by the numbers

4 bathrooms, 5 bedrooms and 15 skylights add up to a vision of luxury

Section: Life-Spaces,  Page: D1

Date: Saturday, January 19, 2008

From the outside, David Hammer's Albany home looks like all the other half-century-old ranches on his street. But step through the wood and glass front door and you'd think you were in a New York City loft. But the view is of St. Peter's Hospital and not, say, the Empire State Building.

Hammer, 38, redoes homes. He's already on his 10th remodeling project. Usually he buys properties, fixes them up and resells them (aka flipping), but this home had a unique floor plan, so he decided to keep it for himself - for now. It took 10 subcontractors a year and half to gut the main living area of the ranch and turn the 4,000-square-foot space into an open, contemporary floor plan with the latest kitchen appliances and bath fixtures. He now has a stone-encased sprawl that boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms and 15 skylights. Yup - 15.

Much about the house is excess in numbers. Take the three-car heated garage, the sound system with 20 built-in speakers or the 13-head shower. You read right. Thirteen.

Can do

"You can choose how many come on and which ones come on and the temperature of the water, which is pretty nice," Hammer says. "But the 13 showers heads, I've learned, is way overkill. You never have to take a shower with 13 shower heads."

Never have to, but can. And a lot of the design is about what Hammer can do, even if he, well, can't.

Take cooking.

Hammer shifted the kitchen from one corner of the house to another, added a professional-style Wolf range, Sub-Zero refrigerator, a wine fridge and granite countertop island that's larger than many peoples' kiddy pools, a prep sink and tons and tons of storage space behind cherry cabinetry.

The kitchen is pristine. Chopping, sauteing and baking have yet to happen. Hammer isn't a cook. He just likes having the means for entertaining. Because, well, you never know.

While the crux of the house maintains the original architecture, much of the home is like the kitchen - modernized to suit the life of an investor who has all that space to himself.

Ambient lighting illuminates each room, and granite and marble rule when it comes to countertops (both in the kitchen and the bathrooms).

Master sweet

The space that is now his master suite was once an in-law apartment with a kitchenette. In place of the mini kitchen is a Jacuzzi built into the floor. The tub, which has lighted panels to change the water's hue to different colors, fills from a spigot that sprouts from the ceiling 18 feet above.

While lounging in the tub, Hammer can see one of several plasma TV screens he has mounted around the house, listen to music through the Bose speaker system or gaze out the back door across the custom-built deck.

Symmetry dominates the design of house. See a column and expect another on the opposite side of the room. The master suite opens up to the deck through two doors, one on either side of the bed. The picture window over the kitchen sink mirrors the island. Two of the four bathrooms have dual sinks.

"I lived in New York City for many years and London for many years, and the (original) architecture of this house reminded me a lot of the architecture I had seen traveling," Hammer says.

With the skylights, doors and windows, Hammer tried keeping the original architecture of the home.

"There was a lot of balance in the house - a lot of symmetry - and I tried to maintain that. I wanted it to feel like a loft in the city."

Kristi Gustafson can be reached at 454-5494 or by e-mail at

****FACT BOX:****

Show us your spaces

Have you done it yourself? Have you installed a hardwood floor? Made curtains? Stenciled the kitchen? We're looking for people who have completed home improvement projects to share their experiences. To participate, contact Ruth Fantasia at 454-5362 or by e-mail at