Before & After: A 19th-Century Brooklyn Brownstone Is Saved From Utter Disrepair

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By Lucy Wang
Following a meticulous restoration and gut renovation by Frances Mildred, an elegantly revamped Park Slope townhouse hits the market for $4,495,000.

When Lindsey Branca and Mike Grosshandler purchased a historic brownstone in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood in early 2017, the decrepit building was mostly in a state of disrepair.

Yet the duo, who launched the residential renovation and restoration firm Branca & Co., know a good opportunity when they see one.

Before: Slope Townhouse Exterior

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The Brownstone's former exterior blended in with its neighbors and required restoration and repairs.

The Brownstone's former exterior blended in with its neighbors and required restoration and repairs.

After: Slope Townhouse Exterior

The original brownstone exterior was given a bright refresh with Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone paint on the facade and Benjamin Moore Black for the trim, door, balusters, and handrails. The architectural designers also added new windows and doors.

The original brownstone exterior was given a bright refresh with Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone paint on the facade and Benjamin Moore Black for the trim, door, balusters, and handrails. The architectural designers also added new windows and doors.

Enlisting the help of Brooklyn–based designers Sheena Murphy and Tor Sauder of sheep + stone, with whom they had worked with previously, as well as the architectural designers at Frances Mildred, Lindsey and Mike completed a gut renovation of their investment property while preserving as many historic details as possible.

Before: Entry

With worn walls, damaged ceilings, and dated carpet tiles, the former entrance was in desperate need of a refresh.

With worn walls, damaged ceilings, and dated carpet tiles, the former entrance was in desperate need of a refresh.

The hallway was dark and uninviting—and also had a gaping hole in the ceiling.

The hallway was dark and uninviting—and also had a gaping hole in the ceiling.

After: Entry

The vestibule floor was retiled with ivory-and-sage penny tiles, while five-inch white oak planks were put down as new flooring throughout.

The vestibule floor was retiled with ivory-and-sage penny tiles, while five-inch white oak planks were put down as new flooring throughout.

"The biggest overall challenge was successfully transforming it into a high-end home with authentic details and high-quality finishes without totally busting the budget," explains Sheena. 

"While ensuring the team made smart decisions about where and how to spend money, it was important to the owners and founders of Branca & Co that the house be restored with absolute integrity and without cutting corners, so it was a fine balancing act."

Before: Living Room

Located to the left of the entry hall, the living room felt disjointed with walls painted in a variety of different colors.

Located to the left of the entry hall, the living room felt disjointed with walls painted in a variety of different colors.

The fireplace in the living room had been blocked in with sheetrock by the former owners.

The fireplace in the living room had been blocked in with sheetrock by the former owners.

After: Living Room

The living room gains an airy and modern update with new crown molding and walls painted Sherwin Williams Origami White. The clients also restored the living room's marble fireplace and painted the grate Benjamin Moore Black.

The living room gains an airy and modern update with new crown molding and walls painted Sherwin Williams Origami White. The clients also restored the living room's marble fireplace and painted the grate Benjamin Moore Black.

The large living room doorway was preserved and frames views of the original staircase that was restored with the treads, risers, and balustrades painted Benjamin Moore Black. The mahogany handrail was sanded down to its raw color and finished in a water-based clear coat.

The large living room doorway was preserved and frames views of the original staircase that was restored with the treads, risers, and balustrades painted Benjamin Moore Black. The mahogany handrail was sanded down to its raw color and finished in a water-based clear coat.

In addition to repairs and restoration work, the brownstone, which dates back to 1890, was reconfigured with a new floor layout better suited to the busy lifestyles of the modern urban family. 

Before: Office

This bathroom, later converted into an office, was in a severe state of disrepair.

This bathroom, later converted into an office, was in a severe state of disrepair.

After: Office

The compact office was wholly redesigned and can be readapted into a nursery, study, or even a child's bedroom.

The compact office was wholly redesigned and can be readapted into a nursery, study, or even a child's bedroom.

Every room was meticulously renovated and rebuilt from top to bottom. Meanwhile, the team was also careful to salvage as many original features as possible, from the doors and window shutters to the trim and crown molding.

Before: Master Bedroom

The master bedroom had a constrained footprint due to the closet.

The master bedroom had a constrained footprint due to the closet.

After: Master Bedroom

The updated master bedroom includes new crown molding. The former closet was removed where the left nightstand is now located; the closet door was reused for the family room on the ground floor.

The updated master bedroom includes new crown molding. The former closet was removed where the left nightstand is now located; the closet door was reused for the family room on the ground floor.

The master bedroom fireplace with a marble surround was also fully restored by the clients.

The master bedroom fireplace with a marble surround was also fully restored by the clients.

Spanning an area of 2,040 square feet across four floors, the fully renovated brownstone features four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a 50-foot-deep private garden with a back deck and rear patio.

Before: Kitchen/Dining Area

This lime-green room was completely gutted to make room for a new kitchen and dining area.

This lime-green room was completely gutted to make room for a new kitchen and dining area.

After: Kitchen/ Dining Area

In an effort to keep costs within budget without sacrificing looks, the fully gutted and renovated kitchen features IKEA cabinetry framework with shaker-style fronts by Semihandmade. The cabinets were painted Farrow & Ball Pigeon.

In an effort to keep costs within budget without sacrificing looks, the fully gutted and renovated kitchen features IKEA cabinetry framework with shaker-style fronts by Semihandmade. The cabinets were painted Farrow & Ball Pigeon.

The kitchen countertops and shallow shelf are Olympian White Danby marble. The white oak cabinet knobs are from Etsy.

The kitchen countertops and shallow shelf are Olympian White Danby marble. The white oak cabinet knobs are from Etsy.

The kitchen and dining area are made to feel bright and airy with minimalist decor and walls painted Sherwin Williams Origami White. The lights hanging over the island are Allied Maker's Blobe pendants.

The kitchen and dining area are made to feel bright and airy with minimalist decor and walls painted Sherwin Williams Origami White. The lights hanging over the island are Allied Maker's Blobe pendants.

"We love it all, but the kitchen is probably our favorite," notes Sheena. "The overall mood is very calming, and it overlooks the garden, making it feel like a bit of a haven from the city streets." 

"The light is gorgeous throughout the day," she continues, "and the pale green on the cabinets gives it a softness and dimension. The layout provides great circulation, and it is both visually and physically connected to the living room."

Before: Bathroom

An image of the old kitchen before it was transformed into the master bath.

An image of the old kitchen before it was transformed into the master bath.

After: Bathroom

The updated master bathroom includes a double vanity with a Calacatta Michelangelo marble countertop with chrome plumbing fixtures from Waterworks Easton.

The updated master bathroom includes a double vanity with a Calacatta Michelangelo marble countertop with chrome plumbing fixtures from Waterworks Easton.

A clawfoot tub was installed beneath the window and can be seen from the bedroom. The semi-enclosed shower room is lined in white subway tile while sage green penny tiles cover the floors.

A clawfoot tub was installed beneath the window and can be seen from the bedroom. The semi-enclosed shower room is lined in white subway tile while sage green penny tiles cover the floors.

The Garden Bathroom serves as the powder room and the guest bathroom. The Maison C via Studio Four wallpaper complements the Benjamin Moore Bone White-painted walls.

The Garden Bathroom serves as the powder room and the guest bathroom. The Maison C via Studio Four wallpaper complements the Benjamin Moore Bone White-painted walls.

The shower is lined with matte white squares with an irregular, handmade feel. Matte white square penny tiles are used for the shower floor.

The shower is lined with matte white squares with an irregular, handmade feel. Matte white square penny tiles are used for the shower floor.

The kid's bathroom on the second floor is lined with white penny tile and white square tiles in a running bond pattern. The wallpaper is from Juju Papers.

The kid's bathroom on the second floor is lined with white penny tile and white square tiles in a running bond pattern. The wallpaper is from Juju Papers.

The Garden Den enjoys direct access to the backyard and is envisioned as the more casual counterpart to the main living room.

The Garden Den enjoys direct access to the backyard and is envisioned as the more casual counterpart to the main living room.

Custom closets painted Benjamin Moore Sterling were added to both kids' bedrooms. One room has a built-in window seat (pictured) and the other has a built-in desk.

Custom closets painted Benjamin Moore Sterling were added to both kids' bedrooms. One room has a built-in window seat (pictured) and the other has a built-in desk.

A look at the Park Slope townhouse floor plans.

A look at the Park Slope townhouse floor plans.

Located at 413 8th St, New York, New York, just one block from the subway, the elegantly updated Park Slope townhouse has been listed on StreetEasy for $4,495,000.

Project Credits:

Architectural Designers: Frances Mildred

Builder/General Contractor: Robertson-Tait

Interior Design: sheep + stone

Cabinetry Design: Semihandmade