Society Hill Reno Blog
After the Second Look presentation, I had more specifics and direction to go on. The design was being refined by our meetings and discussion, with special attention being placed on the kitchen and its function.
- The entry moment built-in was a go, and Jeff wanted to explore adding a tufted cushion to bench back, and add door to coat closet portion.
- The idea was floated to shrink the kitchen island, yet allow the kitchen canopy to still stay aligned to current kitchen zone edge and overhang the edge of kitchen island. This would allow island seating to be within zone of kitchen’s shelter.
- Kitchen floor material could be contained by outlines of “U” shape kitchen space
- Floor cabinets from dining room area to be removed to gain space
- Space under stairs in living room – I was to look at potential for “soft spot” moment – ie, plants.
- Wegner Chairs – Jeff owns two mid-century folding chairs from Danish designer Hans Wegner. These look great opened up and also folded, and Jeff wanted to find a potential display location for them on a wall.
Scheme 1 Comments:
- Look at reducing wall cabinet space in the scheme to just the far wall in the kitchen
- Research possibility of fitting a Marvel freezer under the front counter space next to a Marvel fridge and ice maker. This scheme hid all the appliances from view underneath the countertop.
Scheme 2 Comments:
- This scheme put a wall of cabinets at the back of the kitchen. Jeff was intrigued by the idea, especially if we could integrate a fridge behind the cabinet covers. I had seen this done inexpensively in Europe with Ikea cabinets, but only with crazy high-end Sub-Zero type refrigerators in America.
- In this scheme, the sink would need to be located in the island. Jeff found this acceptable if moved over to one side, and not a double sink – to allow for max open island space for entertaining.
Additionally, Jeff wanted to see some ideas for a cost-effective Roof Deck. Here was the brief:
- Create budget-minded scheme for roof deck
- Add hose bibb, outdoor shower potentially with screen
- Plantings, decking
- Leave upper roof-deck alone – accessed only for special events
Kitchen Inspiration Images
With the Second Look package, I was able to take the design further and delve into some more detail. As planned, we dug deeper into the kitchen. I put together an inspiration image page for Jeff’s review, again to gauge his preferences and aesthetics, and created two main options for his “U-shape” kitchen.
Scheme 1 Renderings
In option 1, the “U” of the countertops would continue around front-to-back, with upper cabinets along the two legs of the “U” that backed up to walls. Option 1 also addressed the challenge of hiding most appliances from view in the kitchen. The refrigerator and microwave would be below-cabinet appliances. The idea was to see a clean expanse when looking at the kitchen space.
After presenting the First Look package to Jeff, he gave me his comments and opinions on the ideas and options I presented. Some decisions were made that would allow me to refine the design for the Second Look package:
- Move forward with the “U-shape” kitchen from Scheme 02 and 03
- Use the open shelves in the double-height space next to the mezzanine stair from Scheme 01
- Use the mezzanine screen/guardrail from Scheme 02
Additionally, we decided that for the Second Look, I would measure and put Jeff’s existing furniture into autocad. That would allow me to place it into the floorplans and try some layouts to see how it fit the space.
The kitchen would get a closer look in the second go-around, and we would start to look at actual cabinet and appliance layouts. We were playing with the idea of a below-counter refrigerator, to present a clean and open kitchen space.
The kitchen would also be divided off from the media room and bathroom in the back with a frosted glass pocket door.
And the cabinets set into the hallway wall would be sunken in further, utilizing the full depth of the space we were carving out over the common stair. Setting the cabinets back would allow for a countertop to be added into the recess, with furniture drawers below it to add utility.
As for the media room in the back, I was to develop ideas and options, for both future (dream scenarios – including a wet bar) and current development.
After that first informal review session, I put together a few options for Jeff’s review. The major move in each one proposed opening up the kitchen to the living space as Jeff had initially wanted to do. The question was how to arrange the new open kitchen – around a central island? An anchored island? How to place the dining area? Would there be enough space for circulation? Another important goal was to recapture what had been hallway space between the kitchen and back rooms of the third floor, and turn them into useful space. And speaking of hallways, the door into the owner’s unit, at the top of the communal stair between the apartments, was strangely set forward – there was an unnecessary hallway alcove space before you entered the apartment. Why would you create more common stair circulation space than necessary? Why not make it apartment space? So the plans also proposed moving the entry door back, and recapturing more apartment from the communal stair space.
Jeff’s tastes run towards what I would call a 50’s modernism, but with warmth; his tendency is for inviting, comfortable environments, as opposed to cold and austere. For his new project, Jeff was looking for something clean and modern, but livable – his prerequisites were a central, open kitchen where he could cook and entertain, a living room that made good use of the double-height space, and the ability to bring and utilize successfully his collection of furniture in his current home in South Philadelphia.
In the last post I wrote that the house in question, one of four more or less identical row homes, was built in 1970 by developer Jack Feldman. Seeing the house’s interior for the first time, the immediate impression was that not all that much had been changed since 1970. The second impression was that Jack Feldman worked to get his houses built in a hurry, without much consideration for how interior spaces, level changes, and how wall and ceiling planes resolved themselves. As a result, the design brief for the house began by answering a few distinct, basic questions. Jeff, my client, wanted to know, could sense be made of all the strange ceiling conditions and unresolved soffits? Could the kitchen be opened up? Really, to use Jeff’s term, could “Drywall Nation” (I call it “Soffit City”) be dismantled and absolved, or better yet, resolved?
As mentioned, this blog will focus on a design and renovation project in Society Hill, Philadelphia. The house in question is one of a row of four houses built by a developer named Jack Feldman in 1970 on a historically landmarked block in Society Hill. Aside from the four 1970 houses, just about every other house on my client’s side of the street is an 1800’s era brick row house. By digging into records at the Philadelphia Historical Society, I learned that a large mansion, operating as a hotel, and appropriately named the “Mansion House Hotel,” once stood on the site of the four 1970’s houses. It is unclear when the mansion was built, but sometime in the early 1820’s, it was destroyed by a fire. In 1824, a merchant named Robert Kid bought the land from one William Rawle and the Loan Co. of the Washington Benevolent Society of Pennsylvania for a cost of $10,000. Kid built a house on the land and sold it to another merchant, James Lyle, in 1825, for $14,500. Apparently in 1827, just two years later, James Lyle was dead – the house was sold by executers of Lyle’s Living Will and Trust to a widow name Despaigne Greland (at a loss, for $12,750).(more…)
- Neighborhood of Society Hill, Philadelphia. House to be renovated is shown at bottom left.
Hello, and welcome to the Society Hill (Philadelphia) Reno Blog! My name is Peter, and I’m an architect living and working in Philadelphia. This blog will document the design and construction process of a renovation project in Society Hill, Philadelphia that I have designed through my practice, Peter Epstein Design.
However, things weren’t always this way. By way of introductions – some readers may remember me from the Bed Stuy Reno. My wife, G (also an architect), and I bought an 1895 era two-family brownstone in Bedford Stuyvesant in 2006. It took us about 3-plus years, but we successfully designed and executed (largely ourselves and with the help of generous friends) the renovation of what was essentially a crack-house when we found it. And blogged about it! In fact, the blog was one of the most useful tools of our renovation, since it served as a source of inspiration, commiseration, knowledge, gave us access to materials and tools, and also friendship. Not to mention that it was a very rewarding experience. The blogging, that is. Well, the renovation too, once it was complete!
Like an old house you are attempting to renovate, life tends to throw you a lot of curves. It was not by design, but the powers that be (I guess I’m speaking about certain unnamed significant others here) unlocked certain career opportunities that suddenly had us Philadelphia-bound. This was about a year ago. Leaving Brooklyn was difficult, home as it was to our, er, home, as well as friends and neighbors, and for me, a job. I had switched from architecture into construction management and was working for Skanska, managing the construction of the various buildings within the Brooklyn Bridge Park. What a great Brooklyn lifestyle we had set up! Living in Bed Stuy, working on the piers by the Brooklyn Bridge, helping bring about significant change to the borough . . . but I digress. This blog is now about my project in Philadelphia!
Moving to Philadelphia, I began focusing on my own independent architecture practice. I approached our move here as an opportunity for me to try some things out I may not have in Brooklyn – namely going it alone, and returning to architecture from construction management. The work I have gotten has been incredibly rewarding and challenging.
Please stay tuned – Society Hill Reno Blog will follow the process of this project from design through construction. Looking forward to sharing!