Brownstone Boys: New Year, New DIY Projects

Editor’s note: Welcome to the 58th installment of Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary about renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at

We’re starting the new year off by planning some of our 2020 DIY projects. The majority of our renovation is finished and we can now enjoy our space and dive into our list! When a major renovation is finished it can sometimes be surprising how much work is left to do to create your dream living space. We have already checked off some of our list but we have lots to do in 2020.

storage wall

Designing additional storage around the old fireplace bump out will be our challenge

Pantry Storage Wall
We intentionally left the wall opposite our kitchen a blank canvas. We know that we need more kitchen storage and more storage in general. It’s a big blank spot in which to build it. It’s a large space and anything we build will be a major feature of the parlor floor, so we want to make sure we get it right. On our list are pantry storage, tall storage, and a bar area. Features that make it a challenge are an old fireplace bump out (those are always annoying to plan around) and a radiator. We’ve been through more designs than we can count, and still haven’t found the right thing yet, but we’re getting close.


The niche at the top of the stairs is a space we are excited to get creative with

Art Niche
When we bought our place there was an unattractive door leading to the roof hatch at the top of the stairs. It was the first thing you would see when you walked in the front door. A good friend of ours inspired us to make that space more of a feature worthy of the first glance it will get from guests. We built the niche with a custom library light above it, but we have gone through several ideas of what should fill it. Shelves, a plant wall, and a piece of art have all been on and off the list. When we find the right thing we’ll know it!


Please don’t judge us with the current state of the basement. We promise this will be a beautiful laundry room very soon!

Basement Laundry Room
We opted not to put laundry in our main living area. There just wasn’t a good space to put it. We would have had to carve the space out of something else. Every square foot of space is precious! We also already have a laundry hook up in the basement and it’s relatively clean and dry down there. So our plan is to build a laundry area in our basement. The advantage there is that we will be able to have shelves, cabinets, and a counter instead of just the stackable washer/dryer we would have had upstairs. We hoping to get this in soon.

front door

We really love the look of the classic Brownstone double doors. We are excited to install new doors and replace the existing transom

Front Doors
Surprisingly, one of our favorite feature is the original vestibule door that was stripped of many layers of paint and restored with new glass. It’s beautiful with the old vestibule tiles and plaster features on the walls. It’s all in contrast to the modern single front door that replaced the original double doors at some point. There are panels filling the sides since the single door doesn’t quite fill the space. It wasn’t in our budget to have custom doors built to match the originals (we would have copied from one of our neighbors since our row of buildings match). Custom doors run $10-15,000. While we would have loved to be able to do that, we opted to go with a standard size double door that will echo the originals. They will be delivered soon!


We will be getting our green thumbs on in 2020. We are excited to see what is possible with a Backyard DIY on a very tight budget

Last but certainly not least for our major projects is the backyard. Our deck is in and ready for us to enjoy but we didn’t touch the backyard. We have lots of ideas and we’ll be completing the design over the next few months to be ready to transform the space in the spring. Truth be told, it probably will be the biggest, most time-consuming, and labor intensive DIY project we’ll tackle this year. Fortunately we have friends with green thumbs to help.

We’re pumped about 2020 and can’t wait to tackle these projects and more!

[Photos by Brownstone Boys]

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