Before & After: Brooklyn Heights Trifecta

An uncommon 1840s Gothic revival in excellent condition –  plus 25 feet wide – plus a Brooklyn Heights single block “Place.“

What’s the catch? There were some challenges:

  1. No reasonably sized, family-friendly kitchen on the living/dining level. The original proportions, composition, and details of the parlor rooms are so gracious that it seemed impossible to make space for an adequate kitchen without sacrificing them. The existing kitchen was a single loaded strip kitchen in a glorified hallway.
  2. No family room/play space. The logical space for a family room was a dark, damp, low space crisscrossed with steam pipes. The rear yard was tight up against the house making the room feel underground. The original “walk-in“ kitchen hearth remained.
  3. Out-of-date heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and other utility systems.
  4.  Poorly operating and poorly fitting “single-sided,” weight and chain Gothic revival windows. A rarity.

Solutions:

  1. Kitchen – Reinforce existing parlor floor joists to accept the concentrated load of an “out of line” bearing partition. The 2’-0” shift narrowed the dining room but widened the previous hall enough to accommodate a double loaded, 21st century kitchen with room for bystanders.The remaining width for dining proved more than ample. Ceiling moldings, floor borders, and one french door followed the shifted bearing partition, preserving the harmony of the original composition. Original Gothic revival pocket doors were retained; original Gothic revival trim was carefully removed and reinstalled.
  2. Den/Family Room – Remove enough earth adjacent to the house to create a lower terrace outside of the potential family room. Provide full glass doors for lots of natural light and relief from the sense of confinement in the original cellar. Create a gently tiered transition to facilitate easy movement between the yard and playroom. Provide polished concrete floor to gain ceiling height and provide casual teen hangout. Re-purpose the original cooking fireplace to accommodate a Scandinavian woodstove and wood storage.
  3. Utilities and systems – Replace existing boiler, exposed pipes and radiators and 30 year old high velocity AC system with state-of-art heat pumps. Provide hydronic radiant floors in selected areas. All utilities to be concealed such that all original detail is preserved.
  4. Windows – rehabilitate 170 year old windows including consolidation of all weakened wood components, restoring original profiles, weatherstripping, repairing or replacing chains and weights, and replacing non-original glass panes with handmade.

We think the “before and after” photos tell the rest of the story.

Finish Photography: Peter Peirce, Inc. Photography