The four-story home was originally designed by architect William M. Miller and built in 1898. It’s located in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District in Brooklyn, so when GRT Architects renovated the structure in 2018, they made sure to keep the facade true to its roots. GRT Architects took a “gradient approach” to the renovation of this historic townhouse by carefully weaving in modern modifications from the front to the back.

White limestone townhouse with arched windows in Prospect Lefferts Garden
Photo by Nicole Franzen

William M. Miller’s homes in the historic district are known for their combination of Romanesque and neoclassical ornamentation. GRT Architects took a light touch to the exterior of the four-story townhouse, replacing the home’s windows with custom-made insulated replicas of the originals.

The townhouse had seen modifications over the decades since its construction. In 1940, the ground floor was converted into a doctor’s office, and at another point, a two-story rear addition was installed. The architects were tasked with lightly reorganizing the interior spaces and knitting the home back together.

“When working on historical buildings, we begin by establishing an attitude of new to old,” said the firm. “As landmarked buildings require a literal approach to facade preservation, we set a gradient from invisible improvements facing the street, to obviously new elements towards the rear.”

Before: The Living Room

Empty living room with original wood floors, wood ceiling beam, and wood arched windows.
GRT Architects left much of the original living room intact. Photo Courtesy of GRT Architects

In order to blend old and new, the architects “created framed views through the building on every level,” the firm said. “Detailed consideration was given to the way in which portals are marked.”

After: The Living Room

Living room post-reznovaaation with original wood floors, wicker folding chairs, and mid-century style white couch.
Photo by Nicole Franzen

The architects widened the opening between the living room and dining room, then delineated it with brass accents. “Rather than try to match the existing historical moldings, we opted for minimal trim with brass inlays and a broad brass threshold marking the new opening,” they said.

Before: The Dining Room

Before pictures of the dining room with pink walls, wood fireplace, and arched shelves.
Courtesy of GRT Architects

The designers restored the original parquet floors.

After: The Dining Room

Finished dining room with bright white walls, wood dining table and chairs with black leather seat.
Photo by Nicole Franzen

“The dining room is a transitional space between the old and new—in this space we simplified the material palate, painting all decorative woodwork matte white to emphasize its geometry over its materiality,” said the architects.

Before: The Kitchen

The kitchen before has pink walls and original floors with little else.
Courtesy of GRT Architects

The kitchen was previously located in the rear addition and separated by a door, but the designers relocated it to a space accessible to the dining room. “As the kitchen sits in dialog with unrestored portions of the 19th-century interior, we sought to avoid an ‘over-renovated’ appearance,” said the architects of their approach.

After: The Kitchen

The updated kitchen pairs emerald cabinets with gold hardware and a metal countertop.
Photo by Nicole Franzen

Modern green cabinetry contrasts brightly with the home’s historic shell. Custom triangular brass pulls designed by the architects echoe the brass accents on the nearby threshold between the living and dining rooms. The island top is Marmoleum, while the counter along the wall is stainless steel, which syncs with the Bertazzoni range.

Before: The Pantry

What is now the pantry, used to be an outdated-kitchen with white tiles and orange paint.
Courtesy of GRT Architects

The former kitchen became a hardworking pantry space.

After: The Pantry

The updated pantry has green emerald cabinets and a white metal spiral staircase.
Photo by Nicole Franzen

“White space was preserved in the kitchen by creating a pantry in the addition,” say the architects. They continued the “language” of the cabinetry, which also conceals the refrigerator, and inserted a custom spiral staircase to connect the main floor to the garden level. An enlarged rear window that can be seen from the entry brightens up the space.

Before: The Bathroom

The original bathroom paired pink tiles with blue ceramic tub and sink.
Courtesy of GRT Architects

The architects preserved the blue enamel tub and original tin ceilings.

After: The Bathroom

The new bathrooms a mid-century inspired wooden double sink vanity and blue hexagonal floor tiles
Photo by Nicole Franzen

The renovation introduced green cement floor tile from Clé, a custom vanity with triangular brass pulls, and square wall tile that echoes the ceiling pattern.

Before: The Principal Suite

The old master bedroom featured arches and blue carpeting.
Courtesy of GRT Architects

The second floor seen here became dedicated to the principal suite and an adjoining office for the homeowners.

After: The Principal Suite

The master bedroom is now connected to a home office with green closets and red pendant light.
Photo by Nicole Franzen

The principal suite and office are now connected by a pass-through closet. The doors have a light green stain, and the hardware is the same as in the kitchen.

Before: The Guest Room

The guest room originally featured a white painted, green-tiled fireplace.
Photo Courtesy of GRT Architects

“Defunct fireplaces were located on every floor of the building,” said the architects.

After: The Guest Room

The revamped fireplace is now completely green tile, paired with a modern wood accent chair.
Photo by Nicole Franzen

The designers refurbished this fireplace surround with deep green Waterworks tile, so as to remain consistent with the color palette used throughout the house.

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May 7, 2019

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