But beyond the character and nostalgic architecture, brownstones come with their own set of issues. In fact, going through a renovation is often necessary in order to bring modern living to these historic properties. However, once you have a look at these renovations from the community and see how the properties have been brought up to date while preserving the original charm, you might end up seeking one out for yourself.
Architect: Delson or Sherman Architects, Location: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn,
The plans for the addition of a rooftop floor and a two-story extension at the rear of this Prospect Park home was the first enlargement that was approved in the neighborhood's historic district—setting a precedent for future projects. The renovation nearly doubled the size and value of the row house—giving the home a new top-floor master suite with a private sun deck, and a rear addition that opens the living space to the backyard.
Architect: Office of Architecture, Location: Brooklyn, NY
This 110-year-old, 15-foot-wide row house was gutted and renovated, creating a home that can adapt over time. Designed to easily adapt between a two-family and one-family configuration, the owners have the option to occupy one of the units themselves, while using the other for rental income—or combine both units to create a 2,100-square-foot, one-family home for themselves.
Interior Design: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, Location: Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Portland-based studio Jessica Helgerson Interior Design revitalized a Brooklyn brownstone with furnishings and finishes that boast bold colors and tactile materials.
Architect: Atelier Armbruster, Location: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
From the Architect: "To help guide the owners’ ideas for their classic Brooklyn townhouse, the first thing Atelier Armbruster did was develop a master plan. This enabled us to phase a gut renovation of the landmarked home and ensure that each individual effort was in service of the larger idea. The first phase began with the renovation of both full bathrooms. All windows have been replaced and the rear facade has been returned to its original condition. We made smart changes to the floor plan that enables a better flow and a smarter use of space in the the five-bedroom, two-bath, single family home—which also includes a playroom and home office."
Architect: Delson or Sherman Architects, Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
From the Architect: "This Park Slope house plus garage had a layout so awkward the basement stair severed the small kitchen from the rest of the house. Moreover, it suffered from no storage and years of shoddy renovations. By reorienting the stair, the architect gave the kitchen room for multiple cooks and an eat-in island. She also added ample closets to a reorganized entry. A mod walnut wall frames a huge soapstone fireplace. With acoustical tiles removed at the kids’ rooms, cathedral ceilings now soar under the steep slate roof. Built-ins create cozy window seats and clever storage. The new master suite has large steel windows and a private roof deck. She wove traditional materials through the house in modern insertions."
Architect: Delson or Sherman Architects, Location: Prospect Park West, Brooklyn
This historic row house sits on prime real estate facing Prospect Park. Formerly B&B suites, the new owners wanted to reorganize the rooms to meet the needs of their growing family, while still preserving period details. By weaving state-of-the-art building systems throughout the historic structure, the architects were able to replicate the original stone, woodwork, and stained glass, adding new soapstone slabs and inlaid floors for a striking new kitchen.
Architect: Delson or Sherman Architects, Interior Design: Rees Roberts, Location: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
This Brooklyn Heights carriage house was split down the middle and updated with modern details, while also reviving its industrial flavor. A large skylight now drops daylight into the center of the house, and new steel windows evoke the building’s industrial past while flooding the space with natural light.
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Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Jennifer Baum Lagdameo is a freelance design writer who has lived in Washington DC, Brooklyn, Tokyo and Manila. She is currently exploring the Pacific Northwest from her home base in Portland, OR. Follow her on Instagram @jenniferlagdameo