Very few would have considered purchasing a crumbling and decrepit 1890 Victorian townhome. But Lindsey Branca and her partner (both in business and in life), Mike Grosshandler, saw what most didn’t: opportunity.
After a sweeping renovation that included collapsing plaster and a complete layout change, this townhome - located in trendy Park Slope, Brooklyn - went from a deteriorated state to downright stately.
“When we purchased the home, we were on the hunt for a ‘mess’ that would provide the most opportunity,” says Branca.
The opportunity they saw in this home was a “hidden” second floor not visible from the street - a very rare find in the New York City real estate scene. This hidden second floor brought a whole treasure trove of extra square footage, including an extra floor of bedrooms.
Although the renovation was a complete overhaul, which involved removing a bedroom downstairs, taking out a bathroom, and removing an extra kitchen from its days of multifamily use, the project only took Branca’s restoration company, Branca & Co., around nine months to complete.
Inside, they transformed damaged carpets and worn-out walls into a sleek and contemporary single-family home.
They kept as much original detail as they could, such as the painstakingly stripped marble mantles, and what they weren’t able to salvage (like the damaged plaster molding), they restored to fit the original design.
The modern details they added, like white oak plank flooring and an open-concept kitchen with a large island and open shelving, play nicely with traditional details, such as a clawfoot tub and trace ceilings.
“I’m very happy with the results. We stuck to a very strict budget (one my architect was skeptical we could hit), yet we were still able to produce a really beautiful, thoughtful product,” says Branca.
There’s just something special about a small town. Less traffic, no noise pollution and friendly neighbors can all make for an idyllic escape from the grit of the city.
Some of these small towns may be hours from the nearest Amazon Locker or Whole Foods, but what they lack in big-city amenities, they make up for in big-time charm.
Here are eight homes for sale in some of the best small towns in America.
Stately in South Carolina
For sale: $668,000
Nothing could be sweeter than this stately home in Beaufort, South Carolina, which has a prime location on South Carolina’s coastal Sea Islands. The home was built in 1997, but it looks like it was plucked straight from the 19th century, with notable features like a large front porch, whitewashed brick on the exterior, an updated and spacious living-dining area, and a covered back porch for those sweltering summer nights.
This quaint cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is the quintessential coastal retreat. Carmel-by-the-Sea is located just an hour outside the tech capital of the country - San Jose - but feels worlds away, thanks to its small population and relaxed lifestyle. The cottage itself is a seaside charmer, featuring blue cedar shake siding and a large deck for lounging, and it’s just a short walk from downtown Carmel.
If there were one home to define small-town Southern charm, it might be this cute Craftsman in Dahlonega, Georgia. Once considered a gold-mining destination, Dahlonega is now a quiet little mountain town with a downtown that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Craftsman home, located minutes from the downtown square, is elegant yet cozy, with hardwood floors throughout the main level, wainscoting in the dining room, and two levels of decks that have a beautiful tree-lined view.
This cabin in Ketchum, Idaho - population 2,689 - may have your typical rustic mountain cabin exterior, but pop inside and you’ll find an unexpected use of Scandinavian style. The interior of the cabin features Venetian plaster, low-voltage cable lighting, stainless spacers in maple-wrapped beams and a custom staircase.
Just a bit beyond the bright lights of Times Square, you’ll find this vibrant farmhouse in Rhinebeck, New York, which is a charming and historic town about two hours away from Manhattan. This home makes small-town life feel fabulous, with stunning details like beamed vaulted ceilings in the living space and master bedroom, a chef’s kitchen, and even an indoor lap pool with views of the 5-acre lot.
This quirky and colorful Queen Anne Victorian home in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and it’s currently being used as a bed-and-breakfast for the bustling tourist town in the Ozarks. A pastel facade and a large front porch greet you as you enter the 7-bed, 7.5-bath home - which is divided up into three floors full of guest suites with private entrances.
This Arts and Crafts-style home, located in the historic district of Marietta, Ohio (population 14,085), combines the gorgeous architecture of the early 20th century with the modern, convenient and open spaces of the 21st century. The rooms throughout the home have been carefully updated while still keeping the original charm intact, including the embellishments on the hardwood floors, the built-ins in the living area, and the cozy fireplaces in the dining and living spaces.
This pueblo-style home in Taos, New Mexico, is just a short walk to the small town’s famous art galleries in Taos Plaza. The pueblo itself is a work of art, with beautiful details like dark wood beams across the ceiling, a Spanish tile floor and a large fireplace in the living room.