Case Studies

SilverLining Interiors Inc.

Luxury Manhattan-based home remodeler digs deep

In 1963 Josh Wiener’s parents—both dance instructors—bought a fixer-upper, Manhattan townhouse in what was then a bad neighborhood: 91st Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.

Wiener grew up helping his dad repair that townhouse. At 6 years old, he was sorting nails. At 11, he was mixing plaster and rebuilding walls. Now, 53 years later, Wiener’s company, SilverLining Interiors Inc., is renovating some of Manhattan’s most lavish apartments and townhouses as a high-end general contractor specializing in luxury residential building projects in New York City and the surrounding area. Those renovations regularly go for upwards of $1,000 per square foot.

From painting to full townhouse gut restorations

The company got its start, though, as Wiener’s summer painting business.

Wiener had spent his summer breaks home from Vassar College painting his parents’ townhouse and their friends’ apartments to earn money for school. After college, Wiener, a psychology and theater major, realized he wasn’t going to become a famous actor in a year, like his high school classmate Ben Stiller. He decided, instead, to dedicate himself to his painting business, which he incorporated as SilverLining Interiors in 1987.

SilverLining Interiors Inc.

The painting business soon began to take on finishing work. Then it was called on to do renovation projects. Five-or-so years in, SilverLining Interiors was asked to complete its first townhouse renovation.

Since then, SilverLining has averaged one townhouse per year and taken on as many as three townhouses at a time.

“What we’ve been invited to build in the last 10 years is really major,” Wiener says. “And that’s kind of dovetailed with the whole company getting bigger in general. We’ve got a better capacity to handle these things.”

SilverLining has its own 14,000-square-foot cabinet shop and does about half of its own cabinetry work. It also has a team of carpenters, and a growing team of project managers and site supervisors with unique expertise.

In 2016, Joel Arencibia, who joined the company as a project manager in 2003, was made partner and director of operations. Arencibia, who also grew up in New York City, had worked on Gracie Mansion—the official residence of the Mayor of New York City—and had excavation experience, which SilverLining is tapping into as it tackles more complex townhouse renovations.

Upper East Side Townhouse

On a recent complex renovation—a 9,000-square-foot Upper East Side townhouse—SilverLining demolished everything except the original Romanesque Revival façade. The company coordinated with many trades to completely gut the building, using a sophisticated system of steel braces to alternately brace and demolish the structure bit by bit.

Then SilverLining and its trades teams rebuilt the home as close to its original detail as possible. Rather than use machine tools to carve the stone newel posts on the front stoop, for instance, the company hired a craftsman who carved the stone by hand. To create formality in the living room, SilverLining added wainscoting in a series of panels, a coffered ceiling and gold leaf detailing. In the library—the truest period example of Romanesque Revival design—the mechanicals are all integrated within French walnut millwork.

“That much care went into everything in this project,” Arencibia says.

Beneath the authentic wares and appearance, that same attention went into assuring that the town house has all the bells and whistles of a modern home.

Because it was a full gut renovation, SilverLining was able to add an elevator, LED lighting, whole-house heating controls, a full hydronic heating system, an HVAC cooling system, a full sprinkler system, a rooftop generator, whole-house custom water filtration and a central skylight.

The townhouse, built for a mathematician who wants quiet in order to focus, has new acoustic detailing, including sound and vibration insulation, as well as laminated windows. “What looks like standard stuff, is not,” Wiener says.

“Being able to integrate modern systems into the home, in a very integrated and hidden way, those are the kinds of opportunities you get with a full gut renovation,” he says.

Greenwich Village Townhouse

For another full gut renovation of a 7,000-square-foot West Village townhouse in a Landmark Historic District, SilverLining dug deep and pushed the envelope of the house.

SilverLining excavated twenty-four inches from the basement to create comfortable ceiling heights and excavated a portion of the rear yard in order to expand the cellar and add an exercise room. That required lots of work and underpinning to the neighbors’ homes, Wiener says.

On the roof, SilverLining installed a custom, glass greenhouse, imported from the United Kingdom, complete with motorized shades and a glass stair bulkhead.

Because this project, like the Upper East Side townhouse, was a full gut renovation, SilverLining was able to install an elevator with access to all floors, a hydronic heating system set in Warmboard floor panels which heat the house, an HVAC system for cooling and secondary heating, a full sprinkler system, a rooftop generator and Crestron integrated controls for heating, cooling, audio-video, entry and shades.

Design details included hand-clipped mosaic marble tile in all the full baths; a glass-floor catwalk with bronze handrails; custom, wood, double-hung windows and French doors; and glass and bronze handrails on the rear terrace, roof and Juliet balcony.

Brooklyn Townhouse

Occasionally SilverLining takes on projects that are more surgical and involve more restoration than replacement. That was the case with an 11,000-square-foot project in Brooklyn.

There, SilverLining left the original crown molding, or where the molding was beyond repair, used molds of the original crown molding to recreate it with new material. This approach posed a real challenge when it came to installing a modern HVAC system because they had to integrate it in a hidden way without altering or damaging the original molding.

The company opted to build a new staircase, even though the new structure matched the exact footprint of the old. “That was a structural decision because the old staircase to repair would have taken as long as building a new one, and we put a beautiful new spiral staircase in,” Wiener says.

That project also involved a tremendous amount of excavation and exterior landscaping. SilverLining excavated six feet from the basement to create a new living space and media room. It took five inches from the rear yard, where it installed a new stone patio, sport court and lawn area with an arbor. It also installed a two-story, custom-made iron porch built to match the home’s original style.

Often, especially with projects that include so much yard work, neighbors behind the townhouses will compliment the back of the house just as much as the front.

“The neighbors are appreciative of the quality of our work,” Wiener says. “It makes it beautiful for them all to look at.”

That’s part of the reason Wiener enjoys townhouse projects. “You’ve touched everything in the whole place, and you feel like you’ve kind of affected New York exterior-wise, too. When you look at the street, you’ve affected a block by making one townhouse beautiful.”

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