A 1920s Cottage Undergoes a Net-Zero Renovation with This Old House
On the 40th-anniversary season of This Old House, an old cottage meets a new challenge as it gets fitted for modern energy efficiency standards.
Small changes make a big impact in this historic brownstone remodel.
November 7, 2018
Located in Brooklyn Heights, New York, this landmarked brownstone remodel and addition created extra square footage for a growing family and beautifully re-connected the home to its back garden. The project may have been small, but its impact on the family and home was enormous.
Designed by Ben Herzog of Ben Herzog Architect, the 14-foot-deep addition off the back of the home was inspired by historic tearooms once common to townhomes such as this one. These were bright high-ceilinged spaces on the parlor level intended for entertaining. And even though Herzog was designing a kitchen and not a sitting room per se, he wanted to use light and glass to create an inviting, light-filled space for the family.
“I kind of treated the windows on the back as one big opening—almost like a carriage house or big garage,” Herzog explained. “Just one punched opening in the brick.”
From the Marvin Signature Collection, large Ultimate Casement windows on the parlor level connect the home visually to the backyard garden and fill the remodeled kitchen with warm natural light—light that also spills into the core of the home. In the garden level nursery, an Ultimate Swinging French Door pulls in light and opens wide to unite interior and exterior living spaces. Herzog turned the stairway leading from the parlor level down to the nursery to sneak in a coat closet—further maximizing the functionality of the home and the impact of the remodel.
While the addition is relatively small, the limited scope of the project allowed Herzog to give the small details his full attention and design a thoughtful plan that honored the needs of his client as well as the brownstone’s history.
“What’s nice about a little project like this one is you can focus a lot on the tiny details,” Herzog said.
To help create the historic tearoom look he had envisioned, Herzog framed the new Marvin windows and doors with black acetylated wood. The material lends the property a certain timelessness and historic charm. An ornate black handrail on the stairway leading from the kitchen to the garden is another small detail that enhances the addition’s historic aesthetic.
The result is a remodel that pays equal respect to the client’s desire for light-filled, contemporary living spaces as it does to preserving the historic aesthetics and character of the building.
“I think Marvin is great for these landmark projects we work on,” Herzog said. “They’re one of the few that make historically accurate giant wood windows.”
The Brooklyn Heights Remodel project was the Best Remodel/Addition winner in the 2018 Marvin Architects Challenge.
Name: Brooklyn Heights Addition
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Architect: Ben Herzog
Firm: Ben Herzog Architect