Unit D, Anna’s Apartment

Unit D was named for a long-time resident whose politics we greatly admired.  It is a medium-sized, second floor, one bedroom apartment on the south and west faces of the house.  The main entry is off the Poplar Street side of the house:


Those are the living room windows on the second floor, just to the right of the entry.

Background: When I bought the Odell House in 1997, roughly 99 years after its construction, to say I was overwhelmed with the updating required was a bit of an understatement.

The house was in many ways well taken care of, always owner occupied, and updated as needed–just not very recently.  The kitchens and baths were all were carpeted, the appliances about twenty years old at the time, much of the interior paint a very light green.  The kitchen floors were on my hit list as first priority.  Every unit got a new refrigerator.  I replaced some, but not all of the stoves.  Everything got painted.

That was 17 years ago.


I’m not saying time stood still.  We replaced the roof ($80,000 and three roofers later, one still in jail–but that is a different story.) We’re painting the exterior face by face.  Kept working on the apartments as time, money and need arose.

In December of 2013 we discovered a leak in Anna’s Apartment.  And the leak led us to replacing the bedroom ceiling, and refinishing the floors.  And while we were at it, remodeling the kitchen.  And the bath.  Construction is like that.  And such a mess really that you might as well get it done all at once.  (That is the thought anyway.)

So here is what it looks like now:


Entry off second floor landing.



Living room above.  On the other side is a full futon, and on the wall near the door a dining table.



This combination of a drop leaf table and glass cabinet make a breakfast nook at the end of the galley kitchen.


Here’s the galley kitchen, which needs a bit of explanation.

In the old version there was an apartment sized electric stove, then a rather large refrigerator from the nineties stacked in a row just beyond the metal sink base–a vintage piece that I actually like.  (Gutting an apartment is a word developers use.  In remodel of an old house there are always charming elements that you want to keep–as well as some that just need to go.  Usually things from the last remodel that have plain worn out–or were not well thought out.)  Anyway, the refrigerator was an example of not well thought out.  It completely blocked the use and opening of the glass cabinets to the end.


We repositioned the new refrigerator under the L in the counter top.  Where is it, you are asking?

Right there below the microwave.

It is an under counter, Electrolux, double-drawer refrigerator.  I have lived with and loved an identical one for six years now.  They are wonderfully energy-efficient, have really a lot of space (6 cubic feet).  No freezer.  But, it is very easy to put a similarly energy-efficient chest freezer elsewhere in the house.  In this case in the laundry/utility room just outside the hall door of this apartment.

In the lineup where the old fridge and stove used to live are an 18 inch Boshe dishwasher, a bit of cabinet space, a wall oven mounted low in custom cabinet, topped by a two burner induction cook top.  (These are great, safe also energy-efficient inventions.  They simply refuse to work if you do not have a magnetic pan.  Out with the aluminum!)


What you are looking at is more than $4,000 worth of top of the line appliances in a $2,000 custom counter top.


The floor is from the nineties–tile I had put in.  The sink is from the fifties–works great, re-plumbed of course to accommodate the new dishwasher to its side.


The rather charming original wood cabinets from the twenties remain.


and back out into the hallway, breakfast nook to the left.


Above, bedroom door to the left and left again to the bath.

Below, and to keep in mind when thinking of this unit for extra guests, the entry to the bath is in the corner of the bedroom.



What you are seeing is a new tile floor, with a pebble exterior, a vessel sink over a custom soapstone vanity that creates a shelf over the radiator.



The huge claw foot tub remains,


but got a new, larger, chrome shower ring, new faucet and shower hardware built for this purpose.


I’m sure you will miss the hose I had clamped onto the old faucet for years to create a shower


So there you have it.  Three months, $30,000. 100% Energy Star rated.

Just a note about this and all the claw foot tubs in the house.  Please, please, PLEASE position the shower curtain INSIDE the tub if you take a shower.  You see below the wrong way to do it, though we frequently leave them like this after cleaning for those who want to take baths.


This is not Anna”s Apartment, but C with the bath room sadly flooded by a careless guest who showered with the curtain out–you can see it in the photo, along with the huge fan we positioned to quickly dry the floor.  Not good!!!!

Back to the kitchen.  A lot of people who believe they can’t live without a large refrigerator are surprised once they experience the convenience of a small one.  And that’s not too odd really, considering that in Europe, most apartment refrigerators are under-cabinet, and even smaller–three cubic feet.  Why?  Because people live near grocery stores and tend to shop every day.  That would be about like Browne’s Addition.  Never mind that right after the water heater and electric clothes dryer, the refrigerator takes the third highest toll in energy use in most households.)


Not this one.  Under half of the energy requirement of the old one.  (One advantage of drawers in a refrigerator rather than doors is the cold air does not “tumble out” as you open it.  Same for chest freezers.)


The open cabinets to the left are very useful for storing the extra bottles of whatever you might like to put in the refrigerator next.    And zero energy used maintaining the backups.

Consider the alternatives.

Anyway, to say we’re pleased with Apartment D’s update is a great understatement.  We are hoping you like it too!

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