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Tamara Eaton's Reno'd Kitchen on Brooklyn's Prospect Park

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In Why This Works, decorator and former shelter-magazine editor Alexa Stevenson looks point-blank at professionally decorated rooms and breaks down the elements that make it work. Have a suggestion for someone whose work should be showcased? Do let us know.

This 19th-century mansion in Brooklyn has a bit of a celebrity backstory: in 2009, actors Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany sold it to a Google engineer who was looking to move to a "family-friendly" neighborhood. He, in turn, renovated the $8.45M pile with the help of Brooklyn-based architect Ben Fuqua of DHD and designer Tamara Eaton, who, as Curbed NY put it at the time, helped "eliminate some of the '80s vibe behind that stunning facade." Here now, Eaton talks in more in depth about the kitchen, which, unlike the rest of the project, was completely gutted. "The townhouse is slightly kooky," she says. "And it's not a typical kitchen. The upstairs is quite grand wanted and we wanted to keep elegance and modernize it a little bit. It's a nice blend of the old and the new. "

1. The kitchen island is topped with thick white marble. "At about 15 feet long, the kitchen island feels more substantial with a thicker countertop and is one of the main features of the space," Eaton says. "The thick marble is supported by dark structural steel that blends into the barstool legs, creating the appearance of a floating countertop."
2. "This 1880 townhouse was in good condition and most of the work was restoration," says Eaton. "However, the kitchen was entirely new so I wanted to retain the historical aspect of the house in this newly constructed space. At the back of the kitchen, there's an antique tobacco cabinet I had refinished. This piece brings detail and warmth in the space and feels like an original built-in to match the upper floors."
3. "Located on the ground floor of the townhouse, the ceilings on this floor are not particularly high," Eaton says. "The barrel-vaulted ceiling creates height and add softness to the space."
4. Kitchen lighting usually consists of downlights or under-cabinet fixtures. Here, though, Eaton commissioned two Lindsey Adelman glass bubble chandeliers to illuminate the space. "The decorative fixtures with gold leaf and brass armature cast a warmer glow, and they provide excellent lighting for all the work surfaces."
5. Eaton installed oak herringbone flooring, which "gives an instant warmth and texture to the space," she explains. "Kitchens can often feel clinical and cold, but I took great care to select materials and textures that create a comfortable family kitchen. Every finish was selected to create a look that was a little more historic."

· Tamara Eaton Design [official site]
· All Why This Works columns [Curbed National]