This journey began with my clients, a surgeon and his attorney wife, and their three young children, looking for a home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Commencing our search, we began by exploring larger four bedroom apartments. The wife always dreamt of raising her family in a townhouse, but the prices seemed out of reach. Like most buyers, the process of looking at homes is always informative, and ultimately many buyers increase their budgets as they face the realities of what is available for the money. As we explored cooperative apartments, my clients became disenchanted with the restrictions and high maintenance costs, so with an increase in the budget, our search shifted towards townhouses.
The property that my clients eventually purchased, located on a very lovely street of mostly single-family residences, required an extensive renovation. Although this house was over 100 years old, it appeared to have always been a single-family residence, and maintained it’s original stoop to the Parlor Level entrance. At 20 feet wide, the size was good, and in addition there is a lovely large back yard. Like most townhouses the ceiling heights are ample, and there are numerous fireplaces. However, the entire house was sagging, especially the original staircase which winds up through 4 stories. I view such “shortcomings” as charm and character. However, my clients often disagree, and in this case my client (who is very mechanical), decided to proceed with a full gut rebuild, including removal of the staircase and all floors. Because of the magnitude of the project, the clients, who were familiar with my other design experience, insisted that I consult with them through the entire design-bid-build process.
Over the course of several months of meetings, and multiple iterations, we were able to develop plans for the four-story house that could be presented to a licensed architect for the creation of working and permit drawings. Indeed, as you will see from the plans, the solution is a bit unusual. The clients are not ultra contemporary in their taste, they appreciate the historic nature of the house, but are very informal people. Often the kitchen in townhouses is placed on the garden level with more informal spaces. In this case we have an open concept Living-Dining-Kitchen on the parlor level. Another challenge was the need for all three children to be on a single floor. Most townhouses are configured with only two bedrooms per floor. After much thought and contemplation, we arrived at a layout that offers each child a private bedroom and bathroom all on the same floor. By placing all the children on the third floor, we freed the entire top floor for the master suite. By doing this we were able to develop his and hers bathrooms, a spacious walk in closet/dressing room, along with a study that can double as a guest room if needed.