When Beverly O’Mara and Mark Uriu converted their loft in Jersey City, N.J., into a live-work space in 2015, they envisioned an airy, open apartment where Ms. O’Mara could have an art studio and Mr. Uriu could work from home on occasion.
They added elements that made sense at that time, such as shoji screens that provided privacy, light, and sound barrier, but no sound barrier. It worked for a while.
Covid was the catalyst that changed everything. The couple found themselves working full-time from home after Covid changed everything. They were trying to devise temporary solutions for a space which had just undergone a $250,000 remodel.
Millions of Americans saw the end of the pandemic as a time of remodeling. They used their spare time to renovate their homes and create more space for their families. (Year-over-year spending on home remodeling grew by more than 9 percent from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2021, to $357 billion a year, according to the Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.) But what if you renovated before the pandemic — and spent a lot of money on it — and now you had to redo it to reflect a new reality?
Like many others, Ms. O’Mara, 66, and Mr. Uriu, 65, found themselves running headlong into the limits of a design imagined for a prepandemic lifestyle and wondering what modifications, if any, would make their home more functional.
“We’ve seen these interesting new demands put on our spaces, and they are absolutely a byproduct of the shifting lifestyle,” said Jeff Jordan, a Rutherford, N.J., architect who designed the couple’s renovation and is seeing a shift in how homeowners think about renovation.
For those considering remodeling now, Ms. O’Mara and Mr. Uriu’s project offers some useful lessons.
They used cost-saving, creative strategies to save money early on. This is especially important now that labor and material costs are high. It was a wise decision to give more space to family life during the first year after the pandemic. The grandchildren visited often and used the open living space as a playroom.
Other decisions did not hold up as well, particularly putting Mr. Uriu’s office directly above Ms. O’Mara’s studio, with no wall to act as a sound barrier. In search of more space and quiet, he converted the closet in the guest bedroom into his office. To get in, he must duck under a beam.
Two years into the pandemic, he finds himself working in a space that Ms. O’Mara likens to the dwarfed 7½ floor in the 1999 film “Being John Malkovich.” When he is seated, Mr. Uriu can look out under the beam and see across the apartment and out the windows to the street below. “When you’re sitting down,” he said, “you don’t feel like you’re in a closet.”
Source: NY Times