2013 Upper East Side Apartment Restoration

One of our favorite recent projects was restoring┬áthe pre-war plaster walls in a sweet apartment on the Upper East Side. Years ago, we’d worked with this homeowner on a full restoration of their house in Hudson, NY. But this job was different; the client needed to move in in a hurry. We had to work fast and within a very tight budget. We wound up developing a decorative plan that went along with the repairs.

The project started in the first week of December. After a two-week break for the holidays followed by some finishing touches, it’s finished and the client moved in in February,┬áthat’s a quick turnaround!

The biggest part of this project was to refinish the walls and ceiling with distressed colored plaster. But the condition of the walls and ceilings was rough, meaning we needed to correct the structural damage before we could apply any new plaster.

In order to meet our time and budget constraints we knew we would have to use far fewer coats than would normally be required for a venetian finish or a variation on specially plaster. To that end, I came up with a lime based mix that would cure quickly and handle heavier application, and tinted the plaster itself. We mixed it roughly, troweled on the top coat and then we burnished it.

The colors and finishes were a team effort. My crew and I collaborated to achieve a simple, fast, cost effective solution that made sense visually and got the job done.

Another large facet of the project was to hide the radiators and create some additional storage space. We achieved this by installing a cabinet that runs the length of the room under the windows. It also does a great job of hiding the television, cable boxes and sound equipment. I sourced the deco grates from a salvage vendor.

The floor treatment and curtains were the choice of the clients. Curtains hang from a black plumbing pipe which runs the length of the space.

The final puzzle piece was installing the client’s art collection to best effect.

In total, it was a two-month project covering both the structural and finish plaster applications. Cost effective and beautiful, we achieved just the right balance of raw and refined qualities. This is no longer a crumbling loft, it’s glamorous UES!

Dec 2012 Howard Hall Newsletter: Going Geothermal

Hello, friends! We don’t know how it happened, but the last of the autumn leaves has fallen and winter is officially upon us (well, almost officially). The days are getting shorter, it’s snowed on more than one occasion, and fighting off the constant, gnawing chill of winter has become my number one goal. Full-body mittens help, FYI.

We are currently combating the cold at one of our latest projects. One of the biggest parts of this full-house restoration just outside of Albany, NY is the installation of a geothermal system. Geothermal systems are just what they sound like: geo (meaning earth) and thermal (meaning heat). Earth heat systems. While we all know that the best way to keep your Dr. Pepper cold at the beach is to dig a cup-holder sized hole into the sand and let Mother Nature do its thing, digging a little further, say 250 to 300 feet, is where things start to heat up. Tapping into this naturally occurring heat source can both heat AND cool your home in an energy efficient and environmentally friendly way, not to mention you could significantly lower your utility bill.

Top: This huge drill was used to make five 250 ft holes. Center: One of the five 250′ holes. They will house two polyethylene pipes joined at the bottom with a u-joint. A water-based fluid is sent down one pipe and up the other, soaking up heat as it goes. Bottom: The heat is then transferred into the home through pipes laid in this trench.

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