In The News

Exposed! Brick

The New York Observer - Article by Chloe Malle

Carrie Bradshaw on Exposed Brick - “Was I the only one who remembered that Brooke described this guy as more boring than exposed brick?”

So opined Carrie Bradshaw of her friend’s fiancé in an early episode of Sex and the City. In this instance, Carrie’s voice-over couldn’t be more wrong: There are innumerable things more boring than exposed brick.

In fact, exposed brick, once thought gauche and déclassé, has grown into a coveted luxury real estate commodity in New York City.

Above: 354 Broadway
“Brick is a big draw for people because it is very old-world; it gives an extra charm to a space,” Susan Meisel of Meisel Real Estate said.

Indeed, prospective buyers have been drawn to an entire apartment because of the “charm” lent by the exposed brick. Of her listing at 354 Broadway, Ms. Meisel waxed poetic.
“Do you see how beautiful the brick in this apartment is? This is not your typical flat, red brick; this brick is unusual, it’s uneven, it’s old, and that makes it charming. When the brick is that old, it has a charm to it, unlike new brick. People like to leave it au naturel. It’s the same reason that Greene Street hasn’t been replaced; they want to save a bit of history.”

Like Greene Street, these charm-seeking nostalgic types tend to congregate below 14th Street. “The buyer who goes for exposed brick is typically the downtown buyer,” said Sotheby’s broker Joshua Judge.

Some, however, are not as enthused about the exposures. ButlersPanties, a commenter on the ur-Brooklyn blog Brownstoner, recently issued this angry dictate: “If you own a brownstone and you have exposed brick somewhere in your house, please stand up. And walk yourself to the hardware store for a bag of plaster and a trowel … Can’t you all see that you are looking at a very very wrongly naked wall? Please plaster it.”

And on the Web site Apartment Therapy, one reader pleaded for solutions for her fireplace. “We HATE the exposed brick fireplace at the center of the living room. It has been the victim of several botched paint jobs that preceded us (we’ve tried to remove it, to no avail), it is covered in some awful shellac (varnish? either way, it is yellow and terrible), and it sucks all of the light out of an otherwise well-lit room.”

Mr. Judge of Sotheby’s sympathizes. “Exposed brick tends to suck a lot of light out of a room. It depends on space and ceiling height, but the most important factor is natural light. If it’s in a big room with big windows, then exposed brick can warm up a room; if not, it can be a black hole.”

Still. “In my 29 years in this business,” Ms. Meisel said, “I have rarely known anybody to paint a brick wall.” — By Chloe Malle