In March 2015, we began work on a home renovation on Pulaski St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. This brownstone, like a myriad of others in Brooklyn, contained historic details–such as its original cornice–that we wanted to preserve while updating the home: recreating and rehabilitating them were some of our top priorities. It’s these details that make Brooklyn architecture so diverse and interesting!

On the building’s façade, the cornice was in disrepair:

original cornice

Original façade (center).

Salvation and Restoration

The original wooden decorative tails of the corbels were rotted to such a point that the majority of them could not be reclaimed. We salvaged and cleaned as much as we could and then recreated the rest.

Most of the pieces were in a similar condition.

Luckily, there were a few pieces in decent shape that we were able to salvage. We used those pieces to make molds from to construct the new pieces. Here are a couple original pieces we were able to salvage:

Some pieces we were able to restore, like these:

Creating Molds and Fabricating New Pieces

Using the originals, we poured silicone molds which allowed us to replicate the cornice pieces without having to individually carve each one:

Then we poured a weatherproof high-density polyurethane foam into the molds to create multiples of each one. Next, we sanded and painted each piece to achieve a high level of finish. The rest of the corbel pieces were stripped and repainted to revive the original wood.

 

 

cornice pieces

New pieces ready to roll.

new cornice pieces!

More completed pieces ready for install!

Assembly and Installation

Once we had all of our pieces, it was time for installation! First, we had to make sure the whole thing worked together. We set it up and decided we were pleased and that it was ready to be painted and installed.

cornice assembly

All the pieces coming together.

After weeks of dimensioning and making molds of the existing pieces, they were finally ready for installation. Some of the pieces got painted ahead of time, and others were installed prior to getting painted.

painted cornice pieces

Pieces delivered to the site after getting a shiny paint job.

We set up scaffolding, removed the bedraggled pieces of the old cornice, and began mounting the new pieces.

cornice installation

Installing the new cornice!

Once it was all put into place on the façade of the house, it was ready to be painted.

cornice completion

The whole thing coming together.

Finally, the finished product!

completed cornice

Complete!

If you want to see more about this project, check out our work fabricating custom doors here!