Design Architecture

20 Photos That Prove Why Brooklyn Brownstones Are Iconic

From elegant facades to classic interiors, brownstones are a living piece of history. They are also comfy family homes.

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Mid-19th Century Marvels

The classic brownstone is synonymous with a certain type of New York lifestyle. These grand yet homey row houses, built in the mid-to-late 1800s, were faced with a type of limestone that originated in quarries in Connecticut and New Jersey. This iconic “brownstone” facade is what gives them their name. The interiors are just as grand, featuring soaring ceilings, sleek wood floors, and ornate decoration—from molding and millwork to carved fireplaces. Step inside some of Brooklyn’s finest examples of brownstone living, and see what all the fuss is about.

Formal, Yet Relaxed

It’s not often you find a family home with such understated grandeur. The classic exterior features new, black-paned windows, adding subtle sophistication to the already elegant facade. It’s also not common to find a home with a “parlor,” a formal reception room for visitors. This parlor is updated with 21st century living in mind, featuring built-in shelving and a cozy seating area for watching TV.

Plenty of Space to Party

Count ‘em. This five-story brownstone is nothing if not spacious. While narrow, these townhouse-like residences are also amply endowed, like this stunning reception room, featuring original woodwork, molding, and floor-to-ceiling curved windows. The result is breathtaking. Just imagine when it’s fully furnished.

Romantic Aspirations

Brownstones reflect the mid-19th century love of idealized nature, especially sweeping, romantic landscapes. The color of the stone perfectly echoes the darker tones of popular paintings of the day. This historic brownstone features well-preserved ornamentation and wrought-iron work on the exterior. The interior is nothing if not modern, with original woodwork forming a perfect backdrop to sleek furnishings in a neutral palette.

Related: 12 Beautiful DIY Fireplace Ideas

Everyday Elegance

This Brooklyn brownstone shows off the rosy-hued stone facing to great effect. The invention of steam-powered machinery during the Industrial Revolution made cutting stone much easier and faster, leading to the rise of brownstone buildings. This was still a time when handcrafting was widespread, which can be seen in the ornate molding and parquet floors in the living room/library.

Related: 10 Ways to Reinvent Any Room with Crown Molding

Urban Grandeur

One of the attractions of brownstone row houses is their uniformity. In a city of many competing styles and materials, these residences offer a sense of cohesiveness and formality. Inside is no exception. Narrow spaces are magically enlarged, thanks to high ceilings and sweeping architectural features like a wooden staircase and organic shapes like scrolls and curved lines.

Rare And Desirable

A well-kept brownstone can be pricey to buy, but worth it in the long run. There are a fixed number of genuine historic New York brownstones in existence, so if you find one in good condition—like this MacDonough Street gem—grab it. Even in the heart of the city, you can still enjoy nature, thanks to a fenced-in backyard with open views of the sky.

A Perennial Classic

“Romantic Classicism” describes the aesthetic style that brownstones seek to emulate, with a profusion of stone ornamentation that mirrors nature, including sunbursts and floral designs. The outside of this home on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn is also covered in greenery, while the inside is a master class in refined modernism. The simple, rectangular shapes of the dining set contrast beautifully with the soaring ceilings and ornate woodwork in this formal dining room.

Parquet Por Favor

Brownstones hail back to an era of greater formality than we’re used to nowadays. From the outside, this 6th Avenue residence is all sophistication, with a black cornice and stately windows. The interior also showcases the mid-19th century eye for detail, including beautiful parquet flooring and carved fireplaces. With the addition of cozy furnishings, the whole vibe is both luxe and relaxed.

Related: Parquet, You Say? 10 Stunning Wood Floor Patterns

Hidden Luxuries

If you think those broad steps are for sunbathing, think again. Brownstones featured walk-up stoops so people could avoid the animal waste which littered the New York streets in the mid-1800s. But plenty of modern amenities are in store inside, especially in the bathing area. A slanted ceiling and skylight illuminates the bathtub, for an urban spa without leaving the comfort of home.

From Century to Century

The brownstone exterior is actually a facade, covering a structure made of sturdier brick. These historic homes have been around for over a hundred years, and continue to evolve with the times. Updated tile floors, mid-century modern furnishings, and sliding glass doors are just some of the contemporary luxuries on offer in this six-bedroom townhouse on Decatur Street.