That's the way Johnson and her family lived with the house—which was fine when the children were little, but as they got older, Johnson wanted a space where they could really interact. Their formal dining room, however, was much too formal, and the second-floor parlor was so chock-full of antiques that, says Johnson, "it was a no-kids zone. They passed right by it." Ben Lloyd, who's had his way with several vintage Brooklyn town houses, bringing them resoundingly into the 20th century, saw a way to improve the way the house worked. Knocking down the pantry wall—and opening the kitchen to the heart of the house—not only revived wasted space but transformed the whole floor. "It's not just three rooms anymore, but a hub—a 24-hour place," he explains.