The Cast Iron Tub is the True Star of This Brooklyn Brownstone Reno

Cast iron bathtub in all-white subway tiled bathroom.

Sean Litchfield

Park Slope, Brooklyn, is known for its historic five-story brownstones, beautiful trees, and family-oriented lean—and for one couple expecting their first child, it was the ideal spot to settle down.

The family purchased one floor of an early 1900s-built brownstone—as many have been subdivided into single-story apartments over the years—and hired interior designer Amy Courtney to modernize it while maintaining the charming period details they initially fell in love with. 

View of the living and dining space in the apartment.

Sean Litchfield

Renovating a heritage-protected building was already a challenge, but completing it in time for baby’s arrival made this project even trickier. Luckily, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home was a much needed upgrade from the couple's previous one-bedroom, as it had a larger kitchen, dining room, and living room—plus, enough square footage for a nursery.

“That was their married-with-no-kids home, while this would be their family home,” Courtney notes.

White bed against a white brick wall.

Sean Litchfield

The family was initially drawn to the space for its original millwork, moldings, and windows, but were not big fans of the previous renovations. “It was a mix of 90s updates with beautifully classic 1900s details,” Courtney recalls. The kitchen was uninspired, and there was even an ornate wood brocade partition between the living room and dining room that was later donated to Habitat for Humanity during the renovation. 

The design plan was to keep the original window casings, doors, and the dark wooden built-in shelving unit in the son’s future bedroom. Since the built-in fit perfectly in the space, it was revitalized with crisp white paint and a highlighter green background. “I helped them navigate what to keep and what to remove,” Courtney says. 

A large white built-in in the kids bedroom.

Sean Litchfield

The kitchen was influenced by designer Athena Calderone’s kitchen, and features dark cabinetry, a plaster hood, glazed brick backsplash, and reclaimed wood shelving cut by local furniture maker Ethan Abramson. In the dining room, there is a new rounded table, art from emerging artist Xavi Carbonell, and a plaster Ballard Designs chandelier.

Shot of the navy blue kitchen with eat-in counter.

Sean Litchfield

While every space in the home is beautiful, the two bathrooms arguably stand out most: the juxtaposed marble-clad modern primary ensuite and traditional black-and-white kid’s bathroom. Marble-on-marble is indeed a sophisticated, timeless look, and it was warmed up in this space via brass accents.

Large bathroom vanity and mirror.

Sean Litchfield

But, Courtney envisioned a “very Brooklyn brownstone look” for the son’s bathroom, and achieves it by mixing old, classic details with black penny tile, animated artwork, white chevron tile, and the star of the show: a cast iron clawfoot tub. 

“It was my first time putting a cast iron tub into a project,” she says. “We had to figure out the drain location and drain style, as it was on legs rather than mounted into the floor. We also had to consider the wall controls, rearrange the plumbing, and make sure the floor was structurally sound enough to hold the tub.” 

Cast iron bathtub in all-white subway tiled bathroom.

Sean Litchfield

It was a learning experience for both the designer and the client, but it was one that paid off. Now, the turn-of-the-century brownstone is a nice mix of old, new, classic, and modern.

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