If you’ve got a big family and you want to live within city limits, it’s said that you’d better be able to afford it; this Brooklyn Heights house helps make the case. This whopping 5,000-square-feet of townhouse goodness at 281 Henry Street is missing very little as far as house-in-the-city perfection. There’s a stylishly appointed room ready for everyone and their guests—and an opportunity for rental income with a freshly renovated garden apartment to help offset costs. It almost makes the $7.2 million price tag seem like a deal.
The current owner has decorated the five-story, six-bedroom brownstone to the nines with a cake-frosting-pastel palette and contemporary design elements, while retaining the home’s lovely historic details; the basic infrastructure is as modern as can be with central a/c, alarm and intercom systems and every appliance, fixture and finish freshly and stylishly updated. Besides the fact that the home is actually a bit narrow at 15.5 feet (though over 54 feet deep) there’s only one thing we can think of that would improve this impressive townhome: An elevator.
The property’s current owner, photographer Romaine Orthwein, paid $5 million for the house in 2012, in a neighborhood with an upper-crust reputation—somewhat fitting given that her great-grandfather was a founder of Anheuser-Busch; her father, James Busch Orthwein, is a former owner of the New England Patriots. In an earlier Observer story, Ms. Orthwein credits her mother’s decorating flair and love for color: “I imprint myself strongly on my environment, like my mother did…She made rooms in different colors: the blue room, the green room, the red and so on. She was very visually gifted. She had exquisite taste in clothes, art and furniture.” The same penchant for pastels is evident in Ms. Orthwein’s previous home, an elegant apartment at Devonshire House.
The home’s parlor floor has all the impressive details that make us crave brownstones: dramatic high ceilings, wedding cake and crown molding, restored original herringbone floors. The 25-foot-deep bay window-fronted living room is anchored by a restored marble mantel, and a wraparound deck leads to the landscaped back garden.
A marble tiled vestibule and grand foyer introduce the home, and a new custom-designed Bilotta kitchen, with a sun-filled dining area beyond, occupies the front of the parlor floor. The kitchen is outfitted with sleek white lacquer cabinetry, a SubZero refrigerator, a Miele dishwasher and a professional Viking range with six burners and grill.
At the center of the parlor floor, a stair hall functions as a formal dining room, a reception room, or a gallery; a dramatic center staircase leads to the rooms above.
The top three floors boast five-inch wide white oak flooring, custom closets and all new windows. On the third floor, a chic and light-filled office and an equally pretty den with Smarties-tinted highlights could easily be bedrooms; both have fireplaces, and there’s a full bath here as well.
The center stair configuration means the living room and each of the front rooms–including the spacious confection of a master bedroom–can benefit from the full width of the building. The skylit master bath is elegant, eggshell-hued and marble-topped.
In the fourth floor den, we’ve never seen a flat-screen in such delicately-tinted surroundings.
On the fifth floor you’ll find yet another bedroom with en-suite bath, another watercolor-hued den and a laundry room with a sink and refrigerator.
The landscaped east-facing patio/garden makes a perfect entertaining space. On the garden floor (according to the listing, sadly no pictures), a renovated apartment awaits guests, relatives or easy conversion to a rental apartment. With a private entrance and its own laundry room, the space boasts, “a bright new kitchen, updated bathroom, and a spacious bedroom with a door leading out to the garden.”
It’s hard to top Brooklyn Heights for historic beauty, family-friendliness and convenience, with the Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park, top-notch shopping and dining as well as your pick of subway lines just steps away and surrounded by the culture and commerce of some of Brooklyn’s finest (other) neighborhoods.
- $4.4M for Turnkey Updates and Designer Flair in an Historic Brooklyn Heights Townhouse
- Brooklyn’s Most Expensive Listing Ever: A $40 Million Mansion with a Mayoral Past
- Oscar-Winning Director Errol Morris Buys a Poetic Brooklyn Heights Home for $1.9M
- Former Jehovah’s Witness-Owned Carriage House Asks $9.95 Million in Brooklyn Heights
Photos courtesy of Corcoran Group.
Neighborhoods : Brooklyn Heights