What is a 'classic six' apartment and why is it so desirable?
- The six rooms include a living room, dining room, kitchen, two full bedrooms, and a former live-in staff room
- Classic six apartments are prized for prewar features like oak floors, thick walls, solid-core doors, and large rooms
- Most are on the Upper East and Upper West sides of Manhattan; prices range from $1.5 million to over $7 million
Sotheby's International Realty
If you’re drawn to New York’s older, prewar buildings, you’re probably a fan of the classic six. These are apartments with decorative details, high ceilings, and plaster moldings—and as the name suggests, a layout with six, separate rooms.
A classic six also has coveted features like large rooms, wood floors, and solid-core doors. These types of apartments can allow for some flexibility to accommodate a home office or reconfigure a smaller kitchen. This is something that can be hard to find in many new developments or refurbished buildings. Classic six apartments are mostly found on Manhattan’s Upper East and Upper West sides.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in August 2022. We are presenting it with updated information for September 2023.]
I’ve been looking at apartment listings, and I keep running into the phrase, “classic six” (and classic five, classic seven, and so on). What exactly does that mean, and why is it desirable? Will I pay more to live in one? Where are they located?
“This term refers to a prewar apartment with six rooms, generally including the kitchen and bedrooms, and excluding the bathrooms, pantries, and entrance galleries,” Sigler says.
A classic six has a living room, a formal dining room with a window, a separate kitchen, two full bedrooms, and what was previously a live-in staff room—usually located off the kitchen with its own full bathroom or half-bath.
A classic five lacks the staff room, while a classic seven has an extra bedroom, and the rare classic eight has an additional small room.
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What are classic sixes like?
These apartments are known for quintessential prewar features, such as oak floors, thick walls, solid-core doors, generous room proportions, a dining room, and the ultimate status symbol—a working wood-burning fireplace (though in updated iterations, the fireplace might be decorative).
Where can you find a classic six?
“You'll often find classic apartments in co-op buildings that date back to the 1920s through 1940, primarily on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side,” Sigler says.
That said, developers of new construction are incorporating some of the classic six details into their current projects.
“In recent years, developers of condo buildings like 520 Park Ave. in Lenox Hill and 220 Central Park South in Midtown have co-opted the classic layout, combining those old-school embellishments with modern extras like garages, gyms, pools, and screening rooms,” Sigler says.
“So if you're enamored with the prewar style, you don’t have to confine your search to decades-old buildings—or pass a co-op board,” she says.
How many classic sixes are for sale at the moment?
Fewer than 45 apartments listed on StreetEasy are described as a classic six, primarily in Manhattan. Some have already been reconfigured from their original design or have been combined with neighboring units into much grander apartments.
Prices for classic six apartments on the market range from $1.5 million (often for "as is" units) to over $7 million. Most of the classic six prewars on the market currently fall in the mid-$3.5 million to $5 million range.
Why would someone want to buy a classic six?
The pros of purchasing a classic six include high ceilings of at least nine feet as well as prewar details like plaster moldings and cornices.
Some people also like the fact that classic sixes have defined living areas. The apartment is typically divided into three zones—public (living room, dining room, library), private (bedrooms), and so-called staff quarters (including the kitchen).
There are usually hallways separating these areas, which also help define the spaces
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What are the disadvantages of buying a classic six?
A classic six can make you feel somewhat boxed in and many New Yorkers prefer open plans with fewer walls and living spaces that feel more expansive.
“The lack of an open layout could be a downside if you have small children that you want to keep an eye on,” Sigler says. However, renovated class six apartments often create a great room with a combined living and dining area.
Finally, while a so-called staff room might have had a useful function when the apartment was built, these days it is likely marketed as a home office space or a bedroom.
Want to see if classic six-style living appeals to you? Check out these apartments currently on the market.
This renovated three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath co-op has been reconfigured from eight rooms to a classic six layout with 2,500-plus square feet of flexible living space with four fireplaces, an eat-in chef’s kitchen, a den/guest suite, primary suite with a sitting room, custom walk-in closets, five HVAC zones, high ceilings, and hardwood floors, plus views of Central Park from every window. It is asking $6.743 million; maintenance is $7,666 per month. The full-service 1924 building has a common roof deck, gym, bike room, and extra storage.
Listed for $4.650 million and with $3,538 in monthly maintenance, this 2,389-square-foot classic six condo is in a full-service luxury building and includes three bedrooms, three full baths, a half bath, an open living and dining room area with Central Park views, an eat-in chef's kitchen with high-end appliances. Oversized thermo-pane casement windows, in-wall home audio speakers, and electric shades are located throughout the unit. The 1930 building was converted in 2011 into a boutique condominium with 55 units and a 24/7 attended lobby, fitness center, residents’ lounge, playroom, and bike room; private parking is available at a discount.
Recently gut renovated with luxury finishes, soundproof windows, new plumbing and electrical, and double-zoned AC, this classic six has two bedrooms including a primary suite with a dressing room, two baths, a formal dining room that can be converted to a large third bedroom/primary suite, and a chef's kitchen with top-end appliances. Other features include south, west, and north exposures, high ceilings, oak floors, a working fireplace, vented washer/ dryer, in-ceiling speakers, and Lutron lighting system. The $4 million listing is located in a 1929 Emery Roth building with a roof garden, fitness center, package room, cold storage, full-time doormen, and concierge service. Monthly maintenance is $4,646.
Located in a 49-unit prewar co-op with a live-in super, storage bins, elevator, bike room, and shared garden, this residence is a classic six layout with two bedrooms, a third bedroom or home office, two baths, south-facing living room and dining room, and a chef's kitchen with marble counters, and a washer/dryer. It is asking $2.25 million; monthly maintenance is $2,665.
On the market for $3.25 million, this spacious classic six has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a private staff room or home office, semi-private landing, high ceilings, original hardwood floors and prewar details. The living room and dining room have transformed into an open entertainment space with oversized windows and custom-built bookshelves framing the decorative fireplace. The building is a full-service prewar co-op with a live-in super, 24-hour doormen, a fitness room, nursery/playroom, central laundry room, half-basketball court, bike room, and private storage cage for each unit. Monthly maintenance is $4,583.
Listed for $1.9 million, this "reimagined" classic six co-op offers two bedrooms, two baths, and an open-concept living and dining area separated by columns and reached by a 17-foot foyer. The eat-in chef's kitchen features limestone flooring and high-end appliances, including a dishwasher and washer/dryer. Built in 1927, the 12-story deco building has 49 units, a live-in super, part-time doorman, and bike storage. Monthly maintenance is $2,862.
Previous versions of this article included reporting and writing by Leah Hochbaum Rosner.
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