Balancing Privacy and Lightness in Historic Brooklyn

Our clients came to us to improve their home’s relationship to the outdoors while balancing privacy and lightness. The scope of this 19th-century rowhouse renovation was an interesting challenge. We targeted the lower two floors of the four-story main house, the separate garage building, and the courtyard in between.

Above the existing garage sat an underutilized storage room, which we converted into a meditation and work-from-home studio. This new space needed to be accessible enough for daily use but separate enough for focused work. An elevated outdoor walkway directly connects the studio to the parlor-level kitchen, providing a visual and spatial connection to the heavy-traffic area. Meanwhile, an outdoor courtyard and triple-glazed wall work together to separate the studio from the main house.

Since the existing buildings had already maximized the allowable zoning square footage, we had to shift floor area between the studio and main house to meet programmatic requirements (read more here). With this, we extended the parlor-level kitchen space and added a sitting area outside the studio. To define the outdoor space and provide privacy from the street, we added artful glass slats, creating a canopy-like effect. Along with creating a sense of place, the tinted and frosted glass reduces solar heat gain while directing views back to the main house. We placed similar slats at the new kitchen façade for the same reasons.

Using glass for privacy instead of traditional blinds maintains a visual connection between both buildings and the outdoors. The slats also emphasize the mirrored geometry of both façades. The homeowners have the unique ability to stand inside their home, look out floor-to-ceiling windows, and see into a different area of their home, all while maintaining privacy in a bustling Brooklyn neighborhood.

See the full project page here.

Photography: Peter Peirce, Inc.