I am an architect in NYC and owner of Fontan Architecture. One type of project we seem to do quite often is combining apartments. In this post we will review one specific project in Brooklyn Heights.
The owner of the apartment had a 2 bedroom apartment for several years. The neighbor in the adjacent apartment was moving and put his one bedroom apartment up for sale. My client purchased the neighbors apartment so they could expand their apartment.
Brooklyn Apartment Renovation
Apartment Combination NYC Logistics
We removed one of the kitchens as is a requirement in NYC. You can’t have two kitchens in a New York City apartment. We also kept both doors this is a requirement as well unless you want to go through the process of getting a new Certificate of Occupancy for your building. In most case you will not have to get a new C of O when combining apartments. Additionally your building, most likely, will not want you to do get a new C of O.
We have another blog post the covers just about everything you need to know about Combining apartments in NYC.
Combining Apartment Plans Before and After
In the image below we have the before plan on the left and the after plan on the right for combining the two Co-Op apartments. One major concern for combining apartments is the layout you want to make sure it does not feel thrown together. We made the living room larger by merging the living room with the adjacent bedroom. We kept the location of one of the open kitchens but gut renovated the apartment so this would all be new. The new layout for the combined apartments has to flow naturally as if it were always designed to be that way. The challenge lies in the canvas and the existing conditions you must contend with.
Gut Renovation & Combining Co-Op Apartments
When combining apartments the first thing you have to figure out is what type of wall you have between the apartments. If this has building risers and utilities this can be an issue. also if the wall is a masonry or bearing wall this will add work and cost to the budget. In this apartment it was just a metal stud and gypsum board wall so we easily removed it and all the other walls that would change.
When doing a gut renovation it is important to have a site meeting after demolition for review the conditions. There are often surprises once we knock down and open up walls. I have found gas pipes in very unusual places, and have found empty spaces that can be reclaimed with minimal effort. We once found a 1oo year old stained glass window covered by a Sheetrock wall in a land marked townhouse.
The picture below is of me and the construction foreman reviewing the existing conditions during demolition. As mentioned this is a critical time to meet. As an architect I even put a not on my drawings that if the contractor does demolition and finds some discrepancies or any surprises they need to contact us to review. You may think as an architect we know where everything is but we just don’t and be cautious of people who give you too much certainty on knowing the hidden conditions within your walls.
Brooklyn Heights Apartment Renovation
The picture below show the new apartment after we completed the gut renovation. The social spaces in the apartment were made in an L shape with the living room on one end then the dining room and the kitchen open to the dining space.
Open kitchen and Counter Seating
The kitchen is an open kitchen with a small island. The island has an overhanging countertop with space for two stools for counter seating.
The kitchen has dark wood cabinets and a light countertop. The countertop has a waterfall which is the side piece that matches the top, this is a nice detail for modern kitchens.
The waterfall counter is miter cut to have a minimal seam. Miter cut means that the two pieces are cut at 45 degree angles and then put together to make a corner.
Classic NYC Photo for Home Decor
The owner had classic photos of NYC to add to their home decor I think this was a very nice touch. One thing about New Yorkers is that we really love NY.
The master bathroom was gut renovated with marble look porcelain tiles and a classic claw foot tub.
This bathroom was completely gut renovated with modern porcelain tiles. The shower door hardware is a barn door style shower which is a great look for a modern bathroom.
Renovating and Combining Apartments in NYC
As an architect, I study design and construction, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. Every project is different and must be assessed on its own unique characteristics. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.
Thank you for reading our blog post on Renovating and Combining Apartments.
I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can contact us directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.