Brent Buck Architects renovates a Crown Heights townhouse with light, contemporary profiles

Modern Makeover

living room in Brooklyn townhouse by Brent Buck

Brooklyn is full of historic brownstones stuck in time. It is easy to assume the interiors of these structures would reflect the same tone as the exteriors, but in the case of the Crown Heights Townhouse by Brent Buck Architects, it’s quite the opposite. Through creative collaboration between the design team and the clients, they were able to breathe life back into the residence allowing the dilapidated 1800s home to transform into a light, calming retreat from the city.

oak floors run throughout the townhome
Madera European white oak runs throughout the flooring of the home (Christopher Sturman)

“In terms of saving things, the front facade was something that we restored and stabilized, which is important in all of our projects,” Brent Buck shared with AN Interior. “The interior was completely reinvented. The floors were restructured, the openings of the building, from floor to floor were changed significantly.” This massive renovation provided a clean slate for the interiors, allowing the clients to add their own personal spin inside the historic shell.

wood steps and black stair railing by Brent Buck
Black accents introduced in the entry continue on the stair railing (Christopher Sturman)

entry door is black
Black honed quartzite floors greet guests in the entry (Christopher Sturman)

Upon entering the 4,500-square-foot home, one is greeted with black honed quartzite floors that are complemented by calming white Venetian plaster walls coated in matte wax, offering a subdued sheen. When leaving the foyer, the floors transform to a clean, white oak that continues throughout the home alongside soft luster walls.

black stair railing and kitchen island
The architects blackened brass extrusions and bent them on site along the curvatures of the stairwell to make the railing (Christopher Sturman)

black stair railing
The architects removed the preexisting two stairwells located at the front and back of the home and centralized it through one grand staircase (Christopher Sturman)

Although the quartzite floors end by the front door, subtle accents of black continue throughout the home, encouraging guests to play a personal game of I Spy to see where else the dark color has been incorporated in the design. One of the most eye-catching black accents is the dramatic handrail in the central staircase, where a thin black line continues throughout the three floors. For this one-of-a-kind element, Brent Buck Architects blackened brass extrusions and bent them on site to meet the curvatures of the stairwell. The stairs represent an important interior reconstruction component as well—the architects removed the two preexisting stairwells located at the front and back of the home and centralized it with one grand staircase.

purple couches and wood elements
Pops of color appear in the home via furniture and seating (Christopher Sturman)

One of the main requests from the clients was better access to the backyard garden from the main floor. Through sketches in a notebook, Buck illustrated how the design team cleverly removed volume in the back quarter of the structure that cuts through the basement apartment. This subtraction created a seamless connection from the communal floor to the backyard. The principal shared, “Trying to increase the ability to access the exterior backyard, as well as bring in as much natural light in creative ways as possible—those are certainly design drivers.”

kitchen with large counter island
The kitchen includes a faucet by Dornbracht and Omani Limestone (Christopher Sturman)

The design also ties in one of the homeowner’s roots to New Mexico, which can be seen through the warm material application and local artwork and photographs from New Mexican artists. There is a material tag-team of soft neutral Omani limestone on the kitchen countertops and the living room coffee tables. These quiet material accents only add to the already serene environment.

skylights draw light in
Sculptural skylights nod to the desert landscapes of New Mexico (Christopher Sturman)

skylights draw light in
Four skylights add lightness to the darker depths of the home (Christopher Sturman)

On the third floor, that houses the private quarters, the architects carved out four skylights from the ceiling to incorporate natural light. The unique sculptural curvatures of the skylights tie to the natural sandy desert landscapes of New Mexico. “Each seems unique in their profiles and the ways that they bring in light,” Buck said.

hardware was made in Maine
All hardware was handmade in Maine with a blackened brass finish to match the stairs (Christopher Sturman)

wood and stone materials in bathroom
A wood and stone material palette continue in the bathroom (Christopher Sturman)

The Crown Heights Townhouse, along with all of the firm’s projects, pay great importance to high quality materials and craftsmanship. All of the hardware was handmade in Maine for this home to make it an even more striking project. To elaborate, Buck emphasized the importance of architectural design and its longevity through material application: “Using high quality materials that patina and age well is a goal of our studio. Architecture that lasts.”