A family with two active young children (ages 4 and 6) plus an 1890s townhouse that is only 12 feet wide equals a renovation in which every inch counts. Add to that the fact that the home hadn’t been touched since at least the 1970s and you’ve got an extra remodeling challenge, but also one that invites creative solutions. The family wanted a yard where the children could play and, knowing the kids wouldn’t stay small forever, room to expand into three bedrooms.
They embarked on a full gut renovation that included the enlarging of the kitchen by combining it with an old three-season porch, the re-configuring of the second floor to create a master suite with a walk-in closet and bathroom, the addition of a second bathroom on the second floor, and a completely finished basement. The basement renovation provided significantly more living space, including the addition of the desired third bedroom as well as a family room and a third bathroom. New electrical, HVAC and windows were added throughout the house.
The kitchen features modern open shelving, an over-sized glass door to bring in light and a view of the green backyard, and an easy-to-navigate cooking space with extra-deep countertops and a large pantry offering generous storage space. The rooms are comfortably proportioned and filled with light. The exterior front facade was given a fresh, clean, modern look – with new horizontal garapa siding and a large picture window – that yet respects the more traditional look of neighboring homes.
Accommodating an expanding family
While renovating a home all at once has advantages, sometimes time or budget constraints make it impractical or impossible. What’s more, needs can change over time. Such was the case with the owners of this Park Slope prewar home, who remodeled their home in two separate phases.
The young family embarked on phase one, which included the renovation of the kitchen, dining room and bathroom, while expecting their first child. They undertook phase two, in which they renovated their entry area, updated their bedroom, and added an entertainment area and playroom off their living room, when she was pregnant with their second child.
In the first phase, we gutted the clients’ small, dark kitchen and dining room, combining them to create a large, open, welcoming area in which their growing family would have space to move. Paneled wainscoting that matched the home’s existing details was added to provide visual continuity and unity to what had been two separate rooms. The kitchen was configured and appliances selected to make the most of every inch of space. Thoughtful details such as an open shelf near the range for frequently used items made cooking more convenient. The renovation of the home’s outdated bathroom included the addition of a washer/dryer, a life-changer for a family with a new baby.
Phase two focused on finding usable space in existing areas and re-purposing it to accommodate the expanding needs of this growing family. We converted an underutilized storage nook off the living room into a TV nook and play area for the kids and built custom cabinetry into the entry area with a bench seat and storage for coats, shoes and seasonal items.
A chef’s kitchen, a welcoming vibe
After renting apartments for years, the owners of this Bay Ridge brownstone wanted to entertain family and friends in their new home. He is a chef and she is a therapist – so both a gourmet kitchen and relaxed, welcoming vibe were essential in their phase-one gut renovation of the garden and first floors of the two-family home. We opened up the small, disjointed rooms on the garden floor to improve the flow and installed glass patio doors to bring in more light and lead from the kitchen to the outdoor dining patio and garden. The kitchen was expanded and a bathroom was added on the garden floor. On the first floor, the space was rearranged to create two bedrooms, an office and a bathroom. Central air conditioning was added throughout.
In phase two, the family tackled the basement, turning a dark, cramped, dirt-floor storage area into clean, light, comfortable, well-proportioned living space that included a bedroom and hang-out zone for their teenage son. We excavated the basement floor to maximize ceiling height and built out the space to include a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, media/living room, storage room and hall cabinetry for suitcases and other items. A new mechanical room concealed all electrical and mechanical elements from view. A new skylight brought in natural light and new stairs provided access to the backyard. The interior stairs were also rebuilt to optimize access to this new living space.
A hint of Paris
The parlor and second floors of this classic Park Slope single-family brownstone underwent a full gut renovation that respected the traditional bones of the house yet fulfilled the clients’ desire for a light, gracious, open space that would allow them to cook and entertain at the same time.
On the parlor floor, small, dark, disjointed room, including a small kitchen separate from the dining room, were combined into one large space. A custom banquet was added to provide an alternative to the more formal dining room for the family of four – with two teenagers – to gather for casual meals and homework. New French casement windows and a new glass door open onto an existing deck, visually extending the space and welcoming in sunlight and air.
A single bathroom and an awkwardly configured walk-in closet on the second floor were reconfigured to create two luxurious full bathrooms, featuring marble countertops and tiling and high-end fixtures and finishes, and new master closets with custom cabinetry. Details, such as a custom makeup counter in the master bath, are tailored to the clients’ lifestyle and taste and provide a sense of sanctuary.
Central air was added throughout.
A fresh take on a classic
When two musicians and first-time home owners moved into this large historic house in Ditmas Park, which was in extreme disrepair, they loved the bones of the place, with its classic center-hall-stair layout, but knew it would take a lot of work to make it livable and comfortable for their family of three. Still, it was a challenge that paid off. The full gut renovation included a complete remodel of the kitchen and four baths, the restoration of the plaster-work and flooring and the installation of new windows and glass doors to improve circulation and bring more natural light into the space.
The kitchen was renovated to provide an ideal layout for cooking and make use of every available space, with a full-height pantry that ran the length of the kitchen and a built-in china cabinet, as well as top-of-the-line appliances. The cabinetry included custom interiors to maximize storage. The elimination of upper cabinetry along the windowed wall, on which the sink and range are situated, contributes to an open feel.
A clean backdrop for treasured objects
A well-designed home both suits and reflects the owners’ style, personality and pursuits, their tastes and travels. So it was with this charming East Village back-house, a quiet city oasis, on which we were called in during construction to help curate and place the clients’ extensive collection of African art and artifacts.
We worked closely with the clients, a couple who had traveled extensively, collecting pieces over the course of years, on how best to integrate their extensive collection into the design of their newly renovated home. We consulted on the selection and purchase of furniture, lighting and window treatments with an eye toward creating a comfortable, serene, modern look and a clean backdrop for their treasured items.
Light, space and a focus on art
For a team of art conservators moving into a nearly 7,000-square-foot Chelsea studio, the right light (natural, bright, diffused) and clear, open spaces – in addition to a carefully controlled climate and state-of-the-art security -- were essential elements. We provided a full design scope, from schematic design through construction oversight.
Two large skylights were installed to bring in even more light to the top floor of the former warehouse building, which already featured dramatic, expansive windows. A neutral color palette, industrial design elements (poured concrete floors, exposed brick walls, pipes and pillars), and minimal, modern furnishing and fixtures were carefully selected so as not to distract from the artwork under restoration.
A home office within a home
The owners of this 900-square-foot, two-bedroom Brooklyn coop apartment wanted to carve out a home office and restructure the space to allow them to keep an eye on their kids (ages 1 and 3) while working or cooking. A full gut renovation kept the space clean and clear with an office and bike storage room that were essentially hidden, tucked between the kitchen and living room and concealed behind an attractive slatted walnut wall.
The kitchen, dining room and living room were opened up to provide more room for the kids to play. Custom cabinetry was installed in both bedrooms, providing ample storage and eliminating the need for dressers. The clean, modern look continued in the renovated bathroom and kitchen, which featured concrete countertops, understated white cabinetry and walnut accents.