Photo by Kevin Kunstadt
LIGHT AND AIR, better known as L/AND/A, is a New York-based architecture and design studio led by architect and artist Shane Neufeld. Established in 2017, L/AND/A takes a “primal approach” to architecture by reducing design to its essential components to find clarity in a hectic world. Neufeld believes, “architecture is most powerful when elemental, and that spatial clarity and specificity have the potential to shape distinct experiences that ultimately enrich our lives- reconnecting people to their environments in meaningful and surprising ways.” This is just what Neufeld has done in his most recent project.
See the transformation
When Clem Labine bought the townhouse at 199 Berkeley Place in Park Slope for $25,000 back in 1966, Brooklyn was a very different place. Among the original wave of “brownstoners” who bought dilapidated townhomes to give themselves more living space and put years of sweat equity into restoring them, Labine, now 81, went on to found Old-House Journal (“Restoration and Maintenance Techniques for the Antique House”), and live in the painstakingly-preserved home for over 50 years (h/t Brownstoner). The Neo-Grec-style house was was built in 1883 along with 10 other homes. A much-subdivided rental SRO when Labine rescued it, it’s now an impressive two-family home listed for $3.895 million.
Gaze at this well-preserved brownstone treasure
This five-story Brooklyn brownstone–packed with pre-war details–is less than 25 yards from the borough’s beloved Prospect Park. Located at 572 1st Street in Park Slope, it’s currently configured as an owner’s triplex with a rental duplex on the top two floors. And it’s huge: the building measures 22 feet wide and 52 feet deep, with 18 feet extensions on two levels. Details include everything from tiled fireplaces to stained glass to enormous mirrors to ornate woodwork. It’s just been listed for the substantial sum of $5.995 million.
Take a look around
BFDO Architects is no stranger to the innovative Brooklyn townhouse renovation. The firm brought their magic to this landmarked Fort Greene brownstone, purchased by a Hong Kong-based businessman who wanted a home that he, his wife and three adult children could comfortably stay in during his extended visits. BFDO modernized the interior, added new staircases, and utilized every inch of the house to personalize it for each member of the family.
So go check out the work
This Central Park West top-floor brownstone duplex co-op with a terrace and a roof deck is, as the listing says, “park block perfection.” Even better: Grab the one-bedroom unit just downstairs–perfect for your guests, nanny, or new college grad. This pretty pair at 46 West 75th Street, asking $3.65 million, is also available as separate units, but why split up a good thing?
Take a look
In the years prior to her untimely death in 1959 at the age of 44, jazz legend Billie Holiday lived in this Upper West Side brownstone at 26 West 87th Street, just steps from Central Park. The storied, historic home first hit the market back in October 2015 for $12,950,000, and after a series of reductions, the listing was handed over this past September to Million Dollar Listing’s Ryan Serhant, who dropped the price to $9,999,000 and featured the property on a recent episode of his show. Lady Day’s house, built in 1910 but recently renovated, has now finally found a buyer for $9,475,000.
Take a tour
Award-winning novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, author of “Everything Is Illuminated” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” has listed his brownstone at 374 Pacific Street in Boerum Hill for $10.4 million, according to Variety. When his first book in ten years, “Here I am,” was published last year, the Times referred to it as “often brilliant, always original but sometimes problematic,” and though we can’t find anything at all problematic about this 1899 Greek Revival residence, the former two accolades certainly apply. It was brilliantly renovated to include a three-story atrium cut through its core and a full rear wall of kitchen windows that overlook the private garden, and it’s full of original touches like a charming mix of mid-century-modern and rustic furniture and plenty of built-in bookshelves (of course). Perhaps all of this, plus the fact that there’s a separate garden floor apartment, is why Foer thinks he can double his profits after paying $5.4 million for it just a few years ago.
Take the full tour
While a bathtub and hand shower in the bedroom may conjure images of East Village walkups with the shower tucked next to the kitchen fridge, or worse, the free-standing bathtub has been appearing in the best of boudoirs for some time now. This $2.995 million two-family brownstone at 107 Greene Avenue in historic Clinton Hill puts the tub at a jaunty angle right smack in the middle of the master bedroom. The rest of the home is the obligatory mix of painstakingly restored original details (wide plank hardwood floors, tin ceilings, marble mantles, original lighting fixtures and medallions, hardwood doors with elegant glass doorknobs) and modern updates (washer/dryer, Viking kitchen, laundry room), and 3,600 square feet of space, plus rental income, may be worth getting lathered up over.
Take the tour
This unassuming townhouse at 189 Luquer Street starts out with the advantage of being in a particularly cool little section of otherwise postcard-perfect Carroll Gardens, near Gowanus and the Columbia Street Waterfront without being a hike to the subway and steps from some of the best restaurants in the borough (Buttermilk Channel, Frankie’s). While the home may not be palatial at 1,848 square feet, there are four bedrooms and a lovely outdoor space. It’s move-in-ready if not decked out in marble and European kitchen gear, and the current owners clearly know the value of colorful surroundings. Rather than the usual shades of pale, crayola colors wake the bedrooms from boredom, and bright pops of red and riots of pattern appear in unexpected places
Tour the rainbow
Prolific writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes lived at 20 East 127th Street, an 1896 brownstone, in the 1950s and ’60s, until he passed away in 1967. As Curbed notes, in more recent years, the ivy-covered, landmarked home has been plagued by lawsuits over its use and maintenance. The current owner listed it for $1.2 million in 2009, but it didn’t sell even after the price was lowered in 2010. Today, it’s estimated to be worth more than $3 million, though it’s sitting vacant with its paint chipping.
But local writer Renee Watson has big plans for the house that don’t involve a multi-million-dollar sale that could potentially gut the interior, where Hughes’ typewriter still sits on a shelf. CNN Money reports that she’s launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $150,000 to rent the home, renovate it, and turn it into a cultural center for Harlem-based artists.
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