What is a Classic Six Apartment?
Out of all the terms that you would find in the NYC apartment search lexicon, one of the most intriguing terms that you would find is the “classic six”. Its name alludes to two things: “classic” refers to the prewar era during which most of these apartments were built, while “six” refers to the number of rooms. A true classic six must have two full and separate bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a formal dining room. The sixth room refers to a maid’s quarters since hiring help was the norm for rich families during that time. The floor plan of a classic six does not include bathrooms, and these apartments would normally have three bathrooms: two for the family, and a separate bathroom for the help.
Classic six apartments are found mostly in the Upper West Side and Upper East Side of New York. However, you can also find them in areas of Brooklyn where many buildings were built during the turn of the 20th century. Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Brooklyn Heights all have their fair share of classic six units.
Now and again, you might find apartments that have the typical layout of a classic six but with a few additional bedrooms. Thus, they are listed as “classic seven”, “classic eight”, and so on depending on the number of added rooms. However, these listings are far and few in between.
The Grandeur of a Classic Six
One of the biggest draws of a classic six - aside from the roomy layout and abundance of rooms -, is that many of these apartments feature architectural touches that were common during the era that they were built.
You will often find that classic six listings boast features and furnishings that you won’t find in modern apartments such as genuine hardwood floors, vintage moldings, and thick walls. Given the large available space inside these apartments, they also have high ceilings and large windows that give these apartments a roomy and airy feeling.
Some apartments even take the luxurious vibe even higher as they can come with private terraces, grand entrance galleries between rooms, and wood-burning fireplaces.
Benefits of a Classic Six Apartment
Here are some of the benefits that you would enjoy when renting a classic six apartment:
Great for Families
One of the most obvious benefits of a classic six is that it is perfect for families. Since there are multiple separate bedrooms, renters can designate a room for the family. Parents can have a private bedroom while children can share the second bedroom.
What’s more, the demarcation between the rooms gives a classic six a more “homey” feel compared to other types of apartments. Even a two-bedroom apartment often has an open floor plan that includes the living room, dining room, and kitchen, so a classic six is a better choice if you’re going for an apartment that feels like a traditional house.
Unique Architecture and Decor
If you’re a fan of classic architecture, then a classic six apartment would be the unit of your dreams. While you could also find similar decor in other apartments that were either built during the prewar era such as railroad apartments or find the same high ceilings in large windows in loft apartments, classic sixes are set apart because of their square footage.
Perfect for Hosting Parties
Those who love to play host will love having their parties and gathering in a classic six. Since there is a room that’s dedicated to hosting guests, you won’t need to worry about the privacy of other areas of the apartment. What’s more, your guests won’t see any preparation of the food, since the kitchen is separate as well.
Flexible Additional Room
While you could use the maid’s quarters as a third bedroom (albeit a smaller one that’s often found beside the kitchen), you could also convert it to other uses. You can make it into a home office, a gym, or even a storage space.
Often Found in Full-Service Buildings
While many classic six apartments are found in older buildings, this doesn’t mean that you won’t get to enjoy modern amenities! Since they are highly coveted, developers have capitalized on this demand and upgraded the buildings to include amenities such as doormen and elevators.
What to Consider Before Renting a Classic Six
On the surface, a classic six apartment sounds like a true gem, and there’s no denying that they are amazing finds for people who want the perks of having this type of unit. However, they aren’t for everyone despite their roominess and great decor.
Among all of the types of apartments in NYC, a classic six will always fall on the more expensive end of the spectrum. When you combine the number of rooms, square footage, and the usual zip code of these apartments, you will end up with a monthly rent that might not be in everyone’s price range.
Small Kitchen Layout
Modern home cooks might find that the kitchen can feel cramped. Keep in mind that the design of the classic six is made with hired help in mind, so space in “service areas” such as the kitchen was not a priority.
Rigid Room Definition
The layout of a classic six is the opposite of the modern apartment. Most modern apartments, whether it’s a studio or a junior-4, have an open floor plan that allows renters to arrange and decorate their home as they see fit. With a classic six, however, you’re mostly limited to the existing layout.
Many are Owned by Co-op Boards
Even if you have the money and willingness to renovate your classic six, you might have to contend with the co-op board of the building. Most classic sixes are owned by co-op boards that will need to sign off on any major renovations that you want to do. Once approved, you will also need to hire an engineer and architect to make sure that these renovations follow the NYC housing code. For most renters, it doesn’t make financial sense to invest a large amount of money in a property that they don’t own.
Is a Classic Six Right for Me?
Classic six apartments are an optimum choice if you have deep pockets and you want to experience the “classic” New York City lifestyle. However, if this kind of apartment is just outside of your reach for the moment but you still want the space, you can opt for a 2-bedroom apartment in the meantime.