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How a Cramped Williamsburg Apartment Doubled In Size

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Architect Alex Gil and his wife, Claudia DeSimio, have lived in their Williamsburg apartment for 15 years, but the first incarnation was significantly smaller. "This started out as a tenement layout in a 140-year-old building," said Gil, the founder of the architecture firm SPACECUTTER. The couple eventually expanded on the third-floor, 500-square-foot unit by completely gutting it. They added a 750-square-foot rooftop addition, more than doubling their space, and built the apartment out as a modern, open duplex. The result, dubbed the "Carved Duplex," was on display this past weekend for Dwell's Brooklyn Home Tours.

The focal point of the renovation is what Gil calls "the wedge core," which cuts into the dining room and kitchen. While it serves the practical purpose of housing the building's common stairwell, it looks more like a design piece. Gil was inspired, he said, by "large monoliths in space," as well as the film 2001 Space Odyssey. The wedge core is also mirrored by the open staircase that leads to the fourth floor addition. The open kitchen and dining area was designed to hold a 12-foot-long, red cedar dining table designed by Gil.

Gil tried to carve out unique nooks within the apartment wherever possible. The bathroom, with glass and limestone details, was one of those spaces.

The master bedroom is modestly sized but well designed, and a reminder of the apartment's past as a railroad.

The fourth floor addition includes a living room, second bathroom, and deck. A floor-to-ceiling window separates the living room and deck and brings in lots of light. Gil said that his favorite element of the renovation is the "cohesive flow of all spaces."

The fourth floor bathroom is, in a word, stunning. It's covered floor to ceiling with 7,000 glazed ceramic tiles painted by Gil's wife, Claudia DeSimio. She was inspired by the tile work in Alhambra, Spain. It took her two years to finish the bathroom.

From the street, the rooftop addition is only visible from the side.
· Brooklyn Home Tours 2015 [Dwell]