Photographs by Adrian Gaut
“We wanted a house that had not been touched,” says Brooklyn restaurateur Andrew Tarlow of the 1863 townhouse in Fort Greene that he and his wife, Kate Huling, purchased in 2007. “When we saw this house, it was like stepping back in time.”
Tarlow knows the whole story: “The house was built by a seaman for his two unmarried nieces. They had no children and left it to their maid who lived here her whole life. She had no children and left it to her nephew, who sold it to a nun and priest who lived here for more than 40 years.”
Huling says the couple house-hunted for seven years before finding this one. “Most of the houses we saw had been done poorly,” she says. “This house was untouched and perfectly pristine.”
Because of that, the couple, who have four children (Elijah, 12, Beatrice, 7, Roman, 4, and Paloma, 1), have done very little to the six-bedroom home. They repainted the ceiling in the living room so it looks distressed, relined the fireplace, remodeled the kitchen and back garden where they added a fireplace for cooking, and redid the second-floor bathroom.
So instead of embarking on pricey, years-long renovations, Tarlow and Huling embraced what they had and settled in. “The parlor floor is 100 percent the center of operations,” says Huling. “It’s where Elijah and Bea do their homework, Roman and Paloma play, and we cook.” No toys are allowed on this level, and there are no televisions in the house. “At my house growing up, there was a television in every room,” says Tarlow. “But at some point, I started to live without it, and I’ve never gone back. The kids don’t know the difference. They don’t know about Saturday-morning cartoons. They read, play together, and draw.”
Their aesthetic is authentically unfussy and harkens back to a time when large families and home-cooked meals were the norm. Most of the furniture was found on the street, in a thrift store, or was built by Tarlow, who also has kept busy with his growing culinary empire—Diner, Marlow & Sons, Marlow & Daughters, Roman’s, Reynard at the Wythe Hotel (the hotel is his, too), and Achilles Heel.
Huling, meanwhile, designs leather goods and fashion separates, sold in Marlow & Sons, from the hides of the meat they serve. There are also blankets and throws of sheep’s wool from the farms they work with. “To live a life where we can work together and have our family so near, it’s totally dreamy,” says Huling.
But their home has a different feeling from their restaurants. As Huling puts it, “I am in love with Moroccan rugs and Andrew’s paintings, and you won’t find any of those things in the restaurants,” she says. “Our house is more a collection of hand-me-downs and souvenirs from travel.”