Recession Renovation
Hamilton Heights, NYC, 2006

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031A8125_1The internet can provide a valuable resource for savings from 30%-50% of the cost of most items incorporated into the built environment. By comparing pricing for lighting, hardware, plumbing fixtures, electrical devices, appliances, hardware, window coverings, tile, flooring accessories, and decorative finishes savings home owners can save significant money when building or renovating. The only negative encountered by William Cohen when buying on line products was that one lighting fixture arrived broken. When Cohen reported the problem to the supplier, the item was quickly replaced by the supplier.

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The Cohens purchased a seven room cooperative apartment in a building built in 1908. The building is a cooperative established in 1929. The apartment was the home of Adam Clayton Powel Senior. Although originally an elegant building, the building and the apartment had been sadly neglected and abused in recent history. The Cohens saw the potential for both the apartment and the building. Knowing that a major renovation was needed; they were unprepared for what they found due to the utter neglect of the underlying infrastructure.

The plaster walls were crumbling under the many layers and shades of purple paint, the purple carpet covered huge gaps in the finished flooring. The radiators were falling through the floor due to unattended valve leaks. The layers of acoustic ceiling tile concealed crumbling plaster from years of leaks from the apartment above and water infiltration due to the cooperative board’s neglect in dealing with the need for brick pointing. Cheap paneling covered more deterioration of the walls. The original oak paneling in the dining room was dried out, badly stained and the panels separating from their frames.

Despite the negatives, the Cohens felt the ingredients for creating a warm and comfortable home were there. The small but nicely proportioned rooms, the flow of the spaces, the high ceilings and their regard for history gave them the courage to tackle the renovation.

Having sold their very modern duplex apartment, the Cohens, were looking for a way to integrate their furniture collection of contemporary classics and inherited antiques with the history and tradition of the apartment. Being that almost all of the finishes had to be replaced, the choice was made to keep the fireplace mantel and overmirror as a focal point, restore the oak paneling, maintain the basic plan, but simplify details. The original maze of doors had been removed in previous renovations. The decision was to leave the openings to create a more open and friendly environment. All the door and window trim was replaced with stock moldings that approached the original in scale.

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