Episode Descriptions

brooklyn house project

The New York City Project

This project premieres on PBS Saturdays at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

Also in prime time exclusively on PBS Thursdays in the first half of The This Old House Hour at 8pm ET (check local listings).

Program #2817
Brooklyn Project, Part 1 of 10
Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 1:30pm ET
(check local listings)

For the first time in the show's history, host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram take This Old House on the road to New York City to restore a neglected 1904 brownstone in Brooklyn. Homeowners Karen Shen and Kevin Costello will convert the former rooming house into a three family home while preserving and restoring period detail wherever possible. In Brooklyn, Norm meets veteran brownstone remodeling contractor Michael R. Streaman at a similar job down the street to see how he transformed one of these rooming houses into a beautiful, modern family home. Back at the project house, Streaman gets to work on demolition and also starts stripping the paint off the back of the house to prepare the brick for re-pointing and eventually the installation of new energy-efficient windows.

Program #2818
Brooklyn Project, Part 2 of 10
Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 1:30pm ET
(check local listings)

Host Kevin O'Connor and landscape contractor Roger Cook visit Prospect Park, a 585-acre urban oasis unofficially known as "Brooklyn's Backyard." At the project house, master carpenter Norm Abram meets contractor Michael R. Streaman and homeowner Karen Shen to see how the framing is progressing and to hear about their thoughts on the kitchen layout. To learn more about how brownstones were used in the past, architectural historian Charles Lockwood takes Kevin to Manhattan's East Village to see a perfectly preserved rowhouse dating to 1832, including the original intact kitchen in the basement. Then, to see how the old-fashioned spaces can be updated, they visit a restored brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to see how former kitchens were often converted into rental apartments, and how modern kitchens and baths can be either carved out or bumped out from existing spaces.' Back at the project house, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey meets with local plumbing and heating contractors Randy and Erik Gitli to see the options for updating and/or upgrading the old steam heating system. In Hell's Kitchen, nurseryman David Protell shows Roger how he operates his garden center in the middle of the city, then they head downtown to see a spectacular roof garden in Tribeca recently designed and built by his firm. Protell's team will be designing and building the new landscape in Karen and Kevin's backyard.

Program #2819
New York City Project, Part 3 of 10
Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

Host Kevin O'Connor and plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey visit lower New York Harbor, taking in the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty from the water, and from Liberty Island. At the project house in Brooklyn, master carpenter Norm Abram meets local wood refinisher John Thomas for an assessment of the multiple wood finishes in the house (including lots of deteriorating shellac) and how to properly restore them. At a tile showroom in Bensonhurst, designer Carole Freehauf shows homeowner Karen Shen some period-appropriate tile combinations for her bathrooms and kitchen. Back at the project house, Richard gets an update on the plumbing and heating progress, and sees how brothers Randy and Erik Gitli are converting the old steam radiators to hot water.

Program #2820
New York City Project, Part 4 of 10
Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

After starting the day at nearby Tom's Restaurant, host Kevin O'Connor finds homeowners Kevin Costello and Karen Shen inspecting the new exterior paint job at the project house in Brooklyn. Inside, general contractor Tom Silva finds local builder Michael Streaman laying down new 5/16" white oak flooring in the parlor with two accent strips of cherry as a decorative border. Nearby in Red Hook, plaster contractor Stuart Sobczynski shows Kevin how he's replicating the plaster crown mouldings for the house, and later, the new mouldings are installed at the house. In the back yard, landscape designer/contractor Bob Reitmeyer shows Kevin the progress on a new retaining wall, and the brick patio that is going down in a herringbone pattern with a soldier course border. On the garden level, local millwork contractor Mitch Berlin installs new replacement windows on the back of the house. On the top level rental unit, a local spray foam insulation contractor has arrived to insulate the top of the building to keep the heat from escaping up and out—and just in time, as a snowstorm blankets Brooklyn.

Program #2821
New York City Project, Part 5 of 10
Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

At the project house in Brooklyn, homeowner Karen Shen shows master carpenter Norm Abram the progress in the owner's unit while flooring contractor Neale Rattray installs new white oak flooring in the top floor apartment. In the new master bathroom, local plumbing contractor Randy Gitli shows plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey the showerhead combination that includes a master showerhead, a handheld showerhead and tub filler. The set up is equally complicated behind the walls with volume controls and a thermostatic valve that Randy installs that day. Design correspondent Carole Freehauf shows host Kevin O'Connor the paint color scheme for the first floor which will be monochromatic to let the beautiful woodwork take center stage. Local builder Michael Streaman takes Norm over to his woodworking shop in Greenpoint to see the progress on the custom kitchen and how his crew is replicating baseboard profiles using routers instead of expensive custom knives. In the backyard, homeowner Kevin Costello lends a hand installing the new privacy fence that he found at a local home center.

Program #2822
New York City Project, Part 6 of 10
Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

At the project house in Brooklyn, host Kevin O'Connor arrives to find local builder Michael Streaman and stair fabricator Stephen Dijanic installing the vintage spiral stairs that the homeowners bought online. The new plaster medallion is installed in the parlor and design correspondent Carole Freehauf reveals the design choices for the two rental apartments. Homeowner Kevin Costello lays down click-together linoleum floor tiles in one unit while cabinet installer Oliver Earl deals with concealing ductwork over his cabinetry in the other unit. Finish carpenter Mario Quintuna shows master carpenter Norm Abram how he is rehabilitating the original five panel interior doors by patching holes, cleaning up edges and replacing panels. At the end of the day, the spiral stair is nearly complete and ready to be tested. Homeowner Karen Shen is thrilled with the way it looks and that Streaman found a way to modify it to make it fit.

Program #2823
New York City Project, Part 7 of 10
Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

At the project house in Brooklyn, master carpenter Norm Abram learns how local wood refinisher John Thomas is using a faux painting technique to disguise old and damaged woodwork. The custom kitchen is installed in the owner's unit while design correspondent Carole Freehauf meets Ian Gibbs at his SoHo showroom to see window treatment options and how the shades are custom made in his Queens workroom. Tile contractor Mauro Zanutto arranges a mud bed for tile on the garden level floor while upstairs in the master bath he prepares to lay the mosaic floor by doing a complete dry layout. Also, in the garden level apartment, the finished countertops arrive for the kitchen.

Program #2824
New York City Project, Part 8 of 10
Saturday, March 14, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

After a brief visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, master carpenter Norm Abram helps local builder Michael Streaman reinstall old interior door trim in the new library area. In Bensonhurst, host Kevin O'Connor finds countertop fabricator Alex DeMeo unloading a container of marble just in from Italy and the slabs of manmade quartz and resin being made into countertops. Later, the countertops are installed at the project house with cutouts for the range and seams made on site. In the basement, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey meets electrical contractor Vinny Verderosa to see how the new service is set up for the three-family house. Then Richard meets local plumbing and heating contractor Randy Gitli to look at the mechanical room that contains two complete systems—one for the ground floor apartment and another for the top three floors. Upstairs in the master bath, tile contractor Mauro Zanutto shows Kevin his unconventional method for grouting the floor tile.

Program #2825
New York City Project, Part 9 of 10
Saturday, March 14, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

At the project house in Brooklyn, local builder Michael Streaman reinstalls the beautiful white oak entry doors that were absent for several months when they were stripped of old paint and restored by wood refinisher John Thomas. Inside, John works his way through the parlor woodwork, covering, blending and matching color as he goes. In the kitchen, local plumbing and heating contractors Randy and Erik Gitli finish their connections to the appliances, the kitchen sink and install a new pot filler over the range. On the second floor, homeowner Kevin Costello shows master carpenter Norm Abram the new temporary wall in the master bedroom that creates a nursery for their youngest son. Eventually, the wall can be removed when they take over the third floor apartment. At a landmark home store in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, design correspondent Carole Freehauf gives host Kevin O'Connor a lesson in shopping for furniture while making selections for the project house. Electrical contractor Vinny Verderosa shows Kevin O'Connor the strategy for fire prevention in the project house and some new technology in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. At the end of the day, flooring contractor Neale Rattray arrives to sand and seal the new oak floors in the boys' bedroom. Program #2826
New York City Project, Part 10 of 10
Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

With the Brooklyn brownstone nearly complete, master carpenter Norm Abram and host Kevin O'Connor arrive to find a bustling sidewalk with both sod and furniture being delivered. In the backyard, landscape contractor Roger Cook sees how the sod is being laid down while local builder Michael Streaman installs the last of the missing spindles at the base of the main staircase. Norm visits Mount Laurel, New Jersey, to see how the turnings were made by both a CNC lathe and with chisels by hand. Design correspondent Carole Freehauf shows Kevin the finished rental apartment on the top floor. The apartment has a casual monochromatic scheme that lets the woodwork take center stage and a stunning kitchen with period-inspired details and modern amenities. Homeowner Karen Shen shows Norm the completed master bedroom level, now accessible from within the owner's unit by a vintage spiral staircase. After a look at the backyard transformation, the crew gathers on the front stoop to celebrate the completion of the project and to congratulate Michael Streaman on a job well done.