“We love working with people who have a strong point of view to create eclectic spaces — never precious or perfect, always comfortable.” — Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth Roberts Architects is an architecture and design studio led by architect Elizabeth Roberts and based in Brooklyn, New York. Having an experience of over twenty years, she established her own firm in 1998 after studying Architecture at U.C. Berkeley and Historic Preservation at Columbia University. Her firm now is best known for her glamorous renovations of Brooklyn townhouses. Frequently called “the titan of the townhouse” by the New York Times, for the past two years, she’s been included in Architectural Digest’s AD100, which credited her with redefining a certain vision of luxurious New York City living.

Their commercial spaces embody each brand’s essence through differentiated and statement-making design and aesthetics.

Their residential work merges the historic and the unexpected, preserving the best of the past while producing a startlingly new point-of-view.

“As visions of domestic New York City bliss have shifted from uptown penthouses to Brooklyn brownstones, few have done as much to define that dream as Roberts. Over the past 20 years, the architect has breathed new life into homes throughout her beloved borough, developing a cult following thanks to clever space planning, showstopper kitchens, and nuanced materials palettes.” – New York Times

1. Rachel Comey Flagship Store, SoHo, Manhattan

A unique, urban space that has been re-invented for an innovative fashion designer, architect Elizabeth Roberts, and interior designer Charles De Lisle turned the former mechanic’s garage into a space that features both warm minimalism and a relaxed rich atmosphere. The existing shell was retained and refinished to enhance the existing wood joists and three large central skylights. The interior features a mixture of seemingly opposed construction materials—brass, exposed wood, travertine, poured concrete, hand-troweled stucco and pink carpeting all make appearances throughout the store—but the result is a space with humble, zen-like harmony, surpassing the industrial origins of the space. While certain materials like concrete or travertine are usually seen at places having cold and rough qualities, the textural effects were undertaken here to create a look that strangely organic and peaceful.

2. Rachel Comey Store, LA, California

An eclectic store in Los Angeles that is reflective of the collaborative design process, highlighting and continuing the essence of the flagship store and the casual lifestyle that defines Los Angeles.

All interior finishes including floors, ceilings, and all walls were removed to seamlessly connect the three buildings that make up the store. Floor elevations were leveled, existing wood joists were exposed, and a decade of paint was sandblasted to provide the rich, warm finish of the exposed aged wood throughout the space. Corrugated metal, lacquered fixtures, a custom brick table, and terracotta-colored cement floors provide the backdrop for unique furniture and Rachel’s collection.

A large central skylight was custom made to offer natural light and act as a perceived center above the shoe display.

A large central skylight was custom made to offer natural light and act as a perceived center above the shoe display.

3. Il Fiorista, New York

IL Fiorista is an 85-seat restaurant and boutique shop located between Madison Square Park and New York City’s flower district. The concept at its core was to create an energetic space where flowers and herbs would be celebrated, sold and incorporated into the aesthetic choices. Along with the design and fabrication of custom polished bronze panels, new and vintage furnishings were selected with zinc and ash tables. A large custom interior glass window partition separates the main space from the 20-seat private dining room, creating a warm, welcoming space with a seamless transition between restaurant and boutique shop. Design collaborators included Leanne Shapton who hand-painted the wall murals throughout, which represent abstracted florals and vases.

“We selected a mix of new and vintage furnishings with calming, muted tones in mind, juxtaposed with bright florals in the front of the restaurant,” explains Roberts. “Not even the centerpieces match. This is a space that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is sort of the point—who wants to eat at a stodgy dining establishment anyway?”

4. Ulla Johnson, Noho District, Manhattan

The 17-year-old, boho-chic brand’s first brick-and-mortar store that Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design fashioned into “front and rear parlor rooms”, is a jewel box of a store with only the historic copper storefront retained, which was only polished after the work was completed. The renovation included a new layout, all new finishes and fixtures, new lighting, new street signage, and HVAC and life-safety systems.

Though the building was not designed as a townhouse, one of the central goals of the project was to break up the long retail space into a more residentially proportioned space with front and rear “parlors” connected by a decorative pass-through, while providing two dressing rooms off of the rear parlor.

The store is carefully crafted with a green-white marble base that wraps the perimeter of the store. The high ceilings are emphasized with exaggerated tall mirrors and windows with cove lighting. The historic, copper storefront was polished and then left to patina for 24 hours before sealing it in order to capture the perfect color to complement the soft patterned interior of the store and Ulla Johnson’s collections.

5. Quiet Storms, Virginia

Quiet Storms is an 800-square-foot jewelry store located in the heart of Williamsburg’s busy shopping district. The concept for the store was to create a serene, soft environment that would function as a backdrop to an exquisitely curated collection of contemporary jewelry.

Every element of the store was carefully chosen by the ERA team including vintage light fixtures, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, and a custom-designed indigo-dyed table with a hand-applied lacquer finish, custom-fabricated jewelry cases, a custom light fixture, and all aspects of the jewelry displays.

6. Nix, Manhattan

This renovation included fine details and custom-designed steel and glass storefront, several custom light fixtures including the juniper burl ledge lamps, the green ball lamps at the railroad booth tables and the bar lights that incorporate vintage glass shades. Customized banquettes, reclaimed wood table tops, and steel and glass shelves are included in the long list of custom-designed elements in this restaurant. Design collaborators included Leanne Shapton who hand-painted the bathroom walls with turnip and tomato blocks and Leni Schwendinger who designed the neon lighting element of the custom metal sign band.

7. Journee – COLAB workspace, Manhattan

A full-service architecture and interiors project, the intended outcome is a thoughtful, multifunctional design flourish in a work environment that calls for flexibility.

“If you have to drag your sorry self into work on a Saturday then it certainly helps if it’s somewhere stylish.” – Working on a Saturday by Midcenturyjo.

The program for the space was unusual as the client created a new business model requiring offices, library, classroom, kitchen, casual meeting spaces, and a conference room. The plan and all the furnishings were considered for multiple uses. The layout and furniture are often rearranged for different events with unique requirements such as classes, catered parties, and cooking demonstrations. The black and white scheme acts as a simplistic backdrop, with the columns framing the long stretch into smaller spaces and acting as visual thresholds.

8. Lorimer Street House, Brooklyn

The three-story, the 25-foot-wide house is an open, loft-like home for a family of four. A custom, steel, and solid wood tread stair divides the Parlor Level into a Living Room side at the street front and a Dining and Kitchen side at the rear of the building with garden access through 3 new patio doors. Exposed wood joists, reclaimed wood floors, and simple finishes create a warm and livable urban home.

9. Cumberland Townhouse, Brooklyn

The house was in a dilapidated state with the rear wall falling down and water entering the building for several years. The house was completely transformed by Elizabeth Roberts Architects with a new rear wall and a two-story addition at the back of the house. The doors at the garden open completely to create a seamless connection between the kitchen/dining level and the garden with vines planted in recessed planters along the 2 story party walls. The room was designed to be an indoor-outdoor space where the garden melds with the interior spaces. The top of the addition serves as a private balcony for the master bedroom. Overall, it is a home where the exterior and interior are harmoniously and seamlessly blurred.

10. Brooklyn Townhouse, Brooklyn

The house had most of its original details intact and the ERA was hired to modernize aspects while retaining and recreating the old character. The final layout closely approximated the original from the 1840s with distinct details including a two-tone grey kitchen, playful eclectic wallpaper, and an oversized vintage tub. A Brooklyn Heights townhouse with a classic layout and refined details. Ms. Roberts’s signature glass walls bring the outdoors in and vice versa.

11. Bellport House

1850 built historic family home with furnishings that complement and contrast with the vintage and original elements found throughout the house. The ERA was commissioned to design the interiors, which included custom millwork, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances, historic mantels, lighting and furnishings throughout the home. In the dining room, built-in millwork runs the length of the room to provide casual seating with storage below. Original wood paneling pops of color as well as the outdoor-dining porch and guest barn, provide spaces for retreat and socializing.

12. Cobble Hill Townhouse

Artistic details and a statement sculptural staircase create this one-of-a-kind home in Brooklyn. The project designed by Elizabeth Roberts Architects involved a gut renovation of the original structure, a sizable three-story addition to the rear of the building, restoration of the front façade. The double-height kitchen is located at the garden level of the house within the volume of the new addition. A 20-foot-high steel window wall connects the interior directly to the garden. Adjacent and open to the kitchen is a sunken seating area with a custom built-in sofa.

13. Prospect Park West Townhouse, Brooklyn

The Prospect Park West Townhouse is a grand 5 story 5,200 SF sandstone townhouse, owned by the same family for a century prior to the renovation.

Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design brought this historic house to life with the selection of furniture, decorative light fixtures, stone and tile floors, countertops, plumbing fixtures, paint colors, wallpaper, and other accessories. The strategic infusion of modern wallpaper, casual rugs, and graphic patterns create a vibrant home. The juxtaposition of the old and new creates fresh energy in a historic brownstone.

14. Greenwald Largent Townhouse, Brooklyn

The Greenwald-Largent townhouse is a classic 1860s Italianate brownstone house where large and loud music industry parties are often hosted. The renovation resulted in a polished, vibrant and glamorous house tailored to the needs of the family, and also features the display of an extensive collection of contemporary art. ERA fully restored the historic front facade of the house and opened the rear facade to bring in light and create a greater connection to the garden. Special care was taken to create a tactile and sophisticated palette of materials throughout the house. A BK home for family living with space.

15. Chaplin Townhouse, Brooklyn

This townhouse was designed by Elizabeth Roberts Architects for an accomplished travel writer who contributed greatly to the design process with exotic and unique ideas for furnishings and finishes. The addition of gold fixtures, bohemian furniture, and metallic wallpaper adds a very eclectic ambiance to the house, which is simplistic yet impactful. Each space features one highlighting element with an eccentric color scheme that accentuates and transforms the otherwise muted aesthetic. The townhome was gutted by a previous owner with no historic details remaining, giving ERA a blank slate to start with.

Author

Harleen Dhawan is currently pursuing Interior architecture. Having an analytical undertone to her poetic perceptions of the world, she explores to decode the essence of space into its elemental aspects. Her driving force is to promote and acknowledge varied opinions, stories and perceptions to widen our sense of the world.

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