Eli & Jennifer’s Brought Back to Life Brownstone

published Jul 12, 2010
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Welcome to Beth from New York; a blogger trying out for a place on the Apartment Therapy editorial team as a House Tour Contributor. Enjoy her work!

Names: Eli and Jennifer
Location: Clinton Hill / Bedford Stuyvesant border —Brooklyn, New York
Size: 16 feet wide by 45 feet deep, 5 floors
Years lived in: 1 year lived in (and still no couch)

It is hard to imagine that Eli and Jennifer’s Brooklyn brownstone was on its way to disrepair when Eli acquired it a couple of years ago. Today, the space comprises a surprising yet inviting mix of modern and antique sensibilities.

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

One of the most exciting aspects of the renovation is the tendency toward honesty in the transformation itself. Traces of original details and framework mix well with clean lines as one room turns into the next. Each floor serves a specific purpose in this five floor brownstone. The couple rents out the garden level (complete with all the beautiful original accents and elements). The first floor currently acts as a workshop for the remainder of the rooftop renovation and will soon become Eli’s studio and office. The open layout of the second floor lends itself well to entertaining and is complete with a kitchen, dining room, living area, and deck. The third floor contains the living quarters including two bedrooms and a bath while the fourth floor provides a retreat with its skylight lit art studio which accommodates Jennifer’s various projects. The studio opens onto the two tiered roof which offers brilliant Brooklyn views. In total, their home culminates into an exciting arrangement of living and working spaces.

Eli and Jennifer searched local vendors to find the perfect materials to reconstruct and outfit their home. Much of the fine handiwork was designed and fabricated by Eli while most photographs displayed throughout the house were created by Jennifer, a noted fine art photographer who specializes in large format Polaroid. Eli’s engineering and construction know-how combined with his love of architecture have transformed his vision of the space into a unique celebration of rustic refinement.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic, rugged modernism, a contradiction in terms

Inspiration: The building’s sweet ruin when I first found it and A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander.

Favorite Element: Depending on the season, the light well in summertime when the sun shines all the way down onto the kitchen (3rd level) floor and into the shower at mid-day, the rooftop in all seasons as a place where there’s sky and an open view over a thousand brooklyn rooftops, the counter-height fireplace in the kitchen.

Biggest Challenge: Getting up every morning to run a construction crew, losing my construction financing mid-way through the project, and understanding what my carpenters from the Caribbean were saying.

Proudest DIY: Removing and replacing two roofs and only suffering one massive indoor flood in the process.

Biggest Indulgence: Poured-in place, board-formed concrete dining room on the garden level [for the rental unit!!!].

Dream Sources: Architectural salvage yards where I could actually afford everything I like.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


• Assorted salvaged plumbing & lighting fixtures from antique shops in Saugerties, NY
– Custom steel work [including dining table legs] from Hard Decor in Bushwick
– All fireplace mantles original to the house or from Manny LaSalle Fireplace & Chimney

– Raw brass kitchen faucet from my local plumbing supply house

– Our 12 ft. dining table – 4 joists from a demolition site about 10 blocks away

– Claw-foot bathtubs – Eddie’s salvage on Greene & Grand in Clinton Hill
– Bathroom sinks – salvaged early 20th C porcelain sinks from Demolition Depot

– 19th Century Louis XIV-style bed frame – designs & styles on ebay

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Eli and Jen!

Images: Beth Bates

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-Beth Bates