Luxury Condo Renovation in Friendship Heights, Washington, DC
Our client had just closed on a 2 bedroom, 2 bath 18th floor suite with sweeping views of Chevy Chase, MD. Unfortunately, the unit, having been constructed in 1975, showed its age as evident by its confined kitchen, original appliances, gloomy dining area, awkward storage spaces, dated bathrooms, thin parquet flooring, popcorn ceilings, and walls caked in layer upon layer of paint. The only apparent update to the condo over the years was the addition of a combo washer-dryer unit installed in the kitchen — out in the open next to the stove to be precise. Our client came to Four Brothers because she was seeking a design and construction team to completely gut, reimagine, and transform her new property into a luxury penthouse suite. She not only wanted the space to look modern and sleek, she needed her future home to function flawlessly
Design and Layout
Our client came into the Four Brothers’ studio to sit down with our architects and designers. We talked through the things she wanted to have in her new space. These included a master suite with a large walk-in closet, a guest bath and bedroom, a large open floorplan with room for two separate seating areas, a dining area, an office space, a coat closet, a walk-in storage area, a side-by-side laundry closet, a large open kitchen with seating, and wall space for an upright piano. In a multi-unit building, certain structural and utility elements dictate design (namely, essential columns and drain stacks.) As such, we left the bathrooms in their existing locations and configurations. We also needed to keep the kitchen in the same general vicinity due to the necessary plumbing hook ups and drains. There were a number of conflicting door swings in the hallway to the bedrooms and bathrooms. We suggested replacing some of these openings with pocket doors. The master bedroom closet was expanded into a large walk-in by stealing some space from the adjacent guest bedroom. The guest bedroom received a new larger closet as well while still leaving room for a queen sized bed, dresser, and small desk. The existing storage closets in the living area were awkward, narrow spaces providing little functional storage. We reconfigured these compartments to create two fully-accessible closets — one for coats and another for bulky storage and seasonal items. In the living room, we eliminated a large built-in unit to increase the future office and media area. Lastly, we removed a wall and expanded the kitchen into the former dining room. This new layout created the large kitchen our client desired while giving a previously dark dining area corner some much needed life. Through 3D renderings, we explored several kitchen design options with our client. She ultimately decided on a layout which tucked the laundry closet out of sight, but still convenient and accessible, and concentrated her cooking prep area near the counter seating. The kitchen opened up to the new dining area that was now positioned in front of a floor to ceiling window overlooking the treetops of northwest DC. Overall, the usability and flow of the unit were immensely improved with the new floorplan.
Style and Finishes
“Modern with a bit of glitz” was our mantra for this Washington, DC luxury condo remodel. As our foundation, the client selected a gorgeous, custom-stained walnut flooring, which was carried throughout the kitchen, living area, and bedrooms. The kitchen included all-wood custom cabinetry, a deep pull-out pantry, dual stacked oven, SubZero refrigerator, cook top, and wine fridge. The upper cabinetry were outfitted with motorized hinges to both lift and lower with a light touch to the door face. After exploring several granite yards, the client fell in love with a unique stone — White Mascarello. The only issue with this particular granite was that it typically contains burnt orange colored deposits, which our client did not like. In an effort to make it work, we selected slabs with minimal orange sections and had the slabs fabricated in such a way to completely omit the unwanted pigmentation. The client was thrilled! Since we wanted the granite to be the focal material, we opted for a custom back-painted glass backsplash in lieu of traditional tile. This provided an easy to clean surface without distracting from the beauty of the counter tops. The guest bathroom received a new, tile-faced soaking tub and large format white tiles lining the perimeter. Since the bathroom did not have a window, a large mirror was inset into the tile to help the light bounce around a bit and make the space feel bigger. Small, grey glass tiles were stacked vertically behind the vanity to add a subtle element of glamour. Soft grey floor tile, custom all-wood vanity, and brushed satin nickel fixtures and accessories complete the guest bath. The master bath shower features a full wall of geometric grey and white glass tile in a vertical linear pattern. (This tile was discovered early in the design process and became the color inspiration for both bathrooms.) The curb-less shower and frame-less sliding glass doors make this bath feel a bit larger than the guest bath, even though they are identical in size. A large inset mirror was utilized to increase the feel of the space similar to the guest bath. A banjo style counter with upper shelving was created to provide more workable surface space than a simple vanity top can provide. Wall-mounted sconces were paired with recessed fixtures to generate abundant lighting throughout, and an extra tall, mirrored medicine cabinet was recessed in the wall opposite the sink providing ample storage for toiletries. Custom all-wood cabinetry in a “driftwood” satin was designed for the media + office area with entertainment storage as well as a desk. Matching cantilever shelving was added above to give the essence of a built-in without the bulk. Dimmable recessed lighting was installed throughout the condo in addition to two metallic wall sconces at the foyer and layered glass pendants over the island and dining table.
Construction and Final Product
We were fortunate in our construction timing as the building was going through its own renovation. Shortly after demolition, new windows and HVAC systems were installed. The popcorn ceilings were tested for asbestos and the necessary remediation work was done to remove those safely. The parquet flooring was ripped up exposing the concrete slab and all drywall was removed down to the studs. We ran into a challenge when removing the wall between the old kitchen and dining room as it was housing the electrical panel. Between our design staff and electrical contractor, we devised a plan to relocate the box via a conduit concealed in the kitchen peninsula. We positioned the new panel discreetly next to a structural column. Once the new studs were in place, electrical and plumbing rough-ins were finalized, and after inspection, new drywall was hung throughout. Next, the unfinished walnut floor was installed and covered for protection. Our client was still living in her previous residence, but would stop by once a week to see the progress and check in with the lead carpenter on the project. The new floors and drywall were a big milestone for her as the raw, demolished shell on her condo began to take shape. We then began tiling both baths as well as setting the kitchen cabinetry. New appliances and plumbing fixtures arrived shortly after for installation. Our glass and stone fabricators then came in to template for the countertops in the kitchen and baths, glass backsplash in the kitchen, shower glass in the master bath, and mirrors throughout. The installation of the countertops was another big milestone for our client. The project was feeling nearly complete! In the final stretch, cabinetry hardware was installed, lighting fixtures were mounted, the entire condo was painted, and the walnut flooring was stained and finished. The remodel not improved the unit aesthetically — it was now safer with the asbestos remediation and upgraded appliances, it maximized storage, function, and flow, and fit all the necessary and desired elements of our client. The transformation from 1975 condo unit to a modern, luxury penthouse suite was nothing short of stunning.
What the Customer Said
“I am just delighted with my new home, and the experience of working with the Four Brothers’ team. They exceeded my expectations in every way! Every step of the process went well, from the initial meetings to organize and plan the project, to the design and product selection, to the construction and punch list. They were extremely organized, communicative, creative, accommodating, and solution-oriented – no matter what the challenge. I also really liked their team approach of having a dedicated project manager, architect, designer, and construction team. They all provided excellent advice at each stage of the project that made it easy for me to make decisions, and they coordinated well with each other. The final result shows the great pride they take in their work, their craftsmanship, and the attention they pay to detail. I would work with Four Brothers again without hesitation!”