Renovation Challenges for a 140 Year Old Townhouse

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hi Everyone,

Thank you all so much for the terrific comments you shared with me on Wednesday’s post, where I posted the floor plan of my 90 square foot galley kitchen. I so appreciate the advice and especially those of you who are speaking from personal experience.

Yesterday, I signed the purchase agreement and plunked down 5% of the purchase price as a down payment.

 

I mean, this is really happening!

 

The closing is happening in less than four weeks! November 6th. And, apparently, in the state of Massachusetts, when they say it is happening, it is happening. But, let’s not go there.

So, what else is going on?

The kitchen. I am kitchen obsessed. And, I am up for these renovation challenges. Well, at least that’s why I keep telling myself!

 

And, again, thank you guys for all of your suggestions.

 

But, if I may ask a favor of you? Please avoid, if you can, very detailed descriptions in your comments. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them. It’s that my brain rarely “sees” what you’re trying to convey. I am a highly visual person. If you wish to express some ideas, it would be better to email them to me, with photos or sketches. If you are a subscriber, you can always contact me via any email you receive from me, via Mailchimp. They come from Mailchimp, but responses go directly to my email.

However, I am still collecting images for ideas.

 

One idea that someone wrote to me about is to create a tiny pantry in the back of the kitchen. She painted hers in Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe.

 

Farrow & Ball Down PipeFarrow and Ball down pipe - Farrow and Ball classic English kitchenFarrow and Ball downpipe – Farrow and Ball classic English kitchen

And, then I remembered my boyfriend. The one I’m going to marry and make babies with. He doesn’t know it yet, but that’s half of the fun. ;]

Would you like to see him, again?

Hang on a sec. I have to go and find him. He’s very popular!

 

deVOL-kitchens no backsplash-Bloomsbury kitchenYes, the Bloomsbury kitchen from DeVOL. Believe me; I’m not the only one who wants to marry this handsome fella.

 

deVOL-Bloomsbury-Kitchen-084

 

deVOL- dark gray green kitchenAnd, look! A white living room right off of it.

 

However, my kitchen is a galley kitchen. And, while this one is small, I would say that there are ten feet of floor space on both sides. If I have two-feet deep bases on the two long ends, I will have only about 3′-8″ of the floor. My point is that I don’t want to feel like I’m living in a big dark ditch. That certainly won’t do.

 

Let’s look at some new inspiration I found in the last few days.

 

deVOL-NYC-Classic

From the DeVOL showroom in New York City. So gorgeous! Love that marble!

If you go to the Hot Vintage page and look at that wonderful photo from Gerald Bland, that is pretty much my color scheme.

 

jeanstoferdesign instagram

Another beauty from Jean Stoffer I found on her instagram.

 

galley-kitchen-seattle-by-heidi-caillier

A beautifully integrated galley kitchen by Heidi Caillier

 

Neptune kitchensMore inspiration from Neptune Kitchens

 

For some of my favorite kitchen cabinet colors, please check out this post.

 

Okay, I promised to show you more of the apartment, and now that we’re under contract, it should be safe to do so.

 

Here’s the front of my building.

 

main level commave

 

So, first, we’ll look at the floor plan. Or, I should say, PLANS! That’s because my place is a DUPLEX!

After you go into the front doors, you walk through the long vestibule, which feels like it belongs to me and my floor-mate. He has the front duplex, and mine is the rear duplex. Then, you walk through the door, and to the left is a built-in closet that was added some time ago.

 

Boston apartment living room - renovation challenges

Then, you turn right, and here’s the living/dining room which you’ve seen already. You can see the small galley kitchen in the upper left corner of the floor plan.

 

Now let’s walk out of the kitchen, (please check out the link above to see the current kitchen) and if we make an immediate right, we will pass the spiral staircase and come to a small vestibule. To the left is the guest bedroom/den, and straight ahead is one of two bathrooms.

 

renovation challenges - dangerous sprial staircase

yes, I know…

 

To the left of the guest bedroom is the other entrance to the guest bedroom/den. Opposite that, is a linen closet.

 

renovation challenges - my soon-to-be new home!

Can I tell you how happy I am that I will have TWO bathrooms and TWO bedrooms?

 

Although I am not going to set the den up as a bedroom. I will set it up as a den. The current owner is leaving her sound system and smart TV! Then, we can walk out of the den and back into the living/dining room.

 

main level commave - renovation challenges

One idea I’ve been entertaining is to close up the entrance to the den by the bathroom. And then continue the closet along the entire length of the den. In the hall, I can create ANOTHER closet across from the existing one. (in front of the bathroom) One will be a linen closet. And the other one, a coat closet.

I feel that having the extra storage will be far more beneficial than having to walk 8 extra steps through the living room to get to the bathroom. Once one is in the room, the distance isn’t that different to get to the bathroom. Hey, they’re lucky they have one!

 

Now, I might yank out the entry closet.

 

That’s because I need a spot for my prized antique, probably 19th century 7-foot long bookcase. It is only 11″ deep. That could go there.

However, it is possible that it could go in the kitchen. Buttttt, it would need some work to make it useable as it’s rather fragile.  Now, that would be very “unkitchen!” And then I would have an L shape for the rest of the kitchen.

Please know that all I am doing is talking. One of my renovation challenges is that I’m challenged just getting them going. But, I’m determined to get it done this time. I’m hoping that the problem is New York.

 

living room kitchen - entry - renovation challenges

Okay, here is why we cannot take out the wall by the fridge. As you can see, it is part of a large doorway. And, on the opposing side, is the same wall. It won’t work. However, if I could wave my magic wand, I’d probably make the center wall come out into the doorway with another 8″ piece that coordinates with the side casings of the doorway.

 

You see, what is now my soon-to-be living room was once the formal dining room of this elegant brownstone.

 

There was no entry, as it is now. I guess we all know, that’s what happens when they convert these old beauties into condominiums. Actually, I’ve been told that the trend these days is to make more single-family homes and duplexes. So, the population in Back Bay, where my lovely is located, is dwindling, somewhat.

 

Laurel, are you going to talk about that spiral staircase? Is that one of your renovation challenges? Is it even up to code?

Hmmm… no, of course, it isn’t. A small child could easily fall through it. Alas, they used to be much more diligent about controlling the population a while back.

 

Sorry; sick joke.

From my standpoint, the worst part is that it takes up a 5′ x 5′ space square in the living room. And, it’s space that I would like to use for walking on, not tripping on. If I think my dishwasher drawer is a problem. Oh dear.

 

renovation challenges in a gorgeous Backbay condo

 

Ideally, the staircase would run along the back of the room where the brown cabinet is.

 

It would have a beautiful railing, and then once heads clear, the floor, the stairs can swing around for the last few steps.

For a couple of days right after I put my offer in, I tried to work it out. I even researched alternative spiral staircases. The technology of spiral staircases has improved a lot. I found one which requires less of an opening. Well, in any case, it’s something to explore once I line up a contractor. Or, if anyone has any suggestions, I would gladly listen. I do believe there’s enough room downstairs. However, I would’ve configured things differently down there.

I don’t fault the owner. It’s fine with the staircase as is. But, the staircase as is, is not ideal, in my opinion.

 

Okay, I’m going to save the lower level for another day. My hand is cramping! I’m sure this has given those who wish plenty to discuss.

 

Please note, I am still only exploring ideas for the kitchen. If I do the dark kitchen, it will still need plenty of white, marble, white backsplash, white dishes, lighting, and small amounts of black and warm metals like brass and gold. Artwork would look stunning against that color. Oh, and also, maybe some antique mirror somewhere. But, it shouldn’t look too glitzy or formal.

As I was fantasizing, I remembered that all of this costs money. Haha. So, I actually started thinking about IKEA. Please forgive me. Pleeeease! And no worries. Melissa, who helps me with lots of things and has become indispensable, talked me down from the ceiling, in her kind, tactful way.

 

Of course, she’s right! I mean, they do manage to make their kitchens look rather appealing.

 

renovation challenges but dramatic looking kitchen from IKEA

 

Above and below, two kitchens from IKEA.

 

renovation challenges

 

However, I cannot put MDF board embalmed with formaldehyde and then wrapped in plastic in my 140-year-old home. I’ll eat oatmeal and peanut butter every day for the rest of my life before I’ll do that!

But, I need to try and get as much of this sponsored as possible. Anyone from DeVOL out there who wants to partner with me, Plain English Kitchen, Neptune, Christopher Peacock? Anyone have an “in.”

And, some nice appliances too. A LaCanche will do.

 

Below is my current media that gives an overview of current stats. Please ignore if looking at this sort of thing makes you want to hurl.

 

media page - LBern - LHome October 2020

 

 

I’m exceedingly bad at promoting myself. It always sounds like obnoxious boasting at best. Or, else, I get looks that clearly say, “There, there now sweetie. The van to take you back to Bellvue will be arriving at any moment.”

 

But, seriously. I should definitely be getting some free stuff in exchange for me writing about how wonderful it is. Or, at the very least a Bosch dishwasher. Y’all seem to have one. lol It is obvious that many of you darlings are very high-end. I’m fine with General Electric and my 30-year-old (at least!) Kenmore fridge that’s running on fumes. I mean, it works. The milk stays fresh. The water boils.

Eventually.

More to come! Hope you’re having a blessed holiday weekend!

xo,

 

 

PS: Please check out the spectacular Columbus Day Weekend HOT SALES!

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Magdalena - October 16, 2020 - 10:06 PM

    I actually have a brand new IKEA kitchen, but i am in a builder grade cookie cutter condo from 2002. So I am not offended.
    I really dislike the wall between the kitchen and the hall. The way it looks in the middle of this gorgeous doorway is …. wrong. I think I would remove part of this wall so it doesn’t go all the way to the doorway. This would make the kitchen more open, which I am not sure you like, but it will also make it feel more spacious. If you could do built on fridge with beautiful paneled doors it would look weary well from the entryway. I would consider framing a narrow wall that would make a T shape on the floor plan, say those 11-12 in into the kitchen (to fit the depth of your antique shelving thing) and 11-12 in into the hallway, to hang a some artwork or tall mirror in a beautiful frame, to be seen from the dining area.
    In the kitchen I would do what looks like you are leaning towards: move sink to the window wall and add shallow storage where the sink is currently. Either your antique, or just 12 in deep cabinetry, on the whole wall. Would you still need the uppers if you had this wall of storage? It would be awesome if you could do without the uppers.
    I am so exited to follow you on your journey to your dream place.
    DeVOL I besiege you to please sponsor Laurel’s kitchen!ReplyCancel

  • Janet L. - October 13, 2020 - 5:04 PM

    This was in response to comment made by Maureen on October 12th at 2:30.ReplyCancel

  • Janet L. - October 13, 2020 - 4:58 PM

    Yes!!! LAUREL…THINK LIKE A MAN regarding self promotion! You absolutely deserve sponsorship due to the success of your blog. Straightforward business and nothing “looking for a hand-out “ about it. Email me if you want me to send you a plan of how to.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - October 13, 2020 - 1:41 PM

    I will make it short and sweet, your new place is absolutely stunning!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Thomson - October 13, 2020 - 11:42 AM

    Oh Boo Hiss! I was so invested in my stair design that I had you all moved in and we were hanging pictures!
    Maybe the reason you have a silly spiral staircase is that it is the only reasonable option? I certainly hope not but I agree, a lower floor plan would help us all out;-)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2020 - 12:00 PM

      Sorry about that. I had no idea that folks were going to try and design the place for me! I’d rather that they’d come and help me get my stuff together for my mortgage.lol But, right now, it’s only two things left that I need to submit to the mortgage folks.

      Here’s my take on the spiral staircase. This building was converted in 1979. And, that’s most likely when this staircase went in. While I think that there would’ve been at least one or two other viable options, this one was most likely the easiest and cheapest. And, pretty much what most people were doing in this situation.

      What’s super interesting, is that the couple who converted this building are architects. And, not only that, they STILL live in the building. AND, they are on the FOURTH FLOOR of a walk-up which is really more like a 5th floor walk-up due to the super-high ceilings. However, the ceilings are highest on my main floor as that was this was the main living space of the house. Oh, what I would give to be able to see this place as it was, originally.

      But, getting back to my neighbors, they will undoubtedly be able to give me all sorts of fantastic information which of course, I’ll be sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Coby - October 13, 2020 - 11:07 AM

    Dear Laurel,
    This is actually the first time I’m sending a reply: I’m SO tickled for you having found your new home! I have lots of input, but for now will address the issue that bothers me the most. Its the kitchen. Here’s what I’m picturing: remove the wall that separates the kitchen from the entrance hall, remove the closet. Create a new entry (a small but entirely charming entry) and you will then have an L-shaped kitchen. I’m going to try to send a sketch.ReplyCancel

  • Natasha Corrieri - October 13, 2020 - 10:10 AM

    Hey Laurel!
    In order to create a bit more light and to let the eye travel, you could consider inserting a steel and glass wall or window in the wall between the foyer and the kitchen. You have written about this design feature in previous blog posts. It would be such a beautiful feature in your kitchen!ReplyCancel

  • Hollie @ Stuck on Hue pillows - October 12, 2020 - 10:49 PM

    Laurel, I’m so excited for you. This place has such good bones! Every old home has issues (don’t get me started), but the charm outweighs those in the end. Looking forward to following along on the whole journey! (And be sure to hit me up when you get to the pillow stage!)ReplyCancel

  • Pamela W - October 12, 2020 - 10:36 PM

    It will be great fun to read all about what you decide to do and enjoy the photos of your beautiful home as it develops. Congratulations on a great purchase.ReplyCancel

  • SM - October 12, 2020 - 9:42 PM

    I wouldn’t bother with moving the staircase, it would be very costly, most of these duplexes have these and they can feel awkward because they are not nicely executed, not necessarily because of their location. Invest instead in a gorgeous custom railing, something very elegant and classic, wrought iron, there are companies in Boston who do that (look in New England Home magazine), put hardwood on the stairs to match the rest and a gorgeous runner on top and it would immediately turn from being an eyesore to a point of interest. I wouldn’t bother with opening up too much of the kitchen either, again, these classic apartments have so many trophies in their LRs already, bay windows, fire places (this you need to work on!), moldings, no need to make the kitchen, no matter how gorgeous, take center stage. What I’d recommend though is enlarging the opening to the den, take down the door, paint both same color and make it into a really beautiful space (not a bedroom, and yes, close off the bath) like a formal dining room (yes, have seen that done even so far from the kitchen and they always look gorgeous), and elegant home office or extra conversational area. The big opening will make the both LR and Den feel bigger, Den becomes integral part of the LR, it provides a good flow of the space and plenty more light. We opened up ours (same position as yours) and made it into an extra lounging/conversational area with just a nice velvet chaise along the back wall, lots of artwork above, two smaller scale armchairs, an ottoman and a Danish mid-century shallow book case (from Danish Country Antiques on Charles street, I really recommend them, they travel every year to Scandinavia to pick stuff, they used to do Gustavian, now they do more mid-century, gorgeous rosewood dining sets and such) on the side wall, and a big rug to make it look larger. It has really become part of our LR. I’d send a picture if I could figure out how! You can also change things around from time to time and play with the options, make Den into a dining area and then you’ll have two separate sitting areas in the LR one by the fire place and one in bay window area, this also makes the space look bigger and it’s so stylish!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - October 12, 2020 - 8:39 PM

    You are a treasure and I’m happy for you like a dear friend. Love your thoughts about the IKEA kitchen. It’s wonderful when you can create beauty without breaking the bank. Looking forward to seeing the lower level. Take care and best wishes.ReplyCancel

  • NB - October 12, 2020 - 7:33 PM

    Love it all except for the iron balustrade – easy to change – otherwise perfection! Boston is the greatest city in the world!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Dunn - October 12, 2020 - 5:40 PM

    Congratulations! I Love everything you have in mind for your new kitchen! I am sure it will be amazing. Wish I could help with an “in”, but alas my only “in” is my contractor son-in-law who is so busy I have to wait for his schedule to open up! (Is everyone working on their homes?)
    My only advise is to take as much time to decide as you can, I always make mistakes when I hurry.
    Best Always,
    PamReplyCancel

  • Martha Foss - October 12, 2020 - 5:05 PM

    When I look at your kitchen ideas, the Jean Stoffer kitchen jumps out as the perfect kitchen for you. Besides is there anything she does that is an absolutely wonderful? We just renovated a home that we sold the kitchen had a pocket door to the dining room, because it was a pocket door and already not supporting anything we were able to open up the opening to the dining room to the kitchen a little wider and make our galley kitchen not feel so suffocating. Since you have such a traditional style I think if you have a traditional style kitchen with your traditional dining room it could still look fantastic and reuse your wonderful moldings on a wider opening. It is a wonderful condo. I know you’ll be happy there. The big windows are just beautiful it is so fun to follow along and watch what you do.ReplyCancel

  • Virginia Nuta - October 12, 2020 - 4:38 PM

    Laurel–

    In my house, my powder room opens off a small room which could be used as a den or a small bedroom. I think when the house was built in the 70s it was used as a TV room. The problem is that when guests come, they have to traipse through the bedroom or den. I don’t need to use it as a guest room so I don’t have to worry about that, but if I did, then it would be invading the privacy of the guest if anyone wanted to use it on the main floor. As a den, I didn’t like the idea of having personal pepers spread out likewise for people to see. If I had a separate door as your apartment does, I would be thrilled because the privacy of the den/guest-room could be preserved. As it is, I made that little room a library with comfy chairs Heck, the laptops are in the family room anyway.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - October 12, 2020 - 4:04 PM

    Bosch 800 series…trust me. Amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Jamie Bishop - October 12, 2020 - 4:01 PM

    Laurel,

    A possible idea for your kitchen that would give you a bit more space to move around in would be to use the usual “upper” and “lower” cabinets on one side of the galley, but on the other side use entirely “upper” depth cabinets. *providing you can still fit all your kitchen stuff in the cupboards.

    If you’re looking to go the IKEA route, I’ve seen where people will actually use the PAX wardrobe system to do a built-in, custom, wall-to-wall pantry with drawers and shelves. It comes in depths of 13″ and 22″ and 2 different heights. You can also get hinged or sliding doors.

    There are a lot of people out there who have done reviews on their IKEA kitchens ‘5 years later’ or ’10 years later’ and they seem to be really happy with them. Besides, you can always get custom fonts from semihandmade.com and splurge on divine knobs and handles and soft-close hinges, which are what really count anyway. 🙂

    Best of luck with all your upcoming decisions!ReplyCancel

  • Kerry Finn - October 12, 2020 - 3:52 PM

    You might look for a cabinet maker for the kitchen. A friend of mine priced out an entire kitchen at Home Depot. A local cabinet maker did the cabinets for less than half. And his were solid wood, soft close, and had pull-outs.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2020 - 12:18 AM

      Yes, I believe it. It’s the same thing with hiring an interior designer over using a furniture store. Not always, but with some, yes.ReplyCancel

  • April F. - October 12, 2020 - 3:40 PM

    Why can’t you open part of the wall beside the fridge? I noticed pocket doors but who hides their kitchen anymore? The opening wouldn’t be symmetrical anymore to the foyer (and no one is more symmetrical than me) but it would be worth it to gain another cabinet on the left side. Why can’t you make the center wall 8” more? The vertical mill work could be carefully saved and the horizontal piece on the top can be reproduced. (It only cost money. Haha). Ditch the open shelving – it makes kitchen cabinets like furniture that you have to dust – along with anything you put up there. Who wants to wash dishes before you use them? Good luck and have fun!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2020 - 12:22 AM

      I’m not moving any original walls. But, thanks for your suggestion, anyway. I will have more cabinet space with the current footprint than I’ll know what to do with. It’s just ME and hopefully, one day, God willing, a wonderful man. I’m ready for him now.ReplyCancel

  • Simply Cheryl - October 12, 2020 - 3:37 PM

    Do they have a Cabinetstogo showroom near you? They are solid wood.ReplyCancel

  • Beckett - October 12, 2020 - 3:10 PM

    I lived on a gorgeous houseboat with a small spiral staircase for a few years when I was in my 20’s and I can say that they can be tricky to navigate. If there’s a way to test a smaller one befor you go in that direction, I’d try it. Slippery is the enemy. On the plus side, with a small spiral you can use handrails on both sides.

    As for the kitchen, your advice is always so good. I just want to put in a word for getting an induction stovetop or range. I’ve lived with gas, but it’s a bit toxic whenever you turn it on. Also it’s so much slower to boil or cool down. Induction is very responsive. we rented a vacay house last week that had a gas stove and I was amazed at how long it took to get a pot of water to boil.

    Induction is also much easier to clean. I’ll never go back to gas. I love the colors Smeg offers in induction ranges.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2020 - 12:24 AM

      Yeah, I’d love an induction, from the cleaning standpoint, alone. I’m so tired of having to clean a gas range that is like a whiny child on steroids!ReplyCancel

  • Catherine McCray - October 12, 2020 - 2:51 PM

    I had my kitchen cabinets professionally painted in a dark color. They looked beautiful. Now three years later there are small dings in the lower cabinets. Small but still visible. I am almost eighty and the only one living here yet I feel like the cabinets need to be repainted. The top cabinets were painted white and while there are dings they are much less noticeable. In hindsight I probably would have done both tops and bottoms in white .Just sayin…ReplyCancel

  • MH - October 12, 2020 - 2:32 PM

    This includes molding on the cabinet sides that you see looking from the LR.ReplyCancel

  • Maureen - October 12, 2020 - 2:30 PM

    I have complete confidence that you’ll figure out both the kitchen and staircase and that both will be stunning!
    Which is why you should not feel the least bit awkward about promoting yourself.
    Keep in mind that you have (how many?) subscribers. And the number of subscribers is how many references you have – as well as how many potential purchasers of your sponsors’ products.

    Also keep in mind that no man with your credentials would hesitate to promote himself.

    Go get ’em, Laurel!ReplyCancel

  • MH - October 12, 2020 - 2:23 PM

    I would put in a whole, whole lot of molding to match the molding in the living room, especially the ceiling. And by “match”, I mean the location and general feel of the molding – not the exact design which would probably cost too much. I think putting in molding would have a bigger impact than replacing the cabinets.
    I would also have a beautiful chandelier and sconces in a antique style to match the period.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Thomson - October 12, 2020 - 1:48 PM

    I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about the stair dilemma. Those small circular stairs are a death trap! So, I finally solved the issue in time to get a couple of hours of sleep. Not sure if this has been suggested, but here goes: run your stairs from the den side of the front window, following the curve ending at the fireplace wall. I’m not sure of the ceiling height downstairs but you should have plenty of room. The put your 7’bookcase on the wall that your stairs are now. Sofa 2nd in front of bookcase facing fireplace. Voila! You can keep your entry closet, thus no need to close off door from den to bathroom. Your dining table can go either by the kitchen, as it is now, or a round table in the stairway area. I’ll email rough drawing;-) I have plans for the kitchen.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2020 - 12:28 AM

      Thanks for the lovely staircase idea, Jennifer. Alas, the door to my garden would be blocked. If anyone thinks being an interior designer is an easy job, I think this exercise has shown, it is not. Of course, it would’ve been helpful to see the downstairs. Soon!ReplyCancel

  • Brenda Wale - October 12, 2020 - 1:20 PM

    I wonder if a manufacturer would cut you a deal on a fruit and vegetable fridge drawer so you could have a smaller fridge.

    Also, for aging in place, would an elevator replace the spiral staircase?ReplyCancel

  • Heather - October 12, 2020 - 11:18 AM

    Laurel, congratulations! This is beautiful! You mentioned that you will be using the main floor bedroom as a den. Will the den double as a guest room for overnight visitors? If so, I wouldn’t close the opening/connection between the den and bath areas. This connection currently provides privacy and convenience for an overnight guest. I think it’s an asset to your floor plan.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2020 - 12:44 AM

      I will think some more about that one. In any case, they will still have privacy. The stairs are enclosed downstairs and separate from the downstairs bedroom with a door. That was a clever idea. Most bedrooms only have one entrance.

      I looked at one gorgeous home online on Beacon St. and for 600k more than this one. Both bedrooms are upstairs. That’s fine. However, one bathroom is IN the master bedroom and the other bathroom is on the first floor. So, guests would have to traipse down a long flight of stairs to use the bathroom. That was enough, aside from the price to thwart me from that one!ReplyCancel

  • Jane - October 12, 2020 - 10:02 AM

    I’m so excited for you, Laurel! This is such a lovely space and that garden patio is wonderful! I’ve only read some of the comments and my head is spinning!

    I love the idea of moving the staircase to the side wall if that’s possible. Whatever you decide, I know it will be beautiful.

    Would it be possible to shrink the wall between the entry and the kitchen? For some reason, seeing the wall In the middle of that beautiful opening bothers me. It might make that area a bit more open and the view into your beautiful new kitchen will be gorgeous. Sorry to add to the numerous suggestions!

    Good luck! I’m looking forward to following your progress!ReplyCancel

  • diana - October 12, 2020 - 8:31 AM

    Good Morning Laurel. I sent a pic to your blog, hope you get it.
    Love, love, love your condo. It has YOU written all over it.ReplyCancel

  • Martha - October 12, 2020 - 8:28 AM

    Your new place is lovely (fingers crossed). I have a couple of thoughts for your kitchen. I have a loft with a small kitchen. We have a dishwasher drawer. It’s just a single drawer, and leaves space for more storage underneath it. Also, a friend of mine has a lovely Ikea kitchen, but she got the doors and drawer fronts from a different company.ReplyCancel

  • Janet C. - October 11, 2020 - 11:35 PM

    Many interesting ideas, and I suppose once you move in, you will find out feasibility of moving drain pipes and water lines, plumbing and exhaust vent pipes, etc.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie Stevens - October 11, 2020 - 11:23 PM

    I would suggest replacing the existing stair railing with something more traditional rather than the expense of a whole new stair solution or lift. Leaving in the hall closet, put your antique bookshelf either in the den or on the wall between the fireplace and windows if it fits (the floor plan doesn’t show all the divisions of the wall space in the main room, so just guessing). I see the main seating area in front of the fireplace, with a sofa with a bit more height and visual weight/volume than theirs (though may need to be a 6+ foot one for clearances?), 2 side chairs, rug, coffee table, and 2 higher chairs where the armoire is now, if needed at diagonals to semi-face each other in order to fit on that wall between the door and the stair railing, possibly with a small cocktail table between (perhaps narrow winged wing chair versions). A baby grand piano in the window alcove with the lid on full stick. And a small but extendable medium to dark toned wood round dining table and 4 chairs (which may give more clearance for passages and for placement of armchairs in the main seating area if placed on the DR side of the seating grouping for instance). Extra chairs can be stowed elsewhere and/or use the wing chairs as well when entertaining larger numbers. The full stick on the piano and higher side chairs like wing chairs help to balance the ceiling height and the current mantel height; the piano and darker toned other pieces suggested add grounding. See my remarks on your later blog Old Home Details about ways to work with the existing fireplace more effectively and tying in the kitchen remodel all at the same time. (If your antique bookcase does fit next to the fireplace as suggested, that also balances the DR set if that is of a medium to dark toned wood for instance). Switch the swing on the den door perhaps also. I agree with other posters who said don’t close off the bathroom/den transition and don’t put in permanent closets here, use furniture versions instead as later in life needs may change. I agree with posters on your blog later about Galley Kitchens that you do in fact have room for a U shape and DW, etc. and probably shallow cabinets on the wet wall on the end nearest the DR–whether those are built-ins or something more of an accent piece as furniture–and also extending upwards to taller upper cabs. All of this probably would cost you much less than what you have been talking about doing over these 3 blog posts.ReplyCancel

  • Monica M - October 11, 2020 - 10:52 PM

    Oh Laurel! Such a beautiful place. I can def see you here. One of the commenters mentioned that ” the view into the kitchen with the side of the upper and lower cabinet somehow looks ‘cheap’.” And of course that’s all I see now. So my 2 cents is maybe an L-shaped kitchen isn’t such a bad thought. You could make that view into the kitchen a visual gem! I imagine utilizing every inch, like some of your inspiration photos do, on those 2 sides. Love your idea of beefing up the wall there too. 2 thumbs up to the idea of extending the closet in BR1/Den and adding in the 2 closets adjacent to the bathroom door.ReplyCancel

  • Deborah Crawford - October 11, 2020 - 10:18 PM

    Yea for you!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mark Hawley - October 11, 2020 - 9:25 PM

    Someplace to send a modified floor plan diagram?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 11, 2020 - 10:07 PM

      Please wait until you’ve seen the floor below. It does not have the same footprint. Also, please do not remove any walls. That is not an option. Thanks. You can answer any email you receive from me as a subscriber.ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen Murphy - October 11, 2020 - 8:35 PM

    Congratulations! Dreamy possibilities & location. I love the original bay window room, so I’d close the wall bet kitchen and LR (are original pocket doors there?). Would rather face a new kitchen from entry. One of the prettiest traditional apt kitchens I’ve seen is Sheila Bridges’ own in a brownstone apt (about same size) and it could be an L in any color. Install cabinets above door of closet in entry. Remove kitchen tile floor…bet wood is under it. Close bedroom door at bath.
    I like your stair idea. For a young energetic woman such as yourself, it’s much easier to pop up or down a short flight of stairs. I’ve installed elevators in brownstone remodels, but never had the patience to use them myself.ReplyCancel

  • Patti - October 11, 2020 - 7:06 PM

    As if you need another opinion by now but I’m so on board with that Jean Stoffer kitchen! It’s just dreamy. I love dark kitchens but in a larger space. With the Stoffer one you could bring in artwork for colour and change it seasonally! Just a beautiful blank canvas to cook in but so classy and classic!ReplyCancel

  • Toni Mackain-Bremner - October 11, 2020 - 6:37 PM

    Laurel, I am soooo excited for this new chapter in your life. I love Boston (although the last time I was there was just before the “Big Dig”).

    The idea of an elevator that several ladies have suggested sounds awesome. Especially if you could find an older one that has Veblen reconditioned. I remember riding up to the second floor of one of the higher end clothing stores in a small southern town. You could fit maybe 3 people inside. Then the magic happened. The “cage” door was pulled across and up we went. Gosh it was wonderful! I would bet it would look great in your flat.

    Whatever you do, I’m sure it will look beautiful. I am convinced that you have forgotten more about decorating than most people know. If you get desperate, send out an SOS and you will have more volunteer painters than you know what to do with. Ha Ha!ReplyCancel

  • Chris - October 11, 2020 - 6:16 PM

    Appliances: I have GE Profile in my kitchen. The fridge is 15 years old ppurchased in an emergency when the 5 year old Maytag failed big time. I have to do side by side because the doors won’t open otherwise but the freezer is way too narrow. The other appliances are 11 years old from when I re-did the kitchen. I had to go with the GE cooktop since it had to fit the same downdraft configuration from the prior Jenn-Aire. I loooove the double oven. It heats up in a flash and is still dead accurate. It’s got convection in the top unit so some things can be cooked faster. The dishwasher is ok–very, very quiet– but not the best inside configuration I ever had.
    I know you want high end appliances. If I had the bucks to do it, I would upgrade the cooktop since it gets so much use but for the others, Profile worksReplyCancel

  • Gemma - October 11, 2020 - 5:39 PM

    Somebody here suggested an elevator sans stairs… BRILLIANT! Maybe rob some space from the hall closets? Lots cheaper than a new stairwell, too, while optimizing floor space.

    Aaah…. the joys between a woman and her house!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 1:37 AM

      I’m sorry but the area below those closets is a common hallway/locker area, small laundry room. In other words, the lower level doesn’t have the same footprint. There is no space for an elevator. And the cost to put one in is at least 30k. You guys do know that it’s only a duplex, right? I don’t own all four floors.lol Then, one could make a case for an elevator, perhaps.ReplyCancel

  • cyd - October 11, 2020 - 4:26 PM

    Oh, my, what a lot to ponder. The most disconcerting thing is the staircase. I know nothing about the costs of lifts but if you could do that in the hallway space by the bathrooms, that would be awesome. Your idea of a traditional staircase on the other side of the room would look most pleasant if cost and location of a lift is out of the question. I personally would not eliminate that second bedroom door. Freestanding closets on each side can cleverly add storage without making such a permanent decision. I’m newly retired so many of my decisions keep in mind future physical limitations, whether short term or long term. The other thing that sticks out to me is the “skinny” wall that bisects the double door to entry and kitchen. I would venture that a good carpenter could beef that up slightly to look better with the trim around that doorway. I would not open up that wall to the kitchen. Love an entry that is only an entry, no matter how small. Also the view into the kitchen with the side of the upper and lower cabinet somehow looks “cheap.” Perhaps that run of cabinets could end with a shallow full length cabinet that faces the dining/living. I’m thinking glass and lights. It would “un-kitchen” that view yet be a sparkling invite into that space. I’m not sure how you can sleep at night; so many beautiful, fun options to think about!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 1:40 AM

      Sleep is a problem for me sometimes. Sorry, answering comments backward. But, an elevator isn’t an option as there’s no space and the cost is prohibitive. A far safer, less obtrusive space-taking staircase, hopefully, is.ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - October 11, 2020 - 4:07 PM

    Congratulations on your beautiful new home! Having lived in MA most of my adult life and wishing to return there for retirement, I’m enjoying much vicarious pleasure from your move. I look forward to all the future posts as you come up with your redesign plans. Bon courage !ReplyCancel

  • Alie - October 11, 2020 - 2:15 PM

    Laurel, Absolutely find a couple of carpenters and price a custom kitchen. You might be pleasantly surprised how reasonable the cost of custom cabinetry is. Also keep in mind, your kitchen is so small you might be able to have beautiful upgraded counters made from “scraps” for significant savings. Talk to some local stone fabricators. Think outside the box!! Congratulations. Enjoy your new home.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 1:44 AM

      Think outside the box, eh? Some would love to put me in a box and ship me to another galaxy! lolReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Green - October 11, 2020 - 2:08 PM

    So happy for you, it is always exciting to move & especially when it fits you to a tee!

    I think you should buy/build a cabinet for your linen closet in front of the door in the bathroom leading to the den, instead of permanently!
    Make a door & wall to enclose the closet even with the existing closet, in the den.
    Or keep the door open or make a pocket door on the bathroom side and use the front portion for your linens and the rest of the closet for whatever.

    Therefore, the entrance to the bathroom from the den, yes you have to go thru the closet but it would still be there if for some reason later on you might want to change it back.
    I can’t wait to hear more and see more as well!
    CindyReplyCancel

  • Ellen Petersen - October 11, 2020 - 1:40 PM

    Laural, congratulations on your new home! I am right up the coast in Marblehead. A must-visit for you for a day trip. Re the staircase, if you are looking to do something more in keeping with the home, I highly recommend Cassidy Brothers Forge in Rowley MA they did an awesome job for me with an inner balcony. Happy to send you pictures if you are interested.ReplyCancel

  • Margie Mortensen - October 11, 2020 - 1:33 PM

    Thank you for making us smile and sometimes laugh out loud!
    Love your blogs and how you think about design.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - October 11, 2020 - 1:16 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Congratulations on your new home! I love your blog and have learned a lot through your work.

    For your stairs, I thought I’d share two ideas:

    1. Relocate them to the hall.
    In the hall, do you own the space below it? I couldn’t see a floor plan for the lower floor. If you did and there wasn’t anything too major beneath it (like a bathroom), you could potentially remove the closet in the hall and repurpose the space for L-shaped stairs, with the entrance near the kitchen wall, going down, and then a small landing at the quarter turn going straight into the space downstairs. You’d need to take a bit of space from the hall potentially to accommodate 36” for the stair width, but could still accommodate a small coat closet to the left of the entry. It could also offer the chance to do a nice exposed railing or gallery wall. This could also be a potential spot for a small elevator if you wanted to go that route.

    2. If you kept the spiral stairs in the current spot, could look interesting to do glass panels around for safety and a wood railing on top. The stairwell could be interesting with a gallery wall or moldings, or a statement tile floor at the bottom.

    Congrats again!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 1:48 AM

      In the hall, do you own the space below it?

      No. That area is a common hall and locker storage. I didn’t show it, because I felt that this was enough for one post.

      The stairs in their current configuration take up too much space in the living room. I can make
      it work, but it would be better and safer to change them.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Mack - October 11, 2020 - 1:15 PM

    Laurel,

    It’s beautiful and feels wonderful. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    Congratulations!
    Stephanie MackReplyCancel

  • Pamela Turner - October 11, 2020 - 12:47 PM

    I can imagine all thoughts Reno are racing through your head pretty much 24/7! Your new home has gorgeous light and bones. It will be so much fun to vicariously live out design dreams through your process. Big hearty congratulations on the home officially becoming yours!ReplyCancel

  • Petra - October 11, 2020 - 12:38 PM

    Congratulations Laurel, it is a lovely apartment! Those moldings and bay window…swoon! I can’t wait to see the marvellous things you will do with it. PS – if you decide go with a two-drawer dishwasher, we love our Fisher Paykel panelled version as well as their panelled counter depth fridge.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - October 11, 2020 - 12:31 PM

    Hi Laurel, I just emailed you a drawing of a kitchen design that I think would work well for your space & am kind of excited about it! 😊. KellyReplyCancel

  • Gail - October 11, 2020 - 12:27 PM

    Wow so many great ideas. I was going to suggest the removal of the wall between the kitchen and hall too. Create an island out of the sink run. The pantry on the back wall can be made of uppers. In our 1911 home, we have lovely wood cabinets that came ready made. We were able to customize where we needed but saved a ton of money over all custom. Perhaps there’s a architect specialized in these types of spaces that can work some magic with the stairs.
    It’s gorgeous and I’m so happy for you.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret - October 11, 2020 - 12:01 PM

    I agree! First from function and then aesthetics.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 11, 2020 - 11:56 AM

    Laurel, for your kitchen, one thing I learned after numerous kitchen Reno’s is how much I love drawers over doors on lower cabinets. They store a ton of stuff and it’s all very easy to see and access. Very interested to see the decisions you make – you’ve clearly created very high interest among your followers with this new home!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - October 11, 2020 - 11:46 AM

    I completely agree with Janet C., except for the angled corner sink. If the cabinets on the left side were removed and placed at the back wall, you wouldn’t see the unattractive cabinet sides, and the room would feel more spacious without a partially obstructed doorway. Many of the kitchens that inspire you have cabinets built to ceiling height, which is a much better use of space. I see there is crown molding in your future kitchen, but unless that is the original plaster crown, that could be easily removed. Since the sightline is into the kitchen from the dining room, a wall of tradituonal looking but beautiful cabinets built to the ceiling would be compelling. No to the angled corner sink because that is awkward IMO, and a traditional apron front sink would be in keeping with the historical look of your new home. Also yes to adding cabinet doors to the area above the door for (lightweight) storage of seasonal decor, and seldom used what have you’s.ReplyCancel

  • kara - October 11, 2020 - 11:38 AM

    One word: elevator. There are small ones that would look a lot better than those railings, and would take up a lot less space.

    Beautiful rooms, lovely space.

    Blessings on your move!ReplyCancel

  • Cécile - October 11, 2020 - 11:21 AM

    Dear Laurel, here is a pic of a spiral staircase (allons-y the same as I have in my own duplex) which adds an architectural interest to a room, in my opinion.
    https://www.pluris.fr/com/?p=2&conid=652
    I find it very convenient and also beautiful. I also had it painted the same colour as the walls (not white in my case) and it’s very airy. However I live in Paris, France, and I can’t figure out how it may look in your environment. By the way, the most beautiful spiral staircase I know, from the late 19th century, is in the painter Gustave Moreau’s former studio (now musée Gustave Moreau). You will find it on Google images. He used it till he died 😉 I hope that will inspire you. Best, CécileReplyCancel

  • Marsha Stopa - October 11, 2020 - 11:05 AM

    Love love love the new apartment!
    Had to laugh though when I saw the spiral staircase on the layout. I hate hate hate my spiral staircase.
    Yours may not be as narrow or the rise as high but I can pretty much guarantee you will hate it after living with it for a while. Design a staircase you can live with as you get older, which could include two turns instead of one. Looking forward to inspiration as you tackle this design challenge! Given the way you think I have no doubt the kitchen will turn out stunning. Congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • Patti - October 11, 2020 - 11:01 AM

    I am on Team Elevator and would do that first thing. That hole in the floor makes me queasy just looking at it on a computer. Here is a link that shows a great one (the picture with the dog).
    https://www.northstarlifts.com/home-elevators-central-ny-state/
    I have no idea of the cost involved, but you can live with the kitchen the way it is for awhile vs. those stairs.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - October 11, 2020 - 10:59 AM

    Love your building and your apartment; ceiling heights to die for, gorgeous windows, deep baseboards and casings! What do you think about closing the pocket door to the kitchen permanently and removing the wall between the kitchen and hall? Would a lift fit in the area to the den instead of more closets (though storage is always a plus. Then the floor in the LR could be rebuilt? I am looking forward to every step of making this your new home. CathyReplyCancel

  • Sonya - October 11, 2020 - 10:57 AM

    Congratulations!
    We turned our 12’x8’4″ into a J-shape with the fridge, stove and sink on the long side of the J, the dishwasher on the bottom of the J and cabinets on the short side of the J.
    As your room is a little narrower, what about making the shorter wall narrower by using upper depth cabinets on both the top and bottom?
    Another suggestion is to insert the fridge deeper into the wall but rearranging studs if possible so the fridge is recessed.
    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • carol - October 11, 2020 - 10:57 AM

    I agree with T about removing that partition between the kitchen and the entry. I’d remove just the upper cabinet at that end and leave the base. Since there isn’t room for a table or anything in the entry, that would give you a surface to set something down when you walk in. It would look so much better from the living/dining room, and you’d be less likely to trip over the stair railing.ReplyCancel

  • GGG - October 11, 2020 - 10:56 AM

    I second the suggestion to take out as much as possible of the wall dividing the entrance hall from the kitchen (in the photo it looks to have a mirror hanging on it.) It would open up the kitchen nicely. Then you could possibly turn the hall closet that you thought about taking out into a pantry, maybe?

    Also, it would make sense to talk to an architect/contractor about possible solutions for a staircase replacing the spiral one before making any other space commitments like removing doors, etc., but I’m sure you have thought of that.ReplyCancel

  • Susan B. - October 11, 2020 - 10:52 AM

    Laurel, I’m so very delighted for you – congratulations! I have an Ikea kitchen and enjoy it. However, it was put in during a complete renovation so the architect/builder was able to build around it for the most part. With Ikea, you have to work within their size offerings – builders can do clever things to make up for some of the limitations of fixed dimensions, but some things you just have to accept and go with. So, that’s something to keep in mind. I second the recommendation for semihandmade site for custom fronts. Anyway, as with everyone else, I’m very much looking forward to watching you work your magic. Cheers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 1:57 AM

      I should’ve mentioned that my current kitchen is IKEA.(it was already here) It’s fine, really. But, I think for this place, I’d like an upgrade.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - October 11, 2020 - 10:49 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    My biggest wish for you is that you find an amazing contractor. One that understands you & what you are trying to accomplish. I hope he doesn’t ever tell you he can’t do something just because he doesn’t want to do something.
    And my next wish is that you don’t have to live there while your renovations are being completed. That’s the worst!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 2:00 AM

      Wouldn’t it be great if I could find an amazing contractor and an amazing boyfriend all in one? A twofer! ;]

      No, I will not be living there through any major reno. I know my limits.ReplyCancel

  • T - October 11, 2020 - 10:40 AM

    Could it be possible to shorten the cabinet run on the sink side so that it would be flush with the entry closet? The closet wall would extend to conceal the galley. The wall separating the kitchen from the entry would be removed leaving a view from the entry of a stunning pantry which would replace the refrigerator and extend toward the repositioned stove. The fridge would be moved to the opposite end of the room on the sink side. I hope this makes sense. I drew a picture but didn’t know how to attach it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 2:01 AM

      nothing makes sense when I read. lol just answer any email you’re sent from me.ReplyCancel

  • Dottie in CT - October 11, 2020 - 10:23 AM

    Congratulations, Laurel. I love the outside and the location seems perfect. I am also in love with the crown molding; it’s gorgeous.
    Good luck with your renovations.ReplyCancel

  • Téa - October 11, 2020 - 10:20 AM

    SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!! How are you doing on the “Done and Done” whole house organizing? I bought the course, as per your rec’ and am slowly going through each room…It’s liberating. When you pare down, your life becomes so simple. We’re a family of 4 – and I’ve pared down the bath towels to 12! Same with coffee cups! Keep the ideas coming, dear Laurel – we’re rooting for you!!!ReplyCancel

  • Louise Belcourt - October 11, 2020 - 10:10 AM

    Love seeing this and looking forward to learning how you fix the kinks ( biggest one being the spiral staircase) . I had a thought though that I haven’t seen posted,,, couldn’t you remove the wall that divides the front entry from the kitchen?. I love unkitchens and this could become a multi functional kitchen room. Yes, you’d have to figure out a place for a coat closet, and yes you would walk right into it , but you wouldn’t be coming in from outside.. I’d love to see how you’d lay it out.ReplyCancel

  • Genevieve - October 11, 2020 - 10:04 AM

    Congratulations Laurel!
    The building is so beautiful!

    I agree that MDF and formaldehyde are not noble materials in regards to the era of the building but these chemicals are health hazards.

    Really loved to see more of the apartment and also the lesson on light vs dark paint colors 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what you do with the space! Best of luck to you and many blessings!ReplyCancel

  • C Allen - October 11, 2020 - 9:54 AM

    What an amazing place! You must be so excited. I can’t get past the ripping out a closet part, LOL. Could you not put your bookcase where the brown bookcase is now? On the wall beside the spiral staircase?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 2:12 AM

      No, it won’t work. My bookcase is seven feet long. The wall by the staircase is only six feet. However, what I’d like is to run the staircase along that wall with a railing going perpendicular to the fireplace wall. I just gained 2.5 feet where I really need it. Below where the staircase would begin is my bedroom. There is enough space to have a slanted ceiling in the room below which is my bedroom. But, it’s a good-sized, room, similar in size to the living room, however, the staircase is closed off.ReplyCancel

  • Terry - October 11, 2020 - 9:43 AM

    Your duplex is gorgeous!
    A black and white kitchen may not be your thing, but Carole Radziwill’s NY kitchen has a lot of pizzazz.
    My eye went right past the railings/spiral staircase to the powder room. A large painting could glam up the space after relocating the toilet roll further to the back so it is out of sight.ReplyCancel

  • Valerie - October 11, 2020 - 9:42 AM

    I mean, I cannot find a March 30 2016 article. I find March 27, but that doesn’t have the “concealed bench which pulls out like a table” by Skona hem. Thanks for the link!ReplyCancel

  • Valerie - October 11, 2020 - 9:40 AM

    I cannot find it. Could you please show a link? Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Janet - October 11, 2020 - 9:36 AM

    Could you move the main entrance to the apartment so that instead of entering to the left of the common hallway, you enter at the end of the common hallway, coming into the bath/bed hall. I’m not sure how wide that hall is but you could still extend the bedroom closet to close off the entry room and remove the thinner wall between the kitchen ad the old entry and use that whole space as your kitchen. Its a beautiful apartment, have fun.ReplyCancel

  • Patti - October 11, 2020 - 9:29 AM

    I love your posts and look forward to them every week. I live in New Mexico so a lot of what you post unfortunately is not relevant to southwest decor…But it’s wonderful just the same. And your humor and personality are a delight! Good luck with your new home…it’s going to be a beauty!ReplyCancel

  • Mariah - October 11, 2020 - 9:29 AM

    Beautiful new home! I second GL’s suggestions, a lift makes all the sense in the world, and built-in-place cabinets allow much latitude. Best of luck.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - October 11, 2020 - 9:24 AM

    Love that you finally have your own project to share with all of us ‘armchair experts’! No doubt it will be gorgeous.

    Thinking about sponsorships: Seems like this is a perfect fit for an upcoming season of This Old House. Even the location works!ReplyCancel

  • Joni S - October 11, 2020 - 9:20 AM

    Congrats, Laurel, the new place is fabulous and the millwork just gorgeous. It suits you perfectly and I just know your time there will be happy! I have to admit that I laughed out loud when scrolling past the pic of the spiral staircase. Just as I was studying it and thinking WTF? you made the perfectly understated “I know” comment. Total crack up! I can’t wait to see what you do with the place. Very best of luck in finding vendors; it’s a great opportunity for them to showcase product!ReplyCancel

  • Joanne Ralph - October 11, 2020 - 9:12 AM

    You never mentioned if you are renovating before or after you move into your new home. I didn’t like my galley kitchen with the oak cabinets but the more I live in the house (6 years) the more I love them and the small kitchen. Glad I didn’t ripe them out. Wish I could send a picture….ReplyCancel

  • CARMELA MARTINI - October 11, 2020 - 9:10 AM

    Hi Laurel, First off Congratulations! I kmow what you mean about wanting a Devol kitchen at a an Ikea price range. The good thing for keeping the cost down is that it’s a small kitchen. I found all my parts on facebook marketplace. 3 8ft carrara marble countertop and backsplash with an 8ft antique pine bar height credenza for 600 from a local restaurant that closed down. Rest of cabinets came from a home in Darien, brand new white custom made top with glass for 2,500. I even got a brand new miele dishwasher with it. Owner wanted different style. My appliances were open box Bosch, and new (still in box) Franke farm house
    faucet for 175. Retails for 1,300. I feel I got my bespoke Devol style kitchen on an Ikea budget. The hardest challenge was finding carpenters that were willing to cut them to fit my kitchen, and those I found on Nextdoor.com Just thought i’d share that it’s all possible. Wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing he progress.ReplyCancel

  • susie - October 11, 2020 - 9:09 AM

    sorry, don’t like the Downpipe gray. Looks too much like a battleship. Have always liked Martha S’s Bedford gray.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - October 11, 2020 - 9:02 AM

    On second thoughts, F&B Mizzle with Winbourne White above. A bit lighter than Pigeon.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - October 11, 2020 - 8:55 AM

    We did ikea boxes with custom fronts (from scherrs) and it was great. I do love inset cabinets and you can’t have that with ikea, but otherwise they are lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Beverly Largent - October 11, 2020 - 8:55 AM

    Laurel, I too am excited for you. I have 2 suggestions: 1). Look at Bunny Williams kitchen in AD, January 2020. I can’t comment about the layout, I am a sucker for blue, and I stopped there.
    2). I have been investigating home elevators due to my husband’s ability to climb stairs, and my desire to remain in an older larger home. I think you may be surprised at the affordable prices. Could it be moved where you plan to expand the closets near the bedroom/den? I am sure there is original flooring someplace you could use to cover the hole. Good luck, I know it is great funReplyCancel

  • Ivis - October 11, 2020 - 8:47 AM

    So excited and so happy for you! Looking forward to every post about this renovation. For me, I’d have to get rid of the spiral staircase as top priority but can’t begin to imagine how much it would cost. Then professional painting, then the kitchen (with sponsors!). This is wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Ana - October 11, 2020 - 8:30 AM

    Congrats! Wow! Beautiful! Gorgeous! Stunning! Well, except for the round stair well. Something a little more ornate would be a tad bit better.
    I just went to my mother’s “new” house that is a pit. She over paid and it’s a pit. It’s a rambler built in the 60’s. She has a tiny gallery kitchen with cheap cheap cabinets from the 60’s. I was just looking at Ikea cabinets to estimate replacement cost. Looked online at big box stores too. But, But, there are companies who sell doors for Ikea cabinets that you may prefer. Can’t wait to hear what you’re going to do.
    Great stats! Except the email subscribers. They certainly are missing out on your wit and charm! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Faulkner - October 11, 2020 - 8:28 AM

    Stunning!!! So deserved!! Enjoy it! I’m thrilled and look forward to seeing more!ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - October 11, 2020 - 8:25 AM

    What a beauty, Laurel, inside and outside. I’m envisioning something like in your favorite English kitchens blog post. Pigeon on lower cabinets and Winborne White on top with gold handles and white marble perhaps…..or a white kitchen. I can’t wait to see what you do. It will be gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Shuchman - October 11, 2020 - 8:23 AM

    Hi Laurel:
    Love your new home, especially the high ceilings, architectural details, gorgeous lofty windows. I’m sure you will figure out the spiral staircase but just for someone like me, grappling with aging and mortality, spiral staircases are designed for the immortals- or those who think they are. And I’m hardly a design expert on Kitchens- as I hate to cook, that room – necessary but a bit dull- isn’t my focus. On the other hand, it puzzles me why anyone would consider Farrow and Ball’s DownPipe for a galley kitchen. Why paint a smallish room with little natural light the color of the interior of a mausoleum or the far wall of a janitor’s closet? I know Farrow and Ball colors, like Kanye West, are beyond critical reproach or examination….but let there be light, not mud! A kitchen, galley or not, site of dirty dishes, broken plates, grimy and greasy counters, spoiled left overs needs some cheer! Just my input…but I’m sure you will get loads of input and then as a designer , do exactly what you like! That’s how it should be! Happy renovationReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2020 - 2:29 AM

      Well, there would have to be lots of white, GREAT lighting, glass, gold and brass accents, small amounts of black, possibly a mirror, sophisticated art in gold frames. Still, it would take a lot of courage. And, I might be running low on that right now. hahaReplyCancel

  • Mary - October 11, 2020 - 8:17 AM

    I live in Texas and I used Crown Point Cabinetry of New Hampshire. I showed the rep a couple of DeVol kitchens and got just what I wanted. They are Farrow and Ball shaded white color, but I don’t think they use that brand anymore. The finishes are gorgeous and they can do a hand painted version too.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Purdy - October 11, 2020 - 7:43 AM

    Hi! I’m on pins and needles waiting to see what you do with the spiral staircase. We have one of them in one of our rental homes. I hate it. The tenants, however, actually seem to like it. And yes, it’s in the living room too! Boston is great, you will love it. My sister lived out there for a few years and I went out almost every month to visit. Good times.ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte Northbrook - October 11, 2020 - 7:41 AM

    Hi Laurel, I love your new apartment. I live in the UK and have renovated 5 flats/houses and twice I have used the IKEA carcasses with custom made set in doors made in MDF. By set in I mean you have a frame with the door inside rather than the IKEA way of just using a big door with those bulky hinges. It always looked amazing (Shaker style) and you can paint them any colour – they’re easy to change if you change your mind. All the best in your new life!ReplyCancel

  • Carole Baker - October 11, 2020 - 7:39 AM

    Your blog 30th March 2016 has a clever idea for a concealed bench which pulls out like a table. I copied it for a new galley kitchen and it works a treat. It is labelled Skonahem.ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - October 11, 2020 - 7:23 AM

    Hello Laurel, So exciting to be designing your new-old space, especially when there is so much to work with! My own first priority would be getting rid of the spiral staircase, even at the expense of some precious floor space. A regular stairs such as the one you proposed would be a design asset, whereas spiral stairs are a vertiginous nightmare, and the existing one is especially jarring in that space. (Of course as a designer you know how important it is to avoid “winders” in spiral stairs.)

    I would rather live with the existing kitchen than put in low quality work, such as I suspect (but do not know) Ikea to be. If the cabinets are made of particleboard, they will certainly fall apart in a few years, and as you say, just knowing they are there would be a detriment. (I have eleven of their Billy bookcases, and all of the shelves are bowing by now. I was going to order some more, but the new ones looked so cheap that I couldn’t have them in my apartment, which is far from the Taj Mahal.) The oddest thing about the kitchen is the way we see into it from the dining area, looking directly at the dead ends of the cabinets. I don’t think a dark cave of a kitchen very appealing in that space. I know you would rarely close the door, but are there sliding doors in that double archway? Since I personally hate dishwashers, I would gain a little space by having a dishwasher-sized cabinet, in which a future dishwasher could be installed.
    –JimReplyCancel

  • Kathy O - October 11, 2020 - 7:23 AM

    One design thought…Could you have the thin wall between the hall and kitchen cut back to where the cabinets start and then use that hall closet as your pantry? Visually, that wall isn’t doing your beautiful apartment any favors, and it would open up the kitchen a bit more.ReplyCancel

  • Joni - October 11, 2020 - 6:59 AM

    I am so happy for my favorite blogger!!! So much love coming to you from Idaho (and my house with tons of knotty alder that you would hate!!!!) 🙂 Keep showing us pics of your beautiful new place as you make changes!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy O - October 11, 2020 - 6:51 AM

    I support Kim Doyle’s suggestion of investigating Ikea boxes and custom fronts. Check out the Semihomemade website – making fronts for Ikea pieces is what they do and the ordering process seems easy. I learned about them on Daniel Kanter’s blog, where he recently used them in a kitchen. Also, I just looked at their website and they have a discount program for professionals. So excited for you!!ReplyCancel

  • A Brown - October 11, 2020 - 6:23 AM

    Sweet pea, you’re never going to get sponsorship if it’s misspelled – Lacanche, instead of LaCanche. I hope all the un-kitchen vendors flock to your project!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - October 11, 2020 - 6:06 AM

    Love the apartment. The light through the windows is amazing, as are those ceilings! One thought that struck me as I viewed the images – you have an artificial “shelf” above the beautiful entry doors and I wasn’t sure it served a purpose. If a contractor boxed that area in and added doors, it would be an ideal spot for a new storage cupboard to store seldom-used items e.g. seasonal decor, larger suitcases, etc. Just a thought for extra out-of-the-way storage.ReplyCancel

  • Kim Doyle - October 11, 2020 - 5:59 AM

    Sorry – I forgot to add – the ikea thing isn’t that crazy. You could have custom doors done along with beautiful hardware to give them a higher end look but take advantage of the low cost of the “boxes”?ReplyCancel

  • Kim Doyle - October 11, 2020 - 5:57 AM

    Hi Laurel – your “boyfriend” pic made me wonder how you might use the stud space for open shelving for things like dishes, wine glasses etc. to keep the kitchen from feeling too closed in. I hope you can get sponsorship for this – the inspiration photos are great.ReplyCancel

  • GL - October 11, 2020 - 4:07 AM

    Some interesting conundrums (conundra?) here. Two thoughts from outside the box:
    1) With your contacts from Bostonians, how about getting a carpenter to make your new kitchen? — not necessarily more expensive than DeVol etc.
    2) With that hole in the floor, how about a lift instead of a spiral staircase? It doesn’t have to be taller than waist-high.ReplyCancel

  • Janet C. - October 11, 2020 - 4:00 AM

    Beautiful apartment!!! Because of where the door opening into the kitchen is located, wonder if an L-shape kitchen configuration would work? Take out the counter/cabinets on the left wall (as you are looking into the kitchen from the living room). Put counter/cabinets across back wall. Put an angled corner sink in the back right corner (as you are looking into the kitchen from living room). Leave fridge where it is, put dishwasher next to fridge, range on left of corner sink. Really enjoy reading your blogs – so informative and love your sense of humor!!!ReplyCancel

  • Cécile - October 11, 2020 - 3:28 AM

    Dear Laurel, your new place is definitively so lovely. Personnaly, I would use the den as a dining room with an open kitchen and then the kitchen as a spare room/occasional bedroom. As for the spiral staircase, which was not in the original floor plan, what do you think of something very modern such as Roger Tallon’s staircase? It’s very convenient (but very expansive also). I have a antique spiral staircase in my duplex which I like very much, I can send you a pic, but I don’t think it’s possible in the comments? My best wishes, CécileReplyCancel

  • Nilene Thompson-Finn - October 11, 2020 - 3:20 AM

    Hi Laurel! I just love your new home. Congrats. I am a retired Kitchen and Bath Designer. I can’t help with an “in” anymore, but I would suggest looking at Hallmark as well. I designed in Brookhaven, Wood-Mode and Hallmark. Hallmark is completely custom, but much more reasonable than the big names you mentioned. I am currently creating a Lifestyle blog, but am designing your kitchen in my head! LOL. Can’t wait for your next post!ReplyCancel

  • Mary L - October 11, 2020 - 3:16 AM

    Not knowing how the lower floor is configured, I wonder if the stairway would fit in the space on the other side of the wall in the guest bedroom entering beside the bathroom? You wouldn’t get the closet but would gain space in the living room.ReplyCancel

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