A Look Back: Third Life for a Second Empire House

Dark teal painted TV room with a grey couch and custom, natural wood cabinetry.
Adam Kane Macchia

The O'Mahony house on Brooklyn's 19th-Century Clinton Hill Gold Coast was given a new lease on life by a vibrant family of five in love with the energy of the neighborhood. Built in 1867 in the French Second Empire style, its first life was as a relatively modest single-family home in a sea of mansions. In the mid-1900s, it became an apartment building, the home's second life. While paying respect to this history, the family wanted the home's third life to be uniquely their own.

After Teal room with a gold sconce above a white sink and painting station. Several potted plants sit on the windowsill to the right.
Before Kitchen in a Clinton Hill house, that will be converted into an art room.
With the creative arts being central to the family's life and spirit, they did not want "safe." Engaging; stimulating; whimsical; highly personal; not afraid of risk - these were the watchwords of the vocabulary.
After Living room with four backlit built-in cubbies next to a bumped out window seat.
Before Spare room in a Clinton Hill townhouse with diagonally placed wood floors
Carving out cubbies in the den provided a unique opportunity for storage and interesting lighting.

The family's charge to the design team:

  • Spaces well related to each other, supporting a modern, informal lifestyle and fostering easy circulation and communication.

  • A fun "home base" that forgives intense, active use.

  • A welcoming home to accommodate a wide range of entertaining.

  • Acknowledgement of the home's history, including proportions and remaining detail, without returning fully to French Second Empire.

To make these goals a reality, we partnered with Shanti Crawford of Indigo & Ochre Design to create a one-of-a-kind home. The result is comfortable, practical, and in sync with the high-spirited, crafty family.