A Sleek Renovation in the Watergate Complex

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Name: Darren
Location: Washington, D.C.

After we relocated from New York City to D.C., we fell in love with the Watergate. The history, the architecture and the outdoor space is truly something that tugs at your heart. When we decided to purchase this unit, our intention was to only refinish the floors, update the bathrooms, paint and maybe a few other things here and there. But after removing a bathtub and drywall and finding asbestos and water leaks from the plumbing leading to the neighbor’s apartment, it was clear that this was going to become a more comprehensive project. So we decided to make it exactly the way we wanted it. Thankfully the building management was amazing, and quickly addressed the asbestos. Our contractor was both patient and a perfectionist.

Without going completely nuts by entirely gutting the apartment, we had three goals…

First, to squeeze every inch out of the space. While this apartment is nearly twice the size of what we came from, we wanted to make sure we got the most out of it. We figured that about fifty square feet was wasted from a hallway that served no purpose other than to provide access to a walk-in closet. Also, a nearly useless second bedroom closet that was only deep enough for soup cans. We shifted the floor plan around slightly to get a larger master bathroom, a larger master closet, and also add an entire office. All while keeping the same amount of usable storage area. Bam!

Second goal, to address visual line-of-sight challenges. These included random valve access covers, oddly high light switches, and the usual visual boogers such as electrical panels, stamped metal doorbell grates, air vents and A/C Units. So we lowered the light switches and moved the wall outlets. We found someone who could inexpensively laser-cut custom wood vent covers and we incorporated two removable hidden panels into the entryway wall to camouflage the two shutoff valves for the refrigerator and the bathroom. The electrical panel hidden behind a secret walnut panel that pops off easily if you know where to press. We encased the three vertical A/C units in MDF and finished them the same dark charcoal color as the front door.

Third, we wanted it to be an appropriate style for the building. While the exterior is obviously a very modern architectural style, the interior common areas combine both traditional and modern elements. Making our apartment a completely industrial or euro-contemporary design would not have been right. We kept the traditional kitchen cabinetry, but refinished the cherry in a glossy French blue for some of the uppers and matte grey for the others. The blue was a color we saw at a B&B in Bridgehampton NY years ago, and the manager was so kind as to give us the brand and paint code! We updated the granite and backsplash for marble-veined quartz and glass. We found the brass kitchen hardware at Buster+Punch out of the UK. We chose these because they are weighty and because the cabinet knobs resemble vintage audio equipment dials.

Thanks, Darren!

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