to a roomy terrace. The square footage (2,180) was another perk: The pair run their startup business from home, so they needed enough room to have colleagues and clients over. Lee and her partner, Erika Chou, were tasked with de–bachelor-padding the house and making it more suitable for WFH.
Connecting the Dots
Not only did the kitchen used to be pea green, but the cabinets only spanned one wall, with a freestanding island on wheels situated across it. In an effort to make the cooking zone feel more cohesive with the adjacent living space, Lee extended the blueprint, ending up with an L-shaped layout.
The fresh oak millwork, which the designers stained a deep black, continues beyond the integrated paneled fridge, turning into a TV console-slash-bench of sorts. “It was a way to insert some kind of connection,” says Lee. Going with a pale sage marble tile backsplash also helps subtly tie the space to the vegetation out in the nearby courtyard.
(Wood) Work Station
For these homeowners, the kitchen isn’t just a place for cooking—it’s where they spend a good chunk of their workday. “We wanted to make it less typical residential and more restaurant-bar,” notes Lee of her decision to top the leathered granite island countertop with a section of dark butcher block. The wood provides a much more comfortable place to set up a laptop than cold stone.
Industrial, But Make It Artful
The brown retro fireplace that Burns had initially installed was a must-keep in Lee’s eyes. “It has such a cool industrial vibe. And we wanted to pay homage to the house and the neighborhood’s roots,” says the designer. To soften up the space a bit, though, she called on Coil + Drift to make custom pendant lamps out of clear resin that are “almost like jewelry.”
Anything But Snoozy Storage
In the primary bedroom upstairs, Lee closed up an interior window overlooking the downstairs to create more privacy and give the room a real sense of separation. “I’m never a fan of interior windows; they feel forced,” she shares. (The room faces out onto the roof deck, so there’s plenty of natural light shining in anyway.)
Then there was the matter of where to put everything. “Storage for a couple is very different from one single guy,” notes the designer. She got creative with their bespoke headboard design, incorporating shelves on the ends so the piece can double as a nightstand, and added a wall of closets with woven panel doors.
Back in hospitality mode, the bathroom is inspired by European hotels the clients had stayed at and loved from their many travels. The classic, 3D-block floor tiles bring in a touch of Italy, while the black marble pencil trim introduces a hint of Paris.
Another mood-setting detail? The LED backlit bookcase in the windowless guest bedroom downstairs. “This was an area where we could go bold and just really create a little jewel box,” says Lee. She utilized the same soft bulbs in the garage-turned-gym, shining an ultra-flattering light on the couple when they take on a post-work Pilates or boxing session.