Brooklyn has many Townhouses and Brownstones. Renovating a Townhouse in NYC is a large undertaking. In this post, we will review one of our Brooklyn Townhouse Renovations.
In this post, we will look at some issues you should consider when renovating a townhouse based on one of our townhome renovations in Bed Stuy, BK.
Restoring Original Details
In many cases, your townhouse may have original detailing. This particular townhouse was about 100 years old and in desperate need of a major renovation. There were miscellaneous details that our client wanted to keep and restore.
As an architect, one of my first pieces of advice to someone renovating a 100 year old townhouse is to decide what you want to keep and what you don’t. Make three categories a yes, no, and a maybe. Some people will want to gut the entire interiors, creating a purely modern townhouse, and not keep anything, but in many cases you may want to preserve some of the original character of the building.
Below is a picture of the original fireplace, mirrors and casement moldings, all restored. Our client was hoping to keep everything worth keeping in their home.
Below is a picture of the original hardwood floors that were sanded and refinished. There were some very bad spots that needed to be replaced. We found reclaimed wood planks that matched to patch the bad spots. They matched up very well and the client did not have to replace all their floors.
Townhouse Renovation Old Vs New Contrast
Keeping some of the original character and having contrast with the new can be a design feature in a townhouse renovation. In the photo below, you can see a portion of the original brick fireplace in contrast to new walls. It creates an accent and contrast. Old and new can work well together and the home does not have to be entirely one or the other.
A lot of people like the exposed brick look, but you need to think about how much of it you want. Is it going to be all over the house or is it going to be an accent? In this case it was an accent, not a primary feature.
New Deck at the Parlor Floor
We added a new deck to the townhouse in the rear yard. We have another post on if you are planning to add a deck to a townhouse and would like to learn more about backyard decks in NYC.
The picture below shows the new door to the deck off the parlor floor. We added a new door and lintel above to support the brick wall. In this case, we left the steel lintel exposed to have a little modern detail on the rear facade.
The new deck was steel framed with a steel stair going down the the rear yard. There are 24 x 24 inch concrete pavers 2 inches thick on the steel deck for the walking surface and as the stair treads.
Townhouse Bedroom Design
The overall design for a townhouse should blend in. Consistency is key to design. In the picture below you will see a bedroom in this townhouse with a black frame canopy bed against white walls. The room has original refinished and reclaimed wood floors with a few plants bringing life to the space.
Brooklyn Townhouse Nursery Design
Townhouse Structural Work
Aside from the exterior structural work for the deck and new door through the exterior brick wall there was some interior structural work as well. In many townhouses, the wall parallel to the stairs has some structural value and is relieving weight from the floor joists. Removing this wall will gain you an open plan but it may require structural support.
In this townhouse, the client wanted an open plan at the parlor floor. This meant removing all the partition walls with the exception of the vestibule. One of the walls was supporting the joists and required structural reinforcement. We have another post if you want to read more about townhouse structure and wall removal.
Below is a picture of some of the framing we added to the original wood joists in order to remove the wall.
Below is a photo of the new open plan parlor floor. This floor has an open kitchen, open stair, and no intermediate walls. This creates a great entry to the home with wide open space with the door to the new rear deck in the back.
New Mini Split HVAC Systems
We installed new heat and cooling mini split units in this townhouse. Mini splits are growing in popularity in the United States but have been used around the world for some time now. These units have an exterior condenser and internal cassettes like the one below.
Mini split units are efficient and more sustainable than many other HVAC systems. We have another post if you want to learn more about sustainable house design.
This picture shows the split unit’s condenser under the deck in the rear yard. This is a hyper heat unit.
Personalize Your New Townhouse
Below are a few more photos to show you that after renovating your townhouse you still need to make it your home.
Brooklyn Townhouse Renovation Scope of Work
In this article we discussed one Townhouse Renovation we did in Brooklyn. All projects are unique and have different requirements, and all buildings must be assessed on a case by case basis. This post is only looking at some of the issues with regards to a townhouse renovation and does not assume to cover all possible conditions or apply to all townhouse renovations.
Thank you for reading our blog post on this Bed Stuy Brooklyn Townhouse Renovation.
I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect about a potential project you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.