An Open Concept Apartment Remodel Disaster

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hi Everyone!

Guess where I am today? Well, I won’t make you think too hard, so I’ll just tell you.

I’m back in Bronxville and staying with my wonderful friend and former client, (frient) Mary. Yes, Mary, of the fabulous kitchen that I’m sitting in right now.

 

And a complete source list.

 

Mary is so incredibly kind that when I had my accident, she offered to have me stay with her to heal for as long as I liked.

 

I didn’t take her up on that offer, mostly because I was in no shape to get ready to go on a trip.

 

Skylar Brandt as Giselle

via the New York Times – Photo – Yudi Ela

 

However, I did tell her that I wanted to come to see Skylar Brandt in her New York debut performance of Giselle in the romantic, highly revered ballet, Giselle at the David Koch Theater (Lincoln Center) this Thursday evening. So, that is what we are doing!

 

I will stop here because some of you are interested in knowing more, and if you are, I have created a tribute page for Skylar.

 

I have been following her dancing and career ever since we first met in 2003 when she was only ten years old. However, it was clear at that very young age that Skylar was going places. I am so in awe of her incredible talent, drive, and she is such a fantastic person on top of all of that.

For those who wish to know more, about Skylar Brandt, please go here to read the rest.

 

***

And now, onto the post. Since I’m on a workcation, I am revisiting a revised version of one of my favorite humorous posts from 2016, having to do with a hideous apartment remodel that had just come on the market.

 

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. And, if you’d like help fixing your open concept to open house, please check out this post.

And, you might also enjoy this post about an open concept loft space in San Diego I pretend renovated.

 

Back in 2016, this apartment that is exactly like my old Bronxville apartment went on the market.

 

It had been sold in 2014 for 167k. The new owners did a massive renovation which included an open concept floor plan. When I saw the new listing, I was quite shocked at what they had done to this beautiful old apartment.

 

At the time, I couldn’t see how they were going to sell the apartment quickly. And, in a moment, I’m going to show you why.

Here is another apartment mess for sale from 2015.

 

A checklist is in order before embarking on a significant renovation of any kind, including an apartment remodel.

 

  • 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 essential not to spend more than the place is worth, that is an important consideration.

  • How old are the home and what style?

The building is a gracious traditional-Tudor style building built in 1927, with thick walls, large windows, high ceilings, architectural mouldings, and ribbon-banded oak floors.

  • 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 the building range from 25 – 120. ;]

 

This apartment on the top floor of the building was the same configuration as my old apartment, except it does not have the bay window in the living room.

I say, was because it is very different now.

First, I’m sharing several photos of my place when it was empty back in 2012 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), one of my favorite parts. As you walk in, to the right is the kitchen, and straight ahead is the living room.

 

entry

My charming former entry with ribbon banded mahogany inlay on oak floors. The kitchen is on the left, and the hallway at the bottom left. The entrance and my bedroom were my favorite parts of the apartment.

 

You do not need to walk through any living spaces to get to another living space.

 

Most one-bedroom apartments have a design that requires one to walk through the living room to get to the bedroom.

 

living room with bay windowThe sunny living room

 

arched doorway entry

Just past the kitchen, which you can see the sliver of yellow-green, is more of my favorite part, connecting the welcoming entry. I adore this small winding hallway with a lovely arch and corbels. EVERY apartment in the building has at least one of these arched doorways with decorative corbels.

 

EVERY ONE.

 

hall and bathroom

Walking through the tiny winding hall, we come to 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, which 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. For a more updated version of my bedroom, please look here.

 

paintmess 002 copy

Awww… back in early 2013 with my darling Peaches, who passed away on Dec. 2, 2014.

I miss you so much, Snooky!

 

And, please note the plethora of paint samples thrown across the bed.

 

As an aside, here’s the proof that I, too, can obsess about paint colors with the best of ’em. It’s why I put together this nearly 500 page, two-volume paint and palette guide to help with the selection of your paint colors.

 

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 anything. We put my Zuber screen over the doorway, and it is also very private for them.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.51.57 PMA 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.

For the best photos of my old apartment furnished, please see this post from November 2020.

 

Here is the same view from the renovated apartment.

 

open concept living room toilet in dining area - bad apartment remodelGone is the cozy entrance; you walk straight into the living room.

 

In addition, also gone is the charming cove ceiling. And, all of the mouldings, arched doorway, and ALL of the walls, except for the bedroom wall.

 

36 pond

Above is a sketch of my old apartment drawn to scale.

 

one - bedroom - bad apartment remodelThe open-concept apartment remodel – floor plan.

 

open concept living room built-in TV - bad apartment remodelThe living room is stripped of all architectural features, including the wonderful cove ceiling details and mouldings. Click here for some great ideas for treating a long interrupted living room wall.

 

architectural details cove ceiling picture frame moulding rounded wallHere, you can see my former apartment with the cove ceiling and moulding. I love the curved wall, which becomes the bay window. Here are some great ideas for the best bay window treatments and measuring guide.

 

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

 

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

 

Bronxville 1920s apartment living roomAbove and below the apartment before the remodel.

Bronxville 1920s apartment

Yes, this is the same place taken in 2014. Please notice that the original floors look to be in good shape.

 

open concept one-bedroom - bad apartment remodel

I lived in this building for eight years. It 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 - bad apartment remodel
See, it goes like this.

You are a guest at a party at the swinger’s apartment when you realize 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 were flanking the bathroom.

In all fairness, they probably did create 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. (that’s a New York colloquialism if you don’t already know that.)

 

original-subway-tile-bathroom-bronxville-ny

I am positive that this bathroom from another apartment has the original subway tile from 1927.

 

The bathroom. Pre-renovation would’ve looked like the one above.

 

long marble bathroom no tubAfter.

Actually, 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.

However, there’s no tub. Some people absolutely must have a tub, and if you don’t have one, they are probably not going to buy your place. Therefore, I believe that a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment should always have a tub.

 

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

 

Let’s scoot over to the bedroom.

 

bedroom windows weird moulding - bad apartment remodel

My bedroom is the favorite part of my apartment.

It’s what SOLD me on this place.

Here, in this apartment remodel, they stripped away every vestige of its former glory; it looks like one of the rooms at the recent hospital cardiac unit they built down the road; not the charming architectural gem from 1927 it was meant to be.

No mouldings.

 

And what is going on with the window and door casings in this mess of an apartment remodel?

 

To find out the appropriate window and door casings (interior trim), click here.

 

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 fake hardwood 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 because it is too upsetting.

But I will 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 monolithic TV they embedded in the wall in the living room. (much to the dismay of their neighbors!) Here are some great alternatives for hiding the TV.

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

 

APARTMENT REMODEL – THE KITCHEN

 

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

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

And what IS that thing over the stove? Anyone?

 

open concept kitchen - bad apartment remodel

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

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

It’s a galley kitchen, but they chose to make it a one-sided kitchen for some reason. Apparently, 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 abomination on the market at $299,000 and then dropped the price to 270k–the next day! Then, it dropped before $260,000.

 

The comps at that time went for between 165k-190k.

But who will pay 40-50% more 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, priced at 169k.

 

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

What surprises me most about the reno is I can’t believe the condo board approved this renovation. 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 beautiful look.

 

photo by Bruce Buck - traditional living room with modern furniturephoto: Bruce Buck

 

IMG_3324-2014-05-26This is a typical bedroom in this building. (and far nicer than most)

 

I don’t know what happened with this apartment remodel 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 will lose thousands of dollars or not be able to sell it at all.

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
  • ensure that the layout was optimal and tasteful while meeting the homeowner’s needs.
  • Ensure that the apartment has ample storage and counter space for preparing meals.
  • Help the homeowners keep to a realistic budget.
  • Spend where it will give them the biggest bang for their $$$.

 

I think overall; these homeowners made several mistakes with this apartment remodel 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 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 old 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 in the middle of the living-dining area.
  • There’s no sense of privacy, and 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 - apartment remodel

Note: The apartment only lasted on the market a couple of months and then was pulled. After that, I believe it may have been rented. It finally did sell in May 2020 for $243,000, and my apartment closed in April 2021 for $249,000.

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

I’ll look forward to hearing your comments.

xo,

Laurel

 

PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!

And also, if you’d like to learn more about the ballet phenom, Skylar Brandt, please go here.

Ahh, today would’ve been my beautiful Mommy’s 99th birthday!

  • Linda Potter - November 2, 2021 - 7:30 PM

    Those people stripping the apartment of its beautiful character reminds me of our new neighbor. Our custom home neighborhood is heavily wooded with 2-6 acre lots. The people who bought the house behind us spent months with heavy equipment taking out every tree (and trying to take out trees in our yard!) leaving one limbless tree that looks like a telephone pole in the middle of the front yard. I understand they have over $200,000 worth of liens on their house due to what they’ve done. Their next plan is to move their drain field. With all the money they’ve spent, we don’t understand why they didn’t buy a treeless lot and build what they wanted.ReplyCancel

  • Sue - November 2, 2021 - 11:45 AM

    The apartment is very sad….just so upsetting to see the changes…. oh well, i hope the new residents likeReplyCancel

  • Cassia Wyner - October 26, 2021 - 9:26 AM

    This post just makes me sad. There is so much wrong with the renovation, and you touched on most of it. They gained nothing from taking all the walls down. People trying to game the market. Developers gone mad. Shame.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - October 26, 2021 - 3:23 AM

    Agreed! And why do counter-depth refrigerators cost SO much more than the same size, regular depth? So many otherwise beautiful kitchens are spoiled by the bulky, protruding fridge.ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - October 26, 2021 - 1:24 AM

    OMG, I remember when this post ran the first time, and I never noticed that awful TV and fireplace. That entire wall is a crime against humanity.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - October 25, 2021 - 1:15 PM

    I’ll only add to the crescendo of grief for the atrocity that once lovely apartment became. As for “open” houses, and while I do like my kitchen a great deal, I would not like it displayed in my living room. I work to keep the kitchen tidy, but there are just days….

    The counter depth refrigerator? Yes, please! I’ve always had them, as I don’t like one protruding into the room like a pregnant elephant. Counter depth should be, IMO, the standard ‘fridge profile, and if one wants a pregnant elephant in the kitchen, let *that* be the up-charge profile.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy Pitcavage - October 25, 2021 - 1:05 PM

    Your assessment is 100% spot on. It is sickening what they did to the architecture in that apartment. Also, I don’t understand why people insist on exposing bathrooms to the open or putting them by front doors, especially in new builds (I guess sometimes it can’t be helped). However, I am a big believer in PRIVACY in the potty. In fact, I am pushing my husband to do a kitchen reno and one of my thoughts is that it will give our hallway bath more privacy by extending the kitchen wall it is already behind.

    Thank you for introducing us to Skylar Brandt. I am looking forward to passing along the introduction to my three girls.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Durtsche - October 23, 2021 - 12:08 PM

    they paved paradise and put up a parking lotReplyCancel

  • Randa - October 23, 2021 - 10:59 AM

    A crime against architecture! I will say that I have only had counter-depth refrigerators for the last 20 years. They “fit” so much better in any kitchen. Doesn’t look like the mother ship just landed in my kitchen. No one knows what is in the back half of the frig anyway. I’m a believer!ReplyCancel

  • Mary Templeton - October 23, 2021 - 10:28 AM

    This reno is tragic. What bothers me the most is when you take perfectly refinishable floors and put a trendy new floor in. We have been looking to buy a house in Richmond, VA. Unfortunately, all the homes on the market are cut the corner flips w/ horrible finishes- on top of that, you’re paying well above (what you want to pay in this market) to have finishes that drive you nuts, and the renovators are making tons of $$ in this market, so they will never learn how to do a proper renovation. They’re turning beautiful historic homes into modern mush. And don’t get me started w/ the barn doors that I see in every remodeled 1920s home. Ugh.ReplyCancel

  • Beth Rattigan - October 23, 2021 - 8:22 AM

    Laurel, I enjoyed this informative post and want to thank you for introducing us to Skylar. She received an outstanding review in the Times on Oct. 22 for her Giselle performance. She will now be on my must see list!
    Best, BethReplyCancel

  • Valerie L. - October 23, 2021 - 7:52 AM

    So much is ugly, it’s hard to choose the worst feature: flooring, kitchen, bathroom placement…but the winner of the abomination prize goes to the TV and faux fireplace–near the floor! What happens when the TV breaks and TVs have changed again-maybe the new ones are all curved? It was bad enough when all the TV armoires were out of date, but at least you could resell or donate them. To change their wall opening (which will no longer match the FP!) They will need a contractor for a small job! HAHA! Good luck with that!
    On a positive note, I LOVE my counter-depth fridge. Plenty of room for food for two and entertaining and things still get lost in the back!
    Heal well, Laurel!ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Cosby - October 22, 2021 - 11:35 PM

    Yuck! There’s zero appeal. Only a colorblind minimalist would think this is great.ReplyCancel

  • Sharie - October 21, 2021 - 11:54 PM

    That kitchen. Shaker cabinets with ultra-modern hardware. The thing above the stove looks like an attempt at accent tiling. But it lacks detail, color coordinates with nothing and was centered prior to installing the microwave. Did you notice the faucet? Out of proportion for the tiny sink and tall enough to knock into the cabinet above. Lordy, looks like they took a bunch of leftover kitchen stuff and slapped it all together without thought.ReplyCancel

  • Jen - October 21, 2021 - 11:36 PM

    Renovation? No; destruction of charm, beauty, and quality materials and workmanship. It honestly gives me a knot in my stomach. What a waste. Thank you for calling out the vulgarity of the bathroom off the dining area. I’ve been kvetching about cook-in living rooms for ages, but hadn’t had the nerve to add poop-in dining areas to my architectural “s— list“. But you’re so right.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Winter - October 21, 2021 - 9:49 PM

    Sad. Sad. Sad.

    Reminds me of the old farm-house style home I grew up in. It was big and quirky, with five bedrooms and one bathroom. There was a small one bedroom cottage behind it with a workshop around back. I loved everything about it.

    The guy who bought it about 12 years ago let me be there when everything got torn down.

    I balled my eyeballs out for three straight hours as large yellow machines took bite after bite out of what had been a part of my family life for four generations. What a waste.

    He replaced it with two skinny side-by-side contemporary monstrosities. He let me walk through one of them after they were built. There was a skinny space at the entrance that he called “the living room” and then it opened up into a cramped area he proudly claimed as the dining room and kitchen. Frankly, it just looked like a walkway past the stairs to a small kitchen.

    It made me want to retch.

    The whole experience was horrific.ReplyCancel

  • Jan - October 21, 2021 - 6:51 PM

    Such an interesting post. Thanks for all the work it must have taken. Hope you’re doing well and healing fast’.ReplyCancel

  • Patty G - October 21, 2021 - 4:33 PM

    Earlene, I also love my side-by-side counter-depth fridge (I posted yesterday), and regarding condiments, I use a turntable on the top shelf of the fridge for those items. So efficient, and nothing gets lost in the back. Hubby thinks it’s great! Everything fits except for a couple large ones, and those fit nicely in the door.ReplyCancel

  • Earlene Millier - October 21, 2021 - 4:14 PM

    On the subject of counter-depth fridges: heck yeah! Americans like big fridges to house their condiment collections. But a standard-depth fridge is just too deep, and I suspect that most things stored in the back half of them languish unused until the next clean-out. My counter-depth built-in Kitchen Aid side-by-side fits beautifully into my tiny 1910 Folk Victorian cottage kitchen, and was bought used for 900 bucks. It holds way, way more than my husband and I need.ReplyCancel

  • renee a pearman - October 21, 2021 - 3:50 PM

    Hi Dear One! I wish I had the details but in Boston, (Mass…is there any other Boston?) some very ambitious (yeah, yeah, that’s the right word) couple did the same thing to an old brownstone…..didn’t like it and had all the walls put back in place. Nuff said.
    OMG, ReneeReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - October 21, 2021 - 3:33 PM

    Hi Laurel
    Why is it so many times people with money have ABSOLUTELY no taste!!!!!?ReplyCancel

  • Coco - October 21, 2021 - 8:02 AM

    It’s a hot mess…ReplyCancel

  • Jane - October 20, 2021 - 11:47 PM

    There is a firing squad lined up waiting to take out the person who removed the storage space.ReplyCancel

  • Gabrielle C - October 20, 2021 - 11:33 PM

    I won’t add too the comments on the sad reno…all was said.

    But thank you for the beautiful post on Skylar! Now that’s beauty with celebrating…what a treat! Have a lovely evening!!ReplyCancel

  • Rob Dewey - October 20, 2021 - 9:00 PM

    Laurel you are absolutely “spot on” with your review of this awful renovation.ReplyCancel

  • Ingrid Stockton - October 20, 2021 - 8:37 PM

    I’m sure the angels wept when they beheld this travesty. To destroy something so beautiful has to be a mortal sin!ReplyCancel

  • Tamara Parks - October 20, 2021 - 4:46 PM

    It’s so upsetting because I’d love to add charming features like the ones they removed.
    What a waste!ReplyCancel

  • Liz - October 20, 2021 - 4:13 PM

    I wonder if we’ll see a return to more enclosed rooms/less ‘open concept’ floorplans post-Covid. Now that many people have spent the better part of the last couple years working or spending more time at home (with potential needs for noise control, privacy, workspaces, etc), I’m curious if there is a desire for a return to walls and doors.

    I’m in my 30s but grew up in a traditional home and prefer that in homes my husband and I have lived in/owned. I do like open sight lines from the kitchen to the family room, but am fine with everything else being more separate, as long as there is a sense of flow. Homes should have some mystery!ReplyCancel

  • Patty G - October 20, 2021 - 3:35 PM

    What a “flipping” tragedy! I don’t know what’s worse: the removal of the gorgeous floors, corbels/arches, walls, 1/2 the kitchen, or the bathroom situation. Hate the new floor color. Regarding counter-depth fridges – I had to get one for my latest home because the existing one was a big black beast that projected out into the pantry doorway. They can be pricey compared to standard fridges, but I found a smudge-free SS Whirlpool on sale at a big box store three years ago, and absolutely love it. Had to purchase an extra shelf in the freezer to make it more suitable for my needs, but it was worth it. Yes, if I need to put a large turkey in the freezer, I remove one shelf. Also, I stack frozen items on edge (like old record albums on a shelf) for very efficient use of storage space.ReplyCancel

  • Toni - October 20, 2021 - 2:54 PM

    That renovation makes me weep. They stripped all the character.

    I live in a 1914 American Foursquare (with all the original windows and molding) in Phoenix and we are sympathetically renovating the kitchen with cupboards to the ceiling, a tin backsplash, and covered appliances. My mother suggested we tear down the wall into the dining room and I almost lost it with her. I’m just glad I bought the house and she didn’t.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret - October 20, 2021 - 1:25 PM

    Open floor plans have their place but most definitely not in a building with historic, classic charm!Breaks my heart to see everything beautiful torn out for blah, boring, see it everywhere cheap stuff that doesn’t even go together. Our current home is a new build in Florida with the open kitchen, living, dining and it works for us for the most part. It is loud and hard to hear the, yes, giant TV my dear husband wanted so badly, whenever I cook and clean up. And why does every kitchen island have a sink which makes it look messy all the time once people actually live there and use the kitchen? And we each use a spare bedroom for office, craft space. If we still had children at home this house would be a loud, noisy place that I couldn’t stand. But our landscape is becoming beautiful and I can enjoy it all year.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - October 20, 2021 - 12:30 PM

    It’s an abomination. Absolutely tragic. People have too much unwarranted confidence with their renovations. HGTV and the alike are largely to blame for these clueless and idiotic transformations.ReplyCancel

  • Thea Jackson - October 20, 2021 - 12:22 PM

    I would have just painted and replaced the tub.ReplyCancel

  • Gail - October 20, 2021 - 12:13 PM

    Classic Laurel. A singeing critique and spot on. I am laughing and crying at once. those lovely arches and corbels gone forever 😢ReplyCancel

  • Tsippi - October 20, 2021 - 11:57 AM

    This hurts my heart. I do take solace in realizing viewer after viewer would have told the flipper “There’s nowhere for me to place my case goods,” “There’s nowhere for me to hang my art,” and “How am I supposed to make cookies or a Thanksgiving dinner in this kitchen?” I’m guessing the most common comment, though, was “Ewwwwwww. What did they do to this place?”ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie - October 20, 2021 - 11:31 AM

    Thank you Gillian for your recommendation about Quintessence on Youtube. Amazing stuff! I just watched At home in the country with Gil Schafer, and now I’m addicted. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - October 20, 2021 - 11:21 AM

    That little arch with corbels! That’s heartbreaking, we should have a funeral.

    I have had the toilet in the living/dining room and guests didn’t even want to use it. They would get that look on their face and I would direct them into our bedroom to use our bathroom and they were always so relieved (haha).

    The counter depth frig is a PIA, I wouldn’t have it again.

    That microwave over a gas stove is not acceptable and it’s not to code.ReplyCancel

  • Rita - October 20, 2021 - 11:02 AM

    This is so sad and can’t be undone! It is like cutting down a 100 year old oak tree to put in a gas station.ReplyCancel

  • Heather A Scarlatelli - October 20, 2021 - 10:51 AM

    This is why I love you.

    Open concept has it’s place for sure but I hate when I see older homes in my neighborhood that are purchased for a song, opened up, stripped of their character, vinyl clad and sold for a huge profit.

    When I bought my 1938 tudor style townhome 6 and a half years ago, I found you, and your wonderful advice, and have been enjoying your blog ever since.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - October 20, 2021 - 10:14 AM

    Ugh. Give me walls and rooms, please. Give me lovely cased openings defining common spaces, even with some hidden double wide pocket doors. My home doesn’t have architectural appeal (I wish), but instead is a builder’s tract home from the 70s. They are opening up a lot of them in my neighborhood, sold by flippers. How loud are those homes! Now working from home, like many people, they are wishing they had walls for privacy and noise reduction. I would like this “trend” to stop so we can have character and personality again. I blame Restoration Hardware and HGTV – RH for bringing on the all-gray look with their horrid phone book sized gray catalog in 2008-9, and HGTV for deciding “Open Concept” would sell shows. They have to keep coming up with new ideas, whether good or not, to keep people watching. I enjoyed HGTV when it started, with some of the wonderful, actual design, shows. Now it is is just demo and real estate, I don’t even watch anymore. How sad that the character is gone from that apartment forever now.ReplyCancel

  • Candy Perfetti - October 20, 2021 - 10:01 AM

    My dearly departed mother (at 99) had an expression which sums up my feelings about this trend in flipping….”I’m glad I’m going, and not coming!”

    Thrilled that your bumps and bruises are healing, but this must surely give you a headache!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene Frank - October 20, 2021 - 9:57 AM

    Laurel, you nailed it – this is a hotel suite. And not meant for anything but a weekend getaway in the city. There is a lovely hotel in Boston on Commonwealth, I think it is the Essex – where the suites are similar to this condo. I think Ikea, Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel have warped young people into thinking this is good design. The only positive thing I can say is that all those clean corners and lack of millwork make it easier to clean.ReplyCancel

  • SM - October 20, 2021 - 9:51 AM

    I guess most of current renovating & decorating trends are geared toward the younger (and less sophisticated) crowds who want everything to look like a hotel room, devoid of all soul, charm and character. And God forbid you inject a little bit of individualism in your decor or leave that framed photo of your family out on the mantelpiece if you’re trying to sell these days. In Back Back actually you cannot cut down a tree even if you own the front/back parcel. There should be similar regulation against stripping existing period details, just as there is for changing the facade or windows. And I cannot believe we’re still hanging microwaves above stoves!! I’m forced to live with a monster like that above our stove, but at least that was put in 20 years ago (by the previous owners) and we are not even using it, not much into microwaves and definitely no TVs in the LR!
    My husband and I saw Giselle once in London and it was breathtaking. Enjoy the beautiful show!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 20, 2021 - 9:34 AM

    I will say this about today’s “open concept” renovations:

    It is happening in my neighborhood of lovely old Victorians. Removing wall is popular.

    But I will say that when people my age (old) complain about it, I remind them that back in our day people our age thought it was wonderful to remove entire floors from rooms in order to make two-story living and p/or dining room areas. Ugh! Yeah there are 4 or 5 houses in my neighborhood like that.

    That’s what people did in the 70s.

    And now, those floors are being put back by renovation, as They should be. Apparently every generation has their idea of modern improvement.ReplyCancel

  • Allyson - October 20, 2021 - 9:28 AM

    Considering the unused, plastic-wrapped appliances, the hideous plastic floors, the destruction of any and all architectural interest or charm, the unrealistic price tag, and the come-hell-or-high-water commitment to open concept, this abomination had to have been wrought by a flipper. They are just the worst; not only does your average flipper have no design sense, the materials are always cheap and the work usually of poor quality. Ugh.

    As for counter-depth refrigerators, I have two kids and am a serious cook – we get restaurant food once a wok or so and every other meal is prepared at home. My counter-depth Kitchen Aid has ample space, and I love how sleek it looks in my wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinets in my DeVol-inspired “unkitchen”.ReplyCancel

  • Roxanne Banks - October 20, 2021 - 9:24 AM

    It’s just heart breaking. You can’t get these architectural gems back. I almost feel like these old buildings have souls and she must have been crying through the whole renovation.ReplyCancel

  • Diana - October 20, 2021 - 9:24 AM

    Tragic remodel. I never understood the appeal of having the kitchen in the middle of my living area. Also, virtually all the new condos are open concept. It’s one of the reason I haven’t downsized to a smaller place.

    Love my counter-depth fridge and having the cabinet wood cover both sides so it looks semi- built in. In my next kitchen I plan “hide” the fridge & DW behind cabinet wood.ReplyCancel

  • Patti - October 20, 2021 - 9:23 AM

    The same thing is happening in our neighborhood where “flippers” are buying our older homes (pre-1950), taking out all of the original, unique features and putting in cheap finishes -usually gray walls, white trim, vinyl engineered flooring- and then doubling the price and selling them faster than they can get them on the market. The same thing is happening with the landscaping – instead of beautiful plantings of camellias and azaleas and other blooming shrubs, they take them out and put in new sod and home improvement store shrubbery. It is so sad and so uninspired…. makes everything look cookie cutter same and dull. Yes, HGTV has ruined design.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - October 20, 2021 - 9:21 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    This renovation is tragic. A fresh coat of paint was probably the only thing needed. I hope their was crime tape up at the showings.
    And happy birthday to your late mother.ReplyCancel

  • Merri - October 20, 2021 - 9:18 AM

    I don’t have a counter depth fridge but my husband/contractor was able to recess our regular size fridge in a non-bearing wall, as part of a kitchen reno. He was able to cut out studs, without any risk of a wall sag. We did check with an engineer first and it was fine to do.ReplyCancel

  • Gillian - October 20, 2021 - 8:46 AM

    Love my counter depth built in fridge. I don’t understand spending thousands of dollars on renovations and then sliding in a behemoth of a fridge that sticks out and kind of looks cheap. Instead they spent $ to tear out all the charm – so sad. I do think it’s the influence of HGTV and people not being exposed to interior design by the greats! If you want a dose of interesting and personal homes, look up Quintessence on YouTube. I think Laurel would approve (and I hope you’re healing well)!ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - October 20, 2021 - 8:39 AM

    Sad and awful. I wondered if maybe it was designed for wheelchair access but then saw that can’t be the reason as there isn’t space to get around around the toilet to make the necessary turn. So there are no excuses.ReplyCancel

  • Sherri Erbaugh - October 20, 2021 - 8:31 AM

    The remodel is heartbreaking. To cover all the beautiful history of the apartment with fake floors and a kitchen in the living room is unbelievable. A bathroom in the dining room is also a real winner. Apparently, someone will purchase the apartment that doesn’t appreciate old world charm.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - October 20, 2021 - 8:15 AM

    Double yuck!! The reno is an abomination. You are spot on about if one must have a contemporary look then paint everything white and let your furniture and decor be modern. The juxtapostion between old and new would make both more striking. Instead they created a cold, sterile box.ReplyCancel

  • rosemarie glennon - October 20, 2021 - 8:15 AM

    I wish I had words to describe how disappointing it is and the lack of understanding of architectural details that beautifies a wonderful space. This is unfortunately happening everywhere. The appreciation for detail and character seem to just be gone and somehow I feel they could have gotten more money because of the detail in selling the apartment.

    I live in an open concept apartment unfortunately and I try my best to what I like to call room if I my space into areas of comfort and coziness without being too crazy about it.It is so disappointing to see these details go by the wayside.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - October 20, 2021 - 8:14 AM

    So sad. Poor condo 🙁

    I grew up, and my parents still live in, a lovely older (by Florida standards;) neighborhood. The homes were all custom built, and while of course they do not have true historic charm, many have excellent woodwork and moulding, classic floorplans, and neat architectural details. This was and is an upscale neighborhood and people spent accordingly. I see younger families moving in now as older owners sell, and the houses get gutted—everything is painted light grey, hardwoods are replaced with laminate, walls are all knocked out, etc. I find myself thinking, ‘if you want bland, move to any number of new developments they’re throwing up where houses are essentially big sterile boxes!’ Seems like the renovator in your old building should have done the same.ReplyCancel

  • KAREN Ann McEachern - October 20, 2021 - 7:56 AM

    I feel like every person/business flipping homes/apartments are all doing the same wrong things. I really enjoyed reading your blog. Some of the things you said was hilarious and I literally laughed out loud as to what you said about that tv in the wall. I agreed with everything you said. It is an unfortunate remodel.ReplyCancel

  • Gemma - October 20, 2021 - 7:44 AM

    We have HGTV and their ersatz designers to thank for this crap.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - October 20, 2021 - 7:30 AM

    UGH! The owners and developers of most Boston apartments aspire to that atripped-down look these days, and more beautifully detailed old units end up with all of their walls, moldings, and original doors and mantels in the dumpster every day. So heart-breaking. You walk into a gorgeous 19th-century townhouse and suddenly your heart sinks as you realized you’ve been transported by some ignorant cheapskate to a 1960’s apartment house.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 20, 2021 - 3:50 PM

      Ugh, I know. Thank God they can’t touch the outside. What is killing me now are the draconian interior building codes, when what’s outside is treacherous as hell! ReplyCancel

  • Patricia - October 20, 2021 - 7:08 AM

    I live in a 1928 colonial, and it breaks my heart to see all the beauty of these older homes removed. I love my floors and my moldings, and I especially love the fact that when you want privacy you can go to a different room! By the way, I purchased a counter top depth fridge for my galley kitchen, and the only good thing about it is that it looks pretty.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 20, 2021 - 6:35 AM

    Oh that renovation hurts my eyes.

    I have a tiny condo in a 1927 building in St.Louis. It is charming, And even though we are doing a major facelift to it, we are not moving walls. My husband carefully smoothed and refurbished the plaster walls.

    My condo has original white bathroom wall tile (Vitrolite) and original floor tile and tub, all in nice condition. I wouldn’t dream of changing it.

    I am putting in a new kitchen to replace the horrific oak cabinets from the 80s. I’m not doing a white kitchen, but I am doing light blue painted cabinets in a traditional style.

    These old condo buildings are gems.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 20, 2021 - 4:37 AM

    That’s a flipper for sure. ‘Open concept’ is huge, despite its obvious drawbacks. That’s probably why they went that way – a notion of loft living or some such. I hope for your former block mates they don’t attract the swing crowd. But I reckon they about scraped even financially, so unforuntately are probably out there committing other horrors as we write.ReplyCancel

  • Marji Karlgaard - October 20, 2021 - 3:09 AM

    Happy World Ballet Day, Laurel! Thank you for the lovely long intro to Skylar’s career. Enjoy her Giselle on Thursday! She’s amazing. That promenade…unearthly. But then she’s no mere mortal.
    And , ugh, what a disaster of a remodel. Well, we don’t have to live there. And that’s a blessing! Stay well, dear, and enjoy your visit.ReplyCancel

  • teri - October 20, 2021 - 2:40 AM

    I hate the floors!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - October 20, 2021 - 2:29 AM

    Agree. After several remodels, we purchased a fixer upper with a more traditional layout and kept it that way. It got old living in open concept homes in which you could look…and smell the kitchen from the couch. I wanted my new kitchen to be its own special place. As a real estate agent in Scottsdale I see a lot of cute ranch style homes just completely gutted and look more like an oversized studio apartment. And…I’m all for the sleek look of a. counter depth fridge!!!!ReplyCancel

  • L - October 20, 2021 - 1:48 AM

    Heartbreaking. This type of renovation is happening all over the country, too. A LARGE portion of the population does not like ‘old world’ charm.ReplyCancel

  • Kay - October 20, 2021 - 1:34 AM

    And they probably lied to your condo board.ReplyCancel

  • Kay - October 20, 2021 - 1:30 AM

    It’s hideous, of course, and makes me feel ill to look at. If they bought and sold quickly—or tried to sell—it could have been a flipper. They make appalling decisions and often do the work themselves. It would explain the window thingies, the microwave over the stove, and other abominations.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - October 20, 2021 - 12:52 AM

    Just no. A thousand times NO!!ReplyCancel

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