A few years back, when this 1910 limestone on an elegant park block changed hands, the house was in such a state of preservation that it still retained at least one working gaslight and a winding back stair, once used by service staff, from the kitchen on the parlor level to the floor below. That kitchen, in a two-story extension at the back of the house, needed radical updating. The lower level, where the laundry was, was full of exposed pipes and particularly uninviting.
Enter Gerry Smith, a residential architect based in Greenpoint. Smith was once, in his own words, “a diehard modernist,” but lately, he said, with more projects in brownstone Brooklyn, “I’m becoming very interested in modern insertions into a historical shell.”
As a friend of the new homeowners, Smith agreed to take on the job of revamping the whole extension. Working with Dean and Silva, a Brooklyn-based general contractor with an in-house millwork shop, he managed to keep considerable old-fashioned charm while bringing the space functionally up to date and linking it with the utility quarters below. The new space, now bathed in natural daylight, offers views of the garden that’s shared with the house next door.