Like many of its neighbors, the house had been subdivided, with partitions thrown up and pocket doors nailed shut to create small units. But the Minton tiles around the firebox opening in what is now the dining room were intact. Each tile portrayed a scene from “Idylls of the King,” Alfred Lord Tennyson’s 19th-century rendition of the legend of King Arthur.
Mr. Labine happened to be a Tennyson fan. The slightly more than $25,000 that he paid for the house shattered the record for the street.
Over the years, the house has been transformed, with carved wood, stained glass and hand-painted friezes that evoke the 19th-century Aesthetic Movement.
Mr. Labine, 81, restored the home with the help of local artists and artisans and sometimes his children. As he did so, the home renovated him. From its very bowels (well, technically, a garden-floor office), he founded two publications about architecture and preservation: Old-House Journal and Traditional Building. (A third, Period Homes, was born in a separate workplace.)
Now that he has located a replica for a missing latch button on a third-floor library pocket shutter, his work here is pretty much done. He and Ms. Lawrence, the principal librarian emeritus of the Brooklyn Museum, would like to move to a smaller home in Park Slope, and have listed the house with Annie Rose and Ron Emenheiser of Brown Harris Stevens.
But first, the tour.
The parlor was inspired by the painter James McNeill Whistler’s dizzying Peacock Room interior of 1876-77. Here, peacocks are painted on the walls and ceiling, molded in ornaments, woven into the carpet and, in one notable instance, stuffed. A “Turkish corner” is garnished with souvenirs from the owners’ trips to Cairo and other points east. The opposite corner has a nesting-table shrine to Victoria and Albert.
In the dining room, the theme is sunflowers. Golden blossoms wrap around the dado and top of the wall and cover the ceiling. The late 19th-century gilded bronze light fixture with cherry-size crystal beads was a rarity Mr. Labine bought at an estate sale at the historic Octagon House in Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y. Ernest Porcelli, a Brooklyn artist, created the stained-glass sunflower panel of the room’s pocket door.
At the top of the main staircase, with patterned risers and leather-covered treads, a bedroom was turned into the Athenaeum, or classical library. It is papered with a composite of six different sets of Bradbury & Bradbury period reproduction wallpapers and has a Murano chandelier assembled from 250 pieces.
In the third-floor guest bedroom known as the India Room, layers of paint were stripped from the marble fireplace and a Christopher Dresser frieze added as a wall topper.
The nearby bathroom has a tin ceiling. The tub feet have balls as well as claws.
The fourth floor is where Mr. Labine took a leave from Victoriana to honor his wife’s interest in art of the Southwest. A small bedroom has sand-colored rusticated plaster walls, Mexican tiles and French doors leading to a roof deck. A bathroom has scalloped woodwork and a wall embedded with bird-and-flower-themed tiles the couple collected in their travels.
The fourth-floor front bedroom reverts to form, with its original ceiling medallion from which a Tiffany lamp dazzles. The marble fireplace mantel survived what Mr. Labine likes to describe as a 1910 “remuddling” of the property, as did the marble lavatory that occupies a niche. Ms. Lawrence’s office on this floor, called the Brooklyn Room, is sanctified by a reproduction of a drawing of John Roebling’s design for the Brooklyn Bridge.
Three flights down, on the garden level, a media room is wrapped in walnut bookcases that Mr. Labine installed to match the wainscot. Another ceiling medallion, another Tiffany lamp, another marble fireplace (this one curiously “marbleized” with paint). It never gets old. The powder room takes you to Tuscany with a wall and ceiling mural by Sandra Spannan, a Brooklyn artist.
The tour ends in the garden, where goldfish glide in a pond and a stone gargoyle looks thoughtful among the winter greenery. Honeysuckle will erupt here in spring. “This is a Belvedere Apollo and a bronze Hadrian,” Mr. Labine said, gesturing to statuary wrapped in waterproof coverings in a sculpture court next to the garden’s planted section. He has nurtured a fondness for classicism over the decades, but the house is fine with it.
That, too, is a Victorian thing.