Brazilian Quartzite Stuns in a Family Friendly Union Square Loft

Neutrals help to create a contemporary airy space to live and entertain in

  • Homeowners: Courtney + Andy posted their renovation project of a 2,800-square-foot landmark co-op loft apartment on Sweeten
  • Where: Union Square, New York
  • Primary renovation: A complete remodel of the entire space in a landmarked co-op building, built in the 1870’s as a bookbinding factory, including a kitchen, three bathrooms and major mechanical upgrades
  • Renovator Quote: “Our lives are vibrant and busy here in the city, and each time we return home, we experience a profound sense of happiness and home.”
  • Sweeten general contractor offering design and build services

Written in partnership with homeowner Courtney. “After” photos by Kate Glicksberg.

        Finding A Contractor with Style and Experience

        When Courtney and Andy, the owners of this stunning loft in Manhattan’s Union Square neighborhood first moved in, they had been looking for more space for their growing family. After living in the landmarked co-op for about 18 months, now a family of five, with two children, Isla and Holly and a dog Harper, they knew it was time to renovate.

        “When we realized we needed a contractor, we didn’t know where to start. It wasn’t just finding a contractor whose aesthetic matched ours.” They posted their project on Sweeten, and connected with four design build firms in Manhattan. However, one firm stood out. “Her impressive portfolio and understanding of the transformation we wanted convinced us that she was the perfect fit.”

        The floorplan didn’t suit their needs and with a gut renovation, they had the chance to improve the layout and update electrical and plumbing systems in addition to replacing the windows and installing an HVAC system. They would rebuild everything from the floor joists including fixing a 3.5-inch warp caused by the building settling over 150 years. The old pine factory floor uncovered the absence of a subfloor, which explained why the neighbors could hear them.

        A Family Home with Durability and Light in Mind

        Courtney and Andy understood the importance of approaching contractor interviews with a clear vision in mind. By meticulously curating a room-by-room Pinterest board and even hand-drawing their ideas on the old architectural drawings, they estimated that they saved an enormous amount of time and ensured that they were on the same page as their contractor from day one.

        “Our vision was to create an open living area in the front two-thirds, where the kitchen, playroom, bar, and library would seamlessly flow together. The three bedrooms would be in the back.” 

        Inspired by the glass conference rooms in Courtney’s previous office building, they decided to repurpose the idea and create a playroom for the kids, Isla and Holly. This glass and steel room, with sliding doors, not only defines their space but also allows ample light and parental oversight.

        “Without a doubt, it has become the most frequently utilized space in the apartment. I love the ability to cook while the kids play, and it also serves as a perfect area when we host other parents and their children. Durability was a key consideration in the kitchen, since we do a lot of cooking and have kids running around.”

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        Choosing Materials with Family in Mind

        As a busy young family, it was a priority to select high-quality materials that would withstand the test of time. Courtney and Andy decided to install glossy white cabinetry to enhance the sense of airiness and reflect light in their North facing space. After an extensive search, they found a remarkable Brazilian quartzite with marbling in black, green, and gold, adding warmth and character to the cabinets. Although this countertop and backsplash choice required a larger upfront investment, the non-porous nature of this rare stone makes it extremely forgiving. Being able to wipe up paint, coffee spills, or even red wine without worry was just as important as its appearance. 

        For the most part, they stuck to a neutral color palette, featuring white, black, and wood tones in the social areas of our apartment. However, they played with patterns and colors in the bathrooms and the children’s rooms. Lighting was really important to Courtney and she even worked with her GC to make sure that the apartment is wired such that they can easily add fixtures should they want to change things up.

        One of the most enjoyable aspects of starting from scratch for Courtney and Andy was designing spaces to house their book and whiskey collections. The nook behind the elevator became the library, a cozy retreat for reading and relaxing. With many of their friends and family in the city having young children, gathering at their place has become the norm. The bar acts as a focal point, preventing the kitchen from becoming too crowded during parties.

        Challenges Made Easier by a Fantastic GC

        Unforeseen issues with the brickwork arose during the demolition. Addressing these problems set the start date back three months and then just as work was about to resume, COVID-19 struck, forcing the shutdown of non-essential construction activities. The ensuing restrictions and delays caused by the pandemic regulations prolonged the completion of the project. 

        As construction neared completion, the family temporarily moved into a construction zone, squeezing into a single finished bedroom. Throughout this challenging period, Courtney made the best of it and took her daughters on adventures each day while crews worked hard to finish the job. Courtney commended her contractor for demonstrating remarkable enthusiasm and creativity.

        “They wholeheartedly embraced our unique and specific ideas for the playroom and the bar, going above and beyond to source skilled artisans to bring those visions to life. Moreover, our contractor proved to be an invaluable partner, taking care of day-to-day tasks and promptly resolving issues before they even reached my attention.”

        Their contractor coordinated between subcontractors and Landmarks, DOB and the coop, saving Courtney and Andy time and stress. In addition, Sweeten provided guidance and assistance from answering questions about landmark buildings, discussing permits with the DOB, or addressing  concerns about insurance.

        The pandemic significantly increased the cost of materials, which made staying on budget very challenging. However, Courtney credits their supportive contractor, with navigating these hurdles with relative ease, mitigating potential setbacks and suggesting alternatives when necessary.

        Highlights of the Renovation

        “Amidst the trials and tribulations, there were moments that made it all worthwhile. Witnessing the arrival of the stone for our kitchen, cooking our very first meal in the newly renovated space, hosting guests while enjoying a bottle of champagne from our new bar, as the kids were engrossed in a movie in the playroom, and seeing our travel photos blown up and displayed as art on the walls—these were the cherished highlights that truly made our new space feel like home. Our life in the city is busy, and each time we return home, we experience a profound sense of happiness and comfort. We are grateful that our family and friends also feel welcomed and at home in our renovated space.”

        Thank you, Courtney and Andy, for sharing your landmark co-op loft with us!

        Renovation Materials

        KITCHEN RESOURCES:

        BATHROOM RESOURCES (Black) 

        BATHROOM RESOURCES (Blue/White)

        BATHROOM RESOURCES (All White/Marble)

        • Bathroom / Shower floor tile: Nemo Tile
        • Shower fixtures: Kohler
        • Shower glass doors: Custom
        • Shower wall tile: Porcelanosa
        • Sink / Vanity: Scavolini
        • Free standing tub: Victoria & Albert
        • Mirror: Rejuvenation
        • Toilet: Kohler
        • Lighting Rejuvenation

          Paint: Benjamin Moore – Bright White, Clare Paint

          Flooring: White Oak

           

          All products featured on Sweeten’s blog are independently selected by renovators or our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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