Before & After: A Historic Tribeca Townhouse Gets a Magical Makeover

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
A collaboration between YUN Architecture and interior designer Penelope August, tour a renovated, 19th-century townhouse with landmark status that used to be an egg and poultry distributor.

On the former site of Washington Market, which was active from the 1770s through the 1960s, this Federal-style townhouse in New York's Tribeca neighborhood was built in 1828 and spent most of its life as an egg and poultry distributor. When it was threatened with demolition in the late 1960s during the Washington Street Urban Renewal Project, the now-defunct Landmarks Preservation Society and the Housing and Development Administration secured funding to renovate and incorporate this home, as well as eight others, within the Washington Street redevelopment area. The nine houses were given individual landmark status for their uniqueness as "a group of intact houses characteristic of late eighteenth-century scale and profile which did not exist anywhere else in Manhattan."

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YUN Architecture carefully restored the exterior of the house with new windows, dormers, and wood frames.

YUN Architecture carefully restored the exterior of the house with new windows, dormers, and wood frames.

With the historic home falling into disrepair, the current homeowners, both artists, hired Susan Yun of YUN Architecture to give the home a more contemporary look—one that would also pay homage to the home's rich history. Referencing the past, yet not trying to recreate it, the architects sought to create the layered look of a home that had evolved over the years. Yun explained, "The homeowners didn’t want a specifically modern house or to try and make a Federal house, and because of the home's past renovation, no original details were left—they didn’t want to try and make it into a period piece." The dilapidated interiors served as a blank slate for Yun and interior designer Penelope August (who had worked together previously at Selldorf Architects). While many elements of the project were custom-made for the home, almost equal amounts are salvaged pieces found by the homeowners. Scroll ahead for a look at the stunning transformation.

The Parlor Floor: Before

The biggest architectural maneuver in the renovation was moving the staircase to allow for a more spacious kitchen. In this view, you can see the little volume at the center that housed the refrigerator. 

The biggest architectural maneuver in the renovation was moving the staircase to allow for a more spacious kitchen. In this view, you can see the little volume at the center that housed the refrigerator. 

The floors were covered in red tile, all of which was removed. 

The floors were covered in red tile, all of which was removed. 

The Parlor Floor: After

Now virtually unrecognizable, the parlor floor is the home's open-plan living area. A formerly defunct fireplace was reactivated and clad with a custom-made, limestone mantle. 

Now virtually unrecognizable, the parlor floor is the home's open-plan living area. A formerly defunct fireplace was reactivated and clad with a custom-made, limestone mantle. 

The red wall cabinet was designed by August. The floors throughout the home were replaced with wide, salvaged heart pine floorboards with radiant heat. 

The red wall cabinet was designed by August. The floors throughout the home were replaced with wide, salvaged heart pine floorboards with radiant heat. 

The entire parlor floor now serves as an open-plan kitchen, dining, and living area.

The entire parlor floor now serves as an open-plan kitchen, dining, and living area.

Shop the Look
Group Partner Small Adam
Group Partner Small Adam
This pot is cast in a speckled grey clay and hand painted with colorfast matte glazes.
Eames Molded Plywood Coffee Table
Eames Molded Plywood Coffee Table
Charles and Ray Eames had ideas about making a better world, one in which things were designed to bring greater pleasure to our lives.
Fritz Hansen Series 7 Chair
Fritz Hansen Series 7 Chair
Though Fritz Hansen has produced multiple memorable designs over the years, the Arne Jacobsen-designed Series 7 is one that’s gained iconic status since it's birth in 1955. Also known as "3107," the seat is constructed of pressure-moulded veneer while the base is made up of chromed steel tubes.
The kitchen features custom millwork with opal glass pulls, recycled glass terrazzo countertops and backsplash, copper plumbing, and a showstopping Lacanche range in Provence yellow. 

The kitchen features custom millwork with opal glass pulls, recycled glass terrazzo countertops and backsplash, copper plumbing, and a showstopping Lacanche range in Provence yellow. 

The custom millwork was painted Farrow & Ball Calluna No. 270, which is described as a tranquil lilac and looks light gray according to the light. 

The custom millwork was painted Farrow & Ball Calluna No. 270, which is described as a tranquil lilac and looks light gray according to the light. 

The kitchen lights were designed by August and custom-made by a local glass blower.

The kitchen lights were designed by August and custom-made by a local glass blower.

The blue tiles in the powder room reference one of the homeowner’s artworks. The eyes at the top are vintage globes from a former optometrist's shop. The sink is also a vintage piece from Demolition Depot—in fact, most of the home's plumbing are repurposed pieces. 

The blue tiles in the powder room reference one of the homeowner’s artworks. The eyes at the top are vintage globes from a former optometrist's shop. The sink is also a vintage piece from Demolition Depot—in fact, most of the home's plumbing are repurposed pieces. 

The main staircase at the center of the house creates a gracious ascent from the open living room and kitchen at the parlor level to a library and bedrooms on the upper levels. The stained walnut handrail adds a traditional look, but boasts a clean, modern treatment. Wood paneling envelops a discreet door that leads to the cellar. 

The main staircase at the center of the house creates a gracious ascent from the open living room and kitchen at the parlor level to a library and bedrooms on the upper levels. The stained walnut handrail adds a traditional look, but boasts a clean, modern treatment. Wood paneling envelops a discreet door that leads to the cellar. 

The Second Floor: Before

This second-floor bedroom would become a sitting room post-renovation. 

This second-floor bedroom would become a sitting room post-renovation. 

A second upstairs bedroom with a defunct brick fireplace would become an office. 

A second upstairs bedroom with a defunct brick fireplace would become an office. 

The Second Floor: After

The sitting room is an updated homage to the past that references the home’s history while keeping a distinctly contemporary vibe. "However, she did want to make one room that felt old," explains Yun.  

The sitting room is an updated homage to the past that references the home’s history while keeping a distinctly contemporary vibe. "However, she did want to make one room that felt old," explains Yun.  

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Lulu & Georgia Halette Rug
Lulu & Georgia Halette Rug
Soft underfoot. Lulu & Georgia's Halette Rug offers plush padding for your bare feet, and adds an organic and neutral feel to a space; perfect for a cozy bedroom.
Ladies & Gentlemen Studio for Poketo Mini Mobile
Ladies & Gentlemen Studio for Poketo Mini Mobile
Designed exclusively for Poketo by Brooklyn-based studio Ladies & Gentlemen, this mini-mobile is a perfect way to add a sculptural element to your tree this season.
Cedar & Moss Aurora Pendant
Cedar & Moss Aurora Pendant
Crafted with heavy gauge exclusive solid brass parts that have beautiful artisan finishes. All fixtures are handmade to order.
The designers fortunately happened on enough antique wallpaper to outfit the whole room. The bookshelf is a custom design by Yun and made of salvaged heart pine, same as the floor. It features grooves in the sides, so the shelves can be pulled in and out.  

The designers fortunately happened on enough antique wallpaper to outfit the whole room. The bookshelf is a custom design by Yun and made of salvaged heart pine, same as the floor. It features grooves in the sides, so the shelves can be pulled in and out.  

All of the doors in the hallway were salvaged and found by the owners. Yun designed and inserted the glass transom windows above the doors. 

All of the doors in the hallway were salvaged and found by the owners. Yun designed and inserted the glass transom windows above the doors. 

The focal point of the study is a custom-designed limestone fireplace and the artwork above it. 

The focal point of the study is a custom-designed limestone fireplace and the artwork above it. 

The study is punctuated by a red accent chair. 

The study is punctuated by a red accent chair. 

Yun designed this curved handrail. To the side, a carved niche is meant to showcase art.

Yun designed this curved handrail. To the side, a carved niche is meant to showcase art.

The Master Bedroom: Before

The top floor before the renovation felt cramped, and held another defunct fireplace in need of restoration. 

The top floor before the renovation felt cramped, and held another defunct fireplace in need of restoration. 

The Master Bedroom: After

Another big architectural move was to redefine the unfortunate layout of the upstairs master suite. Yun moved the bedroom to one side and put the bathroom behind a wall.  The purple-blue tiles around the fireplace were designed by one of the owners and represent clocks with different hours—a reference to how watching the fire can be the best way to pass the time. 

Another big architectural move was to redefine the unfortunate layout of the upstairs master suite. Yun moved the bedroom to one side and put the bathroom behind a wall.  The purple-blue tiles around the fireplace were designed by one of the owners and represent clocks with different hours—a reference to how watching the fire can be the best way to pass the time. 

The wood beams were in poor condition and needed to be cleaned up and treated with oil. 

The wood beams were in poor condition and needed to be cleaned up and treated with oil. 

Custom millwork closets were added and lined with cedar and brass knobs that the owner found. Because of two dormers, the best use of space was to add drawers for additional storage. 

Custom millwork closets were added and lined with cedar and brass knobs that the owner found. Because of two dormers, the best use of space was to add drawers for additional storage. 

The bathroom in the master suite features a custom-made vanity and medicine cabinet. Tadelakt, a waterproof plaster surface, was used on the walls with Bulgarian limestone in the shower. The custom tiles were made by Haand Ceramics. The bathtub is a reclaimed piece with brass plumbing from Waterworks. 

The bathroom in the master suite features a custom-made vanity and medicine cabinet. Tadelakt, a waterproof plaster surface, was used on the walls with Bulgarian limestone in the shower. The custom tiles were made by Haand Ceramics. The bathtub is a reclaimed piece with brass plumbing from Waterworks. 

Shop the Look
Rejuvenation Sumac Flatweave Rug - Blue
Rejuvenation Sumac Flatweave Rug - Blue
Pattern and color combine in our exclusive Sumac blue diamond rug. Handwoven from a wool and cotton mix this charming covering is an appealing addition to an entry, dining room or any room in the house.
Umbra Fiboo Soap Dispenser
Umbra Fiboo Soap Dispenser
Sleek, sustainable resin + bamboo soap pump from Umbra. Featuring a lightweight design with a screw-on pump and rounded, ridged construction.
NOTO Botanics Basil Yarrow Mist
NOTO Botanics Basil Yarrow Mist
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The shower is underneath a dormer, as it was the only way to fit in a shower and a tub. 

The shower is underneath a dormer, as it was the only way to fit in a shower and a tub. 

The Cellar: Before

The unfinished cellar before the renovation. 

The unfinished cellar before the renovation. 

The Cellar: After

The cellar now houses an office, studio, and exhibition space. 

The cellar now houses an office, studio, and exhibition space. 

The office space sits behind a brass-framed glass window, which overlooks the studio. The owners wanted to leave the original stone wall as a relic of the home’s history. 

The office space sits behind a brass-framed glass window, which overlooks the studio. The owners wanted to leave the original stone wall as a relic of the home’s history. 

The doors are insulated panels that can be left opened or closed depending on the use of the space. 

The doors are insulated panels that can be left opened or closed depending on the use of the space. 

The Back Porch: Before

The wooden porch in the rear yard was deemed illegal during the Department of Buildings process. Wood is not allowed, and it had to be remade with non-combustible materials.  

The wooden porch in the rear yard was deemed illegal during the Department of Buildings process. Wood is not allowed, and it had to be remade with non-combustible materials.  

The Back Porch: After

The porch was legalized and rebuilt with cast-iron columns, railings, and stone flooring in keeping within a refined, Federal-style aesthetic. 

The porch was legalized and rebuilt with cast-iron columns, railings, and stone flooring in keeping within a refined, Federal-style aesthetic. 

The deck was done in a madras gray limestone so that the color matches the backyard steps of the other houses. The railings were based on the metalwork of the other nine house.

The deck was done in a madras gray limestone so that the color matches the backyard steps of the other houses. The railings were based on the metalwork of the other nine house.


Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: YUN Architecture, Susan YUN
Builder/General Contractor: Taconic Builders, Jim Hanley
Structural Engineer: Hanington Engineering Consultants, Edward Haning
Landscape Design: Vert Gardens, Pilar Altares
Interior Design: Penelope August
Cabinetry Design/Installation: Candlewood Valley Building, Mike Lent
Other: Koenig Iron Works, Tom Ryan
Stairs: SD Stairs & Handrails, Dhimitri Guma
Photography: Devon Banks Photography