Pink Brownstone: Who We Are and How We Got Here

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the first installment of Pink Brownstone, a reader restoration diary. Brownstoner is very excited to publish this ongoing saga of DIY restoration of a brownstone in Bed Stuy. You can read more at https://pinkbrownstone.com.

Hi there – we are your neighbors, figuratively speaking. We live in a brownstone in Brooklyn which has been a work in progress for a handful of years now.

We started looking for a house to buy about 10 years ago. We were living in a floor through apartment in an 1850s stand-alone Victorian house in Jersey City. It had 17 giant windows (wavy glass and all), a decorative fireplace, enormous French doors, and 1,500 square feet of space. The rent was very affordable and the landlords were amazing. There wasn’t much of a reason to move, but wanting to own a place of our own was an itch that was impossible not to scratch.

pink brownstone

The circa 1940 tax photo of our house. Photo via Municipal Archives

So, time passes and through many ups and downs and some really improbable plot twists we became the owners of an 1896 Romanesque Revival brownstone painted powder pink. The house, nicknamed The Pink Lady, was exactly what we wanted: livable, but in need of some major TLC. Best of all it was full of potential (and by potential, I mean original detail).

While we always intended to do a lot of the work ourselves, we quickly learned that in Brooklyn the base price for any repair job has a minimum cost of $5,000. No matter how small, the meter always seems to start at 5K. We realized that we would need to take on more of the work ourselves. We hired out electrical upgrades and plumbing and have been handling the rest ever since.

pink brownstone

The Pink Lady wasn’t our first fixer upper. Years before, we owned a boring 1964 two-bedroom condo, which we could afford because it reeked of cat urine and sadness. That apartment was our training wheels. We learned a lot in the process of making it a nice, non-stinky home. The biggest lesson we learned was that we could do the work and we liked doing it. No one was more surprised at that discovery than me.

So here we are. We have a 120-ish year old house that needs quite a bit of work. Our focus has always been to preserve and restore the detail we have and replace what is missing. We get our hands dirty (well, we are generally filthy head to toe) and we are super excited to share our progress (or lack thereof) with you.

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