Living

Townhouse Tales: Gates Avenue, Clinton Hill

John and Lisa Philp on why their Brooklyn brownstone, complete with front and backyard, provides the ideal backdrop to raise their three children.

Photography Stefan Ruiz

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You know that house, in the neighbourhood where you grew up, where the door was always open, there were always kids coming and going, and where everyone just tended to congregate? We’ve become that house, a little bit by default and a little bit by design.

The previous owners modernized the building, adding curvaceous walls that seem to make the spaces flow together. We’ve left what they did largely intact.

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The basement is a games room with a convertible pool-to-air-hockey table. As our kids (Jules, 12, Vince, 10, Edie, 7) get older we’d rather have them down there with their spotty mates than someplace where we have no idea where they are.

The walls of the living room are covered, floor to ceiling with art, ranging from photographers such as Dan Winters through to the kids’ drawings.

I just love our street. It’s so protected but yet there’s plenty of street life.

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I can sit out on that stoop and the mind boggles at the amount of stuff that goes on. But it’s not that kind of mindless, head down darting to the subway and back, it’s interaction.

You can’t not say hello in this neighbourhood.

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The best part of onefinestay is knowing the house is in good hands. When our family is out of town, I’m confident it’s being well taken care of, and the guests are well looked after.

Learn more about onefinestay’s unique service for townhouse owners and read more about it in the New York Times.

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