The Brooklyn brownstone - for many New Yorkers, it has replaced the white picket-fenced home as the ideal vision of the American dream. But at prices that often soar into the millions, paying for one might seem more like a nightmare. Still, there are a few of these fabled abodes to be found for less than an arm and a leg if you're willing to put in some elbow grease, and that's exactly what New York fashion designer JoAnn Berman did with her newly revamped home in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She purchased the run-down home from a developer who helped her renovate it into a dream house that spills over with her vibrant personality and self-designed decor. Inhabitat recently had the opportunity to step into JoAnn's fun and fabulous fantasy brownstone - click through our gallery to take your own tour through her technicolor townhouse!
JoAnn Berman first made a name for herself in the 80s and 90s dressing musicians like Michael Jackson, Salt-n-Pepa and P. Diddy (back when he was just Puffy), and more recently, her refashioned garments have attracted the attention of stars like Rihanna. But Berman’s eye for design extends past just clothing – if you don’t believe us, just take a look around her house! Almost every square foot is imprinted with the designer’s signature trippy style, and she even screenprinted many of the upholstered furniture pieces and pillows herself.
“The house has been an amazing learning adventure,” said Berman. “I first saw the house in June  after seeing maybe 5 other houses. I wanted a brownstone but with an open feeling. I didn’t want four or five little chopped up rooms like a dormitory and I wanted something that I could love 5-10 years down the line.”
“I did a lot of research on craigslist and other websites, talking to my friends who had houses and came upon this real estate agency that I thought was good. The girl who worked there told me that there was a house that was in mid-construction but she told me I could see it and work with the builder. Well when I walked in it was 2x4s and in skeleton shape but my mouth dropped because I knew it was, in fact, my house. The 30-ft ceilings, the brickwork and the backyard porch all sang to me.”
The brownstone was in the process of being renovated when Berman found it.
“I designed the kitchen and the upstairs configurations and the studio to fit my needs. The building took 3 1/2 months to complete, and was delivered with the promise of gas piping from the street in 3-4 weeks. Then Sandy hit, and we had no heat and no cooking for 9 months! Now we have heat and gas and I’ve learned to deal with very difficult situations, but would I do it again and suffer through one of NY’s worst winters with no heat? For this house, in a New York minute!”
“When I was a young girl of 21 living away in London, I was a squatter as we had no money living that lifestyle,” Berman told us. “Now I’m a woman of 51 who owns a home that was a squatter’s home at one point in time. I have come a long way.”
If you love what JoAnn’s done with her home, don’t forget to click through our gallery for a full house tour! And visit her website to see how you can purchase some of her vibrant pieces for your own home.