An Open Concept Home Renovation Run Amok!

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

First, let’s discuss what an open concept home is. (in case you’ve never heard of that term.)

It’s a home where the common living spaces, great-room/family/living + kitchen + dining are all open to each other.

It’s a concept, alright. But is it a good idea?

It depends.

It’s certainly a contemporary affectation and if one frequently has large gatherings and enjoys that aesthetic, then sure, but otherwise, I would consider this option very carefully–especially for a smaller home.

Recently, an apartment, actually one that is exactly like my apartment went on the market.

It was only sold 19 months ago for 167k. The new owners did a massive renovation which included an open concept home plan. And for some reason, are selling it just months later.

However, before I get started here, I want to emphasize that my aim is not to embarrass or make it difficult for this apartment to sell.

They’ve done a fine job of that on their own, IMO.

And, not everything is bad. In fact, a few aspects are rather nice. However, there is much going on with this renovation that I think is going to make this place difficult to sell.

The point here is to learn and grow as homeowners and designers so that we don’t make the same mistakes.

And believe me, I would be very happy to wrong about this.

However, remember this mess from last August?

 

Not to gloat, (too much) :] but it has enjoyed a modest price-cut and it is still as predicted, on the market.
Make no mistake, the apartment like mine did need some attention, but it got a little too much attention.

Before embarking on a major renovation, a checklist is in order

 

  • How much can I spend?

In this case, we know that apartments, especially have a finite cap. It’s up to the owner, but if it’s important not to spend more than the place is worth, that is an important consideration.

  • How old is the home and what style?

Our building is a gracious traditional-Tudor building with thick walls, large windows, high ceilings, architectural mouldings, ribbon banded oak floors. And it was built in 1920.

  • I think it’s very important to respect the age of the building.
  • The inhabitants. How old are they? Are there children?
  • What is the neighborhood like?
  • What are the other homes like?

The ages of the adults in my building range from 25 – 120. ;]

The one for sale is exactly like mine except it does not have the bay window in the living room which you’ll see in a sec, but otherwise, it was exactly the same.

I say, was because it is very different now.

I  have several photos of my place when it was empty so that you can see more clearly the changes.

living room looking into entry

When you walk into the apartment, you enter a cozy vestibule (where the realtor is standing) which is one of my favorite parts. To the right as you walk in, is the kitchen and straight ahead is the living room.

entry

My charming entry with ribbon banded mahogany inlay on oak floors. The kitchen is on the left and hallway at the bottom left.

living room with bay window

My sunny living room

arched doorway entry

Just past the kitchen which you can see the sliver of yellow-green is another favorite part; a small winding hallway with a lovely arch and corbels. EVERY apartment in the building has at least one of these arched doorways.

EVERY ONE.

hall and bathroom

Walking through the little winding hall, we come to a closet that I use as a utility closet.

Next, is the bathroom.

Then another closet

What I love about this hallway is that one cannot see the bedroom from the entrance. There is a sense that the apartment might keep on going. I think this makes the apartment feel more home-like. And I love that one does not have to walk through any room to get to another room!

And then finally is the bedroom.

paintmess 002 copy

hall in a one-bedroom apartment

Looking back from the bedroom at the winding hallway. (bathroom and closets are on the left)

Because of the way this is configured, if one has a guest staying in the living room like when my sons come to visit, I can barely hear a thing. We put my Zuber screen over the door-way and it is also very private for them.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.51.57 PM

A look back from the living room into the entry, kitchen and then the beginning of the winding hall on the far left of the entrance.

 

Here is the same view from the newly renovated apartment.

open concept living room toilet in dining area

Gone is the cozy entrance; you walk straight into the living room.

Gone is the charming cove ceiling and all of the mouldings, the arched doorway

and all of the walls.

36 pond

Above is a sketch of my apartment drawn to scale.

66 pondThe open concept renovated apartment

open concept living room built-in TV

The living room stripped of all architectural features including the wonderful cove ceiling details and all mouldings.

architectural details cove ceiling picture frame moulding rounded wall

Here, you can see my apartment with the cove ceiling and moulding. I love the curved wall which becomes the bay window.

True, the renovated apartment had no bay window to begin with, but it did have everything else.

 

31 Pondfield Rd West 66 living room

31 pondfield rd west 66

Actually, I did find two very small images before the reno, to show you what it once was. (clashing colors aside.)

Yes, this is the same place two years ago. Please notice that the original floors are in great shape.

open concept one-bedroom

Folks, please let me remind you that this is a very quiet building. There are no parties here.

NEVER. And at least half of the inhabitants are over 60.

This looks like a swinger’s pad. Right?

These people need a lot of space to well… swing, I guess.

But let’s look at the first image again.

open concept living room toilet in dining area
See, it goes like this.

You are a guest at a party at the swinger’s apartment when suddenly you have to make  a poo.

You go into the bathroom to make a poo and when you come out everyone is going to know that YOU were the one who made the big stinky poo.

—because the john is in the middle of the LIVING ROOM.

No, wait; that’s not right.

It’s actually in the middle of the DINING ROOM!

***

Oh, I’m just warming up.

Please observe what else is missing.

BOTH CLOSETS that were flanking the bathroom.

In all fairness, they probably did create an access to the one closest to the bedroom from the bedroom, but they don’t show that.

Still, this place is already low on closets and to take that one out just to make the bathroom longer, is not a fair trade, IMO.

Let’s go into the bathroom to see what’s doing there.

original-subway-tile-bathroom-bronxville-ny

I am positive that this bathroom had the original subway tile from 1920.

The bathroom. pre-renovation would’ve looked like this.

long marble bathroom no tub

After.

I don’t mind the bathroom. However, I don’t understand why the vanity is on two levels and I wouldn’t have clad the walls in marble. But I don’t hate it.

There’s no tub. There are some people who absolutely must have a tub and if you don’t have one, they are probably not going to buy your place.

Aside from all of that, the bathroom is by far the best part of this reno.

Let’s scoot over to the bedroom.

bedroom windows weird moulding

My bedroom is the favorite part of my apartment.

It’s what SOLD me on this place.

Here, stripped of every vestige of its former glory, it looks like one of the rooms at the new hospital cardiac unit they built down the road.

No mouldings.

And what is going on with the window and door casings?

 

 

They stuck up some flat boards, didn’t even bother to miter the corners and the top rail hangs off like some Adirondack hunting lodge.

 

Laurel???

Yes?

When are you going to talk about the floors?

I am not going to talk about the floors; the fact that they took perfectly gorgeous vintage floors– removed them, along with that wonderful ribbon mahogany banding and then stained the new ones the color of cat gromitz. I’m not going to talk about that.

But I am going to talk about the fact that they chose a white paint which clashes horribly with the pinky beige floors and then they put in a lot of gray marble which also clashes with the floors AND the walls.

I’m also not going to talk about the big black monolith they embedded in the wall.

Of course, swingers like TVs, I guess. But swingers do not live in this building.

If only, but I have yet to find evidence of the like in three and a half years.

 

THE KITCHEN

 

At first glance, the kitchen has some very good points like the cabinets going all the way up to the ceiling. Bravo!

However, the first thing to catch my eye is the clashing back splash.

And what IS that thing over the stove? Anyone?

open concept kitchen

Why do people feel the need to embellish that which requires no embellishment?

However, I’m dwelling on minutiae when the most important issue is that they created a kitchen without enough cabinets and no counter space.

It’s a galley kitchen, but for some reason, they chose to make it a one-sided kitchen. It doesn’t help that they removed the wall that was there, but I guess they wanted a larger dining area outside the bathroom?

What else?

The fridge. I would not have put the fridge so close to the window and would definitely get a counter-depth fridge. (although, I read maybe here that someone did that and hates it, so if anyone would like to chime in about that, I would be grateful.)

But… I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.


Price

They put this baby on the market at $299,000 and then dropped the price to 270k–the next day!

(update as of August 27, 2016. We just had a another drop in price and now it’s 260k.)

The comps in this area that have sold recently are at about 165k-190k.

But who is going to pay 40-50% more and for an apartment with a ton of wasted space and a bathroom in the dining area?

There is another apartment in the building that’s been on the market for nearly TWO YEARS, that’s priced at 169k.

Oh dear. Somebody didn’t do their homework, it appears.

What surprises me most about the reno is that any renovations have to be approved by the co-op board and I can’t believe that they would be allowed to remove so much of the apartment’s character and walls. My feeling is if you want a modern apartment, then purchase something in a newer building!

OR paint it all white and put in modern furnishings. That’s a wonderful look.

photo by Bruce Buck - traditional living room with modern furniture

photo: Bruce Buck

IMG_3324-2014-05-26

This is a typical bedroom in this building. (and far nicer than most)

I don’t know what happened with the open concept apartment or why they are selling so soon.

But, I think especially if you live in an apartment at this price-point, one needs to be super careful of any renovations unless you don’t care if you are going to lose thousands of dollars and/or have your place sit on the market for months or years because you screwed up.

Apparently, they’ve been watching too many episodes of Property Brothers. ;]

 

What is the upshot of all of this? How could they have avoided making so many mistakes?

Well… they should’ve gotten some professional help. I don’t think there’s a realtor anywhere in these parts who would advocate taking down all of those walls.


They needed a designer

  • to coordinate colors and finishes and
  • make sure that the layout was optimal and tasteful, while meeting the homeowner’s needs.
  • ensure that the apartment had ample storage and counter-space for preparing meals.
  • Help the homeowners to work with a suitable budget.
  • Spend where it will give them the biggest bang for their $$$.

 

I think over-all, these homeowners made several mistakes that prospective buyers aren’t going to like

 

  • They removed all vestige of old-world charm this building is known for
  • They spent too much money and frequently, on the wrong things
  • They created a place with no sense of entrance and no place to hang a coat that is not in the bedroom. They could’ve put up a nice closet by the kitchen!
  • They created an inefficient kitchen which is sorely lacking in storage. My kitchen that’s the same size has at least 50% more storage. (and seven drawers!)
  • The only closet is in the bedroom.
  • There is no bathtub.
  • The colors clash.
  • There’s a gross TV embedded in the wall.
  • And a matching black bathroom door which you can’t see here.
  • The bathroom is located smack dab in the middle of the living dining area.
  • There’s no sense of privacy — It’s like a hotel suite, not a home.
  • And, it’s WAAAY too expensive compared to the other apartments in the area that have sold recently.

home renovation gone wrong

What is your feeling about this open-concept one-bedroom apartment?

I’ll look forward to hearing your comments.

xo,

Laurel
PS: Some of you may have noticed that my site was down for several hours on Thursday. My old web host who still hosts the domain made a really dumb mistake and the whole thing collapsed– along with my email. And, I found out on my way to being out for the evening! yuck. But it’s all back. The email could’ve stayed gone. lol

 

Save

  • Melanie - May 9, 2017 - 8:10 PM

    Hello Laurel,
    I’ve been enjoying your blog very much. Having recently retired and finally have time to work on my neglected 1938 cottage (with a few additions over the 40 years we’ve lived here), suddenly HGTV came into my awareness. Not a big TV watcher.

    As much as I’m enjoying some of their programs, the whole open concept idea has appalled me more often than not. I grew up in a modern open concept house. The dirty dishes in the kitchen were not easy, and no dishwasher in the early 60’s! The first thing I did to our tiny, slightly less than 600 sq ft cottage was to enclose the little slab at the front door. It pushed us just over the 600 sq ft mark and has been absolutely indispensable to our sense of privacy living in the central city. The idea that you open your door and anyone can see your living, dining & kitchen gives me the creeps. I started doing searches for other opinions on this very topic which is how I found you, but just finally found this fascinating post. Thanks for the photos and floor plan drawings. I’m feeling less intimidated. Thanks.

    We recently started looking (on line) at houses for sale in our wonderful very “happening” neighborhood in Austin Tx. As nice as it is to see our home dramatically appreciate in value and beautiful new homes continue to fill in, many of the flipped cottages are just bad. People complain about “cookie cutter” but are buying into this cookie cutter interior. Apparently, lots of overly greedy flippers thinking all the young wealthy newcomers want it and price them so high, they don’t sell. As an retired upholster of 35 years, who worked with some of the finest designers in Austin and as beautiful as modern styling can be, we’re still in love with our classic home and the beautiful classic upholstered furniture I’ve collected (with REAL wood frames) that make for such a cozy life.

    Cote De Texas blog, which I’ve loved for a long time, has been sounding like she’s a bit insecure about the changes in style that are naturally taking place. Hope she reads this post. Thanks again, and check out HGTV’s new offering Home Town. A much more respectful restoration style approach to updating beautiful old existing homes.

    MelanieReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 10, 2017 - 11:14 AM

      Hi Melanie,

      Thanks so much for such a lovely comment! Joni has no need to feel insecure. I love her look; it’s timeless and chic!ReplyCancel

  • Merrie - August 23, 2016 - 4:24 PM

    That photo by Bruce Buck? I’ve dreamed of that home before. I’ve never seen it, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t exactly what I had in my mind’s eye as the perfect blend of character and style. Only, in my dream the fireplace was double sided facing a humongous hallway. And someone was rollerskating out there, but that’s another story.
    The rest of it just hurts. Why oh why oh why would anyone approve that horrific stripping out everything that was good and charming and well crafted? WHY???!!!ReplyCancel

  • Krissy Clark - July 31, 2016 - 2:45 PM

    I was appalled at the “improvements” made to such a lovely apartment. We are currently doing a kitchen renovation in our 135-year-old home. Part of that renovation includes taking out an oddly shaped, cramped half bathroom that was carved out of the kitchen space several years ago. My guests and my family will be perfectly fine using the bathroom that is attached to a spare bedroom downstairs. My renovation does not include knocking down walls between the kitchen and dining room so that I can “interact with my guests” or “watch my children playing” while I am cooking. I do not need, nor do I want, my kitchen made into a large room so that anyone walking in my house automatically knows whether I washed my dishes after last night’s dinner. We bought our home because, despite previous renovation mishaps like the unfortunate half-bath, it contained the original wood floors and many original design elements. I love the fact that our house is not cookie-cutter and that we have separate, enclosed rooms and not one single area that could be called open concept. I simply do not understand the attraction in removing all of the beautiful history in a building to create something that is at best bland and, more often than not, just plain ugly.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 31, 2016 - 3:07 PM

      Hi Krissy,

      Indeed and by the way, I just got notification that they’ve dropped the price by another 10k.

      I predict that they won’t be able to sell it for more than what they originally paid for it, if that!

      I think part of the problem is that if one is hearing something over and over and over that this is the way we do it. Then, they think that it’s the best way to do it. It ain’t necessarily so. I’m so heartened by how many people hate open concept.

      But to be clear, I am not referring to a large home that has a family room connected to the kitchen. That of course is fine, but I’m with you. I love separate rooms. I love the coziness one gets from rooms that aren’t too large either.

      I have a friend and won’t name drop but her husband is a famous composer. I’ve been to their PALATIAL home many times, but once inside, it doesn’t feel so, because you walk in and everything is human scale.

      It’s an important point. Not that I don’t love a soaring ceiling. But it better have gobs and gobs of gorgeous mouldings and architecturally beautiful windows, etc.ReplyCancel

  • karen - June 24, 2016 - 8:36 PM

    Laurel, this post made me want to cry. What a loss to your beautiful building. We should have a virtual funeral pire or vigil or something. Bronxville wasn’t made for this crap.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 25, 2016 - 12:30 AM

      Hi Karen,

      Indeed. They’re having an open house this Sunday. haha.ReplyCancel

      • Karen - June 25, 2016 - 10:47 AM

        I dislike what he flip shows on HGTV are doing to the taste of America. People’s taste is being trained on this crapola you see in the apartment renovation! NOt enough people get a good basic art history or architecture or design course in high school or college these days, so the appreciation for moulding a, arched doorways, closed rooms etc go completely unappreciated by people who Just Don’t Know Better and who also Watch Too Much HGTV. (BUt the Property Brothers are indeed hot and get me very bothered)ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - June 25, 2016 - 11:58 PM

          Hi Karen,

          Haha! I’ve always been partial to Scott McGillivray– so cute!ReplyCancel

  • Celeste - June 23, 2016 - 4:36 PM

    We have a ridiculously small kitchen ( TWO DRAWERS) and I hated having a fridge stick out past the counter, we had to get a very small fridge to fit the space and our choice was either a cheapo apartment fridge or a Fisher Paykel. We got the fancy one and it does look nice but I wish we had someone tell us before we ordered it that we could not flip the door. It’s very inconvienent on a daily basis. I wish it could hold more. We got it when we had a two year old and an infant and now we have a 6,4, and 2 year old and I can not fit enough food in it. I go to the store all the darn time. I WANT THE BIGGEST FRIDGE IN THE UNIVERSE.
    It’s a terrible shame what they did to that home. I like our 1940s rowhome ( I like the charm, not the lack of closets etc lol). I have seen remodels of our neighbor’s kitchens where they knock down the wall ( we have a pointless half wall too narrow for anything) and wrap the counter around the back corner or make an island and it makes the kitchen a lot more functional.someday I aspire to the glory of more drawers.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 24, 2016 - 12:20 AM

      Hi Celeste,

      Wait until they become teens! You will need three fridges and you will still be running to the grocery store every day because your car won’t hold it all. haha!ReplyCancel

      • Celeste - June 24, 2016 - 10:48 PM

        I want a double door freezer and a gigaaaaantkc fridge. And sometimes I think about a fridge just for produce. Like they have for cheese where I could keep it at the optimal temperature specially for fruit,
        I am glad this is a safe place for my refridgeratio obsession. Hahha.ReplyCancel

    • Celeste - June 23, 2016 - 4:59 PM

      I’m back to add thst I also hate having the freezer on the bottom. My husband and I argued about this and to be honest, he is at work all day and might go weeks without opening the freezer. He should, never have gotten a say. Having it in the bottom means that every spill and drip freezes,which might not be s problem if I didn’t have three small children, but I am pouring milk and getting snacks for them all day, ugh, frozen chocolate syrup. What a mess.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - June 24, 2016 - 12:22 AM

        Hi Celeste,

        I feel for you. But… One day… They will be gone and it goes so fast! Have to say that by the time, they became real humans and delightful company, they were gone. Not really fair, but so lovely when we can visit!ReplyCancel

  • Cathlin - June 20, 2016 - 12:38 AM

    The entertaining thing is cracking me up! I wonder if this is a city/cultural thing? Coming from a southern porch culture with open doors, and now a small town where getting together with friends and family is the chief entertainment 🙂 – we have folks over for supper two times a week, and that’s not counting daytime drop-ins! I mean, not exactly fancy pants Entertaining, but you know…entertaining 😄ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 20, 2016 - 12:45 AM

      Hi Cathlin,

      It must be a regional thing, I guess or maybe it’s just the people I know. But nobody just drops by. ever.ReplyCancel

      • Cathlin - June 20, 2016 - 12:52 AM

        aw, well at least you can safely enjoy laundry days 😉ReplyCancel

  • Roberta - June 19, 2016 - 11:21 PM

    It’s a crying shame Laurel! In our area of the northeast, almost everyone is covering up beautiful wood shingles on the exteriors with vinyl siding! Cringe….

    Great post!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 19, 2016 - 11:56 PM

      Hi Roberta,

      Ugh. Yes– cringe, indeed! Of course, it’s “no maintenance” but at the expense of looking fake. I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to do it, no matter.ReplyCancel

  • Patrick Landrum - June 19, 2016 - 7:46 PM

    Sadly this is a great post Laurel… sad because of the content. Great because all your post’s are great!

    I feel your pain. I am currently working on a remodel of a 1960’s midcentmod that the owner/builder is planning to flip. To expedite the project he had already removed all the interior walls and replaced some windows, and moved others in a nonsensical way)while he was interviewing me. Once I was on board I had to stop him so I could evaluate the spaces for end use.

    There is a complete misconception that the lofty open look is the end all cure all. People don’t understand the difficulty involved in the space planning of huge open spaces and the relationships of the surrounding ones. In the case I mentioned made him put in some short walls here and there, and use the ceiling treatments and heights to delineate spaces. This is an extremely good but very expensive example of “a little knowledge is worse than none.”

    I agree the apartment in this blog will be a hard sell. As you say people who buy in that building are going to expect period architecture and to some degree decor. Keeps us posted please!

    Patrick Landrum
    patricklandrumdesign.comReplyCancel

    • Celeste - June 23, 2016 - 6:31 PM

      You are so right, case in point, this crazy bananas church. I follow Circa and always am sad that none of the awesome houses are near me. And then this was, and well in our budget, and in our targeted area. It looks like it was the end of the world and they had to MacGuyver a home in an abandoned church. I can’t even imagine it making any sense. I love the windows and the woodwork and the lights ( not the EXIT light in the kitchen) it’s…so jumbled. Want to see? http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/38-Imlaystown-Rd_Cream-Ridge_NJ_08514_M63464-18692#photo0ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - June 24, 2016 - 12:30 AM

        Hi Celeste,

        Oh wow! That IS crazy! It’s like half-home, 1/4 church and 1/4 office. Plus the furnishings are like a bunch of college kids live there or something. That would take quite a bit of work to make it work. ReplyCancel

        • Celeste - June 24, 2016 - 10:53 PM

          Yes, I cannot imagine what they were thinking. I am tempted by the price and location and Windows but not tempted enough. Maybe I can buy a window and run away to a less terrifying house, hahahahhReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 19, 2016 - 11:53 PM

      Hi Patrick,

      How lovely of you to stop by and I love your comment too! It brought up something I think I’ve mentioned is that instead of removing walls, we’re more apt to ADD them.

      Over the years, I’ve done those little walls to delineate an area, often an entrance so that we can use a different color or wallpaper and make it it’s own space.

      Sometimes, we’ve moved a doorway over a couple of feet or closed it up a bit so that the furniture can be more centered and will all fit in the room.

      Usually, we can just fudge that, but sometimes, it’s impossible.ReplyCancel

  • Betty - June 19, 2016 - 4:50 PM

    What an abomination. Yes, it looks like The Property Brothers or just about any of the other HGTV folks had a hand in this. First thing, tear down all the walls, so people in the kitchen aren’t “closed up like a prison”, “can’t join in on the entertaining”, “clear sight line to the entire house to see what is going on”, yadda, yadda, yadda. Gads. My condo is in a beautiful 90 yr vintage brick and plaster courtyard building (in Frank Lloyd Wright country) I loved every quirky crooked floorboard, lovely huge windows, etc. I now own a “shotgun” style house in Kentucky that was built in 1900. The floors are what sold me, original dark plank boards, well worn. Sure there are some less than pleasing “renovations” in places, but all in all it is a great vintage home – except the Stephen King cellar (let’s not even discuss that). Oh and I have a fireplace in the bedroom — yep that’s right in the bedroom. Give me a house with character and usually you will see a comfy loved and lived in house. Not a sterile hospital lifeless blank box so “there is room to entertain” (sigh). Your place is adorable, I love it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 19, 2016 - 11:46 PM

      Hi Betty,

      All of your homes sound wonderful! Yes, I always laugh too about all of the ENTERTAINING. None of my friends entertain— ever! and they aren’t interested in coming here either! Nobody entertains in this building. I mean, very rarely. Have you seen this post? It’s filled with lots of site gags; it’s my parody of HGTV and everything we love to hate about the shows. Ironically, the website is good! https://laurelberninteriors.com/2014/05/29/12-ways-hgtv-misleading-us/ReplyCancel

  • Paula Van Hoogen - June 16, 2016 - 1:27 PM

    I’m late to the show here, but my take on this is that this “bent” in, especially younger folks,
    is genericizing America. The politically correct thing seems to be deeper than in decorating. There is an urge to remove national idiosyncrasies as well. The beauty of diversity is the individuality of people’s, places, and cultures. Vive La Differance isn’t just a saying, it’s true. Case in point- car shows- most shows aren’t just “antique” any longer. They include individualistic designs from as late as the early 70’s. After the introduction of computer design strictly based on the aerodynamics of saving gas via computer design, cars lost their individuality & became boring. Look at the difference if you can, between CAD design for a house and hand drawn renderings. I rest my case.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 16, 2016 - 11:41 PM

      Hi Paula,

      You’re not late at all! People are still commenting and I get comments on posts from 2 or 3 years ago sometimes. But yes, in this case, young and not very shall we say cultured. They probably have an “uncle” in the construction biz who’s wife is a “decorator.” haha. Oh well…ReplyCancel

  • Val - June 16, 2016 - 12:22 PM

    Laurel, thank you for this post! Here in UK, the building codes have been changed some time ago. The requirement for at least 2 doors between the kitchen and the toilet has been changed to 1 door, which leads to exactly the same situation – the john is in the middle of the kitchen, and if it is open plan – in the middle of the dining room, living room, etc. It is absolutely appalling, unsociable, and unhygienic.

    And I cringe every time when reading or watching that the new homeowner destroyed original features – lovely mouldings, covings, cast iron Victorian fireplaces.

    Unfortunately my own grandfather did something similar many years ago, I was a child. He fully refurbished their house in the country, cladded the original stone walls (hand shaped stone) with modern flat machined stone slabs, covered the ceiling beams with painted cardboard, removed the beautiful patio and garden steps (both hand shaped stone) and cast concrete instead. If I only was older and understood what he was doing, I would try to persuade him to keep all these. Well the patio is gone, but if I ever renovate that house (it is still in the family), the beams and the original walls will be taken back to their former glory.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 16, 2016 - 12:56 PM

      Hi Val,

      Thank for sharing your story. I don’t know how long ago that was, but certainly the appreciation for the antique went through a period of shall we say a sad state of things?

      I suppose we can thank the modern movement for that. But fine. We have some elegant examples of that with the likes of Mies Van der Rohe, but then something went horribly wrong in the 70’s and it got sorely out of hand.

      The state of New York has a college system called SUNY (State University of New York) They were all built in the 70’s and some of them are excellent schools (as we call university in the states). But… they all look like PRISONS.

      Here’s a link to the one closest to me. http://hometwn.com/suny-purchase-ranked-among-top-colleges/

      Seriously?

      That would be amazing to restore the old home to its former glory!ReplyCancel

  • Karyn - June 15, 2016 - 11:23 PM

    Hi Laurel. I love your posts. You have a talent for explaining design. I not only get an appreciation for good design from your blog, but I always laugh out loud. Your true calling may be comedy- I like to picture you giving design advice from up on stage. Ha!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 15, 2016 - 11:26 PM

      Hi Karyn,

      Ahh.. that may be. I tried. I was in show business two life-times ago. By the time, I was 30, I hung it all up and shortly thereafter went to design school.

      But didn’t someone once say? “All The World’s a Stage…”ReplyCancel

  • Carol Totaro - June 14, 2016 - 11:08 PM

    Laurel ~ I super cracked up at your quip ” They watched too many episodes of Property Brothers” ! Isn’t that the truth.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 15, 2016 - 12:09 AM

      They really need to put a disclaimer before those shows.

      DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

      haha.ReplyCancel

  • Alicia Paley - June 14, 2016 - 7:24 PM

    I grew up in a 1920’s apartment in a brownstone-esque house in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from mid-town Manhattan. The walls were thick plaster, the wood floors were rich and patinaed with age, the doors had picture frame moulding and lovely crystal door knobs that shot rainbows onto the walls on certain times of the day, the bathroom had a pedestal sink and clawfoot tub, the main door of the house was opened with a skeleton key (which I still have) and led to a cozy little vestibule where brass wall inset mailboxes were. This charming house had 3 apartments and was owned by a wonderful Italian family until I was 12. The new owners had big plans. Out with the old, in with the new. I can’t tell you how much I cried when I saw the mauve wall to wall carpet go in, when the bathroom got a vanity sink and drop in tub. What hurt the most was seeing all those beautiful crystal doorknobs go. – Your article brought all that misery back. Thanks, Laurel! ;/ – Great article!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 15, 2016 - 12:07 AM

      Hi Alicia,

      I’m crying too! What a crime! I too, have the original crystal doorknobs on all of the doors and I adore them!

      Well… ya know, they almost tore down both Radio City Music Hall AND Grand Central Station. I can’t begin to imagine how anyone could even think that!ReplyCancel

  • Joyce - June 14, 2016 - 4:07 PM

    Oh, my. At the very least they could have kept the foyer and the floors. OK, and the walls. And just removed the moldings to make it appear more “modern” or whatever look they thought they were going for. I have a neighbor who took away his nice foyer so that you now walk right into the now completely open dining room/kitchen. This also eliminated a nice built-in glass-front cabinet. And they moved the window so that the dining table could be centered in front of it, except they put in a closet on one side, so the table can’t be centered. Half of the people seated at the table can’t look out the window. Weird, sad, and so wrong, but, hey, it’s not my house.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 14, 2016 - 4:15 PM

      Hi Joyce,

      Oh my, is right! Some people just like to spend money on stuff that could be put to better use elsewhere. And I think a lot of folks see these shows on TV and then fancy themselves as designers and GCs. scary-stuff.ReplyCancel

  • Brittany R. - June 14, 2016 - 10:11 AM

    There are some things that I like about this apartment but like you said, it looks like it belongs in another building. It’s a shame to get rid of so many vintage characteristics that can never be brought back. A somewhat redeeming quality is that it might be more disability friendly for someone in a wheelchair, but not with ceiling high kitchen cabs. More renovations would need to be done To accommodate someone with that need 😕 The price is crazy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 14, 2016 - 10:19 AM

      Hi Brittany,

      That’s a good point, but someone in a wheelchair would have great difficulty getting into the building, except through the garage and then there are some steps leading to the elevator. The building is built into a hill. So, this isn’t a place that a handicapped person in a wheelchair would consider. And yes, while aesthetically pleasing, cabinets going up nine feet aren’t very practical. Of course, a lot of kitchens are like that if the ceilings are high.ReplyCancel

  • carrie - June 13, 2016 - 11:20 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I’m a fellow designer/Laurel reader-rolodexer-paint thing buyer.
    I love your literary elan and honesty and meant to comment re:the “I wanna room like Frank Babb” post. So well done.In many AD rooms, the price of the rug is what many a well heeled client expects to budget for the room. This wreckno in your building,though far more modern, reminds me of almost every episode of fixer-upper when Joanna says”and let’s open it up!”.
    Love the show/them/what they’ve accomplished but in the wrong hands “opening up” is just a downer.

    Thanks for all the good content ! Carrie

    (below is a tip from HGTV on how to decorate like Joanna)

    In the Living Room: Open Floor Plans

    Chip and Joanna love to remove walls and widen doorways to make one room flow into the next.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 14, 2016 - 1:38 AM

      In this apartment the rooms flow so well that they’ve blended into one! I can’t watch that stuff anymore!

      And yes. Bingo on the price of the rug. Actually, Mr. Randolph’s is an Odegard. Could easily be 20k or more.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie Turner - June 13, 2016 - 10:28 AM

    Laurel!

    Once again you are the voice in the wilderness, expounding “The Emperor has no clothes!” and I agree with you totally. My heart aches seeing all the wonderful elements that were lost in this mis-thought travesty of a renovation. Perhaps it should be called a denovation? Or ruin-ovation?

    I must confess I am not a fan of “the open concept”. There was a reason architecture evolved from single room huts that we shared with our livestock. There was a reason kitchens were segregated from the rest of the building (not to mention bathrooms). Just as you suggested, if one wants to live in a loft, buy a loft, not a beautiful historic apartment. And while you are at it, why bother with a kitchen at all? You might as well set up a card table with a two burner hot plate and a cooler. Just eschew art, architecture, practicality altogether, after all civilization is obviously overrated.

    Argh!

    LeslieReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 14, 2016 - 1:35 AM

      Hi Leslie,

      Definitely a desecration! Thanks for such a lovely comment. Made me laugh!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - June 13, 2016 - 9:43 AM

    Laurel,
    Love this post. I have a confession – when i first glanced at the renovated apartment (for 1 second), i actually found it appealing. That was until i realized what it looked like BEFORE – the curved ceilings and moulding and meandering entry/hall! And until i understood all the practical considerations that you raised (e.g. counter space in the kitchen, bathroom off the DR – come on!) I really love your idea of keeping all the character of the floors, moulding, curved walls etc.and going white with modern furnishings. That is much cooler than the cracker box they turned this into. I would have kept the tub too – the only thing that would put me off is trying to share this bathroom with a spouse, but i guess that is the sacrifice you have to make if you love the charm of this type of building. this is a post i will come back to.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 14, 2016 - 1:34 AM

      Hi Kim,

      Yes, if it had been a converted warehouse. LOL it would’ve been okay. It’s funny, but I shared a bathroom that was even smaller with my husband for a few years AND a baby! When we moved to our townhouse, I thought our master bathroom was HUGE! But after a few years, realized it wasn’t all that big either.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Sandall - June 13, 2016 - 1:25 AM

    Love your articles as always, Laurel.

    This is so sad. I love open concept, but this style of home just cries out for all the trims, molding and original floors. I also loved your point about a space feeling larger as if there might be additional space around a corner!

    You’ll have to keep us updated on it’s progress!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2016 - 1:53 AM

      Hi Pamela,

      Hope all’s well with you! I’ve been playing detective tonight and tracked down the architect’s daughter and grandchildren. His grand daughter is a dancer like me and knows some of the same people. Such a small world, but then I truly believe that the universe attracts like.

      I’ll definitely keep everyone posted!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - June 12, 2016 - 11:45 PM

    I was looking at the pics of this sad renovation here and wondering “why??” And the answer truly escaped me.
    And then I remembered how my late Grandma would say “well I can’t stick my head on somebody else’s shoulders” (poor translation by me))

    Love, love this post.ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - June 12, 2016 - 10:59 PM

    This is terribly sad. A few comments: I don’t think the shower is a bad idea. Children who take baths will not be living here and the lower shower sill easy to navigate. However I don’t care for that vessel sink or two-level vanity.
    Cabinet-depth refrigerator: have it and love it!
    Re the coop board: it is not in their purview to judge the aesthetics of proposed renovations. Its job is to make sure the renovations do not impact the structural integrity of the building, that all changes conform to local building codes, and that the work is done by licensed tradesmen. So this isn’t their fault.
    Open concept: dysfunctional as already stated. A friend moved into an upscale new build many years ago and the kitchen was partially open to a family room/playroom. However there still was a separate living room, dining room, etc. That made sense.
    Very interesting blog post, thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:27 PM

      Hi Naomi,

      Terrific points and in reading the house rules earlier today realized that they probably don’t have anything to say about the aesthetics.

      I don’t generally take baths but I do know some women who really love them. So it’s possible that it might turn some people off. But that’s the least of it. Right?ReplyCancel

  • Ellen - June 12, 2016 - 7:20 PM

    Wonderful post. Very sad, the rape of this old building, and I will call it that because that’s what it is. They turned into a Stepford Wife. I really hate the open concept, although I suppose there is a certain appeal in a house where the occupant has a bunch of toddlers they need to keep an eye on all the time. What happens when they get bigger and you want some space from the little monsters? Personally, I have always preferred separate spaces that are defined by their intended use. My son calls that open concept mess that is so popular today an auditorium with a fire pit. Maybe someone will buy it at a bargain price and restore some of the features of the period.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:21 PM

      Hi Ellen,

      Rape is a good word! It’s only 800 sq feet so, not really a family home, at least not long-term. But we lived for a year in a one-bedroom in Manhattan with a baby. Just a little bit smaller. It was wall-to-wall baby stuff!

      Love your son’s term!ReplyCancel

    • Dolores - June 12, 2016 - 8:51 PM

      I can tell you what happens, Ellen! My daughter and my son-in-law moved into just such a open concept apartment in NYC- as soon as football season started, my son-in-law deeply regretted his choice because the sounds of a kitchen in use, interfered with the enjoyment of watching the game.Then- they had two adorable, active,noisy little boys- and the next thing we knew- they bought a wonderful old house, separate kitchen, living room and dining room- with no open spaces anywhere. They are finally happy again 🙂ReplyCancel

      • Heidi - June 12, 2016 - 10:25 PM

        I hate open-concept too! BUT I must say with two babies running around I can keep an eye on them from the kitchen. I would love a big old house in the future once they’re bigger. With SEPARATE rooms!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:24 PM

          Hi Heidi,

          I can relate to that because I raised two wild boys. Fortunately, they are toddlers for about two seconds. lol That’s how it feels now. The older one will be 26 this Saturday! Impossible!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Perry - June 12, 2016 - 7:20 PM

    What a shame to remove all of those beautiful architectural details! This is an issue I just had with a client looking to do a remodel on a 105 year old home before selling. I found him design choices that respected the character and period of the home, but he thought he knew better and picked things to make it look like any remodel from about 10 years ago. It looks OK, just not what how beautifully it could have looked like for the same price. Then he used a discount broker and way overpriced it, just took a $25,000 price drop.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:19 PM

      Hi Cathy,

      Frustrating ain’t it? But the vindication is his having to drop the price 25k.ReplyCancel

  • Terry St Anley - June 12, 2016 - 6:50 PM

    I can’t believe the building board hasn’t been impeached yet! Allowing this renovation should break some kind of trust law!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:13 PM

      Hi Terry,

      You would think. And perhaps if there was some sort of historical designation, maybe, but I guess not.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea Fletcher - June 12, 2016 - 5:05 PM

    We moved into an open concept in the 80’s, not even knowing what the term meant, and soon discovered THERE WASN’T A PLACE IN THE ENTIRE HOUSE WHERE YOU COULD HAVE A PRIVATE CONVERSATION. At least we never had to raise our voices because sound traveled through the house and up the stairwell so clearly, it was like a big intercom system. We are not secretive people, nor in the habit of hiding things from each other, but, come on! You don’t share everything with your kids or guests. The other negative was that the kitchen was always on display, and not having servants, there were often dishes in the sink, or a mess on the counters. When we moved, at the top of my list was a house with ROOMS.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:13 PM

      Hi Andrea,

      My mom’s old house was quite open but there were rooms that were closed off, so I really get it. I like rooms.ReplyCancel

  • MonicaP - June 12, 2016 - 4:10 PM

    What a crime – the owners should be made to replace everything they removed, including those gorgeous floors!! You need to get on the HOA Board and put a stop to such vandalism!! Regarding counter depth refrigerators – the last kitchen I remodeled could only take a 30inch wide fridge. I used a Sub Zero (yes, I know – huge $$$) and loved it – fridge on top and two pull out drawers. For two people it held more than enough food (and wine.) Sub Zero really makes the best, and if you can swing it – go for it!!
    Love your work Laurel – keep it up – the best part of Sunday reading!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:11 PM

      Hi Monica,

      Thanks so much! I agree, but I’m sure that won’t happen. And the more I’ve read today, the more I realize that the co-op board probably doesn’t have anything to say about renovations, but I would think that removing walls and original architectural features would be frowned upon?ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl D - June 12, 2016 - 3:23 PM

    While I always look forward to your Sunday posts, I have to admit this one made me sick to my stomach as I read it. I would ADORE an apartment like yours (have been looking forever) but there’s nothing in my area with that type of architectural charm that’s affordable. I would find it extremely difficult to hold my tongue if I happened across the sellers in the hallway. I read something recently about open concept plans falling out of favor, and this apartment is an excellent illustration of why.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:10 PM

      Hi Cheryl,

      Fortunately, I have no idea who they are. They are probably perfectly well-meaning, just clueless. Oh well…ReplyCancel

  • JD - June 12, 2016 - 2:49 PM

    Oh my word- I can’t decide what breaks my heart more- losing the moulding or losing the floors!

    As for open concept- here’s the thing. My husband and I have been house hunting for 4 years now- we live in north-western North Carolina. The majority of the “non cookie-cutter” homes here are log cabins. That’s fine, really, there are some really beautiful ones. But most of them are open-concept.

    I know a lot of folks like them, and that’s fine- I do get the appeal. They can be beautiful to look at. But during our time looking we’ve found ourselves really pulling away from that style of architecture. I LIKE having a library that’s separate from the dining room, and a dining room that doesn’t double as an eat-in kitchen. And a kitchen that isn’t inside the living room.

    And I DEFINITELY agree with you regarding not being able to see a bedroom from an entrance! Or a kitchen, for that matter! Do you know how messy my kitchen is at this moment? Or most moments??

    I do have a question for you- though. It’s about the bathtub. There was one property that we were VERY close to buying about 3 years ago. One of the reasons we decided against it was the floor plan, but I remember that another thing we didn’t like about it was that it had a giant jet-powered bathtub in the master bath… but NO SHOWER! Did these folks go downstairs to the first floor bathroom to take a shower every morning? Did they take a bath? Use the garden hose??

    At any rate, since that house, we’ve come across another that I actually really like. There are two baths on the sleeping floor (the floor with the three bedrooms) one in the master bath and a second shared bathroom. The shared bathroom has a standard-sized walk-in shower. Now, my kids are grown and this appealed to me just fine. (The master has a shower and a bath.) But would this cause a problem down the road, do you think? If we (heaven forbid) needed to sell in a few years, would folks really prefer a bath in that room? Should we be thinking about renovations?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:59 PM

      Hi Julie,

      I’ve lots of clients who didn’t have a bath in the master or some other bathrooom but as long as there was one somewhere else were fine with that. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Our old townhouse had three bathrooms and only one, the master had a bathtub and I raised both of my boys there. I used to just throw them in our big tub until they were old enough to take a shower on their own.ReplyCancel

  • ShawnaW - June 12, 2016 - 1:47 PM

    What a shame to have lost all that character! I understand the desire for an open concept between kitchen and living area, but never the bathroom and bedroom open to all. I can attest to the undesirability of a bathroom off the dining area – we have a powder room right across from ours that I plan to turn into a butler’s pantry or closet or anything else one day, since there is a perfectly located guest bathroom down the hall and around the corner.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:56 PM

      Hi Shawna,

      Great idea to turn the bathroom into a butler’s pantry or closet. I think that these days, many homes have waaaaay too many bathrooms as it is. If there’s a family of five, it’s five bathrooms? How silly. And it’s just more to keep clean!ReplyCancel

  • sona - June 12, 2016 - 1:45 PM

    I am afraid in “new house builds” with open concept, the 1/2 bath is often right there. the kitchen, family, dining is basically one big box shape and the bathroom is on one of the walls.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Anne Burton - June 12, 2016 - 12:40 PM

    Agree with others about there being no charm in this reno. I have abrand new build, and after much research and measuring, we decided to go with a counter depth , French door and no ice maker on door- Kitchen Aid- it is very good size for us and looks larger inside when it actually has food filling it up. Looks built in.
    The kitchen tile around the cooktop – , looks like they ran out of tile and had the black tile handy to just finsih the job!!
    Thanks again for a very realistic posting about a renovation!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:54 PM

      Hi Mary Anne,

      Thanks for the fridge info. I need to look into that for myself. As for the backsplash, it goes with the rest of the tacky decisions. Often I find that folks feel the need to embellish or “accent” something that would be better left done simply. Really. White subway tile here. Please. That’s really about the only thing that would be appropriate, IMO.ReplyCancel

  • Tricia Firmaniuk - June 12, 2016 - 12:13 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I love this. “Open concept” is a term I am pretty sick of hearing. I live in an econobox mid century bungalow, and everyone was urging me to knock out half of my kitchen and open it up. Why?? So I can look at my dirty dishes and fridge magnets when I’m trying to procrastinate in my cozy living room?? This apartment is a tragedy, we can only hope that someone will resurrect it from its sad generic state. You can get an apartment like that on any block in fast and tacky cities like mine where it is all money and no history or character 🙁ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:52 PM

      Hi Tricia,

      The problem is… of course, that the price is already prohibitively expensive! I predict many a price drop before they are finally able to unload it. Unfortunately, unless the buyer knows what it was supposed to be, they won’t have any idea of what’s missing. But it can’t be replaced as it was. It truly is an assault!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Rideout - June 12, 2016 - 11:44 AM

    Once again I did my happy dance seeing your post in my inbox but “Yuck”. So much charm and potential and thats what they did! I like the open concept but not at the expense of losing character and details not found in recent builds. Plus those lovely high ceilings already provide the illlusion of spaciousness which is why most people renovate to an open concept. I am with you, I like rooms and the halls and vestibules that lead to them. I cringed when I saw the floors and that random backsplash is just bizarre. Plus the bathroom is provides such a lovely view right off the living room…..NOT. Thanks for another great post. XXOOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:49 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      Always nice to see you! And yes, you are right. Even the winding hall appears spacious as is, because of the nine foot ceilings. The living room seems even higher than nine feet because of the cove and ceiling moulding. I think the rooms are a lovely proportion. The only fault I have is with the bathroom and the closet in the bedroom.

      This building was originally built as a residence hotel. So I imagine that back in the 20’s, the residence who might be here for a a few weeks or months, might’ve come with trunks. That would make sense as to why the closets are laid out as they are.ReplyCancel

  • JC - June 12, 2016 - 10:41 AM

    When I read the title of this post in my email, my heart sank! We just remodeled our first home, a condo, to be more open concept! Oh my god, what have we done?! But I was so pleasantly surprised to see we hadn’t made any of the same mistakes! We hired a kitchen designer, kept all the molding, and made an awkward floating wall into a pillar supporting the kitchen island. But the best thing by far about our planning was our realtor gifted us 1.5 hours with an interior designer. This was her gift for closing on our first home while having an infant and in the dead of winter in Chicago. That time with the designer was invaluable and she gave us the greatest suggestions and also shot down some over the top ideas, like you wrote, too much money on the wrong things or didn’t match the feeling of the building and neighborhood. I did lose the battle on the TV though, but how else would you have a TV in a living room unless it’s in some giant cabinet which would be a baby proofing nightmare? Oh, blog idea! “How to Place a TV in a Room without it being the Center of Attention” Thanks for everything, always love your posts!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:46 PM

      Hi JC,

      Of course, there are many situations where opening up a wall or two makes perfect sense. Sometimes the architecture was not good to begin with. But that is not the case here. It is very unusual to have a one-bedroom (or even a two-bedroom) apartment where one does not have to walk through any of the rooms to get to any of the other rooms. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s preferable this way. Come to think of it, all of the apartments I’ve been in, in this building have layouts where one doesn’t have to walk through another room to get to the other rooms. And almost all have at least some of the windows facing south and or west because of the central courtyard. Brilliant design!ReplyCancel

      • Rebecca Schildroth - July 19, 2016 - 11:23 AM

        Laurel,

        Back in high school Home Economic class we had to draw up an apartment. I got an A- grade with the comment that the bathroom should not open up into the dining area. I could have easily put the door in the bedroom. Your apartment would have been great inspiration.
        I always remembered that lesson. When house hunting if we saw a bathroom door into a living area the home was out of the running.
        My folks have a lovely condo with a bathroom doorway that can be seen from the living area – hate it – otherwise a nice enough place.
        I have a friend that would call the remodel – bastardized.
        RebeccaReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 20, 2016 - 8:31 PM

          Hi Rebecca,

          Well, they say that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. I believe that. Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

    • JD - June 12, 2016 - 3:01 PM

      Oh, I second that blog-suggestion!

      When browsing home decorating sites, it seems like the living room is always the after-thought room. “That’s the room where you put the TV. And I guess we’re going to stick a giant couch in there… so everyone can see the TV. Of course that blocks the view of that lovely fireplace… but at least we can see the TV.”

      I REALLY don’t want the TV to be the focus of my decor.ReplyCancel

  • Jo - June 12, 2016 - 10:31 AM

    Well now — that just tells us everything we need to know about these people, doesn’t it? I don’t mean to be too judgemental
    (although here in the South that’s, well, our thing) but this whole project spells NEW MONEY. For some reason people think if they get their hands on a little stock-malipulation moolah, their taste jumps up the scale a notch or two. Not. So. Give me someone from an old family who lost all their money, and I’ll show you a joyful eccentric living with LOADS of crown molding, who still knows how to rock rolled up seersucker pants and spend their last dime on fresh flowers.

    Well, we Southerners love our molding and architectural character, don’t we, and why even bother to comment here if one can’t use the platform to go on and on about being Southern? I say if you want to go mid-century or contemporary… keep the molding and cove ceilings. Even if you have no character, you’ll still look like you do. Smiles!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:41 PM

      Hi Jo,

      Maybe I’m not really a Yankee after-all. LOL I’ve become so disenchanted with where I am because of the paucity of good taste; not to mention the brutal winters. It’s not an absolute. Of course, there are many who appreciate the character and charm of older buildings and architecture, but the other is far more common. With emphasis on COMMON.ReplyCancel

      • Jo - June 13, 2016 - 10:59 AM

        Laurel, as a decorator myself of 40 years, and a loyal follower of your blog, and having seen snippets of your apartment here and there, I’d say your taste incorporates the delicate touch and classic heritage of Southern design. I have a friend who lived in Brooklyn her whole life until she moved here to the mountains NE of Atlanta five years ago. She told me that both she and her mother before her, subscribed to Southern Living magazine, and it was every New York woman’s dream to live the mellowness of a Southern lifestyle. Maybe an exaggeration on her part, but it was interesting, nonetheless. Keep doing what you’re doing, sugar pie. Even if you are a Yankee, you nail it every time. Smiles.ReplyCancel

  • Libby - June 12, 2016 - 10:28 AM

    As you write, the whole sense of ocassion that the original supplied, the ribbon floors, corbels, transitional space, moldings plus the utility of the closets, is missing in the ugly reworking. The ‘ocassion’ now highlighted in this apartment is using the bathroom! I also wonder how it got approved – as you mentioned in a response below.
    This gem is perfect, “Here, stripped of every vestige of its former glory, it looks like one of the rooms at the new hospital cardiac unit.” you nailed it, Laurel!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:37 PM

      Thanks so much Libby. Actually, in going over the house rules, I’m not sure that they needed approval, but taking down walls? That definitely should’ve required approval and if not, why not? I need to find out more about that one!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - June 12, 2016 - 10:21 AM

    The pictures of your apartment before you bought it (and what that other apartment must have looked like) are stunning. A home perfectly and beautifully, really beautifully, laid out and detailed.

    It actually hurts to see what they did to it. What a soulless nightmare! It’s like an open wound–it really is.

    Btw, foyers–always a gracious way to enter a home.

    And thanks for nailing property brothers. I wish there was a follow-up show that asks this one question: “don’t you wish you’d just found the extra money to buy that first house they showed you?” Notice they never go back and compare how the renovated house compares to that first one they dangle in front of the poor homeowners?

    Love your blog!

    Laura

    And I am very grateful for the lovely foyer and the swinging door between the dining room and kitchen in my 1922 bungalow. Closed Concept–it’s heavenly.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:35 PM

      Hi Laura,

      Oh, I’ve heard stories about those renovations show. Like that the workmanship is beyond shoddy and the homeowners end up tearing out what was done and starting over! And I love it, CLOSED CONCEPT! HAHAHAHA!!!ReplyCancel

  • mrsben - June 12, 2016 - 9:57 AM

    Must agree with you Laurel as ‘why would anyone on God’s green earth’ do such a thing but I believe it occurs more frequently than one might think. As an example when the house that my father-in-law built went up for sale, my daughter took a tour and expressed to the Real Estate Agent(s) that IHO the last owners had desecrated the place by stripping it of all its former character. After describing what it once was like; they totally agreed with her. In summary; the old but beautiful architectural details were replaced with cold ‘n bland, not to mention the new design now had no correlation to the exterior, that of which they had left untouched.
    -Brenda-
    P.S.: I know it sat on the market close to two years but am not sure if it even sold whereas recall when my in-laws listed it, there was a bidding war and sadly said owners got it.
    (Apologize for being so long winded … ☺.)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:33 PM

      Hi Mrs. B,

      Not long-winded at all! And besides, I love long comments! I was a little nervous posting this because I went out on a limb a little bit. And that sometimes gets me in trouble, but with this one, I couldn’t let it go. I’m heartened to see so many that do get it!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle Oke - June 12, 2016 - 9:36 AM

    This apartment is soul crushing! This is what you’d expect to see in an office high rise turned residential building! I can’t believe they took out all the mouldings, trim and please-start-my-heart-again–the gorgeous flooring!

    I predict a long time on the market as well. The potential buyers pulled in by the look won’t want to live in an old, quiet neighbourhood/building. Any word of mouth interest will be heartbroken to see the scoured out shell.

    ALWAYS consult a designer!!!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:31 PM

      Hi Danielle,

      Hear, hear! Consult with a designer! Although, I suspect these folks wouldn’t dream of a such a thing. Probably fancy themselves to be “designers.” Or even worse. Shudder. They DID consult with a designer!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - June 12, 2016 - 9:14 AM

    Good morning Laurel, looking at these before and after pictures made me gasp with sadness. My husband and I are having a new home built and are in the final phase of construction. One of my biggest fears is to have a home that looks like the remodel pictures that you posted. (Plain, no character, cheaply finished, starter home). In my dreams I picture my new home with ornate beautifully sculptured molding and trim but to have that would cost a fortune. To think that they had something so beautiful and unique and they threw it away. I can’t even begin to comprehend why. Thank you Laurel for all of your informative and detailed posts. They have been extremely helpful with giving me ideas and making decisions during the building process of the new home.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:29 PM

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m so glad that you’ve gotten inspiration for your new home. I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful, because obviously, you have great taste and also have put yourself into it.ReplyCancel

  • Kristie Barnett - June 12, 2016 - 9:08 AM

    Great article, Laurel. What those people did to that apartment is offensive. And horrible. That is all.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:28 PM

      Hi Kristie,

      Thanks for stopping by. Always nice to see you! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Therese Sibon - June 12, 2016 - 8:54 AM

    I feel so very sad reading this … I love old homes and all their eccentric, delightful character and this was bludgeoned.

    My sister and I just sold our parents’ home of 50+ years, in a development in Pearl River, NY. It was in great shape, solidly built. My father renovated a lot of it himself, fastidiously! I read a lot of your blogs, chose paint accordingly, sorta Zen’d it out to make it neutral but not bland … it sold the first day for the asking price – even though there were 3 other house on the street going at the same time!

    This renovation made me cry (I am a little emotional these days, the closing was just a few days ago ….. ).
    You made my Barry’s tea taste salty dammit. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:27 PM

      Hi Therese,

      I don’t gather they were tears of catharsis, but of the emotional pain you must be feeling very close to the surface for having to sell your parents’ beloved home. Let’s hope that the new owners will treat it with the respect and love it has enjoyed for the last several decades.

      My mom and step dad built a home in 1980 in Wisconsin. Her next-door neighbor bought it 3 years ago and promptly tore it down. They can’t tear down the memories, but it’s so weird that it no longer exists except in our minds. {{{hugs}}}ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - June 12, 2016 - 8:33 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    Great Post! I’m surprised these reno’s were permitted given the fact that you are fortunate enough to live in a building that has a process to save people from mistakes like these.

    Aside from the aesthetics, which are personal tastes, the functionality as you have mentioned is lost. “Clean Open Plan Living” requires extra storage not less…..a place for everything and everything in it’s place…… Open living requires one to be immaculate and mess is magnified by a factor of a 1000 cause it’s all right there right out in your beloved open space with no where to hide; heck it can’t even blend into the non-existent woodwork!!

    I have lived in several open concept homes, so I know the pitfalls. Even when done right, it’s loud, and storage, while there, is always in some weird spot so as not to interfere with the “flow”. I now live in a traditional home with actual rooms and it is so much nicer( might have something to do with saying bye bye to the ex:)) than an open plan home. Closets are in their proper location, next to the front door for example, the kitchen has a door which can hide the mess made from preparing yummy meals! It’s a cozy home where people laugh, cry and make messes; doors and walls serve us well from time to time.

    Open plan homes are a composite fantasy of print media, model homes and HGTV and their ilk. They look great, but, alas, life is not all a stage…..
    no one thinks of the lack of privacy( maybe my ex and I would still be together if we had some walls to hide behind haha), noise, and mess.

    Reno’s regardless of what style you choose are not the stuff of amateurs, design has to be functional; there is more to it than a sledge hammer and a five gallon bucket of neutral paint.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:23 PM

      Hi Lynn,

      Terrific points you made and Amen to your last line! As I said in the post, they had ample opportunity to build a nice big closet along the wall before the kitchen begins. But no. I guess that would’ve closed off things too much. :/ yuck.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - June 12, 2016 - 8:30 AM

    Laurel Bern, I ADORE YOU (Well, except for your love of painting woodwork….whatever!) You’ve summed up everything that saddens me about practically EVERY renovated condos in Boston. If you came here you’d see this has happened everywhere, including the 2009 ($1.6M) duplex below my little old condo. Where you walk in their front door, you are immediately greeted by the toilet in the powder room they stuffed into their living room.

    Our beautiful 19th-century Back Bay townhouses are having more and more of this done to them every day. Renovators ignore their lovely bones and tear out woodwork, moldings, old floors, and entire walls. It’s all we see in our price range, and it’s why we’ve been house-hunting for seven years. And no one is learning any of the things you’ve pointed out here. I keep waiting for some developer or owner to get a clue. I think realtors believe people want this.

    The only thing your people didn’t do in there is stuff in another bathroom. That’s the other thing that wrecks condos up here. There’s no decent storage, but there ARE 2 or 2.5 awkward baths for apartments that inevitably hold only one or two people. And this is Boston, not Manhattan or LA: walk around, and you’ll see that NOBODY spends hours on their hair and makeup up here! (Or if they do, it isn’t worth it!) One bathroom ought to be plenty.

    To be honest a 1920’s building is too “modern” for our taste although we admire their charm and proportions. They have great bones, too, and often lovely moldings and fine old floors. We just prefer much higher ceilings and more extravagant moldings and detail. I have seen many hundreds of apartments stripped of detail and covered in sheetrock and cheap new wood floors, their ceilings pimpled with recessed lighting, speakers, vents (a pet peeve of mine, which I try not to call SH*T on the ceiling” but it often tumbles out of my mouth.). And the kitchen is in the living room, as if a studio apartment is the ideal. Hardly anyone in the city entertains enough to make a huge space necessary. We have so many great restaurants to try instead.

    Thanks for writing this because it sums up just about every problem I have with today’s housing — with eloquence and professional authority!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:20 PM

      Hi Elle,

      Haha! Thank you for forgiving me for loving painted wood. That is indeed a sad thing. I’ve been in several Boston apartments. I did stay at a lovely B&B in Jamaica Plain. The owner made completely respectful and tasteful upgrades, appropriate for the Victorian era it was built-in. Thank God!

      PS: Shit is sometimes the only word that works. :]ReplyCancel

  • Leah - June 12, 2016 - 8:20 AM

    First of all, I LOVE your apartment! I too would have fallen in love with it the instant I opened the door. Such a shame that other apartment was stripped of all its charm. The original hardwood floors and architectural details were gorgeous. Argh!
    Re counter depth fridges, I was advised to get one when I renovated my kitchen last summer and I am so happy I did. I like the shallow shelves because I can see everything in the fridge at a glance – no digging around to find what’s hidden at the back. i had the option of French doors but opted for one door instead. I also chose a door for the bottom freezer instead of a pullout drawer. The fridge is 33″ wide (most are 36″ but my small kitchen couldn’t accommodate that size). Like you, I’m divorced with two grown sons who are on their own so this fridge is the perfect size for me.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - June 12, 2016 - 8:19 AM

    It really surprises me that the co-op board has allowed this type of renovation to take place. Maybe they presented one thing, and did something else. The architect is probably rolling in his grave!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 10:18 PM

      Hi Susan,

      Your comment spurred me to do some research about the architect. His name was Hyman Isaac (H.I.) Feldman and apparently, he still has one surviving daughter who’s 82! Apparently, he designed some 4,000 buildings. He was known for creating great layouts. Check. Maximum exposure to natural light. check. AND rounded corners for easy of movement and bringing in furniture. check. I have spent many hours in great appreciation for the attention to detail and for how blessed I am to be able to live in this unique old building. None of the apartments are perfectly square and you can see from my drawing, that mine is no exception. Some are even more noticeably askew, but it all adds to the inherent charm.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 9:11 PM

      Susan,

      I was thinking that to. I don’t really know and yes, he is. Mr. Feldman, is the architect’s name. It’s on the outside of the building.ReplyCancel

  • Hillery - June 12, 2016 - 8:16 AM

    I agree with you whole-heartedly!
    And while we’re lamenting… doesn’t that embedded TV look too high to you? Seems to me I’d have to stand to watch it, how fun…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 9:09 PM

      Hi Hillery,

      Yes! It is definitely too high! I’m sure that was expensive to install that too!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - June 12, 2016 - 8:00 AM

    I didn’t know where you were going with you opinion on “open concept” when I first got you email. But after reading your blog and seeing the pictures I totally agree. All the character is gone in the unit.
    I am renovating my home and opening up one of the walls so I can a better plan for entertaining, but doing it so it still has the charm of a Tudor.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 9:04 PM

      Hi Wendy,

      That I’m sure will be lovely and I gather it’s not a one-bedroom apartment! That’s entirely different. And of course, it wasn’t just the removal of the walls, although that did negate what I think is the very nicest part of the whole place which is the winding central hall. ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - June 12, 2016 - 7:31 AM

    I’ve seen plenty of turn of the century homes around here that have more contemporary decor and fixtures, but retain mouldings, ceiling medallions, floors, etc. Including when the parlor wall is taken out (you can tell because you can see the banded floor that delineates the original rooms). They all look great, no need for stripping to the studs. Sadly, so many flippers are doing that.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 9:02 PM

      Hi Melissa,

      I know. I don’t get it. I may do a post about what I would’ve done, one day and include some other successful renovations and what made them so.

      I figure it must’ve cost at least 10k, just to gut the place. ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - June 12, 2016 - 7:20 AM

    “It’s like a hotel suite, not a home”…my very first thought too, Laurel! It is such a shame that the owners removed all the character and functionality from a previously,lovely apartment!
    I would buy your apartment in a heartbeat- but I wouldn’t want to live in the mucked up,cold, sterile version of yours. Never..I just cringed when I saw what was done to ‘modernize’ the place!
    Back in 1973 we bought our first house- an affordable, sweet little cottage – but the owners had committed the same cardinal sin of removing the wall between the entry and the kitchen.Unfortunately, that meant that the only bathroom faced the front door- and now was part of the kitchen.
    When we were looking for our subsequent home- my #1 requirement was- no bathroom visible from any eating area! 🙂
    BTW- my present kitchen is a galley type kitchen too, and when we did a little renovation- I had a Subzero, wood paneled, counter depth refrigerator installed- and I say- I love it! It makes the kitchen look so much bigger. My sister chose the Freiherr counter depth refri when she remodeled her kitchen, and she’s very happy with it too.Both of us do have smaller( old!) refrigerators in the basement/garage to hold the overflow.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 8:59 PM

      Hi Dolores,

      Glad you like your counter-depth fridge. The hand-writing is on the wall… Mine is dying and it is near the opening, so would help open up the space. BTW, that blank wall is a closet OUTSIDE the apartment and probably also some pipes.ReplyCancel

  • Patricia van Essche - June 12, 2016 - 7:12 AM

    Laurel,
    Too bad they did not hire you. I think you better get on the Board so another one is transformed into something that strips away all the character and charm.
    pveReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 8:57 PM

      Hi Patricia,

      I was just thinking about you yesterday and here you are! I would’ve done it gratis, although I doubt they would’ve listened. oh well…ReplyCancel

  • NS_Gardener - June 12, 2016 - 6:47 AM

    Far too many people fail to think through their plan. For some reason all the rage to tear down walls has gotten in the way. Open concept works when you have site lines that draw you in, however merely creating a “open box” makes the room seem sterile and lacking. Buyers would have a difficult time envisioning a solution to the space. Looks to me the owners liked the cool contemporary/modern open concept thinking it would draw top dollar when at the same time but applied it to the wrong structure. The effort cheapened the space. It would have made sense to maybe to for an eclectic feel and mix the the styles…less radical with something for everyone.ReplyCancel

  • Rose - June 12, 2016 - 6:21 AM

    Love the post….learn so much from your website! Please share the paint color on the walls in your bedroom, I love it!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 8:55 PM

      Hi Rose,

      Thank you so much! The color is Benjamin Moore Tropical Dusk 2117-40.ReplyCancel

      • Rose - June 26, 2016 - 6:35 AM

        Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Shray friedman's mail - June 12, 2016 - 3:27 AM

    my, my reading this thru again, i realized this is the longest post i have ever written. lol I became stunned by the loss of thought that it would take, to do what happened in this home-now apt. thank you for your indulgence,
    shray

    From splendid to mundane…it would be and actually is forgettable !Ah, just one thing.
    I will never be able to forget the images of what was, a charming, even sublime — home, one to rest, ones soul heart in.
    Changed to a horrid conundrum, and a person with an eraser in hand. Hum, lets see how to ruin a place shall we? And on they went in their marry way, removing history, taste and understated glamor one board at a time.

    So, yes indeed, one can easily understand your flabbergasted tone. It must feel rather like the apt building your home is in — is more like a cherished english garden, all snug and kept up. Pruned,and tended to just so.

    Enchanting to walk thru, with its old roses, shaded by a grand tree — the foundation of the garden.Just as the arches, in the halls, represent strength and continuity as so do the roses, each repeated-
    Arches holding up the frame work, much like the branches of the tree, hold the garden together.
    And now, someone has removed a rose bush, it, just like the others, leaving a hole in the circle around the tree in the garden. So does, the hall in the front of the said apt feel empty, a hole in the balance.

    Maybe, I go on a bit much? Indeed looking now I do, but in empathy.

    it brings to mind a historic home, i, and my husband refurbished in a 2 year moment from our lives. we sanded and plastered, stripped wood walls, restored and discovered the delight in her majesty
    She was built in 1898, by a lumber baron in San Francisco, it had never been touched, just neglected.

    To describe would take pages, touched with gilded edges. A master piece of style and refrained glory. Crystal sliding pocket doors, 12 types of wood, carved and placed to show, their quite unique splendor.

    The wainscoting of hand toiled leather from Spain that wrapped the 3 flights of the tiger oak, grand stair case.
    The walls lined in, the dr. and library mahogany. The ballroom with a mural on the ceiling, painted by a russian [seaman], who had escaped the tzar, employed as a painter of high regard… by the Royal family.
    all this and beyond, more, magical…

    Sadly the market crashed in the late 80s, we had to sell it. Hoping to find someone to protect the 6,000sgft…maybe a bed and breakfast? Ah, to a wonderful doctor and family.

    Well, hate to say this, so genteelly i tread… they hired a ‘designer’
    And within a few months [ I found out, when I returned to gather a forgotten item] she had proceeded, to have a crew descend on the grand lady, what follows, is a learning lesson for all, be carful to whom you trust your home… your sanctuary… or you may find… painted, the hand-tooled leather wainscoting-white-all the oak , white, all !!!
    The 12 diff kinds of wood – again white… Even the fireplaces. The ceiling, the cerulean blue ceiling, with it’s clouds and angles dancing in the sky…now hidden, is forever, under cheap gold paint!

    This all brings me to the conclusion… bad taste can indeed effect history.
    To you loral, I extend a special thanks… Thanks for pointing it out, the loss, and why it is one.
    Even be it, a smaller affront sqft wise… it still breaks one heart, and exposes the loss and truth about how we cast away our history and our souls everyday.
    I hope you do not have to pass this apt, as you go to your home each day.lol [i mean it though]

    best wishes to you,
    shrayReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 8:52 PM

      Hi Shray,

      I loved your comment! I’m sorry that you had to witness the desecration of your beloved home. I’m sure it was difficult to have to part with it, in the first place. I don’t have to pass it, I live directly underneath separated by two other floors. The one directly above me was also renovated recently but I haven’t seen it. I’m afraid now.

      One blessing there however is that the former tenant (above me) was elderly and apparently, lived in abominable squalor. Actually, the management co. tried to get her out. Long story, but finally they did. There was a strange odor every time I walked into my home and I tried everything to get rid of it. I thought when I first moved it was because it had been vacant and a good cleaning would take care of it. Nope. Over the years, it did abate somewhat. Well, guess what? It is not completely gone, now that the cesspool living above me has been eradicated!

      I guess I’m not painting a very good picture of the other tenants here, but there are only 54 apartments. I’ve met the most of the owners by now, and the vast majority are lovely people!ReplyCancel

  • Christine - June 12, 2016 - 2:25 AM

    Laurel, I so look forward to your posts each week and you never disappoint. We bought a new tract home earlier this year. We were downsizing to an open plan, 3 bedroom home so we have our dining living and kitchen area in one open space, the great room. I will miss not being able to hide the insane kitchen mess on thanksgiving, but other than that we like it. We also have a mud room, 2 baths and a powder room – none of which open directly into a living area! Our kitchen island is hideously large…cool in some ways, not as functional in others, but overall we really like our smaller, open floor plan home…a lot…except that darn counter depth fridge, which I promise to expand upon.

    That arch in the hall, the corbels, the curved ceiling, they are so lovely! Character, charm, and history. You can’t get that with something new and they stripped it out in their reno. The floors make me want to weep. Much of what they did just feels sterile. Who is going to cook in that kitchen? There’s no counter space! I could go on and on. I’m all for progress, but I appreciate a balance and respect with old and new.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 8:44 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Here, here! And in regards to open home plans. It is absolutely fine to have it in a larger home. But in 800 sq. feet. no.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - June 12, 2016 - 1:51 AM

    Laurel, you are 100% right on every point. If they wanted cookie cutter, why not get something in a new building? They ripped the soul out of that apartment. Now it’s a hot mess, and an overpriced hot mess, at that. I see it sitting on the market forever, unless another soulless, tasteless couple comes along and thinks it’s all right and has money to blow. What a pity. And I’ll bet the board didn’t know what was going on. If they did, then shame on them for allowing it to happen.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 8:42 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      It is mind-boggling, isn’t it? I have a neighbor who knows EVERYTHING going on and I think I’ll make a point to speak to her about it.ReplyCancel

  • Ellie DeWitt - June 12, 2016 - 1:16 AM

    Hi Laurel, I live in Marin County, just north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge and I recall you told me that you once lived in the Bay Area and if my memory serves correctly, in the Palo Alto area. So you are familiar with the high cost of housing here. It is now official San Francisco is more expensive than Manhattan! I mention this because space is at a premium and small houses and apts. cost a mint. I am a former Real Estate Appraiser and I agree with all of your comments whole heartedly! They have committed the cardinal sin of over improvement for the building and the neighborhood hence the ridiculous high price. And they have made fundamental mistakes which only a subsequent redo can correct. The bath in the living/dining room, the lack of closets and bathtub, no counter space and storage in kitchen and the most egregious, removing the very elements which made the apt. special!!! Specifically the gorgeous floors and architectural elements!
    I’m with you Laurel! And your post is educational as to what not to do! I imagine the quick turn around sale was strategic from the beginning, thinking they’d fix up and flip. The only problem is that they failed to make good and cost effective improvements and are probably going to lose their shirt on this one!
    Thanks once again for your informative Blog!
    Very best, Ellie DeWittReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 1:42 AM

      Hi Ellie,

      Yes, I lived in P.A. but in the mid-70’s when it was CHEAP! For a couple of years I lived in the top floor of a house and the rent was $165/month. I have heard about what’s happened in the Bay Area and so I’m not surprised that SF has surpassed Manhattan which is also outrageous.

      I’m very close to the city and as you can see, it’s quite affordable– at this time, anyway.

      It’s not even like the rooms are teensy. The living room is 13.5 x 20 and the sills are very deep. So, for a one-bedroom apartment, that’s a nice sized room.

      There is a flip tax here too. I’m not sure what that entails, or what the time period is. ReplyCancel

  • Cathlin - June 12, 2016 - 1:15 AM

    How sad 🙁 A beautiful and interesting space dumbed down to something that looks cheap and generic, imo. In my time as a renter I’ve seen (and passed on) a lot of places like the “after”. no storage! No sense of space. It’s a dorm suite. At first glance I thought that was a giant potholder above the range. 😬 So sad to lose all of the historic detail for this odd little future modular furniture storage space.

    Bathrooms off the living/dining/turn-on-the-fan-because-people-are-listening is such a pet peeve of mine! When those bathrooms also have pocket doors with nonfunctiong latches 😱…

    I don’t know if my idea of “open concept” is inaccurate or if this is just a particularly bad application of it. I do like living-dining-kitchen openness and flow in many homes (and mine), but I also put the bathrooms, bedrooms, laundry, so on off in other areas…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 1:33 AM

      Hi Cathlin,

      It’s absolutely fine for a home with several rooms and an open floor plan for the living areas. But of course, this isn’t a family home. And they stripped it of its soul. :[ The architect’s name is on the outside of the building. I can only imagine how upset he’d be to see his lovely building treated in this manner.ReplyCancel

      • Cathlin - June 12, 2016 - 6:51 PM

        Yeah, no soul. 🙁 I am curious if any of your fellow tenants will do what I would – and the committee who approved this. Maybe someone will come in and reverse-reno/restore it to be in keeping with its historical beauty.

        Like kitchens and cabinets and the bazillion other home decisions, I guess the “open plan” principle comes down to taste as much as the architecture itself. My girls and I cook cook cook and I love having the range, our “hearth” as a focal point. 🙂 But again, and I’m talking to you everyone in the entire world: No Bathrooms Directly Off the Living/Dining!

        Also, if you want help/advice with web hosting, let me know. My husband’s (he’s a tech guy) company is web based.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 11:16 PM

          Hi Cathlin,

          Thanks so much for your always thoughtful replies. I’m good with the webhosting. It was my old host. I had pulled the plug but hadn’t turned off the “electricity.” Thursday, I finally called Bluehost and told them that all I needed from them was to host the domain. (actually, a few domains, I’ve purchased). But the idiot. Yes, idiot failed to see that I had a virtual private server and thus when he turned off the “electricity” shut the entire thing down, along with the email. ahhh… yes, you got me on twitter in the middle of it! I was supposed to be having a relaxing evening out!ReplyCancel

  • Beth l - June 12, 2016 - 12:56 AM

    I agree with you 100%. They blew it big-time. What a shame.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 12:59 AM

      Yeah… I’m pretty shocked that they were even allowed to do that! They have strict rules around here.ReplyCancel

  • nancyk - June 12, 2016 - 12:47 AM

    like all things you write snout Keep giving us designers the belief we can just sell our good ideas again and get the customers faith and trustReplyCancel