Brownstone Minimalism by David Cunningham for Dwell

A Design-Savvy Couple Turn a Worn-Down Brownstone Into a Minimalist Home, Dwell, Apr. 18. 2022.

Brooklyn-based architect David Cunningham had helped them inspect the property. When they sent him the detailed brief to turn it into a triplex with a garden-level rental, the extensive thought put into the document impressed him. "It’s pretty unusual for a client to do that," he says. "We’ve never seen it before. A lot of people make lists of things, but they had an overall vision or concept of how everything would hold together."

The brief called for a warm family home that preserved historic details while introducing a more modern aesthetic—and this aim defined the main tension in the building’s transformation. Initially, the couple emphasized the wish to preserve historic details, their appreciation for craft, and a desire for a minimalist but approachable aesthetic. They also mentioned "refraining from anything that is too precious."

As the design progressed, though, much of the Neo-Grec shouldered arch door-and-window trim fell away—only original and well-preserved elements in some rooms were saved—in favor of greater openness on the inside, and the need to add insulation to the front and rear facades.