Clean Slate

- by

A former rooming house embraces modern living 

Photography by Richard Leo Johnson

ON BULL STREET, a soup-to-nuts home renovation commenced in the kitchen — just not the one you might think. When the owners of Six Pence Pub decided to upgrade the kitchen inside the beloved British-style ale house, the process ultimately led to a complete overhaul of their private residence upstairs. 

Funnily enough, Six Pence Pub started without any kitchen at all. “The former owners would just bring food from home,” one of the current proprietors shares. “It’s gone from very rustic to a full-fledged restaurant.” Still, at just 200 square feet and with older equipment, the facilities needed an update, so the owners tapped Hansen Architects senior principal Patrick Phelps and senior associate Erik Puljung.

“Part of the master planning was expanding the kitchen, but as we studied it we realized how efficient it was,” recalls Phelps. “That kitchen works great. Why fix it too much?” 

Upstairs, however, was another story. 

The mixed-use building, dating back to 1908, was originally constructed as a rooming house with ground-floor commercial space. Over the years, the upper floors (three in total) were turned into offices and condos with obvious nods to the 1970s. “There was wood paneling on the walls, and push-button phones still plugged in,” Puljung says, noting the residential portion hadn’t been occupied in decades. The new renovation relied on historic preservation tax credits, and mid-century decor wasn’t going to meet the strict codes required. Fortunately, Phelps and Puljung discovered that the building’s third floor hadn’t been touched at all.

“When we got to that space, we understood what the building used to be,” Puljung says. “It had all the original plasterwork, all the molding, all the doors. It had weathered some moisture damage, but we were able to go through and take our cues from the various architectural molding profiles, understand what the hardware was, and ultimately replace what was on the first and second floors to match the original structure.” 

The architects quickly got to work reconfiguring the large space into a functioning, five-bedroom home with a rooftop terrace. Because of its original layout as a rooming house — and the confines of working within historic preservation codes — the Hansen team “had to connect the dots between the original floor plans,” Phelps says. “We had to keep portions of the interior partitions and could only open them up just slightly,” he says. This led to the team’s decision to add a kitchen and dining room on the second floor — the floor best suited to an open-concept space accommodating modern amenities. The same tireless research-informed decisions surrounding the building’s exterior as well: “We looked at fire insurance maps from the turn of the century, and we found the profile of balconies with some slight descriptions, so we were able to replicate them,” Phelps says. 

Throughout the space, a sense of hospitality shines through, inviting guests to make themselves at home. Interior designer Amy Porch highlighted the owners’ traditional and contemporary furniture selections and art collection with a welcoming color scheme in warm neutrals. In the bathrooms, marble and subway tile create a crisp and classic look; a deep soaking tub in the master bath is perhaps the coziest addition of all. A morning bar next to the master suite is the perfect spot for coffee and pastries to start the day, while a small butler’s kitchen on the first floor allows for an afternoon cocktail in the adjacent living room. 

Sitting some 20 feet above the Six Pence kitchen where it all began, the residence’s main second-floor kitchen, with its gas range, wine fridge and large kitchen island, is as well appointed as one might expect, given its restaurateur owners. There’s plenty of space to prepare food — all while honoring history.


Year built: 1908 

Year purchased: 2016 

Square footage: 9,150 

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: 

5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms 

Time to complete renovation/ remodel: 12 months 


Architects/planners: Patrick Phelps, AIA, LEED A.P. and Erik Puljung, Hansen Architects, P.C. 

Interior designer: Amy Porch, Hansen Architects, P.C. 

Contractor/builder: John Roberts, Jason Somers, JDR Construction and Design 

Tile/flooring: Garden State Tile, Mike Adams Tile 

Paint/Wallpaper: Benjamin Moore Windows/doors: JDR Construction 

& Design, Steve Merriman Millworks 

Kitchen design: Amy Porch, Hansen Architects, P.C., Savannah Cabinets 

Bath design: Amy Porch, Hansen Architects, P.C., Savannah Cabinets 

Lighting design: Hansen Architects, P.C., Circa Lighting 

Electrician: A&B Electrical Carpenter: JDR Construction and 


Plumber: Holton Plumbing 

HVAC: Total Air Services 

Appliances: Livingood’s Appliances & Bedding 

*all resources supplied by architects