11 November 2008

stone & tile

With construction going full force over at the townhouse we're now able to start focusing on interior finishes. Over the past week we've been finalizing stone and tile selections throughout the house. These include kitchen counter tops and back splashes, fireplace surrounds, and stone and tile for all the bathrooms. Tackling seven bathrooms alone can seem like a daunting task but with the right team (client, architect, and stone and tile showroom manager in our case) finding the perfect stone is really pretty fun. It's exciting to see the interiors starting to come together at such a human scale.

Here are some of the tiles that we most recently selected.
A- wood floor at the parlor level
B & C- family room fireplace surround and hearth
D- kitchen back splash tile
E- master bedroom fireplace surround
F- parlor bar back splash
G- parlor bar counter top and fireplace surround
H- children and guest bathroom vanity tops and door saddles
I- slate floor at garden level entry
J- possible vanity top at parlor powder room

And here's a closer shot of the family room fireplace slate. The photo really doesn't do it justice.

Here are elevations of the kitchen and family room (click to enlarge) at the garden level to give you a better idea of where the stone is going. In the first drawing tile "D" will be above the range in a 3"x6" size. In the second drawing stone "B" and "C" will make up the full-height fireplace and raised hearth.

This is a close up of the stone and tile being used at the parlor. The antique mirror back splash is amazing in person.

This final drawing is an elevation of the parlor fireplace wall to give you a better idea of where the above stone and tile will go. The section accompanying it reveals a hidden bar (which is behind the doors to the right of the fireplace. Here, stone "G" will be used as the fireplace surround and counter top and tile "F" will be the back splash at the bar. It runs up behind the glass shelves which hold bar ware.

24 October 2008

up and down

Currently the crew on site is focusing on either ends of the townhouse; the garden level and the new top floor. At the garden level excavation is complete (with the exception of the actual garden) and underpinning is underway. The ceiling joists at this floor (aka the floor joists of the parlor floor) are also going in as we speak. You can see just how open the two bottom floors are to each other and I have to say walking over the joists and looking down to the floor below is still a little creepy for me! Our contractor has also closed off the front areaway of the townhouse in prep for some excavation work there as well. We are putting in a new, more spacious stair that leads down to the garden level of the house.

walking on the parlor "floor" (if you can call it that in it's present state!) looking down to where the kitchen will be.

looking up from the garden floor towards the front of the house

looking up from the garden floor to the back of the house

parlor floor joists extending beyond where the back wall of the townhouse use to be

our new temporary wall around the areaway in prep for excavation

an impromptu conference table at the master bedroom floor- soon to house a site office complete with phone, fax, and computer
At the other end of the house half of the existing roof has been removed to make way for new fourth floor joists. Workmen are busy building a temporary roof over this structure to keep out the downpours expected tomorrow. Our site foreman even designed a special gutter system which collects rain from the roof and shoots it out through the third floor.

new fourth floor joists where the roof use to be. you can see some of the temporary roof above

the temporary gutter shooting off the roof, through the house, and into the garden
I've realized that with so many floors and different names for them things can get a little confusing so here's a run down of the floor names, their locations, and their programs just to make things more clear:

garden floor (halfway below the sidewalk level): this floor contains the kitchen, family room, mechanical room, and powder room. it also opens to the rear garden.

parlor floor (first floor where the main entry is): this floor contains a formal dining room, grand stair hall, study, and powder room)

second floor: we also call this the master bedroom floor. it contains a master bedroom suite and a nursery.

third floor: also referred to as the kids' floor. this floor has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry room.

fourth floor: (completely new floor) this floor has a game room, a gym, storage, a bathroom, and an outdoor terrace that looks out over the back yard.

attic: we've designed the house to have a small attic, primarily for storage, which is accessible through the storage room on the fourth floor.

15 October 2008


What the site should look like in a little over a year...

sections, plans, and elevations

13 October 2008

friday's site visit

Last Friday's site visit was amazing. Not only did we finalize a design for the rear garden with our client but we also got our first peak at the townhouse with it's rear wall demolished. Next the contractor and his subs will be removing the existing roof to place the steel for the new fifth floor. The whole house will be open to the elements- let's hope there are no downpours in the near future...

standing at the garden floor looking out to the existing garden. look, no rear wall!

a view of the garden as is and some of the existing bricks from the demolished rear wall that we are salvaging for the new rear wall.

the backless townhouse!

looking up at the few remaining floor joists soon to be removed. you can also see where the back wall use to be.

looking towards the front of the house on the new master bedroom floor.

I'm not sure which floor I took this photo from but it illustrates the difference of height from the new joists (on the right) to the old (on the left). That's one of the two existing chimneys in the house. We're abandoning this one, re-using the other one, and also building a new one.

08 October 2008


At last week's meeting we saw a slew of progression on site. Not only was the majority of the interior demolition complete but the second and third floors had almost all of their floor joists in as well as two layers of sub-flooring secured in place. No more jumping from joist to joist to pass through the house! This is a huge plus in my book.

In addition we also observed the initial removal of the rear wall and the new completed rear wall foundation walls. Our meeting this Friday should allow us to see the whole back wall missing with the house completely open to the garden.

Removal of the existing rear wall. To get this close to the edge our contractor had to walk down to the very end of a rather precariously balanced w-flange...

Some shots of the new rear wall foundation wall and its reinforcing bars. See that slight bump out in the first photo where the foundation wall gets thicker at the corner? That's where our steel which is framing out the new rear wall opening will sit. The steel sits in from the facade to allow our re-used bricks to pass in front of it.

Here's the removal of the existing first floor. Those are existing joists to be removed that you can look beyond to see the garden level.

18 September 2008


The demolition phase is now in full force at the townhouse. Not only have all the interior partition walls been removed but there is substantial excavation at the garden level where the kitchen and family room will be.

Removing all of the existing interior walls, joists, and the exterior rear wall itself though is quite a daunting task. It is of crucial importance that we maintain stability of the existing street facade along with the east and west walls which we share with two other townhouses. We also must allow construction and demolition crews access to all levels of the house, which is of course easier when there are still some existing floor joists for everyone to clamber around on. For these reasons, a well orchestrated balance of demo and construction will be going on in the house for the next few weeks. As new steel and wood joists are put in the existing ones can be removed- as part of the existing rear garden wall is removed a new concrete foundation can be poured and so on.

06 September 2008


We couldn't be more excited about sharing one of our current projects with you: the complete gut renovation of an existing townhouse in Manhattan. This blog will attempt to cover all aspects of renovation from demolition to furniture selection and everything else in between.

The scope of work includes making the house suitable for a single family, the addition of a penthouse floor, the expansion of the rear of the house, as well as a sizable amount of excavation of the existing garden level floor to achieve a greater head height. We will also be adding a new rear wall, a new staircase and elevator, and a new garden level entry way.

All that will remain of the existing townhouse is the street facade. All interior finishes, walls, and floors will be removed along with the existing rear garden wall to make room for new structure and a better, more functional design.
the existing street facade to remain (although all doors and windows will be replaced)
the existing garden facade (which will be completely removed in order to build the house out to where the existing "tale" is).