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A Gut Renovation Brings a Clinton Hill Co-op Into the 21st Century

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Welcome to House Calls, a recurring feature in which Curbed tours New Yorkers' lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us a line.

[All "after" photos by Max Touhey.]

If Max Worrell and Jejon Yeung ever wanted to buy, they knew one thing: they had to get out of Carroll Gardens. It was 2013, and the market was as vicious as ever. Although they loved the trees and streetlife of their Brooklyn neighborhood, its pricepoints didn't jive with theirs. The couple's search for property took them across the city. Because both Worrell and Yeung are architects, the apartment they were looking for needed to have a certain something; and they found it in Chinatown. But after a series of unfortunate events, their contract fell through—buying a home isn't as easy as HGTV makes it seem—and they started their search again. "It was Jejon who knew" they had found it, Worrell recalls from the seventh floor Clinton Hill co-op he and his husband now share, "I didn't see it at first." But after nearly a year and a half—major renovation included—the apartment is thoroughly their own.

When Worrell and Yeung purchased the apartment at Clinton Hill Co-ops, about the only thing it had going for it were its stunning Manhattan views. The decor was less than desirable and the layout was dated with a partitioned-off galley kitchen. The two architects set to work creating a budget-savvy renovation plan that would bring the apartment into the 21st century. The first order of business was to rip out the wall dividing the kitchen from the not large, but very adequate living area. Next, gut the bathroom and strip and refinish the floors (the latter of which Worrell and Yeung handled in part themselves.) "We had to make some value engineering decisions," Worrell explains.

Their objective in the design was to make straightforward materials look sophisticated. Their sleek kitchen, now open to the living area and sectioned off only by an island and a chestnut-finished rectangle of parquet floor, is lined in Ikea cabinets with custom pulls. The Nemo tile backsplash cost them about one dollar per square foot and is the same tile that appears throughout the bathroom. The duo cheekily refer to their second room—formerly a guest bedroom and now an office to Worrell, who runs his firm Worrell-Yeung from home—as their "Ode to Ikea" with its simple bookshelves and desk.

Canvases created by Yeung and family members dot the home, as do artworks by Mark McGinnis, Jeffrey Milstein, and Alexander Girard. Although the apartment is sparse and stylish, it is deeply personal on every level.

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