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A Townhouse Goes Hothouse

Carpet designer Malene Barnett remakes a traditional Queen Anne in Bed-Stuy into something a bit more exotic.

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Floor plan by Jason Lee  

Some brownstone buyers go mad for the kind of original crown moldings and fireplace mantels that filled Malene Barnett’s Queen Anne–style townhouse in Bed-Stuy. But Barnett—a color-obsessed carpet designer whose malene b. line debuts at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair this week—has a different definition of charm. “My style is global modern,” she says, meaning a melting pot of inspirations derived from her African-Caribbean provenance (her father is Jamaican, her mother is from St. Vincent) and her travels to places like Dakar, Mumbai, and Kuala Lumpur. With those sources in mind, Barnett and interior designer Henry Mitchell set about turning the 2,800-square-foot home into an open, airy space ablaze in tropical colors (tangerine in the stairwell, orchid-blue in the bedroom). They did, however, leave the exterior moldings and window lintels intact to preserve the nineteenth-century character—though Barnett couldn’t resist painting the front door turquoise and adorning it with African-sculpture door pulls. “It’s important for me to live in a brightly colored palette, because when the days are gray, it still feels like summer inside,” she says. It’s the same sunny sensibility that dominates her first carpet collection, an array of richly hued images and patterns as diverse as the stamps in her passport.


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