Chris & Laura's Well-Lit Brownstone

Chris & Laura's Well-Lit Brownstone

Jill Slater
Jun 21, 2010

Name: Laura & Chris
Location: Park Slope — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 2,400 square feet, 4 bedroom brownstone triplex
Years lived in: 4 years

"I don't like brownstone's because they are dark." When Chris and Laura began their search for a larger apartment, this was the only thing Chris thought he knew about Park Slope and its housing stock. Migrating from Manhattan, they had never given brownstones much of a chance.

Friends convinced Laura and Chris to buy this house because they were able to see its potential. With professional intervention from an architect it went from a typical dark brownstone with great original features, to a loft environment with 1880-era detailing posing as novel design features.

The transformation came by way of a huge skylight placed in the center of the roof along with frosted glass to replace each floor's stair landing. Natural sunlight flows down each floor all the way to the main dining room on the ground floor. In addition, the main floor's light is substantially enhanced by a new glass rear wall that exposes the backyard and allows for an outdoor/indoor feeling. The brownstone is now full of natural light and feels very open rather than claustrophobic.

Chris and Laura were involved in the renovation process every step of the way. They had the rare benefit of help from a talented artist — Meir Gal — a good friend who was incredibly generous with his time! The first request was "the walls have to go!" From there, Laura and Chris worked with their architect to try to preserve as much of the original moldings and detailed woodwork as possible.

After a year and half of permitting and construction, Laura, Chris, and their daughter were able to move into a home they never imagined would be theirs. And now they can't imagine anything else!

Apartment Therapy Survey

Style: Practical, simple, open.

Inspiration: Light, organic living, artist friend Meir Gal.

Favorite Element: Frosted glass walkways and built in bookcases everywhere possible.

Biggest Challenge: Preserve original details and integrate with contemporary elements.

What Friends Say: Lucky you didn't buy the condo in Manhattan.

Biggest Embarrassment: The basement. Friends and families have stored tons of stuff down there. Most of it isn't even ours!

Proudest DIY: Ripping off the sheet rock on the parlor floor walls and discovering the gorgeous brick; growing fruit and veggies in the garden.

Biggest Indulgence: Skylight hatch in my office closet with frosted glass door to let light through.

Best Advice: Raise the ceilings on the top floor; renovate the garden apartment at the same quality level as the rest of the house.

Dream Source: Home Depot on Hamilton Avenue


    • Stools in kitchen from Knoll
    • Steinway parlor grand piano from 1937
    • Dining table custom made with antique barn wood (upstate New York)
    • Dining chairs from flea markets (all over town)
    • pipe lights made by Eric Lifton


    • Slate deck from SMC Stone (Brooklyn)
    • Stone flooring Cinza in master bath from Stone Source (Park Avenue in Manhattan)
    • Brazilian teak flooring throughout the house from Brooklyn Premium Wood and Floor (31st Street)
    • Tile floor and walls in top floor bathroom from Stone Source
    • Counters, fireplace surround, and kitchen floor: Fireslate


    • Master bedroom king bed from DWR (Brooklyn Heights location)
    • Master bedroom armoire and bureau from ABC Carpet
    • Eames lounge chair and ottoman
    • All lighting fixtures from Lighting by Gregory (on Bowery Street) except Tizio lamp in master bedroom from DWR


    • Stone tile: Cinza from StoneSource
    • Glass tile: Glacier from StoneSource


    • Aeron chair, glass desk from DWR (Laura's office)

For more details on the kitchen, check out The Kitchn | Laura and Chris's Brownstone with a Twist.

Images: Jill Slater

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