Thinking Vertically


Asher Rodriquez-Dunn

How Leone Design Studio's re-renovation took a Brooklyn apartment to new heights.

Gowanus-based Leone Design Studio has renovated a brownstone Brooklyn apartment they had already... Well... Renovated. We here at DUNN found their story fascinating.

We reached out to Roy and Jennifer Leone (the husband-and-wife design duo) to find out more about this project, the challenges they faced, and (to be frank) we were curious to find out how they decided to use our Sorenthia 2-Arm when remodeling the apartment.

The genesis of this story began when Leone was approached to do renovations on a brownstone apartment house in the boroughs of Brooklyn. At the time, the clients who purchased this space were soon-to-be parents of twins. Eight years later, the need for more room was inevitable, which led the couple to purchase the apartment above their own. The mission: combine apartments on two different floors with additions that look and feel organic. 

Been There, DUNN That – Leone Design Studio – Thinking Vertically - Master Bedroom

As anticipated, Roy and Jennifer had to configure a staircase within two existing apartments that would not disrupt the flow of the space or visuals.

"It was fun to be able to think vertically," began Leone, "as well as consider how the family's needs have changed over the years.  And the realization that our clients wouldn't grow out of a home we were creating was exciting."

A mission of Leone Design Studio is to engage with clients and craftspeople to create high-quality work that will last. There are many factors that go into maintaining such a dedicated mission. Most importantly: creativity, dedication, and an experienced eye for the right materials. The latter was essential for Leone when they went back to a project they had already finished nearly a decade ago.

Been There, DUNN That – Leone Design Studio – Thinking Vertically - Kitchen

"We had to find an appropriate way to combine the spaces -- practical, but with the right aesthetic." Leone adds, "As for the palette, we thought of the connection between the two levels as a sculptural object.It needed to feel solid and monolithic. The white ash [for the staircase] blended well with the existing wood floors. The space became more fresh."

While the white ash contributed to a "modern, purist vibe" for the living space, it also meshed well with the concrete. "It worked as a counterpoint to the existing historic detail, but could be used in wet areas, too.  Concrete is seamless and monolithic, yet warm."

Been There, DUNN That – Leone Design Studio – Thinking Vertically - Bath

It goes without saying that a project like this is quite an undertaking. As you may imagine, gutting two apartments and building a staircase within it was one of the more pressing challenges Leone Design faced. Because of this, they also had to redirect the plumbing without disrupting the other apartments in the building.

"To accommodate the shower piping, we came up with a custom teak floor where the piping runs above the joists. It actually ended up cooler than a flush condition, in our opinion."

While the designers overcame the technical challenges of creating a duplex apartment, revisiting their project was a unique experience. Leone explained that it was on the list of their more taxing moments. "It took some effort! Removing work that we had done and loved was not an easy task."

Leone worked with inspiring clients whose vision they trusted. "The clients have such good taste that it’s been easy to work with them on finishes." 

Been There, DUNN That – Leone Design Studio – Thinking Vertically - Stairwell

We also asked the designers how they came across our work. In particular, how did they decide that they would use the Sorenthia 2-Arm that we make here at Studio DUNN?

"The clients picked out the fixture. They have great taste and we were very happy with their choice."  The client purchased the piece through our New York city retailer, ROOM.

We're always compelled to find out who, in the industry today, is inspiring to our contemporaries. We asked Leone Design Studio their thoughts and certainly will be keeping an eye out for some of these names:

"There really are so many people to admire in architecture and design these days," Leone began. "There is such rigor and dedication to David Chipperfield or Vincent Van Duysen's work. We also like firms who synthesize social concerns with a love of craft, such as Lake-Flato or Jones Studio."

It is a privilege to see our pieces settled in their new homes after having instilled so much passion and craft into them. We appreciate Leone Design Studio sharing their process with us, hearing about their unique experience, and learning what led them to DUNN.

Photography by Nick Glimenakis - "A native of New Hampshire, Nick Glimenakis studied Outdoor Education in Colorado before pursuing a career in photography.  He has since set up camp in New York and shoots portraits, travel, and interiors for a wide variety of clients.  Glimenakis has had his images published in Architectural DigestFood & Wine, and W Magazine, among others".