The Most Shocking Before & After Renovations of 2021


From postmodern play in a London Edwardian to the surprising revamp of an Atlanta bungalow, these are the most dramatic transformations of the year.

The eye-catching kitchen cabinets are made of recycled milk bottle tops, manufactured by Smile Plastics in Wales. On the wall, red arrows "pierce" the wall, a sculpture by Liam Fallon. Across the room, a McDonald’s M sits in the corner. "It’s a pop icon," says Mat.

The year’s most remarkable renovations run the gamut of housing types—from Brooklyn Brownstones to bungalows and dome-shaped homes—however many of them share similar goals: to create more fluid living spaces and a better connection to the outdoors. Read on to see how our top ten projects give new life to old houses.

10. A Brooklyn Brownstone’s Dreary Basement Becomes an Urban Oasis

Before: The newest owners of this 1885 Prospect Heights brownstone wanted to convert it into a duplex in a remodel that finished in 2020.
Architect Daniel Kaplan of Bowerbird Architects added onto the rear façade to expand the floorspace for the lower apartment, and accommodate a three bedroom, three bath plan, plus a study and finished cellar. By creating a stepped addition, Kaplan made it possible for three floors to have outdoor access. Note how the top right deck is angled to prevent the new structure from blocking sunlight into the neighbors’ windows.

Kaplan added onto the rear facade and redesigned the backyard for better indoor/outdoor flow. He also raised the ceilings in the basement to create light-filled living spaces.

Photo: Matthew Williams

Before: The original design featured a sunroom with a unique, scalloped awning.

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