Creating Space in a City Duplex

SCOPE: renovate an entire duplex with a focus on storage and function for a family with 3 young children

Contemplating moving to a larger house, but wanting to stay in Lincoln Park, a young family was stuck in indecision. Built in the early 90’s, the 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath duplex-down had a nice layout, high ceilings and plenty of light, but it was in need of complete updating and space planning. In addition, the family had now grown to 5, making the space feel too small for them.

After gathering quotes and researching home values in the neighborhood, it was determined that investing in renovations would greatly improve the function and beauty of the home. The best scenario was to stay put in the neighborhood they desired and renovate their duplex for the long term. The plan to move ahead in stages made the full house renovation manageable.

This first stage involved the main level kitchen, dining room, living room and powder room.

To update the home, the family chose a transitional style consisting of clean lines, neutral gray tones, soothing blue accents and dark wood floors. To most efficiently use space, custom built-in cabinetry was utilized along the fireplace wall and includes bench seating, display shelves, a serving bar, storage and a TV. The new kitchen features gray painted shaker cabinets, quartz countertops, and a blue glass tile backsplash.

The nearby powder room gets a lot of use by the family, as well as guests, so the design had to be practical and functional. A gray vanity with metal accents creates an elegant look while providing 2 large drawers. A beautiful focal point was created with leaf shaped glass tile covering the entire back wall. An oversized pendant light fixture adds just the right amount of drama.

Desiring an updated, organized and peaceful retreat from their busy household, the homeowners chose their master bedroom and bathroom to tackle next in this second phase. Not unlike many city homes, the master bedroom lacked adequate closet space. To solve that problem, a custom built-in storage unit was designed to include drawers, hanging bars, shelves and a place to mount the TV. The white cabinetry with crown molding blends into the walls, keeping the bedroom feeling spacious and clutter-free.

The ensuite spacious bathroom was outdated and had an awkward layout. A huge square tub in the corner made it tight to stand at the sink. The exposed toilet sat right between the tub and shower. A small closet was narrow and hard to access. The redesigned layout has a toilet room at one end and the shower next to the tub. The closet, now nine feet tall and six feet wide, is outfitted with shelves, drawers and back-painted glass sliding doors. A mix of textures and tile shapes provides just the right amount of interest among the neutral colors. A pendant hangs over the free-standing tub to add ambient lighting and create a relaxing oasis. An oversized rainshower head and heated flooring adds the ultimate luxury to this Master Suite Retreat.

In this 3rd phase of the Lincoln Park Duplex Renovations, the attention turns to the sisters’ quarters in the lower level. With three girls sharing a cramped bathroom, adding a second sink and more storage was high on the priority list. The room could not be enlarged and the plumbing had to stay put. With a sink wall only 53″ wide, their wish was achieved by utilizing small round sinks in a custom vanity. Room for storage was located everywhere possible–in the vanity, in cabinets above the mirror and in wall cabinets cleverly recessed between the studs so that each girl has their own 16″ wide x 66″ tall cabinet. The frameless shower doors and white wall tile keeps the bathroom feeling open and bright.

The 2 younger sisters share a small bedroom measuring 9′ x13′. The most efficient way to utilize every bit of valuable space is with custom built-ins. The high ceiling allowed room for bunk beds, designed to be a private “little room” within the bedroom. Each girl has her own bed complete with curtains, lighting, an upholstered headboard, shelving and charging station. The shared space includes a bookcase, a fold down desk, storage drawers in the stairs and a tall dresser. The white furniture and gray carpet are set off with custom blue violet and plum fabrics. The sisters can now comfortably and enjoyably share the bedroom.