This three-story, one-family limestone with its curved facade has come quite a ways from the “rough shape” it was in when a couple of Brownstoner readers bought it two years ago. “We wanted to update it with modern amenities, while still trying to keep enough original detail,” one of the homeowners wrote in an email.
They hired South Slope-based Braude Pankiewicz Architects to do just that, in a near-gut renovation that included many new windows and new rift-sawn oak flooring throughout. “The house was in reasonable condition when you came in at the front, with some beautiful detail,” said Talia Braude, who earned an M. Arch at MIT and joined forces 10 years ago with architect Philip Pankiewicz, trained at Columbia University, after the two met while working for a boutique architecture practice in Manhattan.
“The back half of parlor floor, which had been used as a storage room, was in terrible shape,” Braude continued. “In front, we decided to leave detail, repair and refurbish where needed, and add trim to match, but in the back, we opened things up completely,” with sliding glass doors that lead to a small deck.
“We looked at a completely open plan, but the clients didn’t feel that was how they wanted to live,” Braude said. “They wanted a more enclosed living room.” They retained the original front room as living space, with its intact century-old wall moldings and window casings. A newly stripped-down dining area and kitchen occupy the remainder of the parlor floor.
“This is a typical situation,” Braude said. “There’s some detail, but you also want to modernize. Do you restore everything, or go more contemporary? We kept what was existing, rather than restoring. And we were careful about the budget.”
The architects also put a new half bath on the parlor floor, completely redid the master bath on the second floor, and transformed a “poky, dingy” lower level into a light and bright stand-alone suite for visiting grandparents.
Society has also come a long way: just over a century ago, the row houses in this five-block Prospect Lefferts Garden development were marketed as “Easy Housekeeping” homes designed to solve that vexing “servant problem” — a popular trend at the time and a way to make modest homes seem more desirable, as Brownstoner has noted.
Downtown Renovations was the GC.
The stair and wainscoting are 85 percent original, the architect said.
A newly enlarged, sloped box for the skylight pulls light down into the stairwell.
The renovated garden floor serves as a family room, playroom and in-law suite.
Here, as elsewhere in the house, ceiling fans came from Big Ass Fans.
The floor in the new barrier-free shower in the master bath slopes to a linear drain.
“Before” photos below illustrate the extent of the renovation.
[Photos by Julia Gillard (except “before” photos)]
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The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning. Got a project to propose for The Insider? Contact Cara at caramia447 [at] gmail [dot] com.
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