Understanding The Impact Of Home Architectural Styles On Renovation Choices

Find out how NYC's architectural legacy guides renovation choices, creating homes that mix classic styles with modern charm.

April 4, 2024


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Understanding The Impact Of Home Architectural Styles On Renovation Choices

Explore how the architectural history of your building can influence both the expenses and the design aspects of your renovation project in NYC.


The importance of architectural styles in NYC home renovations cannot be overstated. From the grandeur of Beaux-Arts to the sleek lines of Art Deco, these timeless accents are an extension of your property’s history and ignoring these architectural highlights amidst a remodel is like ignoring your home's identity. 

When aiming for a renovation, it’s vital to understand these foundational design styles, along with their defining features, before diving into a full-on renovation plan. 

Sunken dining room from our brownstone renovation in Carroll Gardens. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Styles]The Influence of Architectural Styles on Renovation[#Styles]

When embarking on a NYC renovation, understanding the nuances of architectural styles is key to a fully-realized interior design plan. Each style, whether it be the timeless elegance of brownstones, the sleek geometry of Art Deco, or the ornate details of Gothic Revival, brings forth a distinct set of characteristics that should influence renovation choices. Let's review each of these styles and explore how their unique features shape renovation decisions.


Nestled amidst neighborhoods like Park Slope or the Upper West Side, brownstones bring symmetrical brilliance to their streets, offering storybook looks and often literal landmark significance. Renovating a brownstone often requires a balance of preserving historic accents and pre-war details while accommodating modern living. Renovations often focus on restoring original features like ornate moldings and fireplaces, while updating interiors with contemporary amenities and personal preference.


The elegance of Beaux-Arts architecture seen in historic residences like The Woolworth Tower in Tribeca or the Beaux Arts building in the Financial District feels like something out of a movie - oftentimes because it is. To evoke the proper glamorous vibe when renovating in such a prestigious property, aim to emphasize the classical details and finishes at all costs. Focus on accentuating intricate exterior ornamentation and grand entryways, while including high-end materials and fixtures throughout the space. 

Art Deco

With an iconic presence in Midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side, Art Deco architecture influences NYC renovations with sleek lines and geometric motifs. Renovations with Art Deco design may involve preserving original details like terrazzo floors and decorative metalwork, while incorporating modern features that seamlessly blend with the iconic aesthetic, ensuring the space retains its timeless allure.

Gothic Revival

While less commonly known than prior styles, the grandeur and craftsmanship of Gothic Revival architecture can be seen scattered throughout NYC neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side and downtown Brooklyn. Modern updates may involve restoring historic details like pointed arches and stained glass windows, while layout updates may be required so these often narrow quarters can find a more conventional home flow. 


Italianate architectural styles contribute a distinct charm to NYC's architectural landscape, typically in townhomes. Characterized by their ornate facades and European flair, Renovations may involve preserving intricate cornices and elaborate facades while integrating contemporary comforts, striking a balance between past allure and present-day needs.


Reflecting NYC's early architectural history, Federal-style buildings are less common and smaller in stature than the aforementioned architectural styles but stand out thanks to their symmetrical facades and understated elegance. Renovations may focus on preserving original features like brick exteriors and decorative moldings, while incorporating modern amenities and efficient layouts to optimize space within their tight interior.

Kitchen from our loft renovation in Tribeca at 9 Murray St. View the full renovation gallery.

[#Integrity]Preserving Historical Integrity in Renovations[#Integrity]

Preserving the historical integrity of these renowned architectural styles amidst a renovation allows homeowners to embrace and accentuate the NYC-centric history of their homes. Let's explore the significance of maintaining original character and the value of preservation.

Emphasizing Original Character

Preserving historical styles during renovations will make the most of your home. Every detail, from moldings to ironwork, contributes to a building's identity. By enhancing these elements with our detailed restoration process, you’re preserving the character of your residence and allowing the detail to illuminate for decades to come.

Value of Preservation

Restoring architectural elements in your Manhattan or Brooklyn home may pay homage to timeless craftsmanship, but these revitalizing renovations also have a tangible impact on your property's return on investment. Research shows homes with well-maintained historical features often command higher prices in the NYC real estate market, thanks to their move-in-ready elegance. By safeguarding and restoring historical elements, you not only uphold the architectural significance but also position your property for greater ROI and marketability.

FENIX kitchen from our Manhattan condo renovation at 252 Seventh Ave. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Modern]Incorporating Modern Elements in Traditional Architecture[#Modern]

As the needs of homeowners evolves, the marriage of modern design with traditional architecture styles presents a challenge for those in the market to renovate. While such detail offers ageless appeal, the integration of contemporary elements is a must in today’s mile-a-minute way of life. To bring new efficiencies into timeless spaces, let's dig into strategies for seamlessly preserving historical character and embracing modern functionality within New York City renovations.

Utilize Contrasting Materials

Pair sleek glass and steel with weathered brick or ornate woodwork to create visually captivating contrasts that emphasize architectural diversity, creating a stunning contrast between old-world authenticity and modern sophistication. 

Integrate Modern Amenities Discreetly

Incorporate smart technology and energy-efficient systems into traditional spaces in a subtle manner, ensuring seamless integration while preserving historical integrity. For more ideas, read Renovations & Technology: 10 Smart Home Remodeling Ideas. 

Embrace Juxtaposition

Embracing juxtaposition in interior design is all about blending the old with the new in a thoughtful way to create a visually captivating space. By mixing modern and traditional elements, like pairing contemporary furniture with antique decor, or combining industrial materials with classic architectural features, you can add depth and character to your home. The key is finding balance between different styles and materials to make your space feel unique and inviting. Don't be afraid to experiment and let your creativity shine.

Highlight Architectural Diversity

Highlighting architectural diversity is all about playing up the distinctive features of your space by mixing materials in a way that showcases both the modern and traditional aspects. Picture combining sleek metal finishes with intricate crown molding or integrating marble accents into a historic brownstone interior. Blending the old and new shows you’re not afraid to make the home your own and elevate the interior design into a new era. So, whether you're renovating a classic townhouse in Brooklyn or a modern penthouse in Manhattan, don't hesitate to experiment with materials and celebrate the unique character of your space.

For more specific suggestions, read 10 Tips To Amplify Interior Architecture In Your NYC Renovation and Interior Design Trends For 2024

Kids room from our condo renovation in Carnegie Hill at 8 East 83rd. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Tech]Suggestions & Techniques for Authentic Restorations[#Tech]

When it comes to restoring architectural styles amidst a NYC renovation, having a deep understanding of historical materials and construction techniques is crucial. By employing high-quality materials and refined techniques, you can ensure the elegance and character of each style shines within your home.

Brownstone Renovations 

Brownstone interiors often feature original elements like ornate moldings, hardwood floors, and decorative fireplaces. Restoration efforts may involve refinishing woodwork, repairing plaster walls, and restoring vintage fixtures to maintain the historic ambiance. When considering a brownstone renovation in NYC, enlist a partner with specific experience in historic restoration techniques.

Beaux-Arts Renovations

Beaux-Arts interiors are characterized by grand and lavish features like high ceilings, intricate plasterwork, and elegant marble accents. Restoration may include repairing ornamental plaster, restoring original marble finishes, and replicating decorative motifs to match the period-centric style. When renovating, ask your potential partner about their experience in traditional plasterwork and masonry to ensure faithful restoration of architectural details.

Art Deco Renovations

When renovating an Art Deco apartment, prioritize hallmark elements such as geometric patterns on moldings and flooring, while integrating luxurious materials like brass and marble. Consider incorporating decorative metalwork on doors and windows for added period-centric detail. When choosing paint, lean into a more forthcoming color palette featuring bold greens or a cheery yellow to capture the era's elegance. Once the spatial design is settled, select streamlined furniture pieces like club chairs and mirrored coffee tables to complement the aesthetic. With careful attention to detail and craftsmanship, your Art Deco renovation will have your home feeling like an elevated peak into the past. 

Gothic Revival Renovations

Gothic Revival interiors exude a sense of grandeur, thanks to focal point features like arched doorways, intricate wood mouldings, and stained glass windows. Restoration may involve repairing wooden tracery, restoring original stained glass, and recreating period-appropriate furnishings. A renovation partner for Gothic Revival apartment renovations should be capable of traditional woodworking and glassmaking techniques to ensure accurate restoration.

Federal Renovations

Federal-style interiors boast elegant proportions, refined moldings, and graceful architectural details like elliptical fanlights and delicate cornices. When renovating, focus on repairing plaster moldings, refinishing hardwood floors, and recreating period-appropriate color schemes.

[#Case]Case Studies Showcasing Architecture Style[#Case]

Brooklyn Brownstone Kitchen Renovation | Park Slope

The owners of this Park Slope brownstone hired Gallery for a transformative renovation. Since the client knew they wanted to pay homage to the traditional details of their historic home, they drew upon our Brooklyn brownstone renovation expertise to retain the original character of their space while introducing modern touches within the intricate interior. View the full renovation before and after.

Manhattan Classic 8 Pre-War Apartment Renovation | 255 West 108th

In renovating a classic Art Deco apartment in Midtown Manhattan, we celebrated its unique character rather than erasing it. By refinishing original hardwood floors, restoring ornamental plasterwork, and sourcing vintage fixtures, we breathed new life into the space while preserving its Art Deco charm. View the full renovation before and after.


Whether you’re buying a pre-war fixer-upper with intent to renovate or finally restoring your family home, renovating a dated property in New York City means you’ll be faced with design decisions based around the space’s unique architectural history. If you’ve got questions on how best to restore your space, contact Gallery today. 

We are an award-winning design-build firm in New York City with a full-service approach to renovations in Manhattan and Brooklyn that includes everything from interior design and architecture services to filing permits and construction management. We’re experts in pre-war apartment renovations, apartment combinations, room creations, full gut renovations and all that falls in between. Let us bring your dream home to life.

Marketing Director

Ben Bowdonhttps://www.gallerykbny.com/authors/ben-b

Ben Bowdon is the Marketing Director of Gallery KBNY, a full service design-build firm specializing in the design and interior renovation of apartments, townhomes, and lofts in NYC. For over a decade, Ben has navigated the ever-changing landscape of online marketing, delivering digital strategy solutions for companies of all sizes, until finding a permanent home with Gallery. As lead brand champion and curator, the proud Western Michigan Bronco strives to deliver thoughtful, industry-leading expertise to Gallery’s esteemed clientele via the most seamless omnichannel experience possible.




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