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Ok, fellow brownstoners, you have helped me in the past. Here is another question…
I am currently finishing up schematic plans for renovating a 20X37 brownstone in Cobble Hill. Going from a bottom duplex with two rentals on top floor to a triplex with a garden rental. We are a family of four. Here’s the question…where should the laundry go? Initially, I thought top floor where the kds bedrooms are, but my architect says we will have to have a stackable unit if we keep the laundry near the bathroom where all the plumbing lies. Otherwise, I CAN move it to the other side of the building but it will cost a lot and be a big pain to bring the plumbing down through four floors to the basement. Plus, that seems like valuable real estate for something as prosaic as laundry. I am now inclined to put it in my not great basement but that will mean taking the downstairs hall away from the tenant. Or, rather, sharing it. And it will mean a lot of stairs for this lazy person (me). And it will mean upgrading the basement.
Curious to hear how others have solved this conundrum? Many thanks.


i want to make the roof accessibility better by adding a stairway up to the roof instead of the “ladder and roof hatch,” But i may have to block or eliminate a door in one of the rental apts. They have a door to the hall that will not be blocked and a fire escape that leads to the roof and to the back yard. Can I close one of the doors that the tenants never use in fact they have a bookshelf blocking the door. Any elp is appreciated.


I have a 20′ wide townhouse that currently has the large dining room in the back with the kitchen adjacent. I was thinking to move the kitchen and make both of these rooms into bedrooms. But the separating load-bearing wall only leaves about 6.5′ in the smaller room. It doesn’t seem very ideal. This seems like a typical problem for houses this size. What are some possible solutions to get 2 decent sized bedrooms? Is moving the load bear wall worth the effort?

Thanks in advance for any responses!


A design question. I am pondering a renovation of my 20 foot wide Cobble Hill brownstone. It is a pretty standard design in that you walk in on the parlor floor and there is a wall on your right with a set of double doors. Since we are going from a bottom duplex with two rentals to an owner’s triplex I would REALLY like to open up the space and get rid of that narrow brownstone feel. My architect (ok, former architect, the relationship really wasn’t working for me) was advocating enlarging the opening so that we wouldn’t need to involve a structural engineer, but I am leaning toward a beam covered by a soffit(sp?). I am throwing these terms around as if I know what I am talking about. I don’t. Does anyone have any insight/thoughts/inspration?


I searched the forum and didn’t see a lot of opinions on this (and I thought I would).

So. If you could renovate your owner’s lower duplex any way you wished, would you prefer:

a) bedrooms on garden floor, home’s main entrance through shared stoop/lobby into parlor floor (higher ceiling kitchen & living room) with deck/stairs to yard, or

b) bedrooms on parlor floor, home’s main entrance through private under-the-stoop door, with kitchen and living room at garden level opening onto patio/backyard.

I’m so torn. I feel like the parlor floor windows (and higher ceiling) deserve to be the living room.

BUT… “Going downstairs” to go to bed seems so bizarre.

Anyone care to speculate on the best combination for resale value?

(FYI – can’t turn it into a garden rental due to rent regulated tenants on top floor.)

Thanks for your thoughts!


i am thinking of renting a parlor floor space that is not particularly renovated – typical 2 larger rooms with 10.5 high ceilings. I am trying to figure out how to divide one of the rooms into 2 bedrooms in an inventive / aesthetic but economical way. Front space has two windows, back space has the kitchen area, glass doors divide the two areas. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions or examples to share


I’d like to hear from anyone who created a triplex owners unit out of the garden/parlor/third floor with a rental unit on the fourth floor.

We want to reconfigure our double duplex, but we really want the garden floor because of the easy access from the street for strollers and easy access to the garden for kids.

We’re not crazy about the idea of sharing the main staircase with our tenants, especially since our bedrooms will be on the third level. Has anyone created an internal staircase from parlor to third? Especially other than a spiral staircase? Wondering about cost, difficulty, and other issues to consider.


We bought our house with a semi finished cellar, w. cement floor, v. dry. It came with washer-dryer and utility sink but otherwise was used mostly for storage. As the space is v. nice, with original stone exposed along the wall, we plan to turn it into a recreation room for our own use (no new plumbing). This entails removing current ceiling, putting in new ceiling and walls, new lighting and new stairs. Through the hatch we will have fresh air by installing a skylight which opens (eventually once the budget allows). We are even contemplating one that will open all of the way for egress (though the space is not for sleeping) . Question is, is DoB approval needed for this ? To me this is cosmetic…..


One great feature of my backyard has been that the back border is flat onto the back wall of a warehouse, which is windowless and covered in ivy. Unfortunately, the warehouse has closed and is being sold as a development site. I think my neighborless backyard days are numbered… so I am wondering: how high can one build a backyard fence? Am I allowed to go up 10 feet? 20 feet? 40??? 20 and 40 seem implausible, as I’ve never seen fences that high… Ah well. Any guidance appreciated!