Alex McCord

Alex dishes on the big renovation reveal!

on Apr 28, 2009

Finally, our “renovation reveal” episode is here! While we filmed hours and hours of the renovation work as it was completed, not much has been shown of the nuts and bolts. I suppose contractors knocking down walls and hoisting air conditioner fans onto the roof is more suited to a This Old House sort of show than ours. At any rate, the work began in small bites August 15th and in earnest on September 6th when we returned from St. Barths.

Simon and I work well under pressure, and thrive on it. Every time we begin a major project we set ourselves a deadline, otherwise we would procrastinate forever. We were helped in a way by the Season 2 production schedule; the last, drop-dead date of filming was November 1st, and the producers jokingly asked “What can you get done by then?” Our first response was…”our entire Phase 2 – the garden and parlor levels!” After permit setbacks and a few other surprises, we amended that to finishing one entire floor. We did that, and then some. From September to November 1st we did the kitchen, dining and living rooms, our bedroom and two bathrooms – one full, one half. For more of the nuts and bolts of the work, jump over to www.mccordvankempen.com for a renovation specific blog that addresses things like structural walls, wiring and floorplans.

One thing that Simon and I are infamous for are quick decisions when it comes to renovating. People can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of choice out there and our architect told us horror stories of a client who literally spent months choosing between barely different paint shades. Our solution for “abundance of choice paralysis” is to only look at items in stock that can be delivered within the week. Also, we go out of our way to buy to fit at least one of the following criterion: made by domestic (preferably local) craftsmen, environmentally friendly or in support of a charity. All of our kitchen and bedroom cabinetry & hardware was crafted in Brooklyn just a few miles from our townhouse. We chose bamboo for the cabinets in the kitchen and our bedroom as it’s a highly renewable resource. The meteorite countertops were cut about 5 minutes from the house as well. All new artwork was bought at charity auctions, including the Alice Cooper portrait at an auction to benefit City Harvest. The fabric came from Zarin, and the sewing was done in their workshop on the Lower East Side. It was a win-win situation. We could give Jill and Bobby business, they were local, and most importantly they could work within our deadline. One Sunday afternoon in October we brought the boys to the showroom to choose the fabric.