When Elizabeth Roberts and Michael McKnight bought their Clinton Hill brownstone eight years ago, it was an SRO with padlocks on the doors. Despite (or because of) its flaws, it was the perfect project for Roberts, who runs an architecture firm in Gowanus and studied architectural preservation at Columbia University’s GSAPP. She did a total gut renovation on the 1866 Italianate brownstone, which comprises four floors and a garden apartment she and her husband rent out. Roberts wanted to create an open, airy space, so she removed the wall between the foyer and living room, painted the walls white, put in new floors, and kept the color scheme neutral. When it comes to decorating, “I’m a total gatherer,” she said. “I don’t just go to ABC Home and write a big check.” Unique pieces include the wine glass chandelier from Stockholm, which she loves because it’s both beautiful and utilitarian, a stool upholstered in fabric she got in Morocco, and art from friends. In the evenings, Roberts, her husband, and their seven-year-old son Dean like to watch movies projected onto the wall above the fireplace. Quirky bonus: the tub room off the master bedroom provides quiet moments of solitude.

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All photos by Seth Caplan.

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