Let’s talk about six: What’s a classic six apartment?

Have you ever heard of a “classic six” apartment? From time-to-time in NYC you might’ve crossed this listing term and found yourself curious as to what it actually means. According to Brownstoner, a classic six apartment is “chic, desirable and great for raising a family”. But what makes this style of living just so appealing? What is it makes a “classic six” one of New York City’s most sought after apartment layouts? 

Let’s break it down.


The classic layout

A classic six is a prewar (“classic”) apartment with a certain number of separate rooms (you guessed it – “six”). However that’s not all, it must also include a living room, formal dining room with a window, a kitchen, two full bedrooms and a maid’s room (typically smaller than the main bedrooms and usually located off the kitchen). While a classic six can have any number of bathrooms, oftentimes you’ll find the maid’s room also boasts its own full or half-bath.

A Prospect Heights’ classic six floor plan. Image: Brownstoner
A Prospect Heights’ classic six floor plan. Image: Brownstoner

The “other” classics

You might have come across the phrases “classic five” (lacking the maid’s room), or “classic seven” (which includes an additional bedroom), however, the less common, rare surviving “classic eight” with a room for a second maid, also exists.

Searching for six

According to Brownstoner, “the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side are known for having the largest stocks of classic six units in New York, [but] even there, listings are scarce”. Many are in co-op buildings (and occasionally condo buildings) and it’s incredibly rare to find one for rent. 

A good place to start is Brooklyn – Brooklyn Heights, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights or Park Slope – places boasting large-scale pre-war apartment buildings.

Apartment appeal

In addition to the obvious, being the sheer size of a classic six, both the fact that they’re so hard to come across and the distinct layout play a big role in the appeal. More or less impossible to achieve in smaller NYC apartments, the layout of a classic six provides both privacy and a feel of openness. How? The kitchen, dining and entertaining/common areas are often separated from the main bedrooms by a distinct hallway. Because of this, these “apartments” actually have a layout more similar to a classic single family home.

The space separation of the maid’s room to the rest of the home, tucked away by the kitchen, is often a favorite of NYC youth who enjoy the privacy and the idea of occupying their own living quarters. Of course, being so close by the kitchen and that endless supply of coffee, this space also makes for a great home office or studio! If you’ve found yourself with a classic six with a maid’s room that boasts it’s own bathroom or half bath too, why not turn it into a guest bedroom?

A classic six kitchen with a maid’s room converted to a guest bedroom. Image: The Wall Street Journal
A classic six kitchen with a maid’s room converted to a guest bedroom. Image: The Wall Street Journal

Your pre-war classic six: The 2017 update

Given the original construction date on majority of these apartments, chances are, yours might be in need of a little upgrade. Or perhaps you’re ready to do a little renovating to turn that maid’s quarters into your new home office? You might like to enlist the help of someone like All Renovations – specialists in high-end Brooklyn and Manhattan brownstone renovations. Or Brooklyn-based Creative Renovations – whose past client list includes a number of Brooklyn brownstone landmarks!

Kitchen Renovation on a Budget

You can count(er) on it!

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Resurfacing countertops is fairly simple with new laminate costing $30 to $40 per square foot and ceramic tiles can be installed over existing plywood. Solid and stone countertops can also be professionally polished to remove wear and tear. Give your countertops a mask makeover by simply putting molding around the front edge for about $5 per linear foot.

Other ideas to reinvent this high traffic area include ripping out just one section of countertop space and using a different material such as a chopping block and adding a backsplash using laminates, ceramic or glass tiles, or event metal ceiling squares.

From Cambira to Granite to Ceasarstone, check out what Italian Tile NYC has to offer.

Hail a new cab-inet

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Update your kitchen accessories without overhauling the whole wardrobe with simple knobs, pulls and hinges that cost just a few dollars per door. Make sure you’re the measurement master so that all fixtures match the holes they need to be screwed into.

Replace panels on cabinet doors. Plain or textured glass or metal filler panels can add a decorative dash from $100 per door. You can also play around with completely removing the doors for an open-shelf look (for free)!
Completely removing and refacing cabinet doors and drawers can cost $135 per linear foot depending on the veneer and method of installation. Shop around for quotes and inspect samples of your contractor’s work.
Finally, a dull kitchen can really be a paint in the butt, so recolour your space with a new coat to your cabinets.

Whether you want to go contemporary or classic, Brooklyn locals, Nagad Cabinets will have a solution for you.

The floor of the land

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For $550 to $1,000 you can refinish an existing wood floor and stain it with a different color or add a stenciled border. Stone flooring can be professionally polished to breathe new life into its ailing original color. If the floor is flat and intact, an easy $200 to $500 will get you a new coat of flooring primer or a layer of stick-down vinyl tiles, respectively.

Visit Wood Flooring USA in Brooklyn for a custom solution to your needs.

Out-of-the-box others

  • Add shelves on unused corners for cookbooks and colourful dishware – even a few inches of wall space makes a difference! Vary your display dishware’s colors and textures for maximum visual impact.
  • Magnetize eyes to your kitchen by accessorizing metal utensils across a metal bar and hang your cookware in clear view.
  • Dress your window with a tension rod and some leftover fabric, hemmed at the top, to give your kitchen a final pop of pizazz.