Old-House Renovation

Modern Makeover

Architect Robert Gurney's inventive design updated this early-1910s apartment with 21st-century style. In doing so, Gurney says, the design proved that modern city living can be done in a historical, Beaux Arts-inspired building.

Gurney's design modernized a lackluster floor plan, replacing three narrow inner rooms with an open central living space. A distinctive curving wall bounds the living room, juxtaposing a rectangular column grid.

Citing the curving wall as a design highlight, the judges unanimously praised the design's imaginative redrawing of the original space. Several judges also appreciated the apartment's wood finishes, applauding the warm tones they bring to the design. "I like the combination of wood and metal," one said. "It's sleek but still warm; it doesn't feel cold, like a lot of modern architecture."

Though an inspiration for Gurney, the building's age meant extra work for remodeler Michael Puskar's crew. Appearing as an aesthetic feature that offsets the curving wall, an elliptical space in the living-room ceiling actually was cut out of an entirely new ceiling, which was reframed with a suspension system to conceal new mechanicals. "The drywall framing members are actually hung from the existing concrete ceiling with wire," Puskar says. "It had to be near perfect."

Anice Hoachlander

Category: Old-house renovation, $150,000 to $300,000

Location: Washington, D.C.

Contractor: Michael Puskar, M.T. Puskar Construction, Alexandria, Va.

Designer: Robert Gurney, FAIA, Alexandria

REMODELING Design Awards 2003