Skip to content
Subscriber Only

To Hike Rent, Landlords Swap Plain Walls for Exposed Brick

The interior design element signals authenticity to apartment-seekers—and opportunity for landlords and developers
relates to To Hike Rent, Landlords Swap Plain Walls for Exposed Brick
Photographer: Getty Images

Depending on your bank account, a three-bedroom apartment in an up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood renting for $2,899 a month may seem like a good deal. It’s close to an express stop on the subway into Manhattan and a short walk from hipster hangouts such as Dynaco and the Michelin-reviewed Do or Dine. Inside, the apartment features hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and exposed brick. Lots of exposed brick.

The newly renovated digs, advertised on Craigslist in early January, feature several small cutouts of brick, framed by wood sills and back-lit like works of art. It's an urban landlord’s idea of a 24-hour makeover: Tear down some dry wall, add a bullet point to your real estate listing, bask in the glory of instant cool. Peruse the real estate listings in Boston, Chicago, or Washington, and you'll come across more listings like that one. You may find a brick column in an otherwise modern kitchen, as seen in a recently listed two-bedroom on Boston’s Mission Hill. Or a track-lighted brick panel—ready for close-up—like the cutout in a three-level home in Washington’s Bloomingdale neighborhood.