The layout of an apartment is one of the most sought out features when it comes to apartment hunting. With so many terms being used in the real estate market to describe apartment layouts, it is not uncommon to be thrown off by unit types such as classic six apartments. These apartments are a mainstay in the New York City real estate terminology, but what exactly are they and why have they captured the attention of many?
What is a classic six apartment? A classic six apartment is a rental unit that has six separate rooms. These rooms comprise of two full bedrooms, a living room, a separate kitchen, a formal dining room, and a third bedroom that is typically smaller than the other to and is referred to as the maid’s room.
The maid’s room is usually situated off the kitchen, and it usually comes with its own full or half bath. In addition to the bathroom in the maid’s room, there are at least two full bathrooms in this apartment layout, and in some cases, there is usually a separate laundry room included as well. It is not uncommon to find a separate entrance that leads directly to the kitchen in this type of apartment.
What to expect from a Classic six apartment
The term ‘classic six’ refers to prewar apartments that include six rooms that include the kitchen, living room, a maid’s room, a formal dining room, and two full bedrooms. The bathrooms are excluded from the room count as well as any entrance galleries and pantries that may be included. Since they are mostly found in prewar buildings which are known for their heavy construction and thick walls, classic six apartments allow for a greater sense of privacy.
Classic six apartments are renowned for having one of the most coveted apartment layouts in New York City by families looking to settle in a few select neighborhoods. These units are sought by tenants for their generous size as well as the well-divided layout that allows for more privacy than what you would find in a more open layout. More often than not, you will find that the living room and the formal dining room run into each other, at times divided by French doors or any other kind of retractable room divider.
The maid’s room is isolated from the rest of the rooms off the kitchen and is almost completely hidden from the living area. It is small in size and can be used as a bedroom, although given its isolation from the living space and proximity to the kitchen, many tenants prefer to convert the maid’s room into a home office or study room. The maid’s room can also be used as a storage case, and less commonly, as a guest bedroom.
Perhaps another reason why classic six apartments are so desirable is the fact they are not too commonly available. You are most likely to find these units in pre-war buildings in Upper West Side and Upper East Side. It is even harder to find one that is available to rent since a majority of these units are in co-op buildings. In Brooklyn, you will want to try your luck in Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Park Slope, and other areas where there are apartment buildings that date back to the early 20th century. Other areas you may want to look include Grand Army Plaza and Eastern Parkway which both have prewar buildings some of which may have available classic six apartments.
While classic six apartments share similar layouts, not all of them are the same in the sense that they may have varying features. For example, while many of them have high ceilings and spacious rooms, only a few may come with wood-burning fireplaces.
The upsides and downsides
While there are many desirable aspects of classic six apartments, it is also important to take into consideration some not so great traits as well.
Pros of classic six apartment
Classic six apartments typically include two separate bedrooms and an additional maid’s room that can serve as the third bedroom. They are separated by thick walls which greatly contribute to the sense of seclusion and quiet once you are in your own bedroom. When you have guests over, you don’t have to worry about them being able to catch a glimpse of the sleeping areas since the rooms are clearly defined.
Classic six apartments are known for their spacious layouts. In fact, this is the main reason why they are considered to be the ideal family home by many. In addition to the generously sized rooms, they have high ceilings that effectively make the apartment seem bigger than the actual square footage.
3. Well defined living areas
Unlike in apartments that have open layouts, classic six apartments have clearly distinct rooms. Generally, these units are divided into three zones- the public area which constitutes the living room and dining room, the bedrooms, and the kitchen. The hallways are also effective in defining the various spaces.
4. The architectural and aesthetic elements
As previously mentioned, classic six apartments are primarily found in prewar apartments, hence the architectural and aesthetic value that they are associated with. It is not uncommon to find a classic six apartment with original details such as moldings and cornices, high ceilings, hardwood walnut stained floors, gorgeous French doors, and spacious closets. In some cases, if you are lucky you may even find one that has a wood-burning fireplace.
5. Makes for a great family home
Classic six apartments are popular with families due to space and privacy that they offer. The maid’s room can be easily converted to a third bedroom for a guest or a teenager who wants their space due to the privacy that it offers.
6. Storage space
There is a lot of storage space that comes with classic six apartments. The in-built closets in the bedroom are large, and if they are not enough, there is plenty of space that you can use to create extra storage such as the maid’s room which has become a sort of a catch-all storage room for many.
Cons of classic six apartment
1. In select neighborhoods
You are most likely to find classic six apartments in neighborhoods such as Upper East Side and Upper West Side, so if you are looking to live in a trendy downtown neighborhood, then you are most likely to miss out on this type of unit.
2. The layout is not as open
Classic six apartments are divided into six separate rooms, which take away from the open layout that you may be looking for. While this is great for privacy, it may feel confining for some. Since they are not particularly open, the parts of some classic six apartments may not receive adequate natural light since they may be blocked off by walls.
In addition to being generous in size, classic six apartments are found in high-end neighborhoods where the rents are inevitably expensive. Furthermore, the fact that there are not too many of them available in the market makes them even more costly since the demand for them is higher.
Utilities may also be generally more expensive in a classic six apartment due to the size of the unit. Additionally, if the apartment building in which the classic six is located has not undergone improvements such as the installation of new water pipes or a heating system, the respective utilities may end up costing you dearly. Go for apartments that are in buildings which have been adequately renovated to avoid such issues.
4. The maid’s room is significantly smaller
While the maid’s room can be used as a third bedroom, it has significantly less space and privacy than the other two full-size bedrooms. This extra room may be more suitable as a home office or guest room. Therefore, if you are looking for an apartment that has three full-size bedrooms then a classic six unit may not be for you.
5. The kitchen of this apartment type is small
The kitchens of classic six apartments that you will find in prewar buildings tend to be smaller than what you may expect. This might be because they were designed with servants in mind rather than modern cooks,
6. May require a lot of maintenance
The prewar details that many classic six apartments tend to have is charming, but this may also mean that they will require a lot more maintenance than an average apartment in order for them to remain appealing especially if the apartment has not undergone as much renovation.
7. They are often found in co-op buildings
More often than not, classic six units are located in co-op buildings. This means that in order to secure an apartment, you will need to be vetted by a formidable board. These boards are infamous for their lengthy approval process that involves providing your employment history, financial information, and other personal details. Even if you can afford the apartment, you can be rejected for virtually any other reason.
If you are an apartment hunter in New York City, classic six apartments are worth your consideration especially if you have a family. They include two spacious bedrooms that offer adequate privacy thanks to the thick walls. The divided layout offers the privacy you may be lacking in an apartment with an open layout, and the prewar elements greatly contribute to the aesthetic of the apartment. However, it is important to keep in mind that you will primarily find them in select affluent neighborhoods, and some area such as the kitchen and maid’s room may not be particularly spacious.