Residential Architecture Project - River Edge, NJ

Single-family Residence in River Edge, NJ

The winter of 2014 was bitterly cold. During a particularly cold week a water pipe on the second floor of the house froze and broke. The homeowners were traveling out of the country and unaware of the tens of thousands of gallons of water filling their basement.


Brian Rolph of Restoration and Decorating General Contracting, and one of the first emergency responders controlling and abating the disaster, brought me in on this job once the restoration phase of the work began and I could begin my services on the design of the renovation.


The homeowners had many wonderful qualities, among them they were extremely accommodating and wonderfully forward-thinking. Case in point, the time it takes for an architect to accomplish his or her work regularly surprises project owners. Our home-makeover, reality TV show mentality in our society suggests a new kitchen or bath remodeling project can be drawn by a designer over the weekend and built by a contractor within a few weeks.


Not so. And the homeowners with this specific project understood this before we ever met. They had a good sense of the demands made upon the services of a hired professional, as they were professionals themselves, and it was they who set the tone for ample time to focus on work, a tone that paved the way for good results. They were the antithesis of the old adage ‘haste makes waste.’

Damaged House

damaged bedroom

The house interior was completely damaged from all of the water passing through all of its levels. The homeowners had the option to repair what had been damaged; and, to that end, architectural services may not have been needed at all. However, they were more forward-thinking and chose to improve the house beyond mere replacement of damaged materials; they chose to add on to the house and reconfigure the spaces of the first floor.


The existing dining room was too small and not directly accessible from the kitchen; they had to cross the family room to reach the dining room, an inconvenience when transporting food and place settings.


The homeowners had the interest of opening up the kitchen, dining room, and family room to convert the three separated rooms into a large, single room.


I liked their idea of opening up the spaces. From an architectural sense, today’s modern lifestyle regularly combines multiple and simultaneous functions. Homes built 100 years ago responded to a set of lifestyle criteria that was quite different than today’s. For example, the kitchen of 1920’s was meant specifically for individuals, often just one, to prepare food. Today, in addition to cooking, the residential kitchen is a gathering, meeting, and social space shared by the family, at least, and guests, most certainly. So, today’s kitchen requires a spatial configuration that is less compartmentalized and capable of handling the dynamic of a heavier traffic flow and pools of congregation. The design of this specific project, among most others designed by us, accommodated this lifestyle retro-fit.

Other areas of the project included expanse of the master bedroom. A new en suite bathroom and closet area was located within the new addition to the house, back-to-back with the modified kitchen located in the other half of the addition.


The stairs to the second floor, which separated the formal living room from the kitchen and family room side of the house and was enclosed by walls and accessed through a hinged door, was opened up to add to the overall visual flow of the first floor.


A full bath accessible from the upstairs hallway has rezoned to be included within an existing bedroom by relocation of the bedroom entry farther into the hallway.


A second bedroom on the second floor was expanded through placement of a new study area located over the first floor master suite addition.


The basement was completely gutted down to the bare concrete and refinished with wall board, tile floor and gypsum board ceiling. The spatial configuration of the laundry room, recreation room, and mechanical room remained as it was pre-disaster.


A French drain was added along the perimeter walls of the basement, leading to a new sump pit. Both tactics implemented to ensure the proper draining of any future water entering the basement.


All wall, floor, and ceiling finishes were replaced throughout the house and that broken water pipe on the second floor was most definitely replaced.

existing basement

Stairs Before After exterior before after bedroom before after basement before and after

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