Christine’s Art-Filled Upper West Side Redesign and Renovation – Sweetened!

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 but began to imagine a renovation that would replace the outdated finishes and decade-old paint job. The place was absolutely livable and Christine didn’t know where to start to find professionals for an upgrade, so years passed before she felt ready to take on the project.

Christine came to Sweeten to find a designer who could help her create significant storage options and lighting for her extensive library and varied art pieces. Beyond the usual must-haves, Christine also needed someone who could manage the project on her behalf while she spent the summer months in Maine. Most homeowners would be understandably anxious about skipping town while major renovations were underway, but we introduced Christine to Sweeten Expert Elizabeth who signed on to shepherd Christine’s wish list through to completion and find a home for all of the pieces in the collection.

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Christine and Elizabeth set out to solve five major issues:

1. Fresh paint on everything in sight, stat!

2. Crown molding and door frames were mismatched and had been thickly painted during past renovations.

3. The kitchen needed new floor and backsplash tiles and a to-be-determined facelift for the cabinetry.

4. Lighting overhead was no help when Christine wanted to read, cook, and spotlight her favorite works.

5. The apartment’s storage and display options were no match for Christine’s collection.

Elizabeth brought in a team to hit each of these to-do’s and added her own expertise to help Christine find materials that she would love. In the living room, Elizabeth suggested Benjamin Moore’s Pewter – Christine loved the neutral selection and ultimately decided to repeat it in other rooms. Custom shelving for the living room and dining room and new crown molding installations unified the rooms and provide a consistent backdrop for the wall to wall book collection. Throughout the design and installation of each new element, Elizabeth kept Christine up to date via regular Skype calls and photo messages, and translated Christine’s preferences for shelving height, library lighting, and finishes to the crew. When an order snafu resulted in a delivery of picture lighting without a dimming feature, Elizabeth stepped in, made her way all the way to the president of the company that created the lighting, and managed to get a full set of replacements at no extra charge.

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In the kitchen, Elizabeth found an ornate cement encaustic tile from Mosaic House to replace cracked ceramic floor tiles. Christine loves the look and feel of these and immediately took to Elizabeth’s suggestion for handmade, hexagonal backsplash tiles in various shades of white and gray. The crew debated refreshing the kitchen cabinets with a new coat of paint, but ultimately decided to replace them altogether with brand new doors and detailed pulls. Under-cabinet LED lighting helped meet Christine’s call for more lighting in the kitchen, and crisp molding now provides a beautiful transition from the ground up.

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It is a complete delight to see all of Christine’s amazing pieces, each in their proper homes. Now that it’s done, it’s even harder to picture how this designer-client duo were able to manage all of the details across state lines! Sweeten is here to help all New Yorkers create spaces they love – post your renovation project on Sweeten and we’ll introduce you to experts who are hand-picked for your neighborhood, budget, scope, and style.

  • Fancy Clancy

    Some nice new stuff here but is there any concern about resale value with all that library lighting?

  • Here’s Pat!

    No subway tile, no trendy colors – how nice to see some individual style. This is quite inviting.

  • Dee

    This is beautifully done. An expression of the owner’s interests and tastes, but with finishes that will please many people. I especially love the cabinetry and millwork.

  • nc in nyc

    Lovely work. You know you’re working with a good interior designer when the personality of the client shows through in the end. A good designer should be able to work with and elevate a client’s home – not mask it.

  • lowereastsider

    I can not stop looking at the terracotta man. CAN NOT STOP!!!

  • Eisenhowerlover

    Crazy what a difference the paint and molding makes. so polished. Wish we could see more of the art!

  • Katharine

    That detail about Elizabeth going all the way to get the incorrect lighting replaced is worth a fortune.

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  • Cathy Crawford

    In the dining room the wall now seems flush with the front of the bookcases. Is that right, or is the photo misleading? If right, did you make a false wall? Did that not that entail losing a sizeable chunk of space?

  • Melissa Ivey

    Love this gentle yet dramatic renovation.
    Well done!! While the plethora of bookcases are not for everyone, but clearly this is a house built to be home, not just a holding pen for resale.

  • Erin

    Do you know where the light above the dining room table came from? I love it!

  • “origami batman”

    really nice

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