Williamsburg Loft

In 2005, a condo conversion gave Felix the opportunity to buy an apartment in the Williamsburg building where she had rented for three years. Although she considered renovating the spacious but “grim” rental-grade bathroom at the time, she procrastinated…for over a decade. It wasn’t until 2016 that she pulled the trigger, but the results were well worth the wait. With a bright new master bathroom, a brand new extra powder room, a washer/dryer closet, and an entryway closet, the project incorporated clean lines and Scandinavian-inspired design throughout the new spaces that blended seamlessly with the loft-style apartment.

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In early 2015, Felix started thinking renovations again. She now had a daughter, Nova, and while the 1,500-square foot apartment provided plenty of space for the duo, the bathroom update was long overdue, and storage space in the entryway was lacking, so a new closet was also in order. A powder room would be a much-appreciated addition, given that they had room for guests and a third bedroom might be added down the line. Last—but certainly not least—Felix wanted to include a washer/dryer to the scope of her project.

Now you might be wondering why a whole year lapsed between Felix posting the project, and the project breaking ground. This is a story of perseverance paying off: Sweeten Expert Alan, who Felix chose from several Sweeten matches, patiently checked in with Felix over the course of the next dozen months as she updated and changed the details of the renovation. “We were laughing about it, because it was really just shy of a year of us meeting [for the first time] and me pulling the trigger,” Felix recalled. “That was really why I went with him—he stuck with me through the procrastination!”

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Once Felix signed on the dotted line, things picked up pace. Alan was helpful in the planning stages by assisting her in decision-making about layout, materials, and finishes. She would send him links and he gave feedback about whether a choice might work. Felix and Alan also worked together to carve up what once was open, under-utilized space right outside of the original bathroom. They physically mapped out where walls would go for the new half-bath and closets, and worked with the building’s condo board and architect to review the plans and work through permit filing requirements. Inside the existing full bath, they decided to keep both the sink and the toilet in the original location, but moved the tub slightly to make room for an extra linen closet behind the bathroom door.

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Felix’s original vision of a “Scandinavian feel” was brought to life through gray and white finishes with wood and colorful accents. In the full bath, Felix chose a gray slate tile for the floor, to contrast against the white bathtub, toilet, and vanity. For the walls, she chose a matte white subway tile from Nemo Tile, intending to lay it horizontally, but changed direction when she realized that the tile fit perfectly along the tub when laid vertically. A glass partition maintains the overall minimalist look. Alan’s team recessed a large mirrored medicine cabinet into the wall, providing ample storage. Felix also appreciated that the understated palette of the permanent fixtures meant that she could change out bright hooks and towels without having to worry about clashing colors.

In the powder room, Felix carried through the same minimal design and materials, with wall-mounted fixtures that maximize floor space. Although the decision to wall-mount the toilet complemented the overall design, it was borne of necessity: during demo, Alan discovered that a steel beam ran through the floor where the toilet would have stood, making it impossible to run the necessary plumbing. He made use of his extensive network and had a different model delivered with minimal delay.

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The steel beam beneath the powder room was the only major obstacle in a process that otherwise went smoothly and quickly, with Felix and Nova displaced from their apartment for just under two months. Alan’s team cordoned off the renovation zone to keep dust from invading the rest of the apartment (see this post on how to minimize mess during construction), and kept it tidy throughout the duration of the project. While construction was underway, Felix would stop by the work site daily to check in and to answer any questions the team had. “But pretty much Alan knew what I wanted,” Felix explained. (This may have had something to do with the fact that they had been talking about this project for 12 months!)

Now that Felix and Nova have moved back into the loft, they are thoroughly enjoying the updates. In particular, the stacked washer/dryer has been a “life changer,” and they now have space for coats as well as odds and ends like the vacuum cleaner in the new entryway closet. The baths provide a spa-like experience with plentiful storage, but remain beautifully simple. Felix loves her new space but does have a minor regret—she wishes that she had had the foresight to hang the medicine cabinet in the full bath a bit higher so that she could open the doors without knocking over bottles sitting on the back ledge of the sink. Overall, however, Felix found the renovation process to be “surprisingly easy,” even for a first-time renovator.

Clinton Hill Kitchen

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For Sarah, who works in finance, and Becky, who works for a media company, the kitchen renovation was some time in the making. Sarah had been living in the one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment since 2010 (with Becky joining her in 2013) and had her sights set on overhauling the kitchen from the get-go.

A previous renovation had tiled off the kitchen, chopping up the open living space and giving guests a clunky raised border to trip over. White appliances and heavy cabinetry were outdated, and the kitchen’s generous square footage wasn’t all that useful for hosting or entertaining. Great space to stand around in, but not much else.

 

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At the start of the project, Sarah envisioned limiting cabinet installation to one wall and contemplated adding an island, but after a design consultation, she decided to re-work the game plan. Thankfully, Alan was up for anything. “Alan’s really a nice guy, super trustworthy and very patient,” Sarah said. “He was willing to wait throughout that time while I was re-designing things.” The new plan was worth the hold-up: they would tear out the L-line of cabinetry and use multiple variations on open and closed storage on each of the walls and in a central island. Plus, they geared up to create a new entry connecting the kitchen to the hallway, improving the flow around the apartment.

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Becky and Sarah found inspiration from a previous project for the striking white-on-wood contrast that now unites the new space. “I had redone my radiator covers and my windowsills with white Caesarstone slabs and I thought it would look nice to match that,” Sarah said. Her original vision paired the white stone composite with gray cabinets, but after looking through Ikea photo pairings, a warmer, walnut-inspired wood started to feel like a better match.

To give the Ikea base cabinetry some added oomph, Sarah chose custom doors from California-Ikea-one-upper Semihandmade. Semihandmade also provided coordinating custom paneling for the new island – a gorgeous detail with the stark white waterfall countertop. The island’s added storage freed Becky and Sarah to be more adventurous with other cabinetry choices. They skipped an upper line of cabinets on the most visible wall and went with slim open shelving made from recycled wood. White globe pendants and sconces from Schoolhouse Electric are anchored on an intricate porcelain backsplash tile from Stonesource; the tile’s folded paper-style pattern adds another level of visual detail in barely-there-beige.

The floor is where Alan and his team really earned their oats. The kitchen floor now matches the rest of the apartment’s original tongue and groove parquet—thanks to Alan’s painstaking work to cut and stain new flooring to match the original (and no longer available) planks.

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The finished product looks amazing, and Sarah now has some hard-earned wisdom to share. “I probably could have timed the delivery of everything better,” she admits. The summer-long process paused when the cabinets beat the doors’ arrival by a few weeks, and delivery of a few additional custom pieces dragged until January. Her advice to future renovators: temper your eagerness to get started, knowing that your patience will pay off with a more reasonable timeline (and with all of your packages in place).

 

Custom Woodwork in Manhattan Kitchen

A one-bedroom in a coveted West Village condominium designed by famed architect Emery Roth offered a multitude of positives to a new Manhattan buyer: Impossibly desirable location, soaring ceilings, deep closets, residential amenities, and a quiet retreat for work or play. But this lovely home’s kitchen was relegated to a tight little galley, and though the finishes were once beautiful, the dark and heavy cabinetry blocked light and cut access to the living and dining rooms. Eric, the new owner, came to Sweeten to find a contractor who could smoothly navigate the management requirements in this pre-war building and bring a serious carpentry and craftsmanship approach to flow and finishes in the kitchen.

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Making real design changes to a pre-war pad can prove rather daunting – many of Manhattan’s most sought-after buildings have deep historical roots, celebrity architect imprints, and cautious alteration agreements that limit updates. Eric saw an opportunity to open up the kitchen in his new place and posted his renovation project on Sweeten — we matched him with Sweeten Expert Alan, a cabinet and millwork specialist who could also manage strict building requirements and oversee all aspects of the project.

For Alan, designing new custom cabinetry to lighten the space was the easy part. Finding a way to incorporate more natural light and reconnect the rooms was the primary challenge. Eric had hoped to take down the entire wall separating the kitchen and living room where the paneled fridge stood, but the building’s interior pipes stood in the way, so the crew decided to open the wall with a large pass-through instead. The team also planned to replace floors throughout the apartment and targeted the old-school linoleum in the kitchen as a starting point.

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Alan stripped the black and white linoleum squares and laid white oak planks down in their place, finished with a glossy clear stain throughout the entire apartment. The cabinets were torn out and replaced with a detailed custom oak set, mostly constructed and completed onsite. Incorporating a lot of glass into the design, Alan created open, closed, and shelving variations in a combination of natural-stained and painted white finishes. The new pass-through provides light from the kitchen window and the living room windows in both directions, and Alan played up the new light with windowed display cabinets above the counter and bar.

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To make the partial wall and new footprint more functional, Alan moved the refrigerator to the adjacent wall and constructed a food pantry to mimic the rest of his oak cabinetry, finished with heavy metal hardware and pulls. Ivory Caesarstone countertops replaced black granite, and an undermount brushed stainless steel sink with matching faucet were installed. Because the kitchen’s back wall is so visible from the living room, the team went with a neutral, luminous glass-tiled backsplash and open shelving above the sink. New stainless steel appliances, including a hefty gas burner, contrast with the warm wood and are easy to keep clean. Alan took Eric’s vision for more light very seriously, adding a number of under-cabinet and recessed sources, as well as a striking ceiling fixture centerpiece. As a bonus, Alan constructed a bar counter on the living room side of the pass-through, perfect for open entertaining.

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Transforming an Uptown Kitchen

Last summer we began a full gut renovation of a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom apartment on the Upper East Side.  The owners passion for cooking put a lot of emphasis on the design and function of a galley kitchen.  Incorporating thoughtful storage space, easily accessible small appliances and enough room for state of the art commercial grade range, this kitchen has just about everything.  See the whole article on the Sweeten.com website. domain check  Take a look…

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http://blog.sweeten.com/inspiration/five-design-tricks-transform-uptown-kitchen/

The Details Behind the Tiles

A 2 Bed, 2 Bath and Kitchen Renovation in Brooklyn, NY

Cracked tiles, crumbling grout joints, mold, mildew…the list is long and ominous, but all of these things need to be considered and accounted for when renovating any bathroom space. And all of this happens before a single tile gets set in place! Which brings me to this months highlighted project – a 2-Bedroom, 2-Bathroom renovation overlooking Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Read more