How to spruce up a Sheepshead Bay co-op with a peach-tiled bath and plain kitchen

featured this month on Brick Underground by Leah Hochbaum Rosner

image credit:  Brick Underground

image credit: Brick Underground

This Sheepshead Bay one bedroom, 2711 Ave., X, #6D is asking $225,000 and has a lot going for it, according to architect and Feng Shui expert Anjie Cho, including a “workable” floor plan, a private balcony, and decent-looking floors.

Still, there are lots of things that could be improved, such as the prodigiously peach bathroom, which she believes needs to be gutted immediately. “The wallpaper. That vanity. That gray tub. Oh my God,” she says.

She also hates the tiny, makeshift sunroom between the living room and terrace—which accounts for the second layer of windows visible behind the original windows—as well as two terrace doors. It takes precious square footage away from the terrace and makes the back wall in the living room look too busy. It’s also fairly shabby-looking, she says, noting the exposed wiring and “dingy” doors. “It’s the first thing you see when you walk in. It doesn’t make a very good impression.”

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7 Rules of Mindful Renovation

featured this month on Hunker by Laura Lambert

image credit: Describe the Fauna via  Hunker

image credit: Describe the Fauna via Hunker

There's mindful eating. Mindful breathing. But mindful renovation? Well yes, of course. The mindfulness revolution absolutely belongs in the home, because home is where we retreat, recharge, and reimagine ourselves. But what is mindful renovation, exactly?

"One of the ways that my teachers describe mindfulness is paying attention to all the details in your life, whether it's making a cup of tea or your environment," says Anjie Cho, an architect and feng shui consultant who practices mindful design and writes about it on her blog, Holistic Spaces. "Mindful renovation is also like that."

Mindful renovation is informed by so many things that Cho has embraced in her own life — feng shui, meditation, Buddhism, as well as architecture and design. It's about slowing down and paying attention to how the space around us makes us feel, and using that quiet intelligence to inform design decisions. It's also about making choices — like using high quality, green materials, or paying your craftsmen well — that have a thoughtful impact on the world around you. And it's as much about the process of renovating as it is the colors, textures, placement, and finishes.

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Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


The hellish kitchen in this Hell's Kitchen apartment needs a miraculous makeover

featured this month on Brick Underground by Leah Hochbaum Rosner

image credit:  Brick Underground

image credit: Brick Underground

Everything about this apartment “just looks so sad,” says Anjie Cho, an architect and feng  shui expert. 

The fixer-upper unit is a co-op in Hell’s Kitchen at 354 West 48th St.

Cho sums the place up thusly: “The flooring is sad. The paint colors are sad. The kitchen needs a complete makeover. The lighting is really bad.”   

Listed for just $350,000, apartment #2FE, a second-floor one bedroom, is eminently affordable. (Then again, it's a Housing Development Fund Corporation co-op, so there are income restrictions to keep in mind: $36,288 a year for one or two people and $42,336 for three people.) Another bonus for whoever does end up buying the place: the kitchen is big and has an eat-in area.

"It definitely has potential," Cho says.

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This loft-like UES studio needs work, but the price is right

featured this month on Brick Underground by Leah Rosner

image credit: Brick Underground

image credit: Brick Underground

Priced at just $345,000, this Upper East Side studio at 223 East 78th St. is definitely affordable considering the location. But the loft-like unit will certainly need some renovating to make it habitable, according to architect and feng shui expert Anjie Cho.

“It’s a good price for a starter apartment,” she says.

Cho thinks the place is worth fixing, but she isn’t a fan of many features, especially what’s underfoot.

“Those floors are bad,” she says of the black-and-white checkerboard tiles. “[They're] so in your face that you can’t ignore them.”

For this week’s Reno Ready, we asked Cho to tell us how she’d renovate the space to render it livable. Here are her recommendations:

Kitchen (pictured at top)

How this room is updated will depend entirely on the new occupant’s cooking habits. If he or she is a recipe addict who loves whipping up a meal at a moment’s notice, then Cho would advise putting in a full-sized refrigerator and adding in an island. If, however, he or she is more likely to order a pizza than make one, Cho says she’d probably hang onto the mini-fridge.

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Choosing Quartz Composite Countertops

Choosing Quartz Composite Countertops.jpg

Quartz is one of my favorite healing crystals to use in feng shui and other holistic adjustments, but its usefulness doesn't stop at providing balance and amplifying nourishing energy . Actually, quartz is a great option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling, which are included in most renovation projects!

What is Quartz?

Quartz is actually one of the most abundant (the second most common) minerals found on Earth and dates back to ancient times. It was used for jewelry during China's Ming Dynasty and has been found in Aztec graves, also used as jewelry. This comes as no surprise, since quartz is a durable, useful and available substance. This durability and seemingly endless stock are primarily why quartz is such a great choice for renovation projects in kitchens and bathrooms. 

Quartz, which we use often in pure crystal form, is the hardest known non-gem material in the world and compares to diamonds and sapphires in strength. In fact, when renovations include granite countertops or other granite features, quartz is generally the reason these options are so durable. Typical granite consists of a mixed makeup of minerals, including about 20-35% quartz; however, it is possible to increase the percentage of quartz to 93% for optimum performance. This is what we call quartz composite surfacing. 

How is Quartz Used?

One typical feature of both kitchens and bathrooms is countertop. From sinks in bathrooms to prep space in kitchens, homeowners often choose to refurbish or replace the surfacing material for their countertops to keep up with modern trends or guarantee sturdy, long-lasting counters. This last feature is one of the most compelling reasons to opt for quartz surfacing material and is where we commonly see it used in homes. 

One of the most popular ways to use quartz in renovations is through the Breton method, which combines varieties of quartz and other aggregate materials with crushed mineral powders, binding resin and pigment to create a customizable, uniform, sturdy, slab of stone.

Why Choose Quartz Composites?

Aside from its durability and ready availability, quartz has plenty of perks that granite or stone countertops don't offer. Most notably, quartz is almost non-porous, which means that it resists staining and requires less upkeep than typical granite or stone options. Most stone counters are porous, which results in easy stains and means that the countertops need to be sealed, both initially and repeatedly throughout their lives. In contrast, quartz never needs to be sealed and is much harder to stain. 

Since it is one of the hardest minerals on the planet, quartz is also scratch resistant and heat scorch resistant. It also offers four to five times the flexural strength of stone, making it more likely to bend, less likely to break. All of these perks make quartz surfacing nearly maintenance free, and thanks to modern processes, it is available in a wide color palette to match any design scheme. Finally, quartz is naturally anti-bacterial as a non-porous surface, and adding additional anti-bacterial to the quartz surface composition is an option as well. 

Have you ever considered using quartz surfacing in your home renovations instead of stone countertops? I'd love to hear about your past or upcoming projects and how you choose your materials!

by Anjie Cho