City Families- My Top 10 best renovation requests and why they are great.

  1. Walk in Closets- walk in closets are great because they allow your wardrobe to be seen at a glance in a single space. Build them with double hanging for jackets, pressed shirts and trousers . Don’t forget a bit of single hanging for long coats or dresses. Have a drawers for underwear, handkerchiefs and scarves. Also add floor to ceiling shelves – 15 inches deep for sweaters and folded casual shirts and shelves for shoes. Put belt racks and tie racks on the wall. This will make it a real time saver; no need to walk about the bedroom pouncing in and out of various small closets and bureaus. As important, however, is that they can keep clutter out of the bedroom if you add lots of hooks near the door and a large hamper. No more clothes thrown about the room. If you have the space make the closet large enough for a stool or even a small armchair and make a little “me” space. If you are concerned about taking space out of your bedroom to do this, imagine the peaceful setting you can create around your bed without all the bedroom clutter.
  2. Family Storage- a large storage closet with a pair of doors deeper than a regular closet; maybe 30 to 36 inches deep, with cubbies. This area is located near the entry and is used, for example, to keep children’s sports equipment, muddy boots and umbrellas.
  3. A Pantry-kitchen pantries are an old fashioned idea that make a lot of sense and, indeed, are making a comeback. Pantries can be big enough to walk into or as simple as a floor to ceiling cabinet. They are a great way of storing non perishable food stuffs like rice, pasta and canned goods; big bags of onions or potatoes, oils and vinegars ; canned goods ; crackers and cereals as well as extra paper products. The great thing about pantries is that with everything at a glance – its easy to make a shopping list. Kitchens are often very visible in smaller apartments and are sometimes open to other spaces so they are great compliments to today’s kitchens which boast a clean, minimal uncluttered look. Kitchens are often very visible in smaller apartments and are sometimes open to other spaces.
  4. Laundry Rooms- often laundry rooms are tough in city apartments and are not always allowed by boards. They require access to water risers and to a waste pipe. Building managers and boards are concerned that waste pipes will become overburdened and cause water back ups into apartments. Should your building allow them, dedicate a small closed area; you will be required to waterproof the floor against leaks to you downstairs neighbor. This will make water proofing the floor much easier requiring a smaller amount of waterproofing than if they are located in a kitchen, for example. My clients are usually happier in the end if the laundry space is located nearest bedrooms and bath rooms where most laundry is generated.
  5. Powder Rooms- few older apartments are built with powder rooms. They are a great addition because they keep your guests out of private family space. There are code requirements governing The size of these rooms. Usually you need to allow for a 5’-0” x 7’-0” space.
  6. Multiple Sinks- having more than one sink in the kitchen is great two dedicated sinks are better than one large sink idea. One for clean up and one for prep. The clean up sink should be large enough to scrub a pot. The prep sink can be small but make it deep, at least 7 to 8 inches to prevent splashing. In the master bathroom, people are accustomed to having two sinks. Try it in a shared children’s bath if you can; it will make the morning go more smoothly.
  7. Snack Stations- these are great for families and may consist of a simple under-counter fridge and adjacent cabinet. There are three great things about these. Firstly, there will be less fumbling around in the big fridge looking for small items constantly opening and closing the door. Secondly, they allow a parent a bit more control of what the kids are snacking on. Thirdly, they just add a little more fridge space and its logical to separate these food stuffs.
  8. New wood flooring- Most of my clients request new wood flooring. In many older buildings, the floor may be in disrepair and in newer ones the quality of the floor may be less than desirable. The right choice for a new wood floor will add both monetary and aesthetic value to your co-op or condominium. There are two types of wood floors; solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood is as it sounds, solid real wood. Engineered wood floors are veneers pressed onto dimensionally stable plywood backing. Advantages of engineered wood floors are that there seems to be endless choices of varieties of species and because they are dimensionally stable, they do not expand and contract. Since they are stable they can be installed immediately. A real wood floor planks, on the other hand, will need to sit for at least 4 weeks in your apartment to acclimate to the moisture level. Of the space because they are usually stored in damp warehouses. If installed too soon, the floor boards will shrink leaving gaps between the boards that are too large. A real wood floor can be sanded and refinished numerous times. An engineered wood floor, since it is veneer can be refinished only twice. -discuss soundproofing-for floors in NYC
  9. Lighting- Since many New York Apartments have limited natural light, improvements in overall lighting levels are usually part of any renovation. Often recessed lighting is installed. Its best to think clearly about the layout of the room and to be judicious with recessed lighting. Don’t cover the ceiling with them in a grid. That may be ok for a kitchen but not for living spaces. For living spaces think about the furniture plan. Place two over the general area of a conversation group of sofas and chairs, or to supplement a decorative dining room fixture. Corners should be considered. Lighting in these areas visually expand a room rather than being lost in the shadows.  For recessed lighting get the fixture with the smallest aperture. These are by far the most appealing since they conceal the light source as much as possible. Also buy ones with adjustable light heads rather than stationary. They will give you the ability to make small adjustments after installation. Light sources can be turned so as to not shine into the eyes in a seating area for example or to focus on a coffee table.  Prior to installing these it is crucial to understand your buildings construction, however. Prewar war buildings are built with a beamed structure which accommodate recessed ceiling fixtures between the beams.  Most post war buildings as well as many new buildings use engineered slabs as the floor and ceiling construction. The ceiling plaster is directly laid on it as well as the floor. An engineered slab is designed to allow for the placement of lighting fixtures and wire at the time of construction. These are “engineered” into the strength calculations of the slab. After that it is not possible to install a fixture into the slab. To do so would compromise the structure.

If you are unable to recess new lighting there are other options. Up-lighting with sconces is very effective and create a beautiful soft light when bounced off a crisp white ceiling. Place the sconces above eye level so that the light source is not seen. Add them at each end of a seating group or two on each wall of an entry. You can even add them to a kitchen if you entertain there. When guests are present shut off the overhead light use up-lights along with the under cabinet lighting for a sophisticated calm mood.  An effect similar to cove lighting can also be used in rooms.

Use an LED low profile strip on the ceiling along a wall and install wood baffle in front to conceal it. You can use a flat baffle and paint it out to match the ceiling. If your room has a crown moulding, move the crown forward a few inches along the wall with the light strip to conceal it.  NYC has requirements for energy efficient lighting.

New renovation submittal for permits must include lighting proposals indicating the types and descriptions new lighting fixtures to be used. As of 2017, 75 percent of new attached fixtures, those other than fixtures plugged into a wall socket, must be energy efficient. Therefore, this needs to be taken into consideration before installing fixtures. For recessed fixtures the ballasts for LED, Halogen, Flourescent and incandescent light bulbs are not interchangeable.

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