The Gallery Way means that as soon as our working relationship begins, all aspects of your brownstone or townhome renovation are safely in our hands.
Our services are entirely all-inclusive. We believe in the importance of a seamless project, which is why we are a turnkey, full-service design and build firm. From beginning to end, we handle everything: architectural drafting, LPC filings (if applicable), submitting permits to the Department of Buildings (necessary for many types of interior and exterior work conducted in Brooklyn brownstones) project management, interior design – everything.
If you request changes, we will, of course, accommodate your needs. But generally speaking, one of our core values is to anticipate every conceivable need from the inception of a project. We take the time upfront so you won’t encounter any surprises later on.
Ultimately, no project can be properly managed without consistent, direct, and meaningful communication with you. From digital contact using our online project management systems to connecting over the phone or in-person during site visits, you will always know as much as we do. When projects have as many moving parts as ours do, it is more crucial than ever to stay connected. We are ready to work with you for your next brownstone, townhome, or even landmark renovation. Contact us to discuss your project and how we can help.
Anyone who has spent any time at all in NYC knows that townhomes are all over the city. Brownstones – a particular type of townhome in which the building is clad in sandstone or another visually similar material – are especially popular, having spread throughout the city in great numbers at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th. Many of these structures are in fact even older than that, built in the 1820s and still standing to this day! That alone is one of the biggest challenges when renovating NYC brownstones: age. Due to their long lifespan, many brownstones have been renovated several times over since their original construction, while others haven’t been touched at all since the ‘30s and ‘40s.
With Brooklyn brownstones that have been already been renovated multiple times, it’s common to find that piecemeal work was conducted by previous owners. This is particularly true with the oldest buildings that were constructed and then renovated well before the dawn of overseeing agencies like the Department of Buildings. In addition to the disjointed element of these renovations, outdated electrical, plumbing, and asbestos are also common challenges. Early electrical systems, for example, were not designed to handle even half the amount of electrical consumption that the average family utilizes today, while original plumbing may contain asbestos that, if disturbed, needs to be carefully removed to adhere to the highest level of safety.
Another brownstone-specific challenge is the fact that some are actually designated landmarks by the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC). When renovating landmarked brownstones, the LPC must be notified so they can approve all materials and design choices, as well as additional applications and documentation depending on the project. For example, if you want to update the windows, the LPC will probably not approve the replacements unless they preserve the historic, double-hung window style. Working with a contractor who has experience with landmarked renovations in NYC, as we do at Gallery, is key to successfully navigating such a project.
The Gallery Way is defined by our specialization in NYC properties and the related challenges that come with each type. Not only do you get the benefits of our dexterous craftsmanship and the overall quality of our work, but you can also rest assured that we’re fully equipped to tackle everything from outdated systems to maintaining historical authenticity. You can learn a bit more about how we tackle challenges with brownstone renovations in our blog on the subject!
As experts in brownstone renovation, our knowledge of technical matters and mastery of methods means that we have all the certifications and expertise necessary to handle all manner of electrical, plumbing, and asbestos issues that may arise. We’re also fully aware of the fact that many older Brooklyn brownstones have had intermittent work done by handymen throughout the years. As a result, we know to look for potential piecemeal jobs within the project and can determine which should receive the most attention. In addition to keeping an eye out for outdated galvanized plumbing, and plumbing insulated with asbestos which will likely need to be removed, we’re experts in building such particulars as wet over dry restrictions and plumbing stacks. You can also check out a behind the scenes look at one of our Brooklyn brownstone gut renovations to get an even better idea of our in-depth approach.
Outmoded construction methods are another brownstone challenge. Those built before the ‘30s often utilize balloon framing, which means that the inner cavities of the walls are continuous from the basement right up to the roof. In other words, if you’re on the third floor – and for some reason, there’s a hole in the wall – if you throw a penny into that hole, it will fall right down into the basement. This type of framing is a problem for everything from moisture control to insulation to caving beams. The modern alternative is known as platform framing, which adds buffers in the form of platforms at each floor within the cavity. Replacing balloon framing with platforms can be an ordeal, so this is an important area to engage a firm like ours, which has not only the relevant experience but also the know-how to explore additional ways to remedy concerns.
As part of our full-scale approach, we work with you to craft the ideal interiors for your home as well. If you already have a specific aesthetic in mind, we’ll bring that to life. If you need a friendly nudge in a particular visual direction, we’ll do that too. If you want to maintain the historical authenticity of your brownstone, we’re experts in the interior elements of landmarked renovations as well. We aim to consider not just your own personal tastes but also unique solutions that present as aesthetic factors. For example, a new way to incorporate more light into brownstones is to create glass walls or curtains in the rear of the property. Not only does this expand the reach of natural light, but it’s also an interesting visual element.
Interior design is not the only aesthetic consideration when it comes to Brooklyn brownstones. Our knowledge of the most common types of brownstones in the city, and what each has to offer, plays a role in how we approach the renovation. Federal: The oldest style, these typically have modest architectural details. Greek Revival: More striking than Federal, this style takes its inspiration from classical Greek architecture. Italianate: The quintessential NYC brownstone, this style is distinguished by tall stoops, enormous windows, and gorgeous entryways. Gothic Revival: Inspired by Medieval architecture, this style is characterized by intricate stonework and pointed archways. Neo Grec: A masculine take on the Italianate style, their singular feature is carved detailing directly applied onto the brownstone’s surface.
Second Empire: Also similar to Italianate, this style often features a slate roof and ornamented curved windows. Queen Anne: The most visually dissimilar among brownstones, this style is defined by highly ornate accents, including asymmetrical details, a medley of textures, colors, and materials, and gabled roofs with dormer windows. Renaissance Revival: Inspired by classical elegance, this style tends to favor bricks in light tones and windows encircled by flower, fruit, or wreath motifs. Romanesque Revival: Another visually dissimilar style, this one tends to feature a mix of materials and a combination of Byzantine and Spanish influences. No matter which style your brownstone is, we’re ready to renovate the space into the home of your dreams!
Our specialty is full-scale gut renovations of brownstones and townhomes in New York, among many other types of properties. From bathrooms and kitchens to entire living spaces, we do it all. But don’t just take our word for it – browse our entire gallery of New York apartment renovations or see What Our Clients Are Saying, first-hand. To learn all the details on additional projects and explore even more design inspiration, head to our blog!