Barrin in Carroll Gardens spent 18 years in his three bed / two bath condo before deciding that quick fixes and appliance swaps in the kitchen were no longer cutting it. The kitchen had one giant plus: great space anchored by a gorgeous original cedar beam. The minuses? Formica counters and peeling particle board cabinetry struggling mightily to make it to a third decade. After a microwave grease fire during his first years in the condo, a few appliance replacements here and there, and some cosmetic work on the floors, Barrin was ready for the apartment’s first real kitchen renovation. He posted his project on Sweeten and we brought Sweeten Expert Evros in to revive this kitchen and bring back its simpler industrial roots.

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Like many other buildings in Carroll Gardens and neighboring Red Hook, the condos had been converted from a former factory with lots of loft-space and exposed wood awesomeness. Barrin and Evros went bottom to top to create a space with more storage and keep the architectural details at center stage. The kitchen floor had black granite tiles installed by a previous owner with renters, and the cabinets leftover from the factory’s conversion were builder-grade. The drawers didn’t have any of the full extension glide that more modern construction routinely offers, which limited accessible drawer space by 30%. And while so many NYC kitchens are relegated to just one or two walls (or a galley at best), this room’s full size space needed more thoughtful corner cabinetry and some help re-thinking an outdated partition by the entry.

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Barrin looked to the ceiling for inspiration with the floors, choosing sturdy porcelain tiles in a light, woodgrain finish to align with the flow of the exposed wood planks. The cabinets presented multiple challenges: Barrin originally eyed IKEA for cost-saving cabinets, but the kitchen’s ducts and corners made it difficult to go with standard sizes. Barrin chose a white Shaker semi-custom option, ordering cabinet bases from a dealer and creating custom doors and alterations. Barrin found the neutral granite countertops at a local stone yard in Brooklyn (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Before and After, Kitchens 1

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Pallavi, a sustainability consultant, and Keyur, a software engineer, came to Sweeten after a few failed attempts at finding contractors through online directories. We introduced the husband and wife team to Sweeten Expert Pedro to work on their Murray Hill apartment renovation. Initially, they planned to leave the bathroom in its original state, but as the project progressed, they decided to go for a complete bathroom remodel to parallel the space-efficient, clean-lined haven they were creating elsewhere in their home.

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Pallavi had a traditional black and white color palette in mind, playing on the bathroom’s original uniform tile and natural wood elements. She sourced and layered materials in different shapes and sizes and accented the geometric white and black contrast with warm wood features (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Bathrooms, NYC, Sweetened 1

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When a creative Clinton Hill couple came to Sweeten to find the right general contractor to renovate their aging co-op, we sent Sweeten Expert Kris their way to create a new bath, alongside a new kitchen and hallway. Their original project post called for a partial bathroom renovation, but for a couple who both work in graphic design and art, the temptation to work with a blank slate led to a top-to-bottom upgrade.

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You can’t tell from looking at the new sleek space, but the honest truth is that these homeowners poured all of their energy into designing and sourcing materials for their stunning kitchen and flooring renovation. By the time they got around to decision-making for the bathroom, they were determined not to over-design the space or spend more hours looking over tile choices. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Bathrooms, NYC, Sweetened 0

In most renovations, a lengthy list of materials, fixtures, finishes, and features separates the before from the after. This is not one of those renovations. With little more than fresh paint, new floors, and just a few weeks to go before a move-in deadline, Claudia and Alejandro came to Sweeten to create a modern and bright three-bedroom condo in Boerum Hill – a clean slate for this Brooklyn family and their toddler, Luciano. Their secret sauce? Claudia brought her filmmaker‘s eye to every detail, looking for ways to capture natural light and find just the right shades of white for each room. Luciano’s room is first up, but we’ll get back to this stately neighborhood when Luciano’s parents are ready to reveal their living room after move-in!

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Sweeten did a really great job of helping us take this on when we needed a little hand-holding. Gennadiy and his team were really efficient and got the work done in less than a month.

- Claudia, Boerum Hill homeowner

This family of three found their new home after living in a smaller place in the same neighborhood. They loved the location and the oversized windows, but knew the place needed some work before move-in. The apartment had not been updated since the 1980s and had an odd mix of original woodwork (big plus) and yellow walls (big minus). Fresh paint was an obvious and easy move, but Claudia also saw the opportunity to unify and lighten the rooms with new flooring and posted a project on Sweeten looking for a contractor who could handle relatively cosmetic changes on an aggressive, one month timeline. We matched the family with Sweeten Expert Gennadiy as Claudia put together her astonishingly short and sweet list of material picks (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Apartments, Inspiration, NYC, Sweetened 7

There is so much eye candy in this week’s guest post, it would be easy to miss the custom craftsmanship and design details that took this Williamsburg kitchen from contemporary cookie-cutter to industrial haven. Thankfully, we have all of the story in all of its glory from the homeowner, a multidisciplinary artist and teacher. Read on for Corey’s take and for some good old-fashioned real estate envy.

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Guest post by Corey, Williamsburg homeowner

Burned out by a decade of renting in the city, we entered the buyer’s market with little knowledge of how volatile it would be. After a search that saw us move too slowly on a modest but well-located unit, and then get completely outbid on a dream apartment, we stumbled upon a two-bed, two-bath condo in Williamsburg. Not wanting to miss out again, we put in a bid and were surprised to get the place. That could very well have been the end of the story, but what fun would that be?

We’d be the first to admit that the unit we purchased was totally serviceable. Only a few years old, it was a corner apartment with decent square footage and great city/bridge views in an increasingly popular zip code. The unit had been rented to a prolific painter who’d kept the walls white and the creativity high. It was a serviceable blank canvas; what it wasn’t was the dream apartment we’d lost out on months earlier. Regardless of how excited we were to be new owners, we just couldn’t shake the “if only…” feeling for that spot and started thinking about ways to incorporate elements from the coveted (but now somebody else’s) space into our new home (more…)

Posted by: Categories: NYC 4

This week, we’re shifting gears from the usual fare of NYC bath and kitchen renovations to look at how one Upper West Sider made custom changes in every room of a two-bed, two-bath co-op to accommodate her incredible collection of art and books. If you’ve never seen a full-size Terracotta Warrior sculpture in a Manhattan home, today is your day!

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“I would have been lost – Sweeten solved the problem of where to begin and the service was amazing. Within two hours of posting my project, I started getting matches. Sweeten Expert Elizabeth was completely on top of everything while I was out of town for four months. I walked out of one apartment in July and into another in October.”

- Christine, Manhattan homeowner

The first sign that Christine had a very specific vision for her New York home came when she was looking at apartments to buy back in 2008. Her top real estate demand? The new place could be no more than ten blocks from Zabar’s! After finding a combined unit in a boom-era Rosario Candela building, Christine was thrilled with the gracious and spacious layout (a full dining room in which to serve all of her Zabar’s selections!) but began to imagine a renovation that would replace the outdated finishes and decade-old paint job (more…)

This week, we’re back in Clinton Hill with Ketrina, an art director at The Wall Street Journal. We LOVE this neighborhood (oh hey there, SanayaKyle & Angela, and Billy & Sally!) and were psyched to help Ketrina take care of business in her formerly tiny kitchen. Read on down for Ketrina’s debrief on her Brooklyn kitchen renovation.

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Homeowner guest post by Ketrina, Clinton Hill homeowner

I purchased a one-bedroom co-op apartment in Clinton Hill almost five years ago after selling the condo I owned in New Jersey. With a tenant living in my NJ home, I’d been renting a place in Bed-Stuy for more than two years and I figured it was time to try to fulfill my goal of owning in Brooklyn. My new place was a sponsor unit on a high floor with expansive east-facing views. The kitchen had (what seemed at the time) pretty good upgrades: black granite counters, black tile flooring, and new stainless steel appliances. The cabinets, though not my favorite style, were perfectly fine. My friends were pretty impressed with my new digs.

I did have the chance to take down the zig-zagging wall partition that separated the kitchen from the living room during contract negotiations, but I was too indecisive and stressed from the purchasing process to pull the trigger. At the time, most of my efforts in the kitchen involved making toast and coffee, so being a little cramped didn’t seem like an issue. But after closing, I sank into a brief period of buyer’s remorse. Those cabinets, which had seemed just fine, were actually pretty shabbily installed: nothing was level, the hinges had paper stuffed into them to make them close properly, and the fridge was jammed in between the counter and the kitchen wall. When I opened the fridge doors, they would hit the doorway and chip away at the door frame. I was totally bummed. Hoping for a quick fix, I contacted the folks who’d done the work to re-do the entryway and replace the refrigerator, but I wasn’t any happier with how it all looked after that second try.

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A few months in, I started to see a recurring water leak from the neighbors upstairs – more than once, water poured down through my cabinets, causing the kitchen walls and cabinet surfaces to bow and fade. By this point, I was pretty down on the kitchen. I’d already removed some of the damaged cabinetry from the wall and had lived for a year with an entire section missing. I knew I wanted to renovate, but I hesitated with the potential cost and the fear of another flood.

I learned that some of my neighbors had gone through Sweeten to find contractors for their renovations and I was surprised and encouraged by the variety of configurations available for what felt like a pretty limited space. So I finally posted my project on Sweeten, envisioning a grown-up kitchen with an island/peninsula, fully open to the living room. I didn’t really have a vision for what I wanted besides something that would play well with the living room décor. I like warm colors, oranges and browns, and I specified that I needed experts who could handle both the design and build of the space. Sweeten introduced me to Sweeten Experts Paulina and Albert, and I liked them immediately. Paulina has a great attitude and personality, plus she’s a trained architect with design ideas that make so much sense. She seemed as excited about designing it as I was, so it was an easy decision to move forward with the team. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Inspiration, Kitchens, NYC 11

This week’s guest post comes to us from Heather in Manhattan, a first-time homebuyer and renovator who set out to re-do her Upper West Side galley kitchen with a single-minded focus on removing an offending wall and filling the new open space with sleek basics. Inspired by the open kitchen in the apartment directly above hers, Heather posted her project on Sweeten and was especially smart to upload inspiration photos with features her small kitchen could actually accommodate – her sources of inspiration featured nearly identical layouts to her own kitchen. We put up a photo of Heather’s kitchen in a blog post comparing custom and IKEA cabinets, and commenters demanded to know more about this beautiful millwork, so Heather was kind enough to take the stage this week with a full recap of her renovation.

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Homeowner guest post by Heather, Manhattan homeowner

I bought my one bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side in the spring of 2013 after months of looking for just the right space. I loved the place, but I knew that the outdated kitchen and compartmentalized dining room were keeping my new home from really coming together. The kitchen needed a complete overhaul – I really wanted to knock out a portion of the wall that separated the kitchen from the living area to create more of a pass-through and let light in, and my wish list included all of the other classic components of a typical kitchen renovation like new cabinets, a tiled backsplash, countertops, and sleek appliances. I was ready to renovate but couldn’t help feeling nervous; this would be my first ever renovation and I kind of didn’t know where to start. Luckily, I found Sweeten and they connected me with Sweeten Experts Valeria and Eduard.

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What I loved about Ed and Valeria is that they worked as a contractor and designer team. It was so helpful to have Valeria’s design eye on everything as I went through the process, and Ed is an extremely skilled craftsman who navigated the design (and many changes!) with ease. First, we decided on a plan that would knock out most of the wall between the kitchen and the blocked dining room. This change was the one I was most excited about: in addition to making the awkwardly placed dining room more functional, it was going to allow light from the kitchen window to flow into the space, which was especially key for me.  (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Before and After, Inspiration, Kitchens 7

Each week, we aim to translate insight from NYC homeowners and contractors into information you can use to make better decisions about improving your home. This week: a look at a few of our favorite modern and contemporary kitchens by Sweeten experts and the defining elements that work so well in these inspiring spaces.

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Before we can sit back and enjoy a good old photo tour, we need to cover a few minorly technical notes. While it can be interesting to debate the merits of using the terms “modern” and “contemporary” interchangeably (art and architectural history buffs might insist on using “modern” to refer specifically to styles that emerged in the first half of the 20th century), we’re not overly concerned here about terminology. This round-up is meant to show how simple elements can come together to make a kitchen functional and beautiful. If you are planning a kitchen renovation and are inspired by what you see, it’s probably because you are drawn to a few unifying pieces that are visible throughout many of these spaces, so let’s focus on those:

SLEEK LINES: perhaps the most obvious signifier of a modern kitchen, clean-lined design is achieved in all of these homes via a combination of flat-fronted cabinetry and minimal (or concealed) hardware. Foregoing framing, decorative details, and ornamentation makes these spaces extra strong on horizontal lines and material contrast. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Inspiration, Kitchens, NYC 2

After three run-ins with extensive water damage, Brooklyn homeowners Brad and Michelle took on a kitchen, bath, and floor renovation to restore and update their pre-war Fort Greene co-op. Today, Brad shares their renovation story and walks us through the process of wrangling insurance claims and partnering with a team of contractors they met through Sweeten to re-create the most beloved elements of their home and add a few design twists to make it their own.

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Homeowner guest post by Brad, Fort Greene homeowner

Like a lot of first-time NYC buyers, when my wife, Michelle, and I purchased our two bedroom Fort Greene co-op nearly ten years ago, we had to stretch ourselves financially. One of the main reasons that we were able to make it work was that the apartment, although in a pre-war brownstone, was in great condition and didn’t require any renovation. In fact, we were especially happy with the contemporary kitchen that the prior owner, an architect like myself, had installed. It was a great contrast to the more traditional, yet clean, moldings and lines of the rest of the apartment.

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Water Damage: Act I

A few years ago, we got our first chance to use Sweeten. Our master bathroom had suffered damage from a water leak in the apartment above. Even though I am an architect, I didn’t know any contractors in my network that could do the work economically since it was such a small project. But Sweeten quickly connected me with a contractor who did a great job restoring the walls and ceiling. Since then, I’ve been a huge Sweeten fan, recommending it to friends as well as using it to find contractors for my own clients’ projects. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Apartments, Bathrooms, Inspiration, Kitchens 5