June 22, 2015

An Architectural Firm Beautifully Renovates a Park Slope Brownstone

With the active help of the owners, Fogarty Finger gives a Park Slope brownstone a total makeover for a 21st-century family. Produced by: Betsy Marx.

by Arlene Hirst interior designer Fogarty Finger Architecture/Ineriors photographer Peter Margonelli architecture Fogarty Finger Architecture/Ineriors


A young New York couple bought an 1890s brownstone in Park Slope, falling in love with its period warmth and all its quirks and idiosyncrasies. Yet after they had lived in it for a year, they reluctantly came to the conclusion that it wasn't designed to meet the everyday needs of a 21st-century family—especially since they were expecting their first child. Vowing to preserve as much of its original character as possible, they called in Fogarty Finger, a Manhattan-based architectural firm, to do some modest renovations. But modest was not in the cards. "We wound up gutting every single inch," says partner Robert Finger, who lives just a few blocks away and worked closely with the couple on all stages of the project. That said, he hastens to add, they also put many things back, like the gracious fireplaces and some of the beautiful wood trim. In other respects, the architects were brutal. They tore out the parlor floor staircase, installing one of the firm's own design; they also fitted skylights in the ceiling so as to flood the rooms with light, a client requirement.

Another major item on the couple's wish list was a large, central kitchen, as the existing one was in a tiny space near a back stairwell. Because the living room was very long, the designers were able to shorten it by three feet to create the cooking area that abuts the dining room. The architects also took on the lower level, where they created a large family room—by the time the renovation was finished, the couple had had a second child—with a spacious play area for the kids. Glass doors now open out to a deck and a walled-in garden.

The children inhabit the floor directly above the living room; the parents have a luxe nest at the top. Fortunately, the entire project went off without a hitch. "They were wonderful clients," says Finger. "I would do it all over again."