From the get-go, designer knew one thing for sure—this condo had nowhere to go but up. Not only was the 3,000-square-foot penthouse perched atop a tiny hi-rise in midtown Atlanta, but the three-story space was a virtual time capsule of dated traditional design from past renovations. "My clients, a power couple in local business and the arts, were moving from a large, traditional home and wanted their new abode to be more modern in style and in character with the Corbusier-inspired architecture of the hi-rise," notes Carson Guest. "It soon became clear that the best way to accomplish their goals was to gut the entire penthouse and start fresh. If only I'd known then what I know now!"
Problem #1: A living room chopped up by structural necessities
The homeowners had hoped to completely open up the space, but at the onset of demolition, they discovered that the deep concrete columns were structural and couldn't be removed.
Solution: After everything but the columns was torn out and the ceiling raised as high as possible, soffits (architectural elements used to connect the ceiling to the wall), were crafted to house ductwork. The result was an airy space conducive to multiple seating and entertaining areas.
Disaster Prevention: Embrace structural hang-ups by creatively transforming them into focal points or architectural elements.
Problem #2: The dated fireplace has got to stay
Due to building regulations, the homeowners couldn't swap the wood-burning fireplace for a swanky new gas model, as originally planned.
Solution: Carson Guest gave the area around the fireplace a facelift by trading wood bookcases for chic lacquered storage cabinets then created a surround with decorative marble and a hearth with black granite.
Disaster Prevention: Know the codes. Before renovation begins, work with your contractor to pull all paper work previously filed with government code departments and the condo or homeowners' association, and confirm what can be changed.
Problem #3: Setting up a too loud, too heavy, antique piano
The piano's sound could be heard by neighbors, and its weight threatened to crack the stone tile.
Solution: To keep cool with the neighbors (and meet the building's acoustical standards), a sound control membrane was installed. Not only did it buffer sound, it protected the tile from cracking.
Disaster Prevention: If you know you'll have a loud instrument or serious stereo equipment, factor sound barrier elements into the budget so you won't disturb others.
Problem #4: A small water leak turns into a major problem
During construction of the third floor, what seemed like a small rooftop leak became a major flooding problem.
Solution: The entire roof deck had to be jackhammered and removed one piece at a time, then replaced with white synthetic decking that can handle the weather even fifteen floors up.
Disaster Prevention: When house hunting, make a second visit during or soon after a rainstorm to look for standing water or water stains in every room.