Done! Philadelphia Attic Duplex Reno


IN CASE ANYONE HAS BEEN WONDERING, the Philadelphia renovation in a c.1810 row house that commanded much of my attention and most of my resources last winter was finally finished in May. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. In fact, the result was so satisfying I’m starting a new renovation in the same three-unit building next month, in the second-floor apartment below.

Joke! I am starting a new reno in the same building next month, but not because the first one was satisfying. It’s because there was a watery disaster in that second-floor apartment about a month ago: a burst hot water heater that let loose all 40 gallons of its contents, ruining the carpeted floor and finding its way through to the ceiling of the apartment on the ground floor below, causing extensive damage there as well.

The ceiling damage downstairs has been repaired, but I’ve asked the tenant in the second-floor apartment to vacate in late August. It’s the last un-renovated apartment of the three, and was sorely in need of upgrading anyway. I’m excited about the opportunity to fix a major design flaw in that space (there’s no proper living room to speak of).

But before we get to that in months to come, I want to share, for the record, photos of the completed duplex, which combined an existing one-bedroom apartment on the building’s third floor with previously unused attic space, to create a bi-level apartment with two bedrooms and an additional open loft.

At the center of it all is a new handcrafted staircase, which I consider very successful in both design and execution.

The pine floors are new; the bathroom is brand new; the kitchen cabinets received a cosmetic upgrade. There was no electricity on the upper level; now there is. The original wood floors upstairs were painted white.

Downstairs, the door to the bedroom was moved to allow a longer sight line through the apartment. Add to that new windows, new moldings, bumped-up electrical service, new HVAC units and a paint job. All in all, a major accomplishment <blowing on fingernails and buffing them against shoulder>.

Most telling of all: the apartment rented very quickly, to the first people who looked at it.



About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in PHILADELPHIA, RENOVATION and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Done! Philadelphia Attic Duplex Reno

  1. melanie charnas says:

    Beautiful. Well done. Good luck with the next renovation.

  2. Justine Cullinan says:

    Very impressive… and for all of those who have had the recurrent dream of suddenly finding out their cramped apartment suddenly has a west wing to it, you have shown that occasionally that dream can come true. The stairs are a model of beauty and utility. For contrast, I include the link to some magnificent staircases. Some of them are both useful and beautiful, while others are merely (and no diminishment is intended here) marvelously fanciful and clever. I like the undulating staircases the best (including one that employed Art Nouveau and reminded me of some of the Metro entrances in Paris). Others looked like a landlord would install them only at their financial peril

  3. coppermaven says:

    Such a cool staircase! Your new tenants are so lucky!

  4. cara says:

    hi Justine – those are some showstopping staircases! Though some look like they could cause physical as well as financial peril!

  5. P. Lynch says:

    I was waiting for this “reveal”! What a transformation. Will you have to add a handrail to your staircase?

  6. cara says:

    hi Priscilla… great question. Yes.

  7. Marianne Davies says:

    It looks absolutely amazing! Not surprised it rented quickly!

  8. Jenny M says:

    Reno looks amazing ~ well done!

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