Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting it right

The completed Townhouse

The building prior to renovation

Ornate ironwork decorates the front entry door grille

The entry hall with more ornate iron scroll work featured on the balustrade

Carved stone fireplaces were added throughout the house
Poor MOTH had a pretty awful weekend of renovating. He's been working on rejigging the small area that runs off the upstairs hallway & into the main bathroom. It was a silly waste of space, but did contain a cupboard I used to store all the linen for the upstairs bedrooms. So in his inimitable way, he stood pondering the whole thing for a while & then decided to totally redo the entire area.

So that's meant building a frame, lowering the ceiling, putting in downlights, ripping the cupboard out, & creating a whole new one that I can walk into via double doors that face into the hallway. All very nice but things haven't gone quite to plan! As so oftens happens, none of the walls are straight, so trying to build the frame for the new cupboard & then line the whole thing with plasterboard on out-of-plumb walls has been a nightmare. There was a lot of cussing & cursing going on, I did take photos, but it was not pretty! It's been very fiddly work that has taken him a lot longer than he anticipated, so he's not happy!!

So as we labour through the highs & lows of our renovation, we sometimes have to remind ourselves to stand back every now & then & go into the 'vision' zone. So it's lovely to see how someone else's vision is communicated into real results.

Steve Kratchman is a very talented architect in New York who took an unremarkable three-storey building made-up of offices & a retail store on Manhattan's Upper East Side & transformed it into an elegant five-storey limestone townhouse.

He re-engineered every inch of the original building to support the added floors with the elaborate masonry. Gutting the main block, he then ripped off all the fire escapes that criss-crossed the rear of the building. The basement was also excavated & the usable space was able to accommodate a gym, wine cellar & laundry room.

The foot-deep French limestone blocks from quarries in Avignon were steel pinned to the external brickwork. Steve then pulled back the limestone to form 10 inch deep reveals for the floor-to-ceiling transom capped casement windows that resemble French doors.

Beautiful iron scroll work has been used extensively on the front fence, the entry door's security grilles, stair railings and the two terraces that have been added onto the rear of the property. All in all the house has doubled in size.

A hugely successful project like this always inspires us & renews our enthusiasm & energy to keep on going. We know how we want things to end up, so it's back to it!


  1. HI
    I'm sure my husband knows how yours feels. He's been on his knees for 4 days tiling our bathroom and it's not easy to get the falls right we're both too fussy. It looks great but of course he see's every imperfection Thanks for the inspiration
    PS He hasn't finished yet still2 days of work probably then the walls

  2. That building is stunning millie. The door is fantastic...I would love something like that adorning our home. Poor MOTH, we know how he feels. Our home was built circa 1860's and NOTHING is straight.
    Ness xx

  3. We just finished a home renovation and it was well worth it. I love anything to do with houses. What a beautiful townhouse. Our neighbor has door very similar to those in the picture. They are lovely to look. I found via Sunday Baker. What a great blog you have.


And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

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