The Insider: Curved Shapes, Playful Furnishings Rule in Gut Reno of Boerum Hill Townhouse


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Quite a few 19th century row houses have coveted pairs of arched doors at the entry. Alexandra Barker, founder of Gowanus-based Barker Associates Architecture Office, took this classic motif and ran with it, creating arched openings between rooms, along with numerous other curved details, in the gut renovation of a four-story townhouse for venturesome clients.

“Everything had to be redone,” Barker said, from all-new mechanicals, kitchen, baths, and floors to creating new moldings.

But the standout architectural move was the creation of a deep vaulted arch with fluted plasterwork detail in the middle of the parlor floor. “Previously, everybody wanted open plan, but it brought problems,” Barker said. “Where do you locate the bathroom so you’re not just opening up the door and walking into the dining table? It’s become a strategy to create a deep threshold between the front and back to conceal functions that are necessary on the parlor floor but hard to find places for, like a powder room, closets, and sometimes a bar,” not to mention HVAC elements and other mechanicals.

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