A Townhouse Renovation in Boerum Hill
Photo: Gieves Anderson
Two years ago, in the midst of a pandemic, Kate Yearwood Young and her husband lived in a McKim, Mead & White building on Livingston Street for almost a decade, but felt restless. Their first son had been born the previous year, and the confinement had convinced them that their place had become too small. They loved Brooklyn brownstone but were hesitant to buy a brownstone. “We are not handymen,” she says. “We really wanted a condo.”
A townhouse, of course, doesn’t come with a super. “We don’t know anything about housekeeping, and it’s overwhelming to learn all of these things,” Young says. They are busy; she owns her own business as Financial Advisor. “But then with the pandemic, outdoor space very quickly became a priority,” she says.
This six-story, three-bedroom, 3,500-square-foot home in Boerum Hill, however, was built in 2013. It had no front porch and had an elevator — useful because “my mom uses a wheelchair,” says Young, and they knew they were planning on having a second child: “It was, oddly enough, one of the only homes I felt comfortable with, and I wanted the accessibility so my parents can come and visit me.”
There was one drawback: the traditional interior finishes, especially the staircase, of the house did not suit them. The seller’s broker suggested a meeting with the architect Frederic Tang and Barbara Reyes, director of interiors at the Tang firm, on how to update its traditionalism. “The first thing you see when you walk in is this fake-A colonial fireplace in the double-height room and a kind of Italian handrail on black iron curves,” says Tang. “We agreed that some details, like the railing and the chimney, could be updated, could be redesigned a bit.”
And unlike a 19th-century brownstone, it hasn’t had to undergo major renovations or structural changes. “We loved these crazy double-height spaces,” he says. “We do so many townhouse projects, and in most of them, over half the budget is for structural upgrades, mechanical work, and here we have to do all the fun stuff. “
Kate with Lionel, 3, and Julius, 7 months.
Photo: Jessica Castano
Roof garden: “We wanted a bit of ’60s Hollywood glamour,” says Reyes.
Photo: Gieves Anderson