The home of designer Fawn Galli is an eclectic and vibrant combination of colors, patterns and style, reflecting her not-so- typical childhood (she spent her early years living in a California home without electricity or plumbing) and and rich design background (she spent time abroad in Paris and Madrid). Located in Carroll Gardens, the Brooklyn brownstone is inspired by fantasy, nature and the world at large, bringing together unexpected combinations of style and influence.
During the last decade of her life, author, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou split her time between Winston-Salem, NC (she taught American studies at Wake Forest University) and New York. While in the Northeast, she resided in an historic Harlem brownstone, located at 58 West 120th Street in the Mount Morris Park Historic District, according to the Times, which is now on the market for $5.1 million.
The four-story home was built in the early 1900s, but when Dr. Angelou purchased it sight unseen in 2002, “it was a dilapidated shell…the victim of vandals, with missing stairs and rotting floor beams.” She hired architect Marc Anderson of East Harlem-based firm M. Anderson Design to oversee a gut renovation that preserved the brownstone’s historic details while adding contemporary amenities.
There are some New York properties in which it’ll depress you that “we just don’t make them like we used to.” This is one of them. 226 Garfield Place is a single-family, four-story Park Slope brownstone built in 1901. It’s located smack dab in the neighborhood’s historic district and a few blocks from Prospect Park. The home withstood the test of time, then underwent a restoration and renovation in 2006 that returned many of the period details back to their original splendor. That means while you’ve got restored woodwork, mantlepieces and parquet floors, there are also fancy additions like dual zone central AC, new windows, plumbing and electrical and an upgraded roof. Best of both worlds!
It’s hard not to be impressed by this 130-year-old limestone townhouse, built at 64 West 87th Street on the Upper West Side. The Jacobean Revival townhouse was designed by the 1890s architect Clarence Fagan True as a set of three—but this one is “the star of the show,” according to Daytonian in Manhattan. There’s an intricately carved facade with a four-story bay and an imposing stone porch with balustraded railings. It sold in 1895 to Lucius Nathan Littauer, a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt with his own political ambitions, and is known as the L. N. Littauer Mansion.
Today, the facade is intact and the interior has been completely renovated by Zivkovic Connolly Architects to add some modern upgrades to the old world charm. Despite the modern upgrades, there are plenty of historic goodies left, including a truly impressive plaster ceiling that sits atop a ceramic-faced fireplace and parquet floors.
Depending upon your age, you may know actor Donald Faison best for his role as Murray on “Clueless” or as Dr. Chris Turk on “Scrubs.” But long before he became a household face, Faison grew up right here in Harlem, with his parents active in the National Black Theatre in Harlem. In 2010, he returned to his roots and bought a historic townhouse at 206 West 137th Street for $1.4 million, but The Real Deal reports that he’s now sold the six-bedroom home, last listed for $2.5 million.
When it comes to historic Brooklyn brownstones, most of them look pretty similar: a beautiful, high-ceilinged parlor floor, moldings, fireplaces, some woodwork and backyards. Over the years, owners have obviously updated the kitchens, but usually it’s a run-of-the-mill open kitchen located in the back of the parlor floor. Not so at this brownstone in Fort Greene, at 30 South Portland Avenue. This property is pretty much the creme de la creme of Brooklyn real estate: a well-preserved, spacious brownstone on one of the prettiest blocks of one of the most in-demand neighborhoods. (That is why it’s on the market for a whopping $5.25 million.) It also comes with a surprise: a retro kitchen that looks like it’s straight out of a 1950s diner!
If you’ve got the option to rent a floor of a historic New York townhouse, you’ll always want the parlor floor. Originally designed to be the showcase of the home, this floor comes with big windows and the best light, a great layout and usually access to the backyard. This Bedford-Stuyvesant townhouse at 611 Macon Street now has a rental apartment available, for $4,500 a month, that covers both the parlor floor and floor above it. The home is indeed lovely, with some well-kept historic details and some renovations to make it feel like an “open concept space.”
Most Brooklyn brownstones have been around for decades, if not centuries, making renovations on these types of properties standard procedure when purchased by a new owner. However for this family, their lack of experience almost led them to disaster. Excited about making their house a home, they charged full speed ahead with updates on their four-story, 18-foot-wide brownstone in Fort Greene, and were well into demolition before realizing they had no layout or design. They initially called interior designer Jennifer Morris to help them select finishes, but when the she questioned the couple about their plans, it was obvious they needed much more. Regardless of the misstep, Morris, who has extensive experience in the hospitality business, was able to expeditiously execute on this stunning interior. Plus according to Morris, unlike many new home owners, these clients were excited and fearless when it came to making bold design decisions, creating the perfect recipe for a beautiful and refreshing interior.
When the owners of this North Slope townhouse at 144 Lincoln Place purchased it in 2005 for $2.1 million, they’d had their hearts set on a loft; after choosing a Victorian brownstone instead, they worked with MESH architectures to create their dream space without having to give up their dreams. The result? The architects explain how the home is “consistent with contemporary family life but does not erase the original structures. Instead a layered, more complex spatial composition balances gravity with lightness, old with new, raw with finished.”
Now on the market for $4.7 million, this 3,300-square-foot classic-on-the-outside 1882 townhouse consists of a spacious and creatively designed owners’ triplex over an adorable garden-floor apartment (in a high-rent neighborhood). The landscaped back garden paradise alone is a show-stopper. The interior of the house was thoroughly reimagined, and the resulting “vertical loft” is a unique home that’s a fit for both daily life and the pages of a design book.
If it’s been a while since your last case of townhouse envy, enter this 3,000-square-foot Cobble Hill classic at 217 Degraw Street, on the rental market for $15,750 a month. This four-story, single-family Gothic Revival-style home on one of those postcard-worthy Brooklyn blocks has that quality that inspires both admiration and bidding wars: It possesses many of its original details–intricate plaster molding, bedroom arches and pocket doors, for example–plus the benefits of a custom renovation that bestowed a modern dream kitchen, a wall of glass patio doors and several coats of personality. Equal parts contemporary cheer and historic charm, these four floors would be hard for any family, fraternal order, sewing circle or small army–assuming they could part with the five-figure monthly outlay–to resist.