April 26, 2019

Coliving Goes Grand at a Restored Clinton Hill Mansion

Let’s go back to 2004. Tech entrepreneurs are building their empires in Silicon Valley ‘hacker houses’, together with their teams inhabiting five-bedroom homes. Then there are the Bay Area communes, mansions filled with 20-some 20-somethings sharing meals, raising chickens, each doing their part to take care of the garden.

In 2019, communes have since moved past connotations of cramped spaces and become places where young professionals can find both rest and a sense of belonging in big cities. Companies that arrange these coliving situations are cropping up left and right. And they’re not just offering a space to sleep after a 12-hour work day. One of these companies is Common, a residential brand aiming to create mini-communities in metropolises like Los Angeles and New York City.

A coffee table by Room and Board accompanies the second floor living room’s Restoration Hardware sofa. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.

“The way that we approach coliving design is all about starting with people and their habits, and then designing the building and the functions that go around it,” says Jenn Chang, Director of Architecture at Common. “We use a concept called nesting privacy, in which we assign sharing ratios to different functions.”

A 6,200-square-foot row house on Grand Street in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn is the newest of Common’s coliving spaces. Built in 1901, Common restored the five-floor home to function for 23 people. Rather than keeping with the two-family tradition, Common densified the historic mansion in order to make the most of the much-desired square footage that Brooklyn has to offer.

Read more: Jared Sherman Epps Uses Black and White to Elegant Effect in a Manhasset, NY Home

A mirror by Anthropologie sits on the mantle, while a pouf by CB2 rests by the restored fireplace. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.

“There is a magical number of 15-30 people that’s a micro-community, Chang says. “We design for those ratios and put architecture around it.”

For this house, that meant building bedrooms where they wouldn’t have existed in a two-family scheme. On the second floor, the team put in a separate bedroom next to the original parlor, removed the wall paneling from the far end of the room and affixed it to the new wall so it felt seamless. “Everything is original,” Chang says. “just retouched. We wanted to preserve the original look and feel of the living room.”

The herringbone floors were also preserved, as well as the fireplace, and according to Chang, “that’s why the space is so grand, no pun intended.”

Keep scrolling to view more images of the project >

A leather chaise by Restoration Hardware and director’s stool by CB2 offer additional seating. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
A light fixture by France & Son brings a modernist touch to the third floor living room. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
Countertops are rugged concrete by Caesarstone to resist stains, while matte subway tile is vertically stacked for the kitchen backsplash. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
One of the 23 bedrooms includes a print by Carly Kuhn. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
Common custom-produced the side table, a standard for all bedrooms. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
Ranges by Monogram were installed to fit the needs of a shared space. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
In the cellar lounge, the sofa is by CB2. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
A Lulu & Georgia table defines the coworking area, with dining chairs by Wayfair and mirror by Anthropologie. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.
A Restoration Hardware coffee table and Burke Décor green velvet chairs complement the Pottery Barn sisal rug layered under a Persian rug from McGee & Co. Photography by Seth Caplan for Common.

Read more: bStudio’s Breanna Carlson Transforms Brooklyn Factory Loft Into Her Own Personal Oasis

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