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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.

Upper East Beauty!

Three Modern Baths and Two Custom Built-Ins in One, Sweetened Upper East Side Condo

There is something undeniably delightful about a great bathroom before and after — this week, we have three! It’s possible that I love to live vicariously through other folks’ bathroom renovations because the depths of despair in the “before” photos appear to know no bounds; New York City sure seems to have more than its fair share of aged, beige tiles, peeling laminates, and harsh lighting all piled into miniature rooms upon which dwellers  make endless daily demands. Despite the obvious space limitations, the bathroom can be the ideal place to showcase beautiful design and materials precisely because there is so much to fit into a typically tiny space. Hard-working fixtures and finishes are forced to play nicely together as they compete for square inches, and a bathroom renovation somehow feels contained — a great before and after bath serves as a reminder that every home has to make space for basic bathroom essentials. Even the tiniest of urban baths can do so stylishly.

Here, three full baths complete an Upper East Side family’s condo renovation. Scroll down to see how design duo Sweeten Experts Lauren and Adam and Sweeten’s expert general contractor Alan worked together to create modern and simple baths throughout this home, and take a bonus peek at the custom millwork that brought similar form and function elsewhere in this uptown Manhattan renovation.

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In the master bath, Lauren and Adam worked to balance two competing values: the bath itself is the largest of the three, with plenty of room for his and hers sinks, a sizable window, and a full tub, but the condo’s owners wanted to create a sense of privacy and make room for more storage. To take advantage of the bath’s spacious footprint but minimize sight lines into the master bedroom, the designers left the layout of the room generally intact, swapped in high-end tiles and custom cabinetry, and split the tub into a standing shower with a bench and expanded shelving.

Here, 6″ Carrera marble hex tiles create an understated geometric floor foundation, evoke the feel of a refined version of the identically shaped black asphalt pavers that ring Central Park, and are complemented by simple white subway wall tiles from Heath Ceramics. Alan’s millworkers built the vanity with white-lacquered cabinets and drawers and inverted the medicine cabinet, previously wall-mounted and hanging over the sink counter. This subtle detail really stands out: Lauren and Adam chose a walnut inset ledge to line the vanity mirror, creating a slightly recessed niche and allowing for an additional lighting strip to sit just inside the top line. The Toto toilet, Duravit sink, and Lefroy Brooks sink and shower faucet fixtures complete this clean-lined look

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In the second bath, Lauren and Adam found ways to balance continuity with diverse details by using 6″ square Carrera marble floor tiles and by making the shower the centerpiece of this room with luminous green Heath subway tiles on the inner shower walls. White subway tiles from Daltile, lined with neutral gray grout, complete the shower surround. The underlying footprint of this bathroom was altered to meet the owner’s suggestion of relocating the entry door – a move that allowed Lauren and Adam to focus the viewer’s eye on the shower details, add shallow storage shelving behind the newly-converted closet door, and take advantage of the narrow niche next to the shower stall to warm up an impeccably-tiled room with open cedar storage shelves and a compact cabinet. I can not get enough of that tiny oil-rubbed bronze door knob – the owners sourced both the knob and the vanity lighting fixture from Rejuvenation. The bathroom sink, chosen for it’s asymmetrical corner counter, is from Pozzi Ginori, and the plumbing fixtures have been outfitted with Grohe.

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In the third bath, Lauren and Adam continued to rely on subway tile but added variety and character with a cubed navy floor tile from Mosaic House, a red cedar inset vanity ledge and cabinet, a gently-squared Duravit tub and sink set, Grohe plumbing fixtures, and a wall-mounted Rejuvenation vanity sconce, identical to the light selected for the second bath.

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For one final example of the beautiful design and flawless execution that accompanied this project, look no further than the intricate built-ins that now line the master bedroom and the family’s living room. Lauren and Adam worked closely with the condo’s owners to make the most of these wall-to-wall units. The owners came to the table equipped with sketches and inspiring images, and had specific proportion requests in mind for each piece. While they intended to use the living room shelving to house the tv, they were smart to focus on a design that would minimize the appearance of the tv by placing it alongside other interesting items, and by slightly off-setting the tv area so that the tv is not the focal point of that wall. The team played with ideas like incorporating a bar area or bench seating, but ultimately created a piece that houses books and media and art without overtaking the room.

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In the master bedroom, Lauren and Adam designed a full-wall custom built-in that is unbelievably functional and simultaneously well-integrated. With no visible pulls or hardware, it is easy to miss all of the elements that the wall now accommodates: a workspace by the window, storage cabinets, deep drawers, and hanging wardrobes — all concealed by lacquered doors and inset handles. The workspace has pocket doors that open and slide back toward the wall, which gives the owners the option to keep the desk open or slightly sectioned off from the rest of the room.

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Many, many thanks to Sweeten Experts Lauren, Adam, and Alan for this insider’s look at the design and craftsmanship throughout this home. So fun to see a renovation that included everything AND the kitchen sink! We are beyond psyched that we were able to bring this team together — if you are thinking about similar projects or feeling inspired by the transformations in each room of this home, post your project on Sweeten and let us help you find the right designers and general contractors for your space.
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