Reno Notebook / By Jennifer Malise / December 4, 2017
The Raw Appeal of Exposed Brick
An age-old material adds texture to any space
Some structural elements of a home can offer a peek into its past. Consider the brick wall, a material brimming with warmth and character that’s steeped in history. With Sweeten—a free service matching renovators with vetted general contractors—these five homeowners uncovered this long-forgotten detail hiding behind the walls of their homes.
While renovating the downstairs bath, Alicia and Ed’s contractor discovered well-preserved brick along one wall. The revelation encouraged the couple to see if the material in the living room was in just as good condition. After ripping down the sheetrock and finding beautiful brick, the couple fell in love with the feature and said that unearthing it was worth the expense and impact on the timeline.
In a loft apartment that was once a carriage house, exposed brick was the focal point of the living room. Meg and Brett loved it and wanted to see what else lurked behind the walls. Wherever the drywall was hollow, they drilled a hole to see what lay underneath. The process allowed the couple to find brick, beams, and columns, which they worked to expose. Not only did the original architecture reveal the home’s provenance, but some of the beams had initials carved in them, and a horsehair or two caught within the wood!
Fixing electrical components in Miguel’s apartment led his contractor to uncover brick that started in the bedroom and continued through the living room and kitchen. The apartment lacked charm before the discovery, feeling more like a white box than a proper home. Miguel jumped at the chance to show off the brick, leaving it in its natural state in the bedroom, and adding white paint in the living room where the material was of poor quality.
Christine planned on keeping her apartment minimalist in design, but rather than painting the exposed brick white to match her floors, she left them bare. The rough-hewn surfaces add a natural quality, anchoring the sparse decor and color palette. With the brick in the living room, Christine took inspiration from a Moroccan riad—a traditional style of house with an interior garden—and filled the space with greenery.
Looking to swap his high-rise home for something with history, Giovanni found a studio apartment in an old townhouse in Brooklyn. The walls were covered in plaster, but Giovanni remained hopeful that bricks might lay beneath the surface. His contractor was able to uncover structural brick by breaking off the plaster, instantly restoring the lost charm and character of the home.
Reminders of the past can be a welcome detail in your home, but sometimes those reminders are worn down or outdated features in desperate need of repair. These three homes, untouched for decades, were brought back to the future with timely renovations.
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