Saturday, May 29, 2010

Manhattan Townhouse Renovations - 4 design strategies

Manhattan Townhouse Renovations - Classic Architecture, Contemporary Design
By: Darren China, R.A.
Manhattan townhouses exude a charm that other dwellings just cannot compare with. These four to six story structures built in the late 19th and early 20th century afford privacy hard to come by in New York City.  They typically include an eat-in kitchen, private back yard often with a garden, large living spaces and a classic d├ęcor inclusive of a beautiful stairway, inlayed wood floors, crown moldings and multiple marble mantled fire places. Unfortunately time has often taken its toll on these beautiful buildings.

Given the time period in which they were built, amenities lack with respect to the life style of its modern day owners and therefore renovations are often sought. The following are four architectural renovation strategies that can help rejuvenate these classic buildings while implementing contemporary design aesthetic and functionality:

1)       Restore main stair and add an elevator
a.       Ornate iron hand rails and marble stairs
b.       Elevator can eliminate having to navigate multistory home by foot
c.       Eliminate the dumb waiter

2)       Modernize the Heating and Air Conditioning System
a.       Create a more environmentally friendly building
b.       Cost savings over life time of building
c.       Install a cost effective zoned heating system
d.       Incorporate central A/C into building

3)       Day Lighting:
a.       Create/restore skylight above main stair
b.       Create a greenhouse type structure off garden level
c.       Lighter window treatments

4)       Modern Kitchen
a.       Better work flow
b.       Better gathering space
c.       High end appliances/finishes/cabinetry to fit families needs

The creation of a modern living space while maintaining the classic appearance of these historic townhouses allows for an improved quality of life for its inhabitants while leaving in tact the fabric of the city and its neighborhoods.  Such renovations will also bringing a high level of living experience which leads to a better investment whether one plans to live in the rejuvenated space or sell to a buyer who dreams of living in a modern classic.
Darren China, R.A. is the principal of Studio China Architecture + Design.
Contact him at or 201-575-5180
Visit Studio China Architecture + Design’s website at:
© Copyright 2010 Darren China. All rights reserved

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