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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
We set up scaffolding, removed the bedraggled pieces of the old cornice, and began mounting the new pieces.
Once it was all put into place on the façade of the house, it was ready to be painted.
Finally, the finished product!
If you want to see more about this project, check out our work fabricating custom doors here!