I had my architect get to work on the design of my Lincoln Square Conversion even before I had closed on the property. The first thing he did was create a layout of the ‘existing conditions’. This is fancy-speak for ‘current layout’. The building is currently setup as a 3-unit multifamily. The first and second floors are currently 3-bed / 1-bath apartments and the third floor is a 2-bed / 1-bath unit.

I briefly flirted with the idea of keeping it as a multifamily building, but in Lincoln Square, single family homes are much more desirable than apartments. Also, while there are technically two 3-bed units, the bedrooms are really small and in reality should be 2-bed units, while the third floor should be a 1-bed unit. The following drawings show the current layout, followed by the proposed new layout. The post-rehab house will have 5 bedrooms (one in basement) and 4.5 bathrooms and approximately 3,600 square feet of living space.



The architect has not yet created a basement layout, since he wasn’t sure if I would be willing to pay to have the basement dug out. The current ceilings are very low – probably 6.5 feet if I had to guess. I have decided it will make sense to dig out the basement, so the architect will ultimately come up with a basement layout. The basement will most likely have a bedroom, bathroom and an open living area.




The architect couldn’t get into the first floor apartment for some reason, but it has the same configuration as the current second floor. The post-rehab first floor will have the kitchen, living, dining and family rooms. Additionally, it will have a powder room, large broom closet and a large kitchen pantry. There will be french doors that lead out onto the newly built rear-deck, which will let in lots of light. While I really like this layout, I actually had the architect draw up a second set of drawings that included a more “open-concept” kitchen:


I personally like a little separation in homes, but if HGTV has taught us anything, it is that buyers LOVE open-concept homes. I thought it would be prudent to at least explore this option. To help me make a decision, I did a quick 3D mockup of the two versions:



The first version is the version the architect proposed. The second is the ‘open-concept’ version. While both have their merits, I prefer the the first version as it has more kitchen cabinet storage and also makes a lot more sense than having a couch inches from the kitchen. At this time, I am leaning towards doing the version with the walled off kitchen, unless I get significant feedback from family and friends that I should reconsider. I have learned to trust my first instinct when making decisions, which is telling me to do the “closed-off” kitchen.




The second floor will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms and the laundry room (second floor laundry!). The initial design did not have the front bathroom as an ensuite to the bedroom. It was originally accessible from the hallway. I decided to switch this to give the homeowner the option of using this bedroom as the master suite. I did this since many people like the idea of having their master bedroom on the same floor as their young children, which this allows for. If the homeowner doesn’t have such a preference, they will get to enjoy an incredible master suite on the third floor…




The third floor is pretty janky right now. There were a couple dormers installed to create headroom, as it used to just be attic space, but the ceiling height is still not great. In order for the third floor to be useable/up-to-code, we are going to have to actually lower the floor about a foot. Luckily, the second floor ceilings are close to 10 feet, so this isn’t a big deal. This will give the house an additional 800 square feet of useable living space.

As you see in the post-rehab drawing, this floor will be an enormous master suite with a huge walk-in closet, master bathroom and a sitting room / nursery. It will be filled with light via the several skylights the design calls for. If a homeowner decides they would rather use the second floor “master”, this space can be used as another living area // children’s play area // media room // etc. It is just a great space to have.

The next step of the process is for the architect to do the detailed drawings that the city requires for a permit. This will probably take 2-3 months, unfortunately. While that is happening, I will be selecting finishes to help expedite the process as much as possible.


  1. Hello Scott. So it sounds like you GC all your projects. Thanks for posting on this. While I don’t intend on doing this for a living, I wanted to reno a brownstone because in my mind that’s the only way to get in to some of the nicer parts of the city.

    • Anthony, I usually act as GC on my smaller projects – a larger scale one like this I will hire a GC (until I get more comfortable with projects of this size and scope). Rehabbing is definitely the best way to get into nice neighborhoods that may otherwise be unaffordable. Additionally, purchasing and rehabbing a 2 or 3-flat adds the affordability considerably.

      • As your project progresses, would you be sharing the detailed construction budget? I have called 2 or 3 residential developers I see in the area and they quote a range anywhere from $130 per SF to $300+ PSF. I know they have to pad their #s to incorporate contingency and 20-30% profit. But at this point, I have absolutely no idea what this huge endeavor would really cost. Thanks again for providing such a valuable service!

        • Anthony,

          I will try and share as much detail as I can – some may have to wait until the project is entirely complete before I share it on the site for public consumption, but I would be happy to keep you up-to-date through an occasional email (I have your email via you registering to comment). I will shoot you a message shortly.