This is the third house for Feldman, who redevelops urban properties with a sustainable bent for his company, Right-Sized Homes L.L.C. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom dwelling follows a livable shell in the Graduate Hospital area he started renovating when he was 28 and the home nearby where he lived when he was married.
He paid less than $200,000 for the 1,800-square-foot Tudor in fall of 2000.
But before moving in, he followed a piece of advice he gives his clients: He refinished the hardwood floors and updated the wiring. The latter job included one of his biggest pet peeves, separating the lights and the ceiling fans from the same switch. Then, instead of installing 60-watt lightbulbs, he put in 75-watt bulbs on a dimmer, at about 80 percent.
"The bulb last four times longer. I rarely replace lightbulbs," he says.
Over the last 11 years, Feldman - who admits to being particular about some decorating details and laid-back about others - has completed several more updates to the house, such as a new heating system, energy-efficient windows, and a top-to-bottom third-floor renovation. More important, perhaps, he left other things alone, such as the hexagonal-tile floor and original 1928 pedestal sink in the second-floor bathroom.
But first came the color. Literally. "It took me eight years to get rid of the white walls," he said.
He started with the living room, painting the walls two shades of gold and red. In the circa-1950s-but-updated-in-the-'70s kitchen, he used pink, purple, and yellow paint left over from his daughter's room to create a slight Alice-in-Wonderland effect.
Upstairs, the rooms are gold, pumpkin, and purple with crisp white trim. However, the serene dining room, punctuated by an original walnut border on the oak floors, is painted a sophisticated green, influenced by his studies of Scottish architecture.
"In Edinburgh, there were a lot of green dining rooms," he says.
Feldman incorporated special pieces into the downstairs living space, including an Oriental rug from a synagogue auction, an estate sideboard, and a mid-century-modern cabinet filled to the brim with toy houses and figurines from Quebec and other places he has traveled.
He says he has no qualms about mixing antiques with pieces from Ikea.
"I like items that have clean lines, good design that is enduring, not fleeting or trendy," he says. "I love things on wheels and decorative objects that say something about where or how they were made and the artist who made them."
In the light-filled hallway, that includes 1930s glass-plate fashion silhouettes that were owned by his great-aunt, a dress designer who came to the United States from Odessa, Ukraine, in her teens and taught him to draw.
Inspired by his travels to the United Kingdom, Feldman turned a former ironing-board closet in the kitchen into a tea shelf.
He also added a new refrigerator. It's titanium, because stainless steel doesn't hold magnets - something very important to Feldman because he and his daughter have collected hundreds and organized them carefully.
He installed a stove left over from a work rehab project in Fitler Square.
The third floor was Feldman's real labor of love. Spending more than $16,000, he dismantled the dropped ceiling, added a bathroom, put in an energy-efficient dormer window, and superinsulated the walls and the roof. Pine floors are painted a bed-and-breakfast-inspired green-and-gray checkerboard; the dormer-turned-sleeping-alcove holds an Indonesian daybed.
"I've done all these houses, but I'm still not done with mine," he says. "I continue to move things around, add new items from travels, friends, family, and life in general, and rotate out things to keep the house from getting too full."
Most proud of how efficiently yet spaciously his was designed, Feldman knows a home is never just a home. It's about the neighborhood, too.
"A lot of people in the suburbs want their privacy. We're the kind who like to know our neighbors," he says from his porch, framed by yew bushes. "There's cat-sitting, taking in each other's mail, an annual block party, a communal snowblower.
"We spend a lot of time on the porch. There's a sense of community."