When a father and son hired architect Joseph Koelbel to restore the exterior of their 1870s Greenpoint row house, the wood-frame house had been stripped of most of its original detail over time. The decorative trim had been removed and the façade was covered with asphalt and aluminum siding.
“It was kind of an interesting project because the owner was interested in making it look similar to houses of that era,” Koelbel said. “With these wood frames, usually you’re starting with nothing and you can decide what kind of details you want to use. There’s a lot more creativity involved. We did something that mimicked houses of that era but was not exactly how this particular house looked.”
The contractor, Premier Building of Farmingdale, N.Y., stripped the house down to its original wood frame filled in with brick. A layer of plywood sheathing was covered with insulation. For the siding, Koelbel chose 5/8-inch HardiePlank cement board siding pre-painted in the color Monterey Taupe.
“It looks very authentic once it’s painted,” Koelbel said. “It looks the same as wood but it doesn’t rot and there’s almost no maintenance.”
The $130,000 project also included new Marvin windows in the front and back of the three-family house and new HardieTrim trim work. A new PVC front door canopy and cornice were sourced from catalogs.
“We were looking to create authentic details in a way that would be practical,” Koelbel said. “All of the details were carefully designed to have appropriate proportions and plenty of depth and detail, but all of these details used stock materials, including some premade brackets and corbels.”
Koelbel also stripped the mansard roof and put down grey hexagonal slate shingles. The entire project took eight weeks. A second phase will include an interior renovation and replacing the front stoop.
“There are so many other wood-frame houses like this one in Brooklyn, but so many of them look forlorn, having had all their details stripped and the facades covered with vinyl or aluminum siding,” Koelbel said. “This project demonstrates a way to restore the historic character with materials and detailing that is very affordable and will require almost no maintenance in the future.”
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
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