Penthouse Galley

A hundred and twenty years wreaked a lot of havoc on the Pettengill Penthouse of Sioux Falls, S.D. With a deteriorating infrastructure, multiple remodels and a period of neglect, The Design Studio, Inc. stepped up to the challenge of renovating the top floor of the building into a penthouse, which included putting in a galley style kitchen that would be able to take the space into a new era.

Originally constructed in 1889 by the state’s first United States senator, R.F. Pettigrew, the third floor was first used by the senator as an assembly hall for the Odd Fellows, a fraternal order. After his death, the space took on news faces as a dance hall, Moose Lodge and most recently a ballet school.

Over the past 10 years The Design Studio, Inc. worked on the first two floors now home to a coffee bistro and a state office on the first floor and five office suites on the second. On the third floor the original plan was to update the space into two or three luxury apartments to tie in with the urban renewal swing that planners hope would bring residents to the downtown area.

“The space was too beautiful,” says Anita Kealey, president, The Design Studio, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D. “It was decided to make the space an actual penthouse.”

The Design Studio began in 1982. Kealey had grown up in the business somewhat because her father and grandfather had a lumber business. Even though her father got out of the the lumber business when she was younger, he still developed apartments and was very hands-on. So it got into her blood watching her dad and her mother who ran a drapery shop and made the draperies for the developments.

“I bought my first piece of property, a duplex, when I was 21 years old and totally renovated it,” says Kealey. “At that time I worked for a national cabinet manufacturer as their marketing director, but while I was doing that I was renovating properties, essentially flipping them.”

Known as a kitchen specialist because of her cabinetry background, Kealey got in touch with her former cabinet company and told them about the galley kitchen she was embarking on. The cabinet company decided that they really wanted to be involved and even created a new door style that would give the kitchen cabinets a Craftsman-like look with a modern twist.
Once the cabinet manufacturer agreed to get involved, the client got really excited about what they could do with the space and decided they wanted to go all out.

The kitchen itself was originally budgeted for about $50,000, but after the clients saw how much more they could get out of the space, they became more willing to let it grow more to where they really wanted it. Essentially keeping the budget open-ended, the homeowners continued to add things that made sense and fit into the space ending with a $89,000 price tag.

A Clean Slate

Converting the loft space into a penthouse and adding the kitchen where old bathrooms and a utility room once existed was not going to be easy for The Design Studio. Demolition would be tricky; the team discovered several hidden ceilings, boarded up windows, and layers of floors that would have to be torn out. Getting rid of 30 Dumpsters of debris would be their first challenge since they were working in a downtown area with zero lot lines. Luckily there was a small parking lot in back that served as a temporary dumping ground for the junk.

“There were times when we thought, ‘Oh my God, maybe this isn’t such a good idea,’ ” explains Kealey. “We even had people say while we were renovating the first two floors that the place would be better off if it just burnt down. In the earlier days people said we could build cheaper, which was true, but the people who wanted to see the building renovated liked the idea of being right downtown, so we kept at it.”

A Working Kitchen

The challenge for the team was gutting the space all the way back to its exterior quartzite walls, plus adding plumbing and other mechanical systems that didn’t exist on the third floor. This had to be done while the bottom two floors were still occupied. Kealey tried to keep the disruption to a minimum, but still had tenants asking “how long is this going to keep going on.” It also didn’t help Kealey that everything had to be brought up by lifts through windows because there were no elevators. This didn’t stop The Design Studio as they pressed forward with the kitchen layout.

“The clients wanted us to make it not only highly functional, but also attractive,” explains Kealey. “It also needed to be timeless and have lots of storage.”

The client’s main concern was that there were usually two or more cooks in their kitchen. They wanted something very efficient with lots of space where they could spread out with people working at different stations. The husband is more of a gourmet cook and the wife likes to bake. Along with different cooking stations, they wanted to have an eat-in kitchen, a bar for entertaining, high-quality commercial-style appliances, and space for all of their dishes ­— all in an attractive and functional package.

“Sometimes when people are looking at their kitchens, they look want to have big islands and big square spaces, but the most efficient kitchens are galleys,” says Kealey. “If you look at any major restaurant, they tend to have galleys because it can give them so much more counter space.”

Framing It Out

Kealey’s team had to install extra beams and level the floor where the kitchen was planned. The space had been occupied by bathrooms and a utility room, which had to be torn out. New gypsum was installed to modernize the basic structure in order for the space to support what was going to be put in there.

During the process it was decided that steel plates would be installed to run laminate beams across to reinforce one of the walls. While drilling into the space, the team discovered it was hollow from a chimney that had once been there. To solve this problem they poured concrete down the old chimney space all the way down to the basement.

“There are a lot of those little surprises that you don’t know until you’re going at it,” says Kealey. “Even though it was quartzite on the outside, they had bricked the inside of the chimney which was just disintegrating. Because it was so old, we had to try and replace a lot of that.”

Four separate ceilings were torn out, and it was decided to put tin ceilings back in to try and keep to the original ambiance of the space, while still giving it a modern feel. The clients wanted the modern conveniences and look of today, but wanted it fused with an idea of the past. In order for the new tin ceiling to look as though it fit the space, because of the height of the room, 24- by 24-in. tiles were used because 12- by 12-in. squares would have looked too small in proportion to the rest of the room.

To tie more of the space together, the new cabinet door styles were made in a riff-cut quarter-sawn oak. Also, a lot of the color options and choices at this point were based on how well they would work together.

“We thought we’d take the classic look of that type of wood, but bring it together with the modern look of the stainless steel appliances,” says Kealey. “We found flooring that would be very durable and had an almost rusted look of steel and used larger hardware to tie it all together.”

The team finished the look with countertops. Although Kealey considered using the current countertop trend to use a lot of concrete, it would be too heavy for the space. Instead, Caesar Stone was used to give the countertops a matted finish with a wet-concrete look that wouldn’t detract away from the beauty of the wood or stainless steel.

Delighted Homeowners

“We made all the selections and did all the research on this project,” explains Kealey. “They said that they’d leave the selections to the experts and to do it like it was our own.”

The homeowners didn’t want the kitchen to look Victorian, cutesy or old traditional. Instead, they wanted it to be very functional, very timeless, very classic. The Design Studio, Inc. married the old and the new with a timeless mix of colors, wood and products.

“Certain colors and styles can date a project really fast in 10 years,” says Kealey. “What we did with this was try and avoid that so in 10 years you can look at this project and say, ‘Wow, that’s Timeless.’ ”

The homeowners are delighted and very proud of their new kitchen. They use it entertain guests regularly and even auction off large dinner parties to be held in their new penthouse.

Fast Facts About the Company:

  • The Design Studio, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • No. of employees: 5
  • Established: 1982
  • Project location: Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Total project cost: $89,000

Specified Products

  • Kitchen cabinets: StarMark
  • Kitchen countertops: Caesar Stone
  • Kitchen appliances: Dacor, Bosch, Kohler, Blanco
  • Lighting fixtures: Oggetti, Quorum Fans
  • Insulation: CertainTeed