KKAD was engaged to make some minor upgrades to a loft in the Eastern Columbia Building in Downtown LA. The building is one of Downtown’s Art Deco treasures and has public areas conceived by noted Designer Kelly Wearstler.
The Client asked KKAD how best to upgrade the space without doing any ‘real construction’ given that the unit came with concrete floors and painted walls throughout.
KKAD developed a multi-phase solution including re-facing of kitchen cabinets, new bathroom tile and a new engineered hardwood floor. Given that the unit has no walls, it was important that the floor be rich in character yet be thin enough to install on top of the existing concrete. During the effort to find the right product KKAD came across an international flooring provider looking to expand into the North American market. The England Based company called Havwoods has been operating in the European Market for decades. The product selected was an engineered reclaimed herringbone wood floor that is unique to the market in that it has all of the detail our team was looking for while hitting the client’s desired budget. Havwoods makes more than two dozen varieties of herringbone and chevron patterns in varies wood species and finishes. The variety we selected (below) is sure to provide warmth and depth to the Loft while setting the groundwork for a massive reveal later this year. Stay tuned for final photos in the coming months.
When you see people renovate houses on TV it often seems like they are able to completely transform a home in a few weeks which is then condensed into a 30 minute episode. Our track record with home renovations has been slightly different for a number of reasons. If you read our previous post on renovating an old home you know that you shouldn’t immediately jump into renovating a house until you better understand what really needs to be done. And this can sometimes take a while.
Also, most TV renovators use inexpensive materials that look great when they are new but don’t last the test of time. And finally, most TV renovators are not licensed design professionals so they don’t always get into the kinds of detailed drawing exercises that are part of our business. When you combine all of these factors together, you can start to see why our latest undertaking has lasted over 16 months.
At first, we really didn’t want to do much as the house was acquired mostly to be a weekend property and more of an exercise in creative styling. But then we started looking more closely at the layout and finishes and realized that we needed to do a little more work than we thought. From new kitchen cabinets to refinishing existing hardwood floors, the house has been completely transformed without adding any additional square footage. Through creative planning (and lots of built in cabinetry) the house seems much larger than its cozy 950 SF floor plan.
Using many off the shelf materials, our goal was to elevate the space into a modern retreat that could accommodate a large family or even two families vacationing together. To that end, we create two ‘master’ bedrooms with the middle bedroom serving as the ‘kids quarters’ with custom bunk beds. The living room sofa also opens up with a trundle that sleeps two comfortably.
We expect to finish the project completely in the next two weeks and will post final photos soon!
Despite what the big box stores will say, home renovation is something that should really be left to those who are familiar with the risks of construction. You probably shouldn’t be installing electrical devices if you don’t understand the difference between a white wire and a green wire. Home Styling on the other hand is a different story. It’s amazing what two days and some paint can do. In either case, a new homebuyer often needs a place to start when contemplating major changes to a home. Here are a few of our standard rules of practice when it comes to home renovations.
1- Don't do any work immediately unless you have to.
We understand your old home may need a new roof or a heating system or something else really important. However too many homeowners take down walls or rip out kitchens well before they should have. You really should live in the home for 6 months before doing anything major. Experience how the sun moves through your home. Figure out where the cold leaks in or where you may need to change doors. This kind of exercise will not only save you money in the long run, but allow you to make more informed decisions about what changes are necessary. Below are two pictures of the same kitchen. Originally the homeowner wanted to remove walls and change everything around but after a few months in the house they found the layout worked quite well if an island was added.
2- Don't start work without a REAL budget.
Most homeowners have no idea how much things really cost. The internet is full of bad information on how to 'do it yourself' and save thousands. We once had a client who spent over $1000 on tile that he installed himself and wondered why the tiles were all popping off of the floor. Products like tile have associated components (underlayments, grouts, sealers) that go well beyond the cost of just the tile itself. He ended up having to rip all the tile out and start over. There is also no substitute for qualified labor, which is not cheap. It’s always a good idea to get bids from a qualified contractor for anything you want to tackle. Even if you don't use them, it's good to get a reality check before starting any project. You can also hire an Architect to give you some ideas and estimates based on their recent projects.
3- Use the internet as a tool, not as a school.
Websites like Pinterest and Youtube give people lots of inspiration and advice on how to create the home of their dreams. There is nothing wrong with creating inspiration boards full of ideas you can take and make your own. Be careful though when it comes to implementing those ideas. Just as colors look different on different screens, you must be familiar with the existing conditions and the nuances of different environments. People who have installed wood floors in humid climates often find that the floors don't stay down for long. Professionals understand these things and videos are no substitute for hands on experience.
4- Understand your goals.
Are you renovating a starter home that you plan to sell in five years? Do you plan on never moving and raising a family here? Make a list of the top priorities you have for the renovation and then determine if those make sense with your goals. It may be cool to turn your garage into a great home theater but your future buyers may not think so.
5- Be honest with yourself as to how much you can do.
There is nothing more frustrating than living in a renovation that never ends. It places a great strain on a relationship as well as makes it difficult to move on with your life. If you have a realistic budget in place, plan to get some help with the tougher stuff that might take you alot of time. You might be able to lay a wood floor in a weekend, but tiling a bathroom could possibly take you a month of weekends or more. If you follow steps 1-4, this one should be pretty easy to figure out.
In closing, remember that your home is your castle. Fixing it up may be alot of work, but the rewards can also be great. If you take your time and do it right, you are more likely to protect your investment as opposed to becoming a cautionary tale. Good Luck!