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Renovated row houses

Renovated row houses

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    Frank Oudeman

    Architect Sunil Bald knew that natural light would make a big difference to the interior quality of this Dutch Revival townhouse in Harlem, N.Y., so he swapped out the dining nook’s two double-hung windows with clean-lined casements and customized another opening that frames a tree limb. The most dramatic gesture is a floating white steel staircase that allows sunlight to wash down over both walls through cantilevered, wenge-topped treads and thin vertical railings. Most of the light reaching the main floor comes through a new window wall leading out from the second floor onto the roof deck.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
  • Downstairs, sleek white kitchen cabinetry extends into the living area, where it drops to a low seating shelf with hidden drawers. A drop-down movie screen disappears into the ceiling slot.

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    Downstairs, sleek white kitchen cabinetry extends into the living area, where it drops to a low seating shelf with hidden drawers. A drop-down movie screen disappears into the ceiling slot.

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    Frank Oudeman

    Downstairs, sleek white kitchen cabinetry extends into the living area, where it drops to a low seating shelf with hidden drawers. A drop-down movie screen disappears into the ceiling slot.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
  • The most dramatic gesture is a white steel staircase replacing the old one in the apartments center. The floating stair allows sunlight to wash down over both walls through cantilevered, wenge-topped treads and thin vertical railings.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp29BC%2Etmp_tcm48-1006532.jpg

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    The most dramatic gesture is a white steel staircase replacing the old one in the apartments center. The floating stair allows sunlight to wash down over both walls through cantilevered, wenge-topped treads and thin vertical railings.

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    Frank Oudeman

    The most dramatic gesture is a white steel staircase replacing the old one in the apartment’s center. The floating stair allows sunlight to wash down over both walls through cantilevered, wenge-topped treads and thin vertical railings.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
  • The architect swapped out the dining nooks two double-hung windows with clean-lined casements and customized another opening that frames a tree limb.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp29BD%2Etmp_tcm48-1006533.jpg

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    The architect swapped out the dining nooks two double-hung windows with clean-lined casements and customized another opening that frames a tree limb.

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    Frank Oudeman

    The architect swapped out the dining nook’s two double-hung windows with clean-lined casements and customized another opening that frames a tree limb.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
  • Light and views pass through the bedrooms transparent shower

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    Light and views pass through the bedrooms transparent shower

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    Frank Oudeman

    Light and views pass through the bedroom’s transparent shower.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
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    Frank Oudeman

    Removing a dropped ceiling revealed the underside of the steeply pitched roofline, and near its peak, a skylight. The left storage bank holds a colorful sneaker collection.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
  • Ipe pallets, cut around skylights, create conversation space on the roof.

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    Ipe pallets, cut around skylights, create conversation space on the roof.

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    Frank Oudeman

    Ipe pallets, cut around skylights, create conversation space on the roof.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
  • The apartment occupies the buildings top one-and-a-half stories.

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    The apartment occupies the buildings top one-and-a-half stories.

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    Frank Oudeman

    The apartment occupies the building’s top one-and-a-half stories.

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
  • Construction plans.

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    Construction plans.

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    Courtesy studio SUMO

    Construction Plans

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
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    Courtesy studio SUMO

    Floor Plans

    residential architect November-December 2011
    Harlem Duplex, New York City
    studio SUMO, Long Island City, N.Y
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    Greg Powers

    To transform this dark 100-year-old Washington, D.C., row house, architect Janet Bloomberg moved the existing staircase and topped it with a new skylight. The stairwell’s lack of solid walls — steel cables separate the space and extend to the metal frame above — allows light into the surrounding spaces. The overall effect is clean and simple, making better use of the floor plan.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Before: The living room prior to the remodel.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    After: The living room after the remodel.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Before: The home's original staircase was located just off the living room.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    After: The new staircase was moved to the middle of the house and its transparent design allows light to reach deep within the remodeled home.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Before: The original kitchen was in the rear of the home's main level.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    After: The kitchen was moved to the center of the main level in what used to be the dining room.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    The skylight above the staircase is the centerpiece of the new construction as it welcomes light into a home that had been dark for more than a century.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    The use of glass walls, an open floor plan, and steel cables assure that this home will always have an abundance of natural light pouring in from above.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    There is no mistaking the majesty of the simple and sleek master suite at the front of the second level.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    The master bath has a spalike elegance and is artfully “hidden” behind door No. 3 among the closets.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
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    Greg Powers

    The family room in the rear of the revamped row house spills out into the small backyard via a series of folding glass doors. This space originally was occupied by the kitchen.

    2011 Remodeling Design Awards (September)
    Whole-House Remodeling $250,000 – $500,000
    Kube Architecture, Washington, D.C.
  • The designers scooped out spaces on the existing home's rear elevation to make way for a porch and a balcony.

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    The designers scooped out spaces on the existing home's rear elevation to make way for a porch and a balcony.

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    Ethan Kaplan

    For this 1960s-era house in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, Alex Terry, AIA, and Ivan Terry gut the interiors, keeping the home’s shell and floor structure. A dark outdoor entry stair was enlarged to form a pocket of light and air in the center of the house and a new skylight over the interior stair makes the space feel bright.

    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
  • An expanded exterior stair becomes a funnel for natural light.

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    An expanded exterior stair becomes a funnel for natural light.

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    Ethan Kaplan Photography

    An expanded exterior stair becomes a funnel for natural light.

    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
  • A new ipe skin redefines the front elevation (shown) as well as the back of the house.

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    A new ipe skin redefines the front elevation (shown) as well as the back of the house.

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    Ethan Kaplan

    A new ipe skin redefines the front elevation (shown) as well as the back of the house.

    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
  • Before its renovation, the house failed to connect with its backyard.

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    Before its renovation, the house failed to connect with its backyard.

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    Courtesy Terry & Terry Architecture

    Before its renovation, the house failed to connect with its backyard.

    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
  • Alex and Ivan Terry created a sense of continuity by bringing the ipe inside the house to rooms such as the kitchen/dining/living space.

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    Alex and Ivan Terry created a sense of continuity by bringing the ipe inside the house to rooms such as the kitchen/dining/living space.

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    Ethan Kaplan

    Alex and Ivan Terry created a sense of continuity by bringing the ipe inside the house to rooms such as the kitchen/dining/living space.

    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
  • A top-floor skylight pulls daylight into the interior stairwell.

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    A top-floor skylight pulls daylight into the interior stairwell.

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    Ethan Kaplan Photography

    A top-floor skylight pulls daylight into the interior stairwell.


    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
  • Generous windows allow for light and views in spaces such as the master bath.

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    Generous windows allow for light and views in spaces such as the master bath.

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    Ethan Kaplan

    Generous windows allow for light and views in spaces such as the master bath.


    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
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    Courtesy Terry & Terry Architecture

    The home's floor plans before the renovation.

    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
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    Courtesy Terry & Terry Architecture

    The home's floor plans after the renovation.

    residential architect, March-April 2010
    Choy Residence, San Francisco
    Terry & Terry, San Francisco
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    Rien van Rijthoven

    San Francisco-based architect Craig Steely brought light and air to this renovated early 1900s Victorian building with large panes of glass openings. The design team added a third level for the kitchen/living/dining area and a south-facing deck and sod patch. Now the entry staircase from downstairs leads to the second floor, where frosted glass panels separate the small foyer from the office and a 22-foot street-facing window brings precious light to four workstations.

    residential architect June 2008
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Craig Steely, San Francisco
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    Rien van Rijthoven

    Frosted glass doors permit light into the architect’s studio space, but slide to provide privacy.

    residential architect June 2008
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Craig Steely, San Francisco
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    Rien van Rijthoven

    The third floor features generous outdoor space and a small sod patch.

    residential architect June 2008
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Craig Steely, San Francisco
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    Rien van Rijthoven

    Craig Steely and his team used a ukulele maker for the kitchen cabinets.

    residential architect June 2008
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Craig Steely, San Francisco
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    The first-level floor plan.

    residential architect June 2008
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Craig Steely, San Francisco
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    The second-level floor plan.

    residential architect June 2008
    Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco
    Craig Steely, San Francisco
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    Paul Warchol Photography

    Architect Bob Gurney offset the narrow footprint of this Washington, D.C. row house with sweeping curves and dramatic diagonals that overlap and rotate around a central point. An urbane mix of materials--including concrete, steel, block aluminum, copper, limestone, Kalwall, and clear and sandblasted glass--plays off the strong shapes to create an environment that's rich in color, pattern, and texture.

     2001 RADA
    Grand, Renovation
    Fitch O’Rourke Residence, Washington, D.C.
    Robert M. Gurney, AIA, Architect, Washington
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    Paul Warchol Photography

    The elegant rear façade combines Kalwall and fixed glass, and steel windows and doors that bring light to the narrow house.

     2001 RADA
    Grand, Renovation
    Fitch O’Rourke Residence, Washington, D.C.
    Robert M. Gurney, AIA, Architect, Washington
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    Paul Warchol Photography

    Upstairs, steel panels with copper wire cloth slide on rolling library hardware.

    2001 RADA
    Grand, Renovation
    Fitch O’Rourke Residence, Washington, D.C.
    Robert M. Gurney, AIA, Architect, Washington

Row houses in urban locations are desirable places to live because they’re often within walking distance of commercial and social amenities, parks, and public transportation. The characteristic features of row houses—tube-shaped spaces with window exposure on two sides—make them dark and tunnel-like, however.
The obvious strategy for bringing light into such a space is to use large glass openings and windows on the front and rear elevations. But success will be limited to the spaces and rooms immediately adjacent to the windows. In some cases, architects create an open floor plan by removing traditional interior walls, using sliding translucent panels, shoji screens, or frosted glass to permit light but maintain privacy.

Another option is to locate an open-riser staircase in the middle of the house and use a skylight to bring light into the entire home. This strategy enables shared light among all spaces, and an operable skylight creates a stack effect that controls and permits ventilation.

Surfaces and materials also can aid in distributing light throughout a row home. Stainless steel, resin panels, white ceramic tiles, stainless steel cables, glass staircases, and flooring allow light to spread farther into a row house and help prevent spaces from feeling heavy.

Here are examples of how five architects and designers managed to bring light and air into their row house projects.

Renovating Row Houses