Combining Apartments - Any ideas?
Quinn Transitions
March 31, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I will be combining two apts. (the apt. next door) but not sure what to do next. Do I break down the wall completely or put in French doors? Here's my list of wants - storage space, desk/workspace, sleeping area (or separate bdrm.), laundry area, gut one kitchen but keep the two baths.

How do I go ahead with my plans? Should I send out requests for proposals from licensed architects? In what format? This is my first design/reno project and I've been watching HGTV shows for ideas. I'd appreciate any suggestions or advice. Thank you!
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PRO
3DCGI
Getting your planning right is important and so is the ability for your architect to convey those ideas in a realistic 3D visualization manner to you. That way you know what you are getting, and your builder will be able to price your works accurately. We would be interested in putting a proposal to you along these lines...
1 Like   March 31, 2013 at 7:35PM
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K B
You definitely need an architect for a project like this. Get recommendations from friends, relatives, co-workers (see if any of your neighbors have done a similar project). If that doesn't work go online and try finding an architect whose style you like and/or who has done projects similar to yours.
1 Like   March 31, 2013 at 7:37PM
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PRO
Dytecture
agreed with getting an architect / designer involved as mistakes could be costly especially in smaller spaces.
2 Likes   March 31, 2013 at 7:39PM
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orangecamera
First, you need to know which walls are load bearing. My guess is the wall between the living rooms is load bearing, so you need to have a structural engineer tell you how big an opening you can make, and how to keep it structurally sound. Also see if you can join the terraces into one.

I would make most of the changes to the apartment on the right. Turn that kitchen into your laundry room, since the plumbing is there. Keep a sink and counter space too.

Use the space marked as "sleeping alcove" into your office and storage space.

The "dining foyer" can now become a nice large foyer for guests, and the small foyer can be used for your everyday entrance - easier to bring groceries into the kitchen, etc.

You can use part of the "dining area" to enlarge the kitchen, and use the rest for a breakfast nook.

Once you open the wall between the living rooms, you'll have a nice open floor plan, and use the big room as both living room and dining room.

An alternative (but I like it less)...put a washer and dryer in place of the tub in the bathroom on the right, and turn the "eat-in kitchen" into your storage room. If you do this, I think you should still keep a sink and some counter space there.
2 Likes   March 31, 2013 at 7:41PM
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jaysonandrew
You should certainly get several RFPs.... You have an amazing space to work with and have a great opportunity available. Good luck!
1 Like   March 31, 2013 at 7:43PM
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orangecamera
And yes, of course, get professionals to figure out the specifics, and help you realize your vision. But I think it's great that on houzz you can get opinions from us "regular people" too. We don't have the knowledge to make sure it all works, but we do sometimes have ideas that work, or ideas that spark other ideas that will work. You're at the dreaming stage now...so dream a little, and then scale back to reality when the time comes.
3 Likes   March 31, 2013 at 7:44PM
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Quinn Transitions
Thanks, everyone, for all your good advice and ideas. I'm really psyched about this project!

@ orangecamera: great minds think alike, you've already captured some of my ideas for the right-side apartment. :)
I've been told the load-bearing areas are all the black triangular areas (triangles) on the floor plan. And it being an apt. building, we can't have a washer/dryer; they have public ones in the basement.

@ KB Yes, I've found a couple of owners with the same layout who broke down the entire wall and did great things with their spaces, so the possibilities are very exciting!

So I guess as next steps, I need to get my list and plans together in an RFP. Thanks, everyone!
0 Likes   March 31, 2013 at 8:10PM
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PRO
Mary Poulos Interior and Exterior Design
Get a designer who specializes in remodels, because, not always, but so often, it is a designer who deals with how a floor plan actually lives. Where, what type of windows, how the space will accommodate furnishings and activities. To me, it is then the architect, who takes care of all of the structural aspects per codes, etc. I have seen too homes where it is evident they are beautiful when empty, but not as functional as they need be. ie. Fireplace in awkward places, strange doors and windows, difficult for designer to know how to dress the windows, etc. etc. Since these are already existing spaces, get a designer who specializes in this.
1 Like   March 31, 2013 at 8:35PM
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Quinn Transitions
Thanks, Mary, good ideas. Hoping the architect/designer can help me develp a vision for the space. Much appreciated!
0 Likes   March 31, 2013 at 8:47PM
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orangecamera
@Quinn, I'm glad we're thinking alike. Although you have me confused with your wish for a "laundry area", but then saying you can't have a washer and dryer.

Since you know others with the same structure, make sure you get lots of ideas from them. Two most important things: 1) find out what they wish they'd done differently - learn from their "mistakes" so you don't have to make them yourself, and 2) find out what they thought of the professionals they worked with. If you find someone who was easy to work with, they can be a great asset to you since they have knowledge of your building and whatever constraints there will be.

Since you don't need a laundry room, you can make the entire "eat in kitchen" into storage. Something in the back of my mind is screaming "don't remove the sink!". Personally, I'd love to have a utility sink - which I don't have now - for washing out paint brushes, or cleaning flower pots, or other messy tasks. I guess a lot depends on your hobbies and interests.

You might want to lose the wall around the "dressing area", but add a wall (sliding wall?) for the "sleeping alcove" which will become your office.

BTW, do you have a view of the Statue of Liberty from your apartment?
2 Likes   March 31, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Quinn Transitions
Oh, sorry about that, by laundry area I was thinking of space for a hamper, clothes horse and ironing board/iron. :)
And I WAS thinking of keeping the sink for handwash laundry as well as using that entire area for storage, and opening the wall around the dressing area (or making a master en suite to the bathroom), along with a sliding door or wide vertical blinds to close off the alcove.

Good idea about getting some lessons learned from the other apt. combiners. One of them was really satisfied with his choice of vendors and materials but I'll ask anyway.

Re. the Statue of Liberty, I took that photo from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal returning from volunteering after Hurricane Sandy. It just said so much about the moment, how we New Yorkers were still standing after the storm. :)
0 Likes   March 31, 2013 at 10:16PM
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orangecamera
Quinn, thank you for volunteering after Sandy. My family and I are all in NJ - some affected and some, thankfully, not. My sons have been volunteering with Restore the Shore efforts here. Still so much work to be done.

When you remove the eat-in-kitchen and turn that space into storage, maybe you can pull some plumbing out to the wall between it and the living room. You can create a nice wet bar there.

My only "concern" about this whole thing is that you'll wind up with a giant room with lots of windows. I know that sounds like a weird concern, but be careful not to let it become too echo-y. When you're ready to get down to details, don't forget to think about how you will hang drapes (to dampen the sound within the apartment as well as street noise, for privacy, and for light control). So think about how the curtain rods (or whatever) will actually be attached to the wall. "Top down" shades will allow you to have both privacy and light at the same time - of course depending on what's directly across the street.

If you're not a bath-taker, remove the tub from the master bathroom and put in a nice big barrier-free shower. If you do take baths, then turn the other tub into a barrier-free shower. You might think you don't need such a thing, but statistically you probably will, even on a short-term basis. Also, you can take your large potted plants that are on wheeled bases (yes, get those) and roll them into the shower for a good watering - without having to lift them!

Study up on Universal Design before you finalize your plans, and incorporate as much as you can.
1 Like   April 1, 2013 at 6:18AM
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PRO
Interiors International, Inc.
Being it is in a condo building you will need an engineered drawing as well as an architect and a designer would come in very handy. This is not a DIY design project. I would be glad to work with you on this project. Contact me if your interested in having this done professionally. I have experience working with condo boards and the permitting process for projects like these.
1 Like   April 1, 2013 at 6:25AM
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Quinn Transitions
Thank you @3DCGI and Interiors International, I'll probably go with a local architect/designer.

@ orangecamera, we're still on the same page. I too was thinking not to make the living room a huge open space but to keep some of the wall for privacy or reading/sleeping nooks.

I'd like to replace the tub in the master bath with a VIGO round shower stall with a sliding door that I saw at Home Depot (rather than a hinged door), but the idea of a barrier-free shower is also interesting. Thanks for the tip on Universal Design which is a new concept to me. Will check it out.

I'm sorry to hear that your family was affected by Hurricane Sandy and hope they'll be up and running soon. It just stops you in your tracks. But volunteering was like walking a tightrope, wanting to help while not wanting to intrude on people's privacy or grief at their loss. At one food/beverage station I overheard a lady tell her neighbour, "I'm so TIRED of all these people! I just wish they would go away..." So we just walked around with shovels and asked if anyone needed assistance. We were just trying to offer a little relief. :)
2 Likes   April 1, 2013 at 7:58AM
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orangecamera
@Quinn, I just saw a show on TV where they were redecorating a loft. There was a dividing wall sort of in the middle of the room (attached to floor and ceiling, but not to other walls). They decided to put a large opening in it, which allowed for light flow and views, but also kept the separation of spaces. I thought of you and your project. If you don't take down the entire wall separating the two apartments, you can still put openings in whatever you leave up. The designers also used that partial wall as a place to add another color to their design. (I hope what I'm saying is clear).
1 Like   April 2, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Quinn Transitions
@orangecamera, do you know what show it was? I'll try and find it online.
0 Likes   April 2, 2013 at 8:20PM
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Quinn Transitions
Perhaps this one: [houzz=
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0 Likes   April 2, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Quinn Transitions
Or this one: [houzz=
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0 Likes   April 2, 2013 at 10:17PM
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Sharon
Hi, I'd be excited about a Reno like this too! It's going to be awesome! My 2 cents worth would be don't forget lighting. Natural & introduced. It plays a big role in any home, especially a condo.
1 Like   April 3, 2013 at 1:50AM
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orangecamera
@Quinn, the show is "Sarah 101", the episode is "Cool Bachelor Loft". Unfortunately the video is not viewable online in the US. It's at this URL, in case you find yourself in Canada sometime and can watch it there. I checked HGTV's US website and the episode is not available there as far as I can tell, nor is it scheduled to be broadcast again.
http://www.hgtv.ca/video/cool+bachelor+loft/video.html?v=2254545656#sarah101/video/season+2

Here's a picture from the show of what I was talking about. You can find more images by doing a google image search on "sarah 101 cool bachelor loft" (without the quotes)
1 Like   Thanked by Quinn Transitions    April 3, 2013 at 3:22AM
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Quinn Transitions
@Sharon Thanks, Sharon, looking forward to the natural light this reno will bring in from the terrace windows once the partition is removed (terrace will be 27' long).

I'm wondering, though, about placement of the french doors that will join both living rooms. If I break the l.r. wall closer to the terrace for less obstructed light (rather than in the middle of the wall for balance), would the imbalance look weird/funny. Haven't worked that out yet.
0 Likes   April 3, 2013 at 6:36AM
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Quinn Transitions
@orangecamera Wow, that's a great idea! Thanks, that "Sarah 101" show is new to me and I wish those Canadian shows aired here. I can't find it on Youtube, but luckily it has a "Sarah 101" 10-part web video series as well as the HGTV Canada channel so thank you for introducing me to a whole new set of design ideas!
0 Likes   April 3, 2013 at 6:47AM
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orangecamera
@Quinn, you're quite welcome. I'm in NJ and just happened upon the show on HGTV. I checked to see if it was airing again, so I could tell you when...alas I cannot find the show at all, let alone the episode, on HGTV here in the US. I guess it was just a trial run or something. I hope HGTV picks up the series.
0 Likes   April 3, 2013 at 1:05PM
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Quinn Transitions
Yes, that would be great! I love their ideas and colors and set-ups...really nice styles.
0 Likes   April 3, 2013 at 2:40PM
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orangecamera
Quinn, how's it coming along?
0 Likes   June 2, 2013 at 4:49PM
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Quinn Transitions
@ Orangecamera, thanks for the follow-up. We sent out RFQs, got good advice from an architect that we instead go straight to an expediter which saved us lots of $$. Shopped around and purchased sliding French doors and now we're moving forward with the paper work. Soon we'll start shopping for fixtures, textures and colors..so exciting....
0 Likes   June 2, 2013 at 5:39PM
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stormy
You can put a second dishwasher into any "blank view" apartment and some apartments have washer/dryers. I even saw one once at an open house
0 Likes   June 2, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Quinn Transitions
Here's an update on our renovations, the construction is done and new carpeting installed. We're happy with the results and I've included before-and-after pictures (place mouse on picture to enlarge the view). Now all's left is paint touch-ups, adding wall treatments and furniture.

To join the apts., we decided to install Marvin interior sliding French doors (hard to find as Marvin no longer promotes interior doors). Instead of a new bathtub, we went with reglazing and it looks brand new. We're happy with how the bathroom, doors and carpeting turned out.

Lessons learned on this project: you'll practically live at Lowes and Home Depot so take advantage of the clearance sections where you'll find brand new items at reduced prices. Also, rather than discarding fixtures, try to repurpose them. We did both and saved a lot of money.
0 Likes   November 10, 2013 at 10:03AM
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orangecamera
Wow, everything looks fantastic! Especially the tub, it looks better than brand new. Sliding doors was a great idea too. Did you keep both kitchens? Please post a new floor plan, I'd love to see it!
0 Likes   Thanked by Quinn Transitions    November 10, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Quinn Transitions
Sorry, no new floor plan, but the only change is that the shared wall is now broken open with the French doors installed. Also, the 2nd kitchen is empty and now being used for seasonal storage.
0 Likes   November 10, 2013 at 4:30PM
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Quinn Transitions
UPDATE - Design dilemma, need advice... help! Ok, a year has gone and we're settling into the new space. However, now we're trying to figure out how to combine the two main salons. On one side of the sliding doors there is the living room with a couch and t.v. and the same furniture on the other side. Do we devote only one side to the entertaining/family room area? What then do we do with the other side? Any advice would be most helpful. Thank you.
0 Likes   September 23, 2014 at 11:44AM
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