Philadelphia rowhouse remodel

Owner: Noam Kugelmass & Laura Efros

Builder: BLD Carpenters, Inc.

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Year Completed: 2010

Size: 680 square feet (renovated area)

Photos: Josh Douglas Smith

Project Description

This project entailed the substantial renovation of the second and third floors in the rear half of a three-story, mid-19th century rowhouse located in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.  Two (2) bathrooms (one on each floor) were completely reconfigured and remodeled and a new laundry room was added on the second floor.  As well, substantial new storage capacity (a project ‘must’) was incorporated into adjacent bedrooms and halls, as well as the bathrooms themselves. 

Working with a directive from the owners that the project be finished before the birth of their first child, the team had to perform on a short and demanding timetable.  With energy, creativity and persistence from all involved (including the owners themselves) a high-quality project was quickly completed, and the house today is a great deal more livable as a result. 


  • New glass transoms above the second floor bathroom, laundry room and rear bedroom doors admit natural light into the hall and create a sense of openness and spatial continuity.
  • A large mirror in the third floor master bathroom makes the space feel especially bright and spacious.  Flanking the mirror to either side, shallow ‘wing’ walls feature his/hers flush medicine cabinets, putting toiletries within easy reach while avoiding seams in the mirror itself.  Concealed behind a sliding mirror in the second floor bathroom, another flush cabinet provides ample storage for toiletries, paper products, etc. in a convenient, easy-to-reach location.
  • The shape and size of the third floor ‘master’ shower is such that no shower door or curtain is needed, making it easy to get in and out, and giving it a clean appearance. An Energy-Star® rated tubular skylight in the shower ceiling admits substantial natural light and gives the glass-tile lined enclosure a pleasant sparkle and glow.
  • A new second floor laundry room includes a large utility sink, energy & water-efficient, low-vibration laundry machines, and other convenient features such as a clothes-hanging rod.
  • Extensive structural reinforcement of damaged/deteriorated wood floor joists and brick masonry has made the rear portion of the house stronger and safer. New rigid mineral wool insulation added to the exterior walls has made it more comfortable and energy-efficient.
  • A new tankless electric water heater provides nearly-instantaneous hot water to the second and third floor showers and lavatories, overcoming a long wait for hot water and significantly reducing water waste in the process. When hot water arrives (after 60 seconds) from the primary heater in the basement, this ‘booster’ heater automatically shuts-off, limiting energy use.
  • Other environmentally-preferable products and materials include water-efficient toilets, countertops containing recycled glass & porcelain, regionally-harvested maple & cherry used for millwork units, compact fluorescent recessed luminaires, and non-toxic, zero-VOC paint.