NYC Townhouse Renovation Defies Convention with Drama and Simplicity

We love it when clients aren’t afraid to share their grand dreams for their home, even if it seems to defy what’s possible for the location. This was just the challenge when we were hired to design this NYC townhouse renovation on a 19th century building on Leroy St, a quiet enclave in NYC’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. Collaborating with this client, whom we had worked with on his previous 2,200 square foot apartment renovation, we were happy to bring his dream of a spectacular single-residence home – complete with a private 3-car garage and outdoor space – to fruition.

The building had been a coal delivery garage in the 1920’s and by the 1990’s was a parking garage with a small residential space above it. When our client purchased the building, he knew it had the potential to be a great home, but he never envisioned how it would come to life as a bold, functional and expansive home suitable for hosting business, political and fundraising soirees. After talking with the client, understanding his needs, and researching options, we decided the best solution was to demolish most of the original building, lower the ground floor, raise the second floor, and build a penthouse addition on the roof.

Our overall goal in designing this home – nearly from scratch in the shell of an historic structure – was to fill it with meticulous modern detail and offer every amenity, while making it feel pleasingly established and comfortable, as though it had always been there. Although the original interiors were entirely demolished, we were able to save some elements and adapt them for reuse in the new townhouse. The structure’s original timbers became stair treads and areas of a brick wall were exposed to provide visual interest and texture in the main living space. The original external brick façade was partially preserved, with a steel, wood and “green screen” added for promoting plant growth on second floor and rooftop garden areas.

By using every inch of available space and infusing light in various ways (the strategic use of light plays a major role in all of our townhouse renovations), the end result is a 4,500 square foot residential townhouse that immediately upon entry is seen as an awe-inspiring example of what creative use of materials, contemporary design, and a healthy budget can achieve. Residents and visitors are greeted with a dramatic foyer and staircase that ascends to all four stories. Past the staircase is a combination kitchen, dining and living room area flooded with natural light from a massive structural skylight and a wall of windows. A fun feature we were excited to include is a koi pond that spans from the living room to the outdoor garden!

Providing livable outdoor space was a major factor in the design; the complete structure has three distinctive outdoor areas. The small backyard on the ground floor (designed to is adorned with river rocks and a dramatic wall art installation made of faux flowers (a surprising way to enliven an area where it would be difficult to grow plants). The skylit ceiling of the main room forms the second floor rear outdoor space. From the second floor office, occupants can saunter onto the fully landscaped deck, lit from below through the large structural skylight. A third deck on the roof at the front of the home, overlooks the street and houses a small garden containing bamboo and ivy. This charming oasis is accessible from the main stairwell and the master bathroom.

Our client’s home boasts these (and many other!) exciting features:
• Fully glazed back walls from the first to fourth floors and a 3-story glass wall, highlighting the space’s dramatic height
• A “cool” catwalk with access to the upper reaches of the double-height space
• A grass lawn on the second floor terrace
• A serene master shower design that incorporates the outdoors
• A luxurious high-speed elevator
• An indoor parking area – for 3 cars, with a lift!
• State of the art Lutron Lighting system
• “Smart home” capabilities that enable updating controls for security, entertainment, comfort, and energy use within the home

We’re quite proud that this project and the key players were featured in this detailed New York Times piece. . It’s wonderful to achieve a spectacular vision such as the opportunity this project presented, and know that it will stand the test of time for many years.

(Also check out our West Village Townhouse and Greenwich Village Townhouse projects, which are other great examples of our single family townhouse renovations.)