The Renovation: A Black Facade Makes a Bold Statement on Willow Avenue

Dixon transforms a non-descript Hoboken row house into a striking modern-industrial home that embraces light and outdoor space on every level.

Accustomed to working on historic properties with numerous original features in need of restoration, it's not often the Dixon team has the opportunity to start a home from scratch. However, when the company acquired the handsome three-story brick row house on Willow Avenue, it was literally stripped bare. "Someone had actually gone in and gutted the entire thing, cleaned it out and sold it. It was pretty sound with beautiful brick and wood floors, but that was it," recalls Scott Cohen, Dixon Project’s Executive Director.

Presented with not only a blank interior, but also a large lot to work with, the team began by bumping out the rear of the home a full 16 feet on the parlor, second and third levels. This addition not only provided roomier living spaces indoors, but created the perfect opportunity to outfit each re-configured floor with identical, spacious balconies. These IPE outcroppings with matte black railings and full NanaWall doors provide ideal outdoor spaces for relaxing and entertaining, while creating a harmonious uniformity to the rear façade.

Typically lit solely from windows front and rear, row houses often suffer from dark interior spaces. At Willow Avenue, this challenge would be exacerbated by the newly added space. To banish shadows, the Dixon team fashioned two bright columns of light that flood the home with light and anchor the home's industrial-meets-organic design scheme.

An ingenious center light well topped with a massive skylight and wrapped in glass handrails provides a breathtaking focal point with a stunning, three-globe fixture by Lightology underscoring the soaring space's height. Nearby, a glass and steel elevator — a rare convenience in Hoboken townhomes —whisks residents from the parlor level to the roof, surrounded by a glass-wrapped staircase. The arrangement heralds the frequent interplay between cool and warm finishes — matte black steel, glass and wood — at work throughout the interior.

When entering on the parlor level, it's clear the home intends to buck the traditional townhouse layout. Instead of a customary closed vestibule, the foyer is left open, which underscores the sprawling openness of the living space within. The brightly lit great room offers plenty of space for living and dining, lined with a wide swath of original brick and topped by an exposed beam ceiling.

Further on, a massive open kitchen with beautiful appliances by Bertazzoni and Bosch fills the rear of the parlor floor, surrounded by a Caesarstone island and ample dark cabinetry. The walnut-clad, indirectly lit cove ceiling overhead is such a natural part of the space, it's hard to believe it was a late alteration to the room's original plan. "It was actually a design change to hide some of the structural elements and HVAC ducts. That was a conscious effort to keep the design minimalistic while hiding what didn't need to be seen," explains the property's Project Manager, Gabriele Felici.

The nearby balcony provides ideal space for al fresco dining and a well-appointed powder room provides added convenience. Downstairs, the entire industrial chic basement floor has been left open for interpretation as a rec room, home gym or storage space while providing direct access to the rear yard's paved patio and turf lawn.

On the second and third floors, nearly identical bedroom spaces flank the front and rear of the home, each with luxurious en suite bathrooms and oversized closets. The liberal use of walnut — from the doors to the attractive accent walls in each bedroom — anchors each chamber to the home's deliberate decor. On the second floor, the central space near the atrium, houses a bright lounge, while directly above, on the third floor, a convenient laundry room has been installed.

The third floor master is adorned by one of the home's trio of balconies while a gradient glass wall and custom-outfitted closet provide a dramatic, private entry point.

In the en suite master bath, the designers made innovative choices to offer an abundance of amenities within the space. Rather than keeping bath and shower areas separate, the deep soaking tub is clad in stone and set within the boundary of the glass walk-in shower, while the area as a whole does double-duty as a relaxing steam room. A massive, dual-faucet vanity provides ample storage while the subdued gray herringbone tile sets a chic tone found throughout the home's bathrooms.

Without a doubt, the home's literal and figurative crowning glory is the large IPE roof deck surrounded by eco-friendly green roof sedum plantings and served by a convenient bulkhead dry bar with a beverage center. Every element of this peaceful aerie has been deliberately planned and executed to make use of the allowable space while taking advantage of Hoboken building ordinances.

Due to the city's serious concerns about storm water retention, developers are permitted to implement deck space on 50 percent of the roof as long as the other 50 percent is built out as a green roof. With glorious views all the way to the Empire State Building, this tranquil hideaway provides a great escape for residents as well as important environmental benefits.

The front façade — once covered in poor paint choices and dilapidated windows and sills — has been given a bold makeover in line with both the house's interior scheme and the mixed building types found on the block. The original brick was repointed, sills and windows updated, and the entire edifice painted a daring, unifying black. (Watch the time lapse video.)

With free reign to create the perfect Hoboken townhome, the Dixon team has created a modern masterpiece bathed in light and rooted with industrial and organic touches throughout.