A few weeks ago, out of curiosity, or out of a need and desire to find what I really want in a home, I started looking for a one bedroom. I took some tours of the Upper West Side, the Village and a long journey out to Brooklyn Heights. And unfortunately, I stumbled upon the beauty you see below. I say unfortunately because it was perfect in every single conceivable way, except for timing. I don’t need a one bedroom for six months, couldn’t even think of affording it until four months out. It’s unfortunate I found something with so much light and great proportions…
The apartment is the full parlor floor of a Georgian style brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. With a little research, and memory from past classes, I found that the basic principles of Georgian domestic architecture had been established in Marvell’s day – ‘Humility alone designs/ Those short but admirable lines’ – but it was the expansion of speculative building in the 18th century that made the achievement possible. Most significantly, educated builders or surveyors, rather than architects, were involved.
The apartment still maintains an elemental parlor floor plan with one room at the front and one at the back. And the best part is the an insistent verticality which always creates pleasing proportions and rooms flooded with light. And, of course, there is a balcony in the back. These are simple principles that make this apartment so desirable. And it has nothing to do with bogus pediments or sash windows. It has to do with firm principles of proportion and a flowing interplay between public and private space.
I’m still walking around, looking at places, and realizing that the apartment in my future need not be a brand new building or something “cozy with exposed brick walls.” As Le Corbusier said, I need a home where I can sense ‘intelligence made visible’. I need a home that achieves its feel, commodity and delight not through surface details, but through fundamental principles: good proportions, ordinariness and light. That’s all my home needs to be.