While Brooklyn brownstones conjure up memories of their turn-of-the-century roots, they also remain the modern-day face of New York’s coolest boroughs. With brownstone living, however, comes responsibility—many of these classic beauties are in need of renovation and restoration. Below are 10 standout, renovated brownstones that retain their original charm with added contemporary cool.
This Brooklyn brownstone, which was recently on the market, was treated to a complete renovation by Brooklyn–based architect and designer Elizabeth Roberts. Measuring just under 20 feet wide by 40 feet deep, this property comprises an upper, five-bedroom triplex, a lush rear garden, an enormous storage cellar, and a two-bedroom garden apartment.
This Brooklyn brownstone has a long and narrow railroad-style layout which is only 12 feet and six inches at its widest—however, what it lacks in square footage, it makes up for in character. The four-story brick structure is around 100 years old and features distinctively historic bones. The homeowners, both architects, were excited to make the place their own and never thought twice about a renovation.
Built around 1910, this Brooklyn brownstone was exactly what Jeff Madalena and Jason Gnewikow were looking for to fulfill their dream of a modern space in an old building. However, the interiors were in need of work. The creative couple designed everything themselves and hired architect Michael Almon to sign off on the drawings.
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This elegant, 1890 Park Slope brownstone hit the market following a meticulous restoration and gut renovation by Frances Mildred. When Lindsey Branca and Mike Grosshandler, who have a residential renovation and restoration firm, purchased this historic brownstone in early 2017, the building was in an overall state of disrepair. The gut renovation preserved as many historic details as possible. In addition, the townhouse was reconfigured with a new layout better suited to the busy lifestyles of the modern urban family.
This Brooklyn couple had lost a bid on a home in Sunset Park. They had fallen in love with the renovation, so they took the architect's name and continued their search. When they found what would become their dream home in Crown Heights, they reached out to that architect, Alexandra Barker of BFDO Architects, and had her transform the awkward, dated townhouse into the Brooklyn brownstone of their dreams. Barker employed a modern, seamless approach without sacrificing any original details.
Design duo James Veal and Christine Stucker, principals of the architecture and design studio Stewart-Schafer, purchased this 1901 Brownstone in 2017 with the intention of giving it a gut renovation and breathe new life into the historic home. The result is a showcase of the couple's unique personal style, accented by midcentury modern and Scandinavian-inspired design elements that blend with the home's traditional bones.
Dawn Casale and Dave Crofton of One Girl Cookies enlisted Brooklyn design-build firm MADE, who’d designed their bakery, to renovate their 2,400-square-foot brownstone. A team led by principal Ben Bischoff used salvaged and surplus materials, creating wiggle room in the budget so Casale and Crofton could afford a few splurges on wallpaper and custom finishes.
Located on a tree-lined street in Bedford Stuyvesant, this late-1800s, three-story brownstone had been in the same family for decades—and was in desperate need of renovation. Decayed windows, red wall-to-wall carpeting, and layers of caked-on paint were among the offenses. Ad-hoc renovations in the 1980s and ’90s had carved up the kitchen and bathrooms, creating awkward circulations and dated finishes. This gut renovation by Sonya Lee Architect sensitively restored the historic details while introducing contemporary architectural elements and finishes throughout.
This Brooklyn brownstone was made more sustainable by "getting rid of the brownstone." Known as Tighthouse, New York City’s first certified Passive House is clad in pale, gray stucco and sculpted with a few historically inspired details. However, the stucco is actually just the outermost layer in a 20-inch-thick, insulated sandwich: the home’s original 19th-century brick is buried deep inside. The cornice is also a lightweight, contemporary replacement in the form of a hollow, fiberglass shell mimicking a wood original.
Portland–based studio Jessica Helgerson Interior Design overhauled this Brooklyn brownstone with furnishings and finishes in bold colors and tactile materials. Lead designer Chelsie Lee used colorful furniture and fittings throughout to give the home a fresh sense of contemporary style.
Related Reading: A 19th-Century Schoolhouse in Brooklyn Becomes a Classy Apartment
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