Barry and Jordan (aka the Brownstone Boys) are renovating their way through Brooklyn, updating historic brownstones that have fallen into disrepair. The duo recently welcomed Weezie into their own brownstone, and offered up a few renovation tips in the process.
Barry and Jordan, tell us a little about yourselves? How did your foray into renovating historic brownstones begin?
Hi Weezie! Barry and Jordan, here. We’re full-time Brownstone Boys now! We are project managers and designers for 7 full gut brownstone renovations in Brooklyn, NY. We recently quit our full-time jobs to focus on our passion and love of brownstone renovation. Barry has a background in software sales having led a team of 11. Jordan’s background is in marketing having left a cult-favorite ice cream company Ample Hills Creamery helping assist shop build-out to 16 brick & mortars. We both have always had a passion for brownstones in Brooklyn, and the community involved in every aspect of a renovation project.
You spent 9 months renovating your own Brooklyn brownstone (including turning a bedroom into a bathroom?!) For anyone tackling a big renovation, what advice would you give?
First of all, have an open mind about what the costs are. If you’re inexperienced in renovations almost everything is going to cost more than you think! There are also a lot of considerations you may not be taking into account.
Second, take your time! If you’re in a time crunch or have a hard deadline to get it all finished, chances are you’ll have a few delays along the way.
Third, don’t be afraid to go bold! When you are going through a reno it’s the opportunity to build the space of your dreams, not just the practical space. Sure, a lot of choices will be practical but work on a couple of things that really get you going. We love vintage NY and we weren’t afraid to go a little bold with our guest bathroom design.
Our biggest takeaway- If you’re renovating a historic home just know there will always be a project to work on. Be comfortable with always having a project to work on.
We’ve heard horror stories of the surprises one finds when renovating a historic home, but let’s shine some light on the brighter moments. What was the most pleasant surprise you two stumbled upon while renovating your historic home?
When we first saw our place we loved the original woodwork. We initially thought that we would have it stripped so that we could get the drippy gloopy layers of paint off to be able to paint it with a nice clean layer. We were really surprised to see how beautiful the wood looks natural! As soon as we saw it we knew there was no way we could repaint it. We also found original pocket doors hidden in a wall on our first day of demolition- that was very exciting!
Let’s talk about this bathroom! You describe the space as “new bathroom meets old NYC.” Where did you find inspiration for the space?
Our guest bathroom has become one of our favorite spaces. Throughout the house we worked with what was already existing, restoring original features back to life rather than creating something new. We’re really happy about that because we wanted to keep the historical integrity as much as we could. The guest bath is something we created from scratch! It was previously a small bedroom so we even needed to add plumbing to the room. Since it was something new we’re adding to a historic home we designed it with a vintage look and feel so that it didn’t look like something we just added. Most people are surprised to hear it was a bedroom. It has hex floret tiles on the floor and a matte traditional subway tile on the walls. We put in a cast iron clawfoot tub in front of a window with beautiful original woodwork and shutters. The wood contrasts so nicely with the wire and black tile. We also had fun with our DIY project refurbishing a door. We found a reclaimed door, cut a piece for glass to insert, found the perfect chicken wire glass for Olde Good Glass, and painted it a vintage green called Isle of Pines from Sherwin Williams. To finish it off we had a custom stencil made replicating an old WC room from The House Number Lab.
We love the lettering detail on the door! Any other fun ideas for taking your bathroom personality up a notch?
Thanks, we love the custom stencil from House Number Lab that we put on the door. We always try to put original pieces in each of our projects- whether it’s custom wallpaper, a door cut with chicken wire glass, or adding a pop of color. We love playing around with different colors too! If you’re hesitating between two different colors we recommend incorporating both colors in somehow. We’re big fans of hex floret tiles- we even encourage you to make your own pattern!
You were two of the first to give our new men’s robes a spin (we hope you’re loving them!). How have you both made time to #enjoythestay in your new robes?!
We are loving the new men’s robe! In fact, probably a little too much. It’s been a very long time (I think actually since we were kids) having bathrobes. Now that we’re spending more time at home these days, our bathrobes are a good reminder that it’s good to relax and enjoy the time at home! Being involved in so many different renovations can be quite overwhelming so we take relaxing quite seriously. The bathrobes are the perfect way for us to think of our home as a Staycation at one of our favorite hotels! It’s about finding that moment of joy and now it’s when we get out of the shower or bath that we look forward to putting our robe on. #enjoythestay!
- Green paint on the door: Isle of Pines, Sherwin Williams
- "WC" decal: Designed by The House Number Lab
- Doorknob: Crystal knob courtesy of House of Antique Hardware
- Bathtub: Clawfoot tub from Kingston Brass. Half the weight of the original clawfoot tubs!
- Vintage Sink: NBI wall-mount bath sink
- Mirror: Original is sold out, but here is a similar option!
- Pendant light: One of our favorite features in the room. We worked with and designed this schoolhouse pendant with our friend at Barn Light Electrical. We love it!
- Towels: Green piped Starter Pack
- Robes: Our Men's Robe with Mercer embroidery in navy.
Favorite Designers to Follow on IG:
@jerseyicecreamco, @houseofbrinson, @farmhouseproject, @deliakenza
Go-to's for inspiration:
@brownstone_voyeur for all our Brownstone inspo! The House Book by Terrance Conran- our go-to book for anything home-related. Also, we’re suckers for anything MidCentury Modern.
Recent Interior Design Save:
We took an old IKEA tabletop and turned it into floating shelves. Some of the IKEA products and IKEA hacks (dressers/shelves) are game-changers!
Recent Interior Design Splurge:
@stickbulb pendant! Our favorite pendant in the house made from reclaimed Brooklyn Water Towers- a splurge well worth it!