Brooke Moorehead blog post Renovation Watch featured image

Renovation Watch

It’s happening: my family and I are decamping from the once uber-cool TriBeCa neighborhood to to the Upper East Side.

But not before we complete a gut renovation… and for you New Yorkers, you know first hand, or have at least heard of, the “intricacies” of renovating in a pre-war NYC building. Let’s just say, it’s a long road, best taken with a dedication for slow, careful planning and a good amount of distraction so as not to get too impatient.

But the journey has been amazing so far, and I love job sites and I love renovating, whether it’s for myself or not (but particularly when it’s not). Maybe it’s because I was practically born on a job site – the smell of construction dust just really invigorates me. Well, almost always.

The project is finally beginning to take shape with the help of Alastair Standing of Standing Architecture. Here’s a sneak peak at a few of the details so far…

Demo (& other non-aesthetic things)

The renovation started out with a boom… or a bang… or at least a lot of ripping and tearing. Walls came down, walls went up, and one may have thought we were planning to go to the moon, with all that wiring…


Often there are bad surprises after demo. For us, we got lucky. For some reason, there was a window that someone had covered over previously, which we uncovered. This was the original wallpaper, which likely dates back to the dark ages.


I always start a project with inspiration images and slowly build the finishes and fixtures into something real. Below is the inspiration for the entry and main area. Beam renderings are by Standing Architecture.

Taking Shape

One challenge – or at least commonality – of pre-war buildings is the lack of an open plan. The apartment’s kitchen was closed off from the rest of the home, so we are now opening up the kitchen and family area by way of big sliding “barn doors” (above).

I have been on site a lot with our contractor, Eamonn, of Garadice Builders, doing tile layouts. I always “dry lay” stone on site before it’s installed. Getting it right requires quite a lot of effort – tiles are heavy and there’s not always a lot of room in a small apartment to lay it out and move tiles around. However, it’s very important to do this because no two stones are ever alike. Balancing the lines, waves, dots, and movement in each tile stone is key to get the overall look right.

Stone slab selection is also key. Slabs vary a lot from the samples, so it’s critical to view the slabs and mark off the areas to be used.

I’ll leave you with a throwback to my TriBeCa apartment renovation back in 2009…

In good design,

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