Apartment Renovation: The Envelope

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

While some of the design decisions for the apartment took time, we immediately knew what we wanted to do with the envelope of our new apartment. Here's what we were thinking and photographs of a few of the interiors that inspired our choices:

Located on the ground floor, we wanted to maximize the feeling of natural light in the apartment. So, we decided upon white walls throughout (I'm adventurous, I know). We opted for one bright, white for the walls and ceilings (Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace), and another, creamier white (Benjamin Moore, White Dove), in a high-gloss finish for the trim.

While it's hard to tell from the listing photos, the floors were not in great shape, and would need to be refinished. I have learned my lesson with past renovations: If you have even a passing thought about refinishing your floors, do them, and do them before you move in! No amount of  mopping or detailed application of specialty floor products will make your old floors look good. And for a relatively small investment, your whole place will feel fresh and new.

We decided to try a white-wash finish on our floors. I have seen it in several homes that I admire, and I thought it would add an additional feeling of lightness and brightness to the space. I also figured blending the transition from wall to floor would make the apartment feel larger.

For the doors, we decided to go with a painted  high-gloss black finish. Inspired by Thomas O'Brien's Long Island home (above and below) and other interiors, we had painted the doors in our last apartment black, and loved the results. The doors in the apartment are original to the building's mid-century construction, so they're solid wood, but not in the best shape. For now, we're sticking with the doorknobs from the previous owner, but that's an upgrade that's on my list for later on down the road.

TIP: If you want a super-black finish, opt for the straight-out-of-the-can, pre-mixed black. It will always be a much truer and deeper black than one that is custom mixed for you. Don't forget to have the paint store agitate the can in their shaking machine--it really helps the paint re-emulsify.

Finally, we decided to unify the baseboard trim throughout the apartment with a very simple, low-profile molding. Previously, the apartment had different trim in almost every room, including a rather over-the-top choice that was added in the dining room/small bedroom. Changing the molding didn't increase our costs significantly and it helps unify the look of the apartment.

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