Room to bathe

High-rise remodels pose unique challenges, not the least of which is finding enough room to expand.

February 24, 2000
1998 Kitchen Design
  • Refrigerator, freezer and warming drawers
  • Convenient pot fillers at the cooktop and range
  • Ceramic tile used to frame windows and mirrors
  • Hand-painted and decorative tiles as accents
  • Paneling on the sides of islands
    Source: NKBA
  • High-rise remodels pose unique challenges, not the least of which is finding enough room to expand. To meet a client’s expectations, Jay Kottoff, CR and president of Action Builders and Remodelers, discovered more space in the most inventive place.

    In early 1997, an interior designer referred a client who lived in a high-rise building. The owner of the apartment had already combined two separate units into an 1,800-square-foot residence. Now, he wanted to completely remodel the living space to include two baths, kitchen, wet bar, master bedroom suite, office/den, and an elaborate living and dining room. It was the master bath that would prove a challenge to Kottoff and his team.

    Kottoff presented his designs to the client and received approval to start the project. Four days later, however, the interior designer called to say the client didn’t like the way the master bath space was laying out. The homeowner admitted he had not been able to visualize the project on paper, and now, with the walls torn out, he could see the design was not as grand as he hoped.

    "He wasn’t satisfied it would be a gracious enough space," Kottoff says. In addition, the owner of the unit had seen a picture of an octagonal shower and wanted to include it in the remodel. In order to achieve the client’s master bath vision, which included the large shower and a heated whirlpool tub, Kottoff knew they need more space.

    The only way to gain more room was to go into the common area of the building, so Kotto petitioned the co-op to give up the adjacent recycling area. They were turned down. Not to be derailed, the company analyzed the recycling needs of the building and came up with an alternative container that held more trash but used less space. This time the co-op approved the acquisition.

    From the beginning of the project, Kottoff knew plumbing would pose a hurdle. Though supply lines could be run anywhere, Kottoff says, "drainage is always the challenge because we rely on gravity."

    The Action Builders and Remodelers team originally contacted the unit below to ask for permission to reroute plumbing in their ceiling. In exchange, the client would pay for his neighbors to remodel their bathroom. They declined, and Kottoff’s creativity was put to the test once again.

    The old bath had one drain in the right location, but Kottoff need another to make the new plumbing work. "We took a sink drain and used that and elevated the shower floor," he says. "Then we had to camouflage a drain pipe that ran around the perimeter of the room." Molding concealed the plumbing.

    Despite the space challenges, Kotoff finished the project three months early--in nine months instead of 12. As a result of this project, Action Builders and Remodelers has received quite a few referrals from the same interior designer. Kottoff is currently working on several proposals for high-rise remodels and a possible renovation for the home of an unnamed celebrity.

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