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Window Treatments for a NYC Brownstone

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NYC BrownstoneWhen you think of NYC architecture, the quintessential brownstone may come to mind – classic townhouses and row houses many of which still reflect the historical style of periods such as the Gilded Age.  Whether you live in a brownstone that has been restored to its 19th century roots or one that has been modernized with glass walls and aluminum sheathing, your choice of window covering is a key element to the interior design of your home.


Characteristics of Brownstone Architecture

True brownstones are characterized by their facades, which are composed of brown sandstone.  This building material was quarried in New Jersey and Connecticut during the height of its popularity in the 19th century for row houses and townhouses.  Ranging in color from reddish to chocolate brown, the material dates back to the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic periods.  It once was an inexpensive substitute for limestone or marble, but it became a symbol of sophisticated architecture and luxury.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it declined in popularity as a choice for building facades in part due to being susceptible to deterioration.  Proper care of the façade is key to maintaining a brownstone and requires professional restoration work due to the complexities of this material.

Beyond their building material, brownstones are well-loved for their ornate design elements and elaborate staircases.  Despite increased susceptibility to deterioration, the brownstone material was favored by masons during the early 19th century as it easily could be used to craft intricate elements.  These pair well with the sophisticated ironwork that characterizes the stair banisters and rails.

Brownstone Preservation

Many NYC brownstones are preserved due to their classification with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which protects buildings that are considered architecturally, historically, or culturally significant.  Once a building is designated as a landmark or historic property, restoration and renovation projects are regulated.  For brownstones not regulated by the commission, property owners may choose to restore a home to its historical appearance or to modernize it.  Many blocks in NYC have a juxtaposition of homes in both styles, historic and contemporary.

Interior Features of a Brownstone

A traditional brownstone has a ground-level garden floor with a front entrance beneath the front staircase and a back entrance that led to the backyard garden.  This floor usually included the kitchen area.  The exterior staircase led to the parlor level, on which all of the entertaining would have taken place.  This is where much of the home’s craftsmanship was evident, from an elaborate fireplace with decorative mantle to beautiful hardwood floors and moldings. The next level up usually consisted of a sitting area and master bedroom, with additional bedrooms being located on the top floor.

Selecting Interior Window Treatments

Brownstones are known for the high ceilings on their main level.  Custom drapery systems allow you to draw attention to this architectural detail.  Full-length drapery panels can be opened to expose the entire window and closed during the evening, when their length will continue to draw attention to the height of your rooms.  With a virtually limitless choice of fabric and trim options, drapery systems can be customized to match your design preferences.  For homeowners seeking more incremental lighting and privacy control, roman shades or any type of motorized shade can be combined with a custom drapery system or used on their own.

Talk to your NYC shading specialist about the best window treatment for your NYC brownstone.


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