• Michelle Ann Designs


Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Before & After: A Modern Makeover for a Circa-1850s Row House in Jersey City

When it came to remodeling their circa-1850s row house in the historic Harimus Cove area of downtown Jersey City, young couple Chakshu and Gabriel, who also have a small son, turned to Mowery Marsh Architects to create an open, light-filled home. The match, it turns out, was a good one. “From our first meeting it was apparent that Chakshu has a great sense of style,” says principal architect Jennifer Mowery Marsh, “I remember thinking ‘I bet she loves Remodelista!’”

When Chakshu and Gabriel bought the house, it was laid out as several rental apartments and a previous addition had left the kitchen on a different floor from the main living space. It was important to the family to reconfigure the space and bring the living room, dining room, and kitchen onto a single level, while aligning it aesthetically with their more modern style. “Chakshu brought a lot of visual aids to the design process with a well-curated Pinterest page,” says the architect, “She has a clean, modern approach that has a nice homey feel to it, which is what we strive for in our work.” The ultimate goal, they say, was to make the home feel clean, uncluttered, and livable.

Join us for a look at the results.

Photographs by Haris Kenjar. General contracting by Endres Home Builders, Inc.


Above: The architects freshened up the whole home with a coat of Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White and painted the entry staircase a glossy black for contrast. The light fixture is Allied Maker’s Well Pendant.

The architects had hoped to retain the original flooring during the remodel, but once the house was gutted they realized that wouldn’t be possible. “The floors at the back of the house were about a foot higher in some areas, and they were so out of level we decided to replace all the floor framing throughout.”


Above: The open kitchen and dining area are flooded with light from the new glass wall that leads to the rear yard. The fixture over the dining table is Atomium from Lambert & Fils.

The architects rebuilt the entire back wall to allow for bigger windows to take advantage of the light and views.

Above: The architects chose Carrara marble for the kitchen countertops and backsplash and painted the kitchen island cabinets Farrow & Ball Railings. A Laurent 03 fixture from Lambert & Fils hangs over the island, the minimalist cabinet hardware is from Omnia, the faucet is from California Faucets, and the refrigerator is Electrolux.

Above: The kitchen range is Bertazzoni and the hood is Faber.

Living Room

Above: The living room also has new steel-framed windows.

Master Bedroom

Above: Before the remodel, the ladder (L) led to a “quirky attic space,” which the architects opened up to the master bedroom (R) to give a sense of larger volume and make room for a mezzanine office. The master bedroom sconce is the Tilt Cone from Cedar & Moss.

The second level was previously a separate rental unit with an intermediate landing that chopped up the floorplan. The architects eliminated the landing for a straight staircase run to the second floor, where they sited the owners’ son’s bedroom, a guest bedroom, a hallway bathroom, and a new master suite. The master bedroom is one of the architects’ favorite things about the finished project because of the original beams, which were uncovered during the renovation; they left them exposed to add some period character to the home.

Master Bath

Above: The architects used Nemo’s large-format Area porcelain tiles on the walls. The floating vanity countertop echoes that of the kitchen—honed Carrara marble. The faucet is from California Faucetsand the sconce is Allied Maker’s Flush Dome.

Rear Yard

Above: Modern steel railings complement the new steel windows on the back wall, which continue down to the garden level (that space was converted into a separate apartment for the homeowners’ parents or a future rental). The architects used Boral’s Truexterior vertical siding with a nickel gap joint for the exterior cladding and mahogany wood for the new deck.


Above: The kitchen and dining area were dark and dated before the renovation, but much of the homeowners’ furniture and art remained in the house post-remodel.

Above: The low ceilings in the original master bedroom made the space feel small and closed off. The architects were lucky enough to uncover original beams in the remodel and left them exposed for an airier feel.

Above: Pre-renovation the back wall had several small, mismatched windows and a narrow deck.

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