The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights

by Will Smith

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 1

Welcome to Property Week, a week-long UrbanTurf series devoted to intriguing residential properties in the DC area and beyond. From a DC version of Wrigleyville to a Trinidad apartment building that will only offer five-bedroom apartments, this week is all about cool residences both near and far. Enjoy.

This article originally ran on UrbanTurf in October 2013 and shares the process of UrbanTurf publisher Will Smith renovating his one-bedroom co-op

Last week I wrote about the process of purchasing my one-bedroom in Lanier Heights. The place needed renovation, but I didn’t know a good and reliable contractor. As anyone who has worked with contractors will tell you, it can be hard to find great ones. I also wanted one who wouldn’t just “swing a hammer” but who had an eye for design and could help me with color, style, and all the other aesthetic considerations about which I was essentially clueless.

Enter Nick Alten and his firm BetterSpace. Nick came recommended by a trusted friend of UrbanTurf who also happens to be a successful developer with a passion for design.

True to their reputation, Nick and his crew were not only professional, reliable, and craftsmen, but Nick’s creativity and good taste were a constant resource as I selected everything from flooring to lighting to cabinet handles. If you need a contractor, I recommend Nick and the BetterSpace crew.

In a nutshell, my renovation was the following:

  • Take down the wall separating a cramped galley kitchen and the living room, and replace it with an island.
  • Fully update the kitchen: appliances, cabinets, everything.
  • Replace older built-ins with custom built-ins in the hallway.
  • Install new floors, lighting, walls, radiators, and cosmetic upgrades throughout.
  • Install an elfa system in the bedroom closet and reclaim awkward unused crawlspace to create a workspace nook.
  • No renovation to the bathroom.

Following are the before-and-after shots:

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 2
Before: Living room.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 3
Now: Reversing the direction of the shades added privacy and improved the view from asphalt to the green of Rock Creek Park.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 4
Before: Galley kitchen.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 5
Now: Totally open, updated kitchen.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 6
Before: Facing the kitchen from the living room.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 7
Now: Facing the kitchen. Notice the exposed steel beam at right, an architectural flourish recommended by Nick that I love.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 8
Before: Built-ins in the hallway.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 9
Now: Custom cherry built-ins with lighting.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 10
Before: Bedroom with wasted crawlspace hidden behind drywall.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 11
Now: Bedroom with a little workstation.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 12
Before: Bedroom closet.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 13
Now: I love elfa.

The Pursuit 2: Before & After Shots at Lanier Heights: Figure 14
My very blue new bedroom.

Photography by Jose Valcarcel, CityAperture.

See other articles related to: the pursuit, renovation, dclofts

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_pursuit_2_before_after_shots_at_lanier_heights/7705


  1. anne said at 7:16 pm on Thursday October 17, 2013:
    wow, this is amazing! may i ask how much this set you back? i just bought and would like to do some updating and would love to consider these contractors.
  1. tim said at 10:07 pm on Thursday October 17, 2013:
    I'd also be curious what it cost? I know that's quite personal but even a ballpark figure would be so helpful for the rest of us considering such an option.
  1. Will Smith said at 11:36 pm on Thursday October 17, 2013:
    Hi Anne, Tim, It's a little hard to give an exact figure. These jobs get complicated quickly, even relatively small ones like mine. And you inevitably spend more than you plan for. But here are some rough numbers: $43,000 as a grand total. About $33,000 went to Better Space, but some of that passed through to the flooring vendor, IKEA, or wherever. So $33,000 was Better Space labor PLUS materials from other vendors. The other $10,000 was in overall project creep. (Seems like a lot. I should take a closer look at how it got that high!) I'm referring to stuff that I chose to spend more on at my discretion, not because the project needed it. An expensive kitchen sink and ceiling fan, for example. Or the $600 steam radiator. Or the wine rack that Nick's guys built. Et cetera. Better Space stayed very true to their initial estimate. The creep came more from me than them. If you would like to know how much specific stuff cost, like flooring or the elfa closet, I can give you tighter figures. Will
  1. Jason said at 12:22 pm on Friday October 18, 2013:
    This is probably the most dramatic condo renovation I've ever seen... well done! I noticed in the 'before' picture of the living room that it has the old electrical setup that runs near the baseboards outside the wall, and in the 'after' picture the wiring is placed behind the drywall I'm assuming? Is that an extensive/expensive feat?
  1. david said at 3:26 pm on Friday October 18, 2013:
    Will, what a beautiful job! Thanks for sharing your costs with us. I will be calling Nick at Betterspace. I'm, actually waiting for one contractor but he seems to be too busy, to do a full renovation on my federal style corner lot home in Eckington.
  1. Lori at Capital Pixel said at 2:46 pm on Saturday October 19, 2013:
    amazing!! this is an all-around incredible transformation of the space. and I love the color blue on the bedroom walls.
  1. DC said at 6:37 pm on Sunday October 27, 2013:
    This is amazing! I am a Lanier Heights neighbor and love what you have done with the place. Thank you for sharing!

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