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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Question: Help with Modern South End Remodel?

A new question came in to DB Central, and I would like to share it with the masses:

Hi Gradon--
We stumbled upon your blog and love it. We share your interest in modern architecture and design and are in the process of purchasing a brownstone duplex in the South End that we'd like to do some work on as soon as possible. It was renovated itself rather recently, but in a Pottery-Barn-ish aesthetic (for lack of a better term) and we're dying to make some changes:

Among the issues we'd like to address:
*replacing existing hardwood floors with exotic hardwoods
*replacing a traditional staircase, which connects two floors and a roof deck, with something more modern and airy
*kitchen remodel (new-ish appliances are great, but we may want to change the layout and definitely replace cabinet/counters)
*2.5 baths full remodel
*possibly built-ins

As I said, we are amateur modern design freaks with no actual remodel experience and just don't know where to start. We're excited, but a little overwhelmed. We'll only have two months before move in to do a bit of major work, if that's possible, and then imagine we'll do the rest as we reside there. We have a ton of questions, but initially would like to know what you or your readers would advise in terms of:

* Whom to work with. Do we need a designer/architect or can we work directly with a contractor? What are the pros and cons of each approach? Do you have any recommendations for local contractors experienced in modern design/remodels? Or recommendations for good, yet affordable, designer? What should one expect to pay hourly when working with a designer/architect?
* Where to start. Do we need to address the stairs first, along with flooring? Can/should we do the kitchen at the same time, since floors extend thru kitchen?
* Boston Design Center. They seem to be a kind of clearinghouse for the types of products we'd want to incorporate and also have design services. But are we going to pay through the nose? Are there other options?
*Other advice?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Stephanie & Steven
Boston, MA

Thanks for the compliment, Stephanie! If it was just a kitchen remodel, I would say simply call a contractor. Replacing the stairs and completely redoing the kitchen and two bathrooms, though, is indeed a large undertaking, something an architect/interior designer can greatly help with. They will not only help you design the aesthetic and structural changes you want made, but also guide you through the permitting process and be the liaison between you and the contractor(s). What one pays for a designer varies by job, and could even be different between various designers.

Based on the work he did on his own South End brownstone, I would recommend you contact Daniel Sugarman. His home was recently featured in the Boston Globe, and is going to be on HGTV's Small Space, Big Style.

Daniel Sugarman Design

From what I understand, an architect will work with any contractor, but prefers to work with a select few that they know and trust. One contractor that I feel is worth looking into is Sustainable Construction Services Inc. They are a full service "green" contractor, so all of their work is done in an environmentally friendly way. I recently ran a feature on them.

Sustainable Construction Services Inc.
Daniel Glickman, General Manager

The Boston Design Center can be a wonderful resource. For your kitchen, I would highly recommend Alno, on the sixth floor of the BDC. They are a German company that makes some beautiful, modern cabinetry and countertops. Also, take a look at Poggenpohl on Newbury St.

For any built ins, I can throw a personal recommendation in for my friend Mark Heron. If you're interested in contacting him, send me an email and I will give you his info.

Does anyone else have any suggestions/advice?

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