Home Tours | Older Building Welcomes New Neighbors

Written by: Dena Landon

Photography by: David Hartz

When the duplex at Bloomfield Street passed into the hands of the design team at J. Patryce Design, they knew they’d been presented with a challenge that would stretch their skills. Built in 1901, it was in desperate need of an update, but they also needed to redesign the space before they even had a buyer. How to handle the double challenge?

When renovating older buildings designers must find the balance between updating older spaces and “trying our best to preserve and restore the elements worth keeping,” says designer Joan Enger. The duplex at Bloomfield Street needed a team of experts like those at her firm to both honor its past and breathe new life into it.

Joan’s team began by assessing the layout – were there any rooms that could benefit from being repositioned? “When designing a spec house, we keep current trends in mind while trying our best to design a space that will appeal to a broader market,” she explains. The open floor plan of their final design, with the kitchen, living, and dining space flowing together, was not only on-trend but would also appeal to her ideal target buyer – a young couple with one or two kids.

As she puts it – “We love juxtaposing the neoclassical details with more modern furnishings and cleaner palettes.”


In the kitchen, her team went back and forth between custom versus semi-custom cabinetry. According to Joan, “the kitchen is the most important selling point in a home.” Even though semi-custom cabinets would have saved money, she went with custom grooved cabinetry panels as well as fully concealed appliances.

A neutral but trendy color scheme of navy, gray, and brass coordinated with the other rooms for a cohesive whole, but also served a larger purpose. The duplex didn’t have a buyer yet, and in a spec house Joan thinks it’s a good idea “to keep more permanent fixtures (millwork, floors, tile) a bit more neutral and have more fun with things that can change down the road (pillows, accessories, artwork, etc.)”


Luckily, her preliminary work was so successful that the duplex sold before the remodel and design had been completed. The new owners could offer some input and customize some of the finishes to their tastes.

No renovation of an older building takes place without some surprises. When the general contractor discovered original brick beneath the stucco exterior, Joan decided to honor the past. She removed the stucco and had the brick repointed to reveal the building’s original stunning façade. Now, the duplex shone inside and out.
Even with some big variables going into the project, Joan and her team pulled off a fabulous renovation.

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