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125-Year-Old Brooklyn Brownstone Gets A Facelift

The scratch coat installed on the front facade of the brownstone. Photo by Buck Projects.

After a decade working for New York City firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, Brent Allen Buck was ready for a change of pace. In 2015, Buck struck out on his own to launch Buck Projects, headquartered in the Brooklyn brownstone he renovated on nights and weekends over the course of two years. That home, whose renovation process Buck will outline in the first ever Renovation Diary series for Curbed, serves as his home base and design laboratory, as well as a backdrop to a complete set of teak pepper mills by Danish modernist Jens Quistgaard. Follow along this summer as Buck details the highs, lows, joys, and travails of home renovation.

Though the house wasn't finished, we moved into a third floor room in September 2014. There was no hot water for a few weeks and no working kitchen. Our life was packed in boxes and stored in a small room. At 8 a.m. each morning, we greeted the construction crew for a quick meeting and a smile before heading off to work. With the interior work winding down, we turned our attention to the exterior, particularly the front facade.

The black-and-white tax ID photo from the 1940s depicted an idealized view of the brownstone's exterior. It was easy to romanticize what it might have been like to walk past the stately structure at that time, and the team made it their mission to restore the front of the house back to what it once was. We put some of our own small touches on the front facade, but our intention was to restore it to a historic condition.

Getting the final details just right >>