From Brooklyn townhouses to Chelsea lofts, these homes maximize city living.
The remodel for this 19th-century row house in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood centers on the stairs. “The goal from the very beginning was to invert and open up the traditional row house by replacing a stacked stair with a switchback stair,” says Brooklyn–based architect Shane Neufeld. Doing so allowed the architect to redefine the interior layout and, thanks to the addition of a skylight at the top of the staircase, bring light deep into the home.
A TV Writer’s Chelsea Loft Is Saved From a Hodgepodge of Outdated Remodels
This loft had a unique layout that included two double-height fireplaces and a mezzanine level, but beyond that, “the unit had been carved up into so many small, enclosed spaces, and then built out and over detailed,” says architect Keith Greenwald. “So, there was just so much in this apartment that felt cramped and dated.” A recent remodel converted the mezzanine into an office for the homeowner, a TV writer, the fireplaces were cleaned up, and the kitchen and bathrooms redone. Now, rather than holding onto vestiges of the lives of previous owners, the new home is an easy place to work, relax, and entertain friends.
A Classic NYC Loft Ditches Its ’90s Look for Refined Minimalism
This West Chelsea loft had many enviable qualities, like exposed beams and brick walls, but other features were less desirable, like the concrete floor and dropped ceiling. Architects Ravi Raj and Evan Watts—Raj leads RARARA, and Watts is a partner at D&A Companies—teamed up to help the homeowners, who are friends of theirs, with a remodel.
They reworked the floor plan to fit in an additional bedroom and bathroom, removed the drop ceiling to reveal the historic structural framework, and then introduced a palette of bleached walnut and concrete plaster to temper the orange tones in the brick.
A Disjointed Loft in Brooklyn Now Luxuriates in the View
Despite having spectacular views out its many windows, this Brooklyn loft had some problems. The elevator opened directly into the living room without a sense of entry. The kitchen was shoe-horned into a narrow galley space. And a main bedroom occupied a prime corner, bogarting the light and views located there.
The firm Worrell Yeung stepped in with a new plan, relocating the bedroom and taking out the dividing wall to reallocate the windows to the living spaces. Then they detailed two central white oak volumes to act as a new organizing principle. “We came up with these analogies of the two wooden boxes and volumes, kind of like fraternal twins that occupy the center of the floor plate,” says Yeung. “It was more of a way to organize this space and anchor the programmatic elements of the project, and then create the perimeter to take advantage of the beautiful view.”
A New York City Apartment Goes From Dark and Cramped to Daring and Capacious
The previous kitchen in this 1925 apartment had too little counter space and too many “dead zones,” which just didn’t work for the couple that lived there as avid cooks, wine lovers, and entertainers. Christine Stucker and James Veal, principals of design firm and architecture studio Stewart-Schafer, eked out more function in a remodel. “We spend a lot of time learning the cooking style and flow of our clients and take stock of all existing kitchenware,” says Stucker.
The new design enlarged the kitchen by borrowing a little space from a spare bedroom, then utilized every square inch with custom cabinetry that conceals everything from built-in chopping boards to an inset drying rack— “so nothing needs to live on the counter”—leaving the clients with much more room to do what they love.
An Italianate-Style Brownstone in Brooklyn Rises Above Years of Ad-Hoc Remodels
This 1860s brownstone in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill “had seen countless, ad-hoc renovations that left it in need of a total overhaul,” says Urban Pioneering Architecture. The firm led a top-to-bottom remodel that unified its old and new elements and created a garden-level apartment and top-floor guest suite.
A Converted Office in NYC Ditches Bland Interiors for Brick and Steel
By the time Brooklyn-based firm StudioKCA stepped inside this former office in an 1869 building in the city’s Financial District, it had been remodeled many times over. Its original brick and steel features had long been concealed by layers of chicken wire, sheet rock, and plaster. Fortunately, the clients were fine with StudioKCA doing exploratory excavations. “They trusted us and let us dig into the walls and find the hidden structure that was there and work hard to expose it,” says designer Jason Klimoski. The question became, “How much can you peel away to get at the essence of what was once there?”
Turns out, quite a bit. The firm reorganized the floor plan so it now includes two bedrooms and two baths. By taking down a wall and encasing the main bedroom in glass and steel, the entire apartment benefits from the unit’s 13 windows.
A Gut Reno Restores Gatsby Glamour to This Art Deco Brooklyn Loft
With demolition underway in this Brooklyn apartment at the top of a landmark 1929 Art Deco building, interior designer Nina Garbiras of FIG Interior Design and architect Joseph McGuier of JAM Architecture made a delightful discovery: more usable space. Because of the way the previous developer had built out the unit, “When we took down the perimeter walls, there was a lot more space between what was the interior wall and the exterior of the building,” says McGuier.
This gave the team up to an extra foot in some places, and helped them create a more well-proportioned home, one that now shines with sweeping Deco curves and brilliant, jewel-toned colors.
A Cramped Prewar Apartment in Manhattan Gets a Glowing Makeover
Lack of storage is a common enough problem in New York City apartments, and this Manhattan pad in a pre-war building was no different. Format Architecture Office came up with a thoughtful solution by specifying custom built-ins throughout that create a new rhythm. “The owner was making it work [before],” says architect Andrew McGee, “but I think she was interested in something that was a little bit more understated that still had some richness, and modern details that were also deferent to the history of the building.”
A Park Avenue Prewar Apartment Gets a Multihued Makeover
This Park Avenue apartment had wonderful bones, including herringbone wood floors and a fireplace, but it needed more personality. The owners worked with Michael K. Chen Architecture (MKCA) to make strategic changes: inserting a glass wall to spread sunlight, bringing in a plethora of colors, and juxtaposing modern sculptural furniture pieces against the traditional backdrop. “We wanted the existing spaces to retain their gracious formality—it is Park Avenue, after all—but tempered that with bright colors, playful and graphic forms, and varied textures,” says Chen.
A Traditional Brooklyn Brownstone Receives a Chic Makeover Inside and Out
In reimagining their personal residence, a 1901 Brooklyn brownstone, designers James Veal and Christine Stucker, co-principals of Stewart-Schafer, deftly balanced old and new. They refinished the floors, spruced up the living room fireplace, repainted trim and kitchen cabinets, and kept the rusty-colored clawfoot tub in place. New insertions, like modern wood display shelves, stylish midcentury furniture picks, and a graphic and colorful tile backsplash behind the tub, playfully contrast with the existing historic elements.
A Brooklyn Townhouse Is Adeptly Reorganized for Its Extroverted-Introvert Owner
Planning a remodel for a self-described “extroverted-introvert” client, designer Ryan Brooke Thomas of the Brooklyn firm Kalos Eidos managed to accommodate a range of moods in the new arrangement of space. Public space stayed on the upper level of the two-floor apartment, with a fluid interplay between living, dining, and kitchen that makes for good socializing. Then downstairs, the designer squeezed in a self-contained ensuite, for guests or renters, connected the main bedroom to an outdoor nook, and carved out a “nest room” for cozy alone time.
A Remodel Connects an Isolated Kitchen to the Rest of a Pre-War Brooklyn Apartment
The meandering layout in this pre-war Brooklyn apartment was a relic of times past. An old service area had been converted to a tiny galley kitchen at the end of a long zig-zagging hallway, and the maid’s quarters-turned-laundry room wasted precious space in between. Frederick Tang Architecture was enlisted to streamline the layout and unite the kitchen with the dining room. Now, the old service area is a separate guest suite with laundry and an office space, and the kitchen glories in more natural light and counter space, as well as custom cherry cabinets and soapstone counters.
A Traditional Facade Hides a Dream Home With Emerald Green Accents
When tasked to remodel this historic townhouse from front to back, the firm GRT Architects took a “gradient” approach: “As landmarked buildings require a literal approach to facade preservation, we set a gradient from invisible improvements facing the street, to obviously new elements towards the rear.” To that end, the firm took a light touch to the exterior, and the interior received a blend of treatments, from restoring the original parquet floors to installing emerald green kitchen cabinets.
A 19th-Century Brooklyn Brownstone Is Saved From Utter Disrepair
In 2017, this 1890 brownstone received a top-to-bottom remodel. With architecture by Frances Mildred and interiors by nune, the overhaul sought to modernize the tattered home, mixing key historical features, like rehabbed fireplaces and woodwork, with contemporary flair.
A Humdrum Home in Brooklyn Receives a Stylish Revamp
Built in 2010, this 4,167-square-foot Brooklyn brownstone was a “developer special,” thanks to generic finishes and an overall lack of character. The owners worked with architect Frederick Tang to inject more personality. Tang reorganized the floor plan for better flow, installing the principal suite on the top floor so the parents had private access to the roof deck, relocating the living room to the second floor to enlarge it, and connecting the kitchen to the backyard via a steel and glass wall.
A Historic Tribeca Townhouse Gets a Magical Makeover
In the 1960s, this Federal-style townhouse in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood was saved from the wrecking ball and given landmark status for its uniqueness. It was noted that it was one of “a group of intact houses characteristic of late 18th-century scale and profile which did not exist anywhere else in Manhattan.”
More recently, the townhouse’s newest owners reached out to Susan Yun of YUN Architecture and interior designer Penelope August—they had worked together previously at Selldorf Architects—for help on a remodel. The newest incarnation would celebrate the home’s historic features, getting things like the wood windows and fireplaces in good working order, while also weaving in a dash of vibrant color and unexpected decor moments.
10 Stunning “Before & After” Midcentury Renovations in Los Angeles
9 “Before & After” Cabin Renovations That Will Make You Look Twice
12 Outstanding “Before & Afters” of Century-Old Buildings