10 Unbeatable Brownstone Renovations in Brooklyn

10 Unbeatable Brownstone Renovations in Brooklyn

By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Balancing historic details with modern updates, these renovated Brooklyn brownstones are the stuff of dreams.

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.

1. A Beautiful Brownstone Redesigned For Modern Living

The parlor floor features an open floor plan that maximizes the interplay of light and space. A wall of casement windows frames the area, drenching the entire floor with warm natural light. 

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.

2. Designers Renovate Their Brooklyn Brownstone With a Bright Monochromatic Palette

To make the interior of their 12-foot-wide Brooklyn home feel larger, designers Ed Parker and Barbara Tutino Parker used Farrow & Ball paint in All White for the floors and applied Benjamin Moore Super White with a flat finish to the walls. They also rearranged the floor plan.

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. 

3. A Brooklyn Brownstone Renovated With a Sartorial Twist

Jason lounges in one of two armchairs by midcentury designer Milo Baughman in the parlor-floor living room. The wood block coffee table is by Eric Slayton, a friend of the couple, and the modular Carmo sofa is from BoConcept. A 1952 piece by French industrial designer Serge Mouille, the Three-Arm Floor Lamp—widely referred to as the "Praying Mantis," for its looming trio of arms—is a nod to the couple’s love of Parisian interiors; a branch-like chandelier by Los Angeles–based artist Gary Chapman hangs overhead.

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.

Shop the Look
Ton Salt Chair
The compact footprint of the Salt Chair makes it a smart choice for cafés or just about anywhere you need to maximize seating. Unlike chairs that have widely splayed legs, a Salt Chair can be placed side by side with another without wasting space in between.
Gubi Pedrera Coffee Table
The Pedrera Coffee Table is designed in 1955 by Barba Corsini for the loft space at the famous landmark, La Pedrera in Barcelona.
Serge Mouille Three-Arm Floor Lamp
French designer Serge Mouille originally created his Three-Arm Floor Lamp in 1952 for a customer who requested a large light for his clients with large rooms in South America.

The clients restored the living room's marble fireplace and painted the grate Benjamin Moore Black. New crown molding was added and the walls painted Sherwin Williams Origami White.

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. 

5. A Brooklyn Brownstone Gets a Vibrant Renovation For $910K

The owners wanted the first floor of the home to flow seamlessly from the front to the back. They called upon a friend's business for their lighting to save on costs.

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. 

6. A Traditional Brooklyn Brownstone Receives a Chic Makeover

What was once walled off as an enclosed entryway is now open to the living space, creating a grand, welcoming, and light-filled front room.

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. 

7. A Budget-Friendly Brownstone Renovation in Brooklyn

The Torroja pendant light by David Weeks hangs in the dining area, standing in sharp relief against the home’s original brick, now painted white (in Benjamin Moore Paper White) along with the wooden floorboards (in Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter). Radiant heat underfoot means a toasty interior even without a surfeit of textiles.

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.

8. Brooklyn Brownstone With a Gut Renovation

Custom-made white oak cabinetry provides a sleek contemporary look and minimalist interiors.

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. 

9. A Sustainable Brownstone Transformation in Brooklyn

All of the Jenn-Air appliances, including the washer and dryer, are electric, as the owners asked the city to cut the gas line to the house. The kitchen cabinetry is from IKEA and features custom, matte-gray doors and Silestone countertops. The floorboards are reclaimed maple from an old tire factory, sanded and stained gray.

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.

10. A Vibrant Brooklyn Brownstone

The back staircase abuts a glass facade overlooking the backyard, allowing plenty of light into the kitchen area above. The art hanging on the wall is by artist Julie Thevenot.

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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