space of the week

An Artist-Architect Breathes New Life Into a Brooklyn Row House

Brooklyn-born and -raised Shane Neufeld is an artist who happens to be an architect; he earned his graduate degree from the Yale School of Architecture in 2009 after receiving his B.A. in fine arts from Amherst in 2004. He worked for Rogers Marvel Architects and Christoff: Finio Architecture before launching his own firm, Light and Air () in 2017. For the past ten years, he lived in a Bed-Stuy loft big enough for his painting studio, but after getting married in 2015, and having a child, Malcolm (who is nearly a year old), it was time to put down deeper roots. So Shane set out looking for a wreck that he could breathe new life into with a full-throttle gut renovation. And the result is downright glorious. The key to Shane’s light-filled drama at home? It’s all about the switchback staircase.

Shane first spied this 1880s row house turned S.R.O. on a quiet street of brownstones in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “This was an opportunity to try something new,” Shane says, “to rethink what a townhouse in the city could be.” Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
“We were lucky that certain parts of the building were in such good structural shape,” Shane says. “The brick wall by the stairs, for instance, is almost completely straight — all the way up 30-feet high.” Still, he noted that the plasterwork had been so damaged that it needed to be removed, along with the plumbing and electricity. Neufeld used standard masonry paint on the brick wall. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
“We were lucky that certain parts of the building were in such good structural shape,” Shane says. “The brick wall by the stairs, for instance, is almost completely straight — all the way up 30-feet high.” Still, he noted that the plasterwork had been so damaged that it needed to be removed, along with the plumbing and electricity. Neufeld used standard masonry paint on the brick wall. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
The new switchback staircase (on the right) that replaced the former stacked stairs has lots of design power: “It allows you to look up directly to the roof,” says Shane, who also installed a 14 x 6 foot skylight that lets natural light flow through the house. Stylistically, it looks fresh and modern, but it also eliminated the hallways that linked the stacked stairs, helping light and air circulate into adjacent rooms. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
The new switchback staircase (on the right) that replaced the former stacked stairs has lots of design power: “It allows you to look up directly to the roof,” says Shane, who also installed a 14 x 6 foot skylight that lets natural light flow through the house. Stylistically, it looks fresh and modern, but it also eliminated the hallways that linked the stacked stairs, helping light and air circulate into adjacent rooms. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
“The wood walls were sort of like a coding for the more private utilities: the bathroom and the storage space,” Shane says. “The white walls are for the more public space.” The fridge is , the dishwasher is , and the cooktop is Wolf. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
“The wood walls were sort of like a coding for the more private utilities: the bathroom and the storage space,” Shane says. “The white walls are for the more public space.” The fridge is , the dishwasher is , and the cooktop is Wolf. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
“I knew I wanted to do something dramatic with the light,” Shane says. “I grew up in a brownstone in Brooklyn and I loved it, but I felt like it was just a very, very dark space.” Shane loves the exposed brickwork. “It really gave the light a textured experience; if this had been drywall, it would not have been nearly so nice.” Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
The new bathroom features 8 x 8 cement tiles for the floor and 3 x 12 tiles by for the shower. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
The new bathroom features 8 x 8 cement tiles for the floor and 3 x 12 tiles by for the shower. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Neufeld/Kevin Kunstadt
The double-hung windows bring the outdoors inside. “I feel really happy and lucky that we get to live here,” Shane says. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt/© Kevin Kunstadt 2017