When Maria and Raquel Howard opted to move on from their idyllic Brooklyn rental and into an inherited Harlem brownstone, they did so under one condition. They had to renovate.
The four-level brownstone, which hadn’t had any significant improvement since the 90’s, was teeming with opportunities for upgrade. But Maria and Raquel were smart. They knew what they wanted, and they knew that to get it, they would need to be flexible with their budget. That meant renovating some parts of the brownstone, but not every part of the brownston
Step 1: The Stairs
Once they teamed up with Bolster and architect Agustin Ayuso, the project got off the ground relatively quickly. “Maria and Raquel have a really good aesthetic,” Augustin says, “They were clear about their need-to-haves and nice-to-haves. It made everything easier.”
The entire renovation project was driven by the staircase. Maria has issues with accessibility and the stairs were simply too steep and narrow for her.
To accommodate the new staircase, Augustin’s team needed to open up the walls and put in all-new framing for the stairs. But before they could begin, Maria and Raquel wanted to test it out. Augustin had the contractor construct a mockup for the stairs. With the Howards’ input, Augustin got rid of the tight, wedge-shaped winders and built the treads and risers wider and less steep.
The staircase was also relocated from the center to the right side of the structure. This opened up the entire first floor to superior airflow and light.
“We’ve made the home’s narrowness an asset rather than a liability,” says Bolster COO and Co-Founder Anna Karp. “It used to feel very enclosed. By moving the staircase we’ve opened it up and made the proportions feel right. That’s the genius of the work that Augustin did.”
Step 2: The Shoes
Once the staircase design was settled, everything else followed, including a kitchen island, a washer/dryer and a major item on Raquel’s wish list – a walk-in shoe closet.
“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, you tackle the hardest part first, the rest comes easy.” Anna says.
Step 3: Everything Else
Because Marian and Raquel knew they had to have the staircase, it served to anchor the budget and keep it contained. And as part of the Bolster pre-estimate process, they had the information about costs, which informed the scope of the project. They chose to put their dollars toward the parts of the home that they planned on using the most. They’re rarely on the 3rd floor, so they left that bathroom untouched. Likewise, they decided against a rooftop deck or an upgrade to the basement.
That’s the benefit of working with Bolster, who has pioneered smart-renovation category. Through the use of sophisticated data, they’re able to identify, measure, and quantify the performance risk on every project. The process allows Bolster to absorb 100% of that risk so that homeowners like.Maria and Raquel can easily budget right down to the appliances and fixtures.
Maria and Raquel Howard are a prime example that high-end renovation doesn’t need to encompass an entire home makeover. When homeowners are well-informed about where their budget is going, they can identify which parts of their homes need the work and put their money where their passion is.
“It’s proof that the Bolster process works.” Anna says. She then produces her smart phone and shows off a text message from Raquel. It’s a picture of her fully-populated shoe closet, “And now we have the pictures to prove it.”
Bolster is a data-driven team of experts on a mission to eliminate risk from major home renovations by being radically transparent across everything we do. We hire the industry’s best talent and use a continual improvement process to financially guarantee that your major home renovation is designed and built beautifully, on-time and on-budget. From the first sketch to the final handshake, our homeowners know the cost of every line item and have full visibility into project milestones.