top-to-bottom renovation on a real-life budget

This house, located in the Ledroit Park neighborhood of northwest Washington DC, is an excellent example of a dramatic transformation on a mid-range, "real-life" budget. The house originally contained a 1BR/1BA apartment on each floor, and had been converted at some point into a single family by previous owners - but not very thoughtfully. Traces of the old kitchen/living/dining area on the second floor remained in the form of a mishmash of ceramic tile and wood floors in the master bedroom, with a stretch of seemingly random closets built along the wall where appliances and kitchen cabinets once lived. A haphazard HVAC installation left walls and ceilings covered with oddly shaped and unsightly soffits. Generally, doors, floors and trims were mismatched all over the place on both levels, creating a total hodgepodge.

Without making any major (and very expensive) structural changes, aggregate transformed the whole look and feel of the home with a thoughtful re-engineering of the HVAC system and a few key surgical edits to the layout.

In the center of the first floor of the house, the architect eliminated a laundry closet and an underutilized sitting room (formerly the first floor unit's bathroom), making both the kitchen and the living room larger and dramatically improving the flow between the spaces. A new gas fireplace with custom tile hearth and firebox are a focal point for the new living room.

On the second floor, the architect recovered enough underutilized square footage to move the laundry center upstairs AND add a master bathroom. A converted sleeping porch spanning the rear of the house was retained as a den/home office, with new French doors to help bring morning sunlight into the master bedroom from the east-facing den. Additional natural light was introduced with the installation of two skylights in the master bedroom and a third in the master bath.

Throughout the home, mismatched doors and trim were replaced with (matching!) architectural grade materials. Flooring in every room was upgraded, including an indulgent custom floor tile in the master bath. Custom millwork took the place of a hodgepodge of storage nooks and miscellaneous closets. And, thoughtful design and skillful installation made the new HVAC system practically invisible.

As much as everyone wishes they could gut a house and start from scratch, budget limitations are a sober reality for most homeowners. This project demonstrates the value of intelligent architectural design in maximizing results in a "real-life” budget-limited renovation.

(Photos are from late-stage construction.)

Construction: Gresinger Construction
Project status: completed 2016