Carrol Gardens is a beautiful neighborhood in Brooklyn, known for big, stately Brownstones that are set back from the street. This property, a parlor floor condo, embodies the style of the neighborhood beautifully. Recently renovated by The Brownstone Boys (AKA Jordan and Barry), the space has been updated for modern living while still honoring some of the original details, like marble fireplaces, original pocket doors, and ornate plaster moulding. The pair tells us more about the project:
Hi guys! We’re so excited to be sharing this space with our readers. First, what can you tell us about the folks who live here?
The clients are Adham Zaki & Dina Bizri and their newborn son, Taymour. They already rented in the neighborhood and when they decided to buy their first home they didn’t want to go far! They wanted the place to work as their family home. So, we needed to create a space that would give them something to grow into. They wanted to convert a one bedroom into a two-bedroom/two-bathroom space.
What inspired the look and feel of the home? In a few words, how do you describe the style?
Dina lived in Paris before moving to New York and she wanted a Parisian flat feel to the home. It has a lot of dark wood, floors with an orange tint, and textured walls. It also had small windows at the front that seemed like they were cut off halfway down. We knew we needed to brighten the space and create an open flow with adding an extra bedroom and small bathroom. The space really spoke for itself with its huge ceilings and beautiful original details. It was just very dark at first.
Beyond being dark, what condition was the property in at the start of the project?
It had a very retro 70s renovation by the prior homeowners who lived there for decades. The kitchen and bathroom were a blast from the past. The walls and ceilings were textured. All of the chunky original trim was covered in varnish and even had a dark faux finish in it. On the plus side it had beautiful ornate plaster mouldings and marble fireplaces with tall mantle mirrors. The original features just needed to shine again.
You share more along with the images in our slideshow, but this was a pretty epic transformation, right?
It was a one bedroom one bathroom apartment when they bought it but with some reconfiguring there was enough square footage to create 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Enough to give them the urban family home they were after. It had 2 large rooms in the front with ornate mouldings and fireplaces. In the back there was a smaller room being used as a dining room and a little kitchen. The entrance to the apartment was in the middle room, one of the 2 front large rooms, which served as the main living area. Our plan was to move the living room to the front, relocate the main entrance there, put the kitchen in the middle, and the 2 bedrooms in the back where the dinner room and kitchen currently were. We demolished the bathroom, reclaimed some hallway space, and created 2 bathrooms and a laundry closet out of it.
The entire apartment was completely transformed. Every surface was updated, every room now had a new use, and what was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment was now a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
How long did the project take?
The project took about 6 months. 2 months of architecture and design and 4 months of construction. After the homeowners lived in the space for a week, they told us that they still look around and cannot believe it is their home. It really was a special moment (in the height of Covid) to see them walk in as a family to their new home.
This isn’t your first rodeo. Tell us a little about your career path! How did you get started as The Brownstone Boys? What do you love most about your work?
We started our company about 2 years ago. It started organically through a renovation of our own home. We each have our own backgrounds in design and real estate, and after we started dating in 2017, we decided to buy our own home. We are both long time Brooklyn residents and have always been fascinated with the beautiful brownstone homes. We dreamed of living on one with their front stoops and tree lined streets. We bought our renovation project in late 2018 and before we did any work, we decided to start blogging about our experience. Our first blog post was about how we closed on our place with this huge project laid out in front of us not knowing what to do next. We had no idea it would resonate with so many people!
Over the coming months we blogged regularly about all of our experiences, telling the story, good, bad, and ugly. We gained more and more readers and more and more social followers. We applied our past design and real estate knowledge and learned so much more, learning resources and making connections. All this time, people were reaching out to us constantly. We replied with answers to the questions the best we could and provided referrals and the resources we could. Some people who reached out seemed like they needed more help than the name of an architect. We finally decided to ask one if they wanted us to help them with their project. We said yes, and we had a first client. After we had about 3 clients, we decided we needed to quit our full-time jobs.
See more design details in the slideshow and follow The Brownstone Boys on Instagram here.