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From a Studio to a One-Bedroom on Mintwood Place

by Lark Turner

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The kitchen in the renovated unit.

Nick Szczur, a recent college graduate, wanted his own place in the city. The 23-year-old had graduated from the University of Maryland early, got a job in DC and moved in with his parents in Bethesda. His goal was to find a city property in the $200,000 range, ideally in northwest, and then sell his car to help come up with the down payment.

“I was looking for something I could add value to, and floor plans where there was a creative way to add value to a place,” he said.

Szczur found a studio at 1869 Mintwood Place (map) with nice windows and a larger, 500-square-foot floor plan, but a quirky layout. A large Murphy bed took up most of the living space, two huge closets ate up more and the tiny kitchen was tucked in the back.

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The living room before the renovation.

The unit had been sitting on the market for a couple of months and had undergone a few price reductions. Szczur made an offer, and ended up getting it for $195,000 with $5,000 in closing cost help. Then he went about transforming the studio into a one-bedroom.

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The tucked-away kitchen in the back seemed like a better spot for a bedroom.

“I looked at it and figured out that we could use the little kitchen space as a junior one-bedroom,” he said. Szczur and his dad both had construction experience, and they figured they could do much of the work themselves.

Before moving forward with the renovation, he had to make sure that there weren’t any obstacles in the way. Szcur thought there may be issues with load-bearing walls or other structural problems, or perhaps difficulties with moving the water line from the kitchen to the living area.

“When I bought it, I had all these things in mind,” he said. “We had a structural engineer come out [who determined] that there were no load-bearing walls or beams, we didn’t have a problem moving the water line. It turned out that we could do everything that we wanted to.”

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The Murphy bed took up too much room.

So the duo started demolition.

“My dad and I met there 4-5 nights a week, and started demo right away,” he said. They found brick behind the unit’s plaster and decided to expose one wall in the open-concept living space.

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The Szczurs exposed a brick wall in the apartment.

Szczur said he didn’t have too much trouble landing approval for the project from the building’s board, probably because he had the benefit of lining up a contractor and an electrician — family friends. They used budget materials and “called in some favors” to get the project done, he said.

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The unit mid-renovation.

Szcur found flooring for $1,000 and used Ikea cabinets to finish the kitchen. The unit had updated stainless steel appliances that were spared.

“My dad and I did all the demo, framed and put up all the walls and did the drywall,” he said. “For appliances, all I had to buy was a dishwasher.”

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Szczur’s new living room.

All told, Szczur said that the renovation cost about $20,000, and took five and a half months to get done. The demolition went relatively quickly, but coordinating all the finishes between the contractor, electrician, flooring installers and painters took a bit of finesse.

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The old kitchen space is now a bedroom with a smaller closet.

The finished product has a tiny bedroom concealed behind a sliding barn door and an open living space. Szczur, who grew up in Maryland, said doing a similar project is manageable with help and some savings.

“When you don’t have that much money, and you’re looking for a place to make something out of nothing, you get a little creative,” he told UrbanTurf. “There aren’t hundreds of units out there where you can do this, but there are opportunities to be creative and find a place to suit your needs that you can tailor to what you want.”

Before photos courtesy of HomeVisit; during and after photos courtesy Nick Szczur.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_well-located_one-bed_on_a_200k_budget_this_23-year-old_made_it_happen/8725

1 Comment

  1. Zeshov said at 4:26 pm on Friday July 11, 2014:

    Nick Szczur—nice work!
    Would you happen to be related to a Mr. John Szczur from Johnstown, PA?  I understand he built his own house (from the ground up)—a Mechanical Engineer from the University of Pittsburgh. If you are related, you came by your talents of skill and vision quite naturally…Sto Lat!

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