Vonnie and Velma Hamilton own a Brooklyn brownstone home that has been in their family for three generations. These wonderful sisters have been a strong positive influence in their Brooklyn community through their service to their church and ever increasing “extended family”, always lending a hand to anyone in need, and creating an open door policy in their own home. Because of recent health issues and time and money spent with doctors, these sisters had no choice but to leave some of their home needs unattended. With the overall functionality of their home and appliances falling apart, these “honorary grandmas” were no longer able to host guests in their home as they once were.
NBC show, George to the Rescue, wanted to give back to these two sisters after seeing the inspiring, hard work they have contributed to their community. The New York design community was able to show their gratitude and admiration for these two by renovating their loving home. When Frances Herrera of Interiors by Francesca was approached with the opportunity to change the lives of these two “honorary grandmas”, she was thrilled. Here are some of her experiences and photos we’ve asked her to share with you about this unbelievable transformation!
What were the client’s needs/objectives?
Recently struggling with mobility issues, Vonnie hasn’t been able to get around as well as she once did. The new space needed to be spacious to accommodate a wheelchair to pass through the parlor room into the kitchen/dining room and allow the furniture to be moved around easily to make space for large gatherings of family and friends.
What kind of challenges did you experience during this project?
Taking time to concentrate on health and rehabilitation, the sisters had let issues in their 150 year old Brooklyn brownstone fall through the cracks. The ground floor consisting of the parlor and kitchen were in bad shape, cracked walls, poor lighting, damaged and warped wood floors were amongst many other issues. The space felt dark with only one overhead electrical source for such a large space. The space needed a solid floor plan to make it feel warm, bright and welcoming.
Completion Phase: What was the client feedback? Did the project meet / exceed their expectations?
Overall the ladies were floored when they saw their home after we rescued it from years of wear and tear and restored it to it’s original beauty with a contemporary approach to complement modern day living. Never did they imagine that the space would have turned out so airy and elegant to reflect their sunny personalities.
The wall color from the Historical Collection from Benjamin Moore was selected to give a beautiful contrast against the original plaster ceiling detail. The graphic rug was selected to complement and emphasize the lovely original arches in the fireplace design and doorway moldings. It also softens up the space and adds a touch of modern elegance.
The paisley and greek key pattern pillows give a nod to the traditional elements of the space but with a more updated, fresh approach. The versatile cocktail ottoman can serve as additional seating or as place to put down snacks and drinks.
The beautiful original italian marble mantle was begging for a gorgeous statement piece. I selected a modern interpretation of a mercury inlay mirror from Arcadian Home to grace the fireplace and serve as an elegant focal point as soon as you enter the space. It also serves to reflect the light off the chandelier making the space brighter…I like that Arcadian Home has well made pieces with character.
The parlor was dark with only one source of ceiling light. By placing a console behind the sofa, it provides a surface to place two table lamps to increase lighting and provide a space for the sisters to display their family photos and mementos.
Along the fireplace, I selected a two person bench and two accent chairs amongst the sofa for a cozy conversation area. The space was designed to be spacious enough to accommodate dining chairs to be brought in from the adjoining kitchen for larger gatherings. A round table with two chairs near the window is perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee while reading the paper and enjoying the view of the tree lined street and greeting neightboors passing by.
Thank you Francesca for sharing this project with us! The rescue makeover will air as the season premier of George to the Rescue on NBC Channel 4 on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 9:30am EST throughout the New York tristate area. For areas outside of NY, please check your local listings for show times.
Want more? For more beautiful designs from Interiors by Francesca and an unbelievable product selection, make sure to visit her shop, and check out her portfolio!