Renovated new york brownstone with secret wall

Beautiful before-and-after images show just how far this renovated New York brownstone has come, from a building that was half-vacant for dozens of years (complete with a faded ‘Checks Cashed’ sign over the lower storefront) to a trip-worthy townhouse tricked out with a moving facade panel – part of an ingenious light-and-air strategy and 3D urban optical illusion.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

The before and after photos are really something, and not just because everything now looks so clean and modern. Check out that garage-style wall opening. Wild, huh?

Renovated new york brownstone with secret wall closed

First and most fascinating: that fold-up garage door of sorts lifts up and slides back into the space. What look like ordinary rectangular windows are actually mobile camouflage on an entirely retractable wall, not exactly a feature you see every day.

Renovated new york brownstone with secret wall open

When closed, it looks a lot like any other house on the block – but when open, these trick windows slide up to the ceiling to create an amazing effect for passers by and a unique window to the outside world for residents within.

Renovated new york brownstone with secret wall before and after

When the wall is raised, a low, ultra-clear (essentially invisible) glass railing prevents people from simply stepping outside to a one-story drop onto the street or sidewalk below.

Renovated new york brownstone with secret wall indoor outdoor

In the back, a more simple but parallel strategy was employed: an off-the-shelf garage door solution (with clear panels to allow light in and views out) creates easy access to a back patio, itself decked out in astroturf-style carpet rather than real grass (for easy maintenance).

Renovated new york brownstone with secret wall bedroom

Keeping the best of both old and new, local brownstone was retained on much of the front wall facing outside while modern elements were added and clean lines redefine the remodeled spaces from within. Contemporary systems and surfaces were introduced to the cleared-out interior of this century-and-a-half old structure, while prominent patterns (like the stone-cut decor overlaying the first level) were drawn from regional sources to reflect the traditional character of the original building.

(Photos by David Sundberg/Esto & Bill Peterson, via NYMag)