A year ago, our bathrooms — with plumbing ranging in age from 65 to 100 years old — were demolished to make way for all the new “guts” of the home: you know, trivial stuff like plumbing, electric and heating.

I was horrified by the thought of contributing otherwise useful materials to a landfill, so (in addition to sinks, mirrors and tubs) I asked our contractors to carefully salvage as many of the 1950s pink tiles as they could. We got a nice haul — about 750 four-inch squares.

Fast forward to now, and they’ve sat moldering away in our basement with zero game plan. Maybe I could sell them to a purveyor of all things retro? Maybe a neighbor or a reader would want them? I had no clue what their final destination would be, I was just happy to have saved them from the dumpster. And finally, like a bolt of lightning from Poseidon himself, their purpose became crystal-clear: I can actually reuse them again in this house!


Photo by Ty Cole via Remodelista

It’s a simple fact: Brownstones weren’t built for light. Pre-renovation, the parlor floor of this 1899 Italianate row house in Carroll Gardens was dark and cramped, with interior dividing walls making it feel even narrower than its 14-foot width.

Drew Lang of Lang Architecture opened it up, creating the latest gorgeous example of a rear wall transformed by a wall of windows. The renovation was featured by Remodelista.

The redesign called for tearing out the back wall and replacing it with two stories of custom steel windows from A&S. Lang and his team carefully considered the proportions of the panes, and decided on 12.5-inch squares of glass. The windowed door on the parlor floor leads to a steel balcony with stairs to the garden.


In December, when Jessica Siegel and her husband saw a “for sale” sign in the window of a narrow four-story Carroll Gardens home, they immediately called to make an offer. And were initially outbid.

But the other buyer got scared off by the building’s water damage, sagging floors and even worse problems — so by the end of March, they had the keys in hand.

“It’s the tiniest house with grandest details,” Jessica Siegel told Brownstoner. Measuring only 11 feet wide on the inside, the mid-19th-century four-bedroom came with a swooping curved staircase and elegant moldings.

It also came with the worst termite damage their inspector had ever seen in the neighborhood. But Siegel — a designer at GDD Interiors — saw the home’s problems as an opportunity to start fresh.

“It gave us license to bring back the grandeur while maximizing space,” she said. “On the parlor and garden levels, especially, every quarter inch counted. But we didn’t just butcher what was there.”


The skies are blue, roller coasters are flying high, but my luck just plummeted… the plumbers have discovered that 100% of my sink fixtures do not work.

We expect that when trying to fit modern-day hardware into sinks that are 65 years old there will be a few bumps in the road. And, indeed, the formerly pink sink that we moved up to the third-floor blue wave bathroom had issues. But not with the fit. Rather, the box containing the faucet — which had been specially ordered to fit the sink exactly — was missing some key components. So, the plumber circled the six missing items on the installation instructions, and back I went to the plumbing supply store. All the parts just arrived, install next week.


Our second bathroom is FINISHED! This month marks the one-year-anniversary of the purchase of our new home, and the anniversary of us surviving 12 months of life in a two-bedroom apartment (with three kids!) following the sale of our jumbo-sized Queen Anne home in Ditmas Park.

When we bought the beach house last summer, we were thrilled by many things about it: the stunning view, the marble fireplace mantel and, yes, even the lucky find of a full bathroom on the attic level. But with that bath’s dark floral wallpaper, a badly cracked floor and a toilet that hadn’t flushed in over 30 years, we knew it’d be a full gut.

It also happened to be the only bathroom with a view of the water, so I was really looking forward to it becoming something less skeevtastic. Initial dialogue with contractors centered around simply replacing the existing toilet, sink and tub.

But once I discovered an enchanting little blue tile at Brooklyn’s Decor Planet, I knew I was heading to Mermaidville on a magical cloud of fairy dust.


Colorful painted facades are becoming a thing in Bushwick. We count at least six houses in Bushwick that have painted murals or colorful geometric designs adorning their otherwise plain stucco exteriors.

One reason for the design trend may be that Bushwick has a lot of frame houses. You’d probably never guess looking at Bushwick now, but many were once painted ladies with lots of gingerbread trim, just like in San Francisco.


I ain’t gonna lie, I LOVED the master bathroom before.

Sure, the built-in vanity nook had outdated mirrors with glass and metal shelving (oy, the clinking!), but the bathroom also had a spacious layout, pink tiles rising to the ceiling paired with turquoise trim pieces, a metallic blue floral wallpaper on the ceiling, and an all around old Hollywood glamour vibe.

But it was the surprise siren in the shower that really had me at hello…


Artisanal coffee purveyor Brooklyn Roasting Company is about to move into a newly renovated building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Brownstoner got a sneak peek of Building 123, a former power plant built in 1900 that is now part of the Yard’s Green Manufacturing Center. Brooklyn Roasting Company will soon transform the entire 32,852 square foot industrial space into a haven for the coffee-obsessed.

Company co-founder Michael Pollack told Brownstoner, “What we work with is the original power plant — coffee trees and beans. So this is the perfect place for us to call home.”

The building will serve as a centralized location for the company’s roasting, packaging, and distribution process, which is currently spread across BRC’s two existing Brooklyn locations.


Introducing Brownstoner’s first-ever reader renovation diary based in Sea Gate. It will document the renovation of a 100-year-old oceanfront home on the edge of Coney Island. Our intrepid blogger can also be found at Brooklyn Beach House.

A Coney Island beach house. Yes! They exist.

I know, because we bought one a year ago. If you start at Nathan’s in Coney Island and head west toward the baseball stadium (keep the ocean on your left), in about a mile you will find that the boardwalk and Surf Avenue dead end into gates in the water and the street.

This is the beginning of Sea Gate, a 120-year-old gated community that boasts tiny bungalows, apartment buildings, mega-mansions, and everything in between. And the cool part is — despite the gate — anyone can live here!

After spending a delightful four years in a Park Slope brownstone on 6th Street just off the park, followed by an even more delightful seven years raising our new family in a large Queen Anne in Ditmas Park, I can honestly say THIS is Brooklyn’s best kept secret.


An untouched five-story brownstone that had been owned by the same family for a century provided a blank canvas for CWB Architects, one of Brooklyn’s busiest specialists in high-end townhouse renovation. The 1870s structure was in dire shape when the new homeowners undertook a two-year project to convert the house, which had been chopped up into apartments, to a single-family dwelling for themselves and their two young sons.

“Nearly half the floor structure was cracked,” said Brendan Coburn of CWB. “The only things we kept were the front wall and two side walls.” The back wall and all the interior framing are new.

It was an opportunity to rethink the house from, as it were, the ground up. The 20-foot-wide building “is gigantic for a family of four,” Coburn said, “and that made figuring out how to arrange the program a bit tricky.”