Before and After: This Carriage House Turned Loft Has Massive Historic Charm

This is a 115-year-old, 1,800-square-foot carriage house with 11-foot ceilings and tons of character. It had been recently renovated, but its new owners wanted to go a step further, by going back to the past and revealing the home’s historic charms.

Such a nice modern upgrade! Allow me to list my favorite things about this transformation:

1. That beam! The massive iron and wood beam spanning the length of the loft is the star of the show, and I’m thrilled that its beauty is no longer hidden away.

2. The plants: They aren’t overwhelming but they still make such a difference.

3. The new fireplace surround: That black steel is so dramatic and badass. It both anchors the room and provides visual balance to the television. (By the way, you’re never going to find me dissing televisions over fireplaces here; my TV is over my fireplace and the only thing I feel about it is that I’m super lucky to have both of them. Oh, and the television would look weird anywhere else in the room.)

4. The removal of the huge clock: Don’t get me wrong—that’s a pretty cool clock, but I don’t need the time all up in my face all the time. I hope it found a good home in a train station.

5. The removal of the curtains: This one isn’t really fair, because I love big heavy curtains in the winter, but without them, the room is more modern and so much brighter.

This is quite a formal living room. All of the pieces appear to be quite well-made, but I could definitely see how they wouldn’t suit everyone’s style. Again, I hope they found a new spot in someone’s fabulous home.

Here’s how homeowner Brett described the motivation behind this makeover to Sweeten:

It had everything we ever wanted, and had we moved in as is, it would have been a huge step up from our current place. Most people would have moved in and not changed a thing… But after spending eight years with floods, water bugs, no air conditioning, warped floors, peeling paint, a fridge from the ’80s, an oven from the ’70s, and one tiny bath you didn’t want to set foot into…we wanted our dream apartment!

I love that perspective: Appreciating your good fortune, but also wanting to make the most of it. I recently went refrigerator shopping after exclusively having ’80s fridges and wow, the game has changed.

This is so much more airy, spare, and stripped-down. The new table is beautiful, and the chairs are streamlined yet comfy looking. Perhaps the most interesting change is that the dining area has been shifted over so that the living area feels roomier. I think that was a smart move: The two zones are more separate, and the removal of the large sideboards would have left that space oddly empty.

I just realized the plants are hanging from the beam, which is amazing and brings us to Brett’s explanation of how the beam came to be:

This place had a lot of history and interest to it, but we felt that the previous owner covered up a lot of the historical aspects, and aimed to expose them literally and figuratively.

We walked around and knocked on the drywall—if it felt hollow, we put a hole through to see what was underneath. This method allowed us to find original beams and columns all over the apartment and expose them.

That sounds so fun, and so stressful—strollin’ around busting holes in the new home you just spent all your money on. The risk really paid off with the revelation of this and all of the other gorgeous columns and beams.

The kitchen used to have standard wood cabinets, a roomy breakfast bar, the largest fridge I’ve ever seen in a non-professional kitchen, and more red. The massive wall of brick added a lot of red to this home, and the previous owners really played it up with these accessories, like the curtains, the throw pillows, and so on.

The choice to keep the new finishes and accessories more neutral (though I do spot a red pot!) works well, because it allows the brick, wood and metal to stand out and shine. This kitchen is nicely set apart from the rest of the loft and seems all-around great, but wait—there’s more:

After we did some demo, we found a ton of extra storage space just behind the sheetrock in the kitchen—and built an 8-foot-tall pantry into the wall to the left of the fridge. Don’t be afraid to knock a few holes in walls. It’s all going to be painted anyway.

Secret space for a pantry! That is amazing, and between that and the beams, I feel like at least one reader is going to put sledgehammer to wall after reading this.

I wanted to give you an extra look at the kitchen, especially the new stove configuration. I totally understand why microwaves are often placed over stoves, but if I’m being super picky, it makes me feel a little crowded while I’m cooking, and it can be hard to reach the back burners. This arrangement is very user-friendly, and I love the big, beautiful sheet of metal!

On the other hand, this totally stressed me out:

The counters and backsplash are 3.5-inch-thick Carrara marble—the distributor said it was too hard to deliver and install such a thick piece in one slab because of the weight. But we insisted and they had to use 10 men to bring it in and install it!

I want to buy a beer for each of those ten men because that delivery sounds nerve-racking.

This bathroom is pretty nice, and that cabinetry is so modern and lovely—I will take it for my bathroom, please!

This is like the spa on a spaceship! I love how futuristic all of the fixtures feel, while the subway tile and marble hex tiles provide a link to the past. That shower looks like it would be amazing to bathe in, and it’s now more accessible than it was before.

Oh, peach. Remember when everything was peach? It still can be used in totally beautiful, modern ways, but this photo gave me some childhood flashbacks.

These massive wood doors are stunning, and they conceal an enviable amount of storage. The floor wasn’t really visible before, but now its beauty is highlighted.

Thank you, Brett and Sweeten!

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