Sweeten hand-picks the best experts for your renovation project

The last six months have brought big-time changes for Blaise, Kristin, and their family of five. After welcoming their third child and moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Blaise and Kristin were ready to prep their new home in Prospect Lefferts Gardens for the long run. First up: a kitchen and laundry room update. We stopped in to take some photos along the way, but the rest of this story is told by Blaise, himself.

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“Sweeten made it easy to communicate our vision to contractors before they even set foot in our home.”

- Blaise C., Prospect Lefferts Gardens homeowner

When we moved into our new home six months ago, we almost didn’t notice how limited the kitchen was. Living out of boxes and welcoming a newborn, it took us a few weeks to realize that we were having trouble finding space for groceries and that we had accidentally made a habit of storing kitchen basics in the basement. The move just about doubled the total space of our home, and yet we were struggling to find a place for everyday kitchen stuff.

Our punch list was pretty classic: kitchen storage was sorely lacking and countertop space was a joke. We are working parents who don’t cook that often, but we were ready to move our pots and pans out of the oven. We also realized that the bar-height counter was inaccessible for our kids and wanted to create a central gathering spot with a more standard counter height.

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The kitchen had been recently renovated and we liked the look, so we initially entertained the possibility of a quick fix like purchasing a kitchen island, but ended up deciding to use what we had and expand on it. At first, I tried to juggle contractor bids on my own, but with kids and jobs, that turned out to be decidedly easier said than done. I posted the project on Sweeten and added to the plans to create a laundry room in the basement by enclosing our washer/dryer with built-out walls and solid doors. (more…)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What to Expect When Combining Apartments

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As a nomadic New Yorker who lived in ten apartments over twelve years, I used to have an oddly pleasant recurring dream: in the dream, I would “discover” a hidden room that I had never seen before in my otherwise tiny home. Without fail, I would wake up happily imagining all of the things that I could put in the new room – a perfectly natural closet-and-dining-room-and-guest-room-and-outdoor-patio all in one. For some New Yorkers, this dream is a real possibility. If you have managed to scoop up multiple adjacent apartments and are planning to combine them, you may be looking at a host of layout options and renovation decisions that are unique to the process of combining apartments. To help us envision what to expect, we connected with Sweeten Expert Andrew, an architect who partnered with Sweeten Expert Graham, on a Hell’s Kitchen  combination that created an open loft with stunning Hudson River views.   

Andrew first talked us through renovation issues that are specific to combining apartments. Homeowners with adjacent apartments have the unique luxury of multiple layout options but also need to work within a unique set of constraints to create the new space. “Clients often look first at how to capitalize on the overall flow of the space, exposures, and views of the apartments,” Andrew explained. The photos below demonstrate Andrew’s vision for unifying multiple entry points and living spaces in one open plan. 

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With a general idea for entry and living spaces in mind, homeowners can make a decision that most of their neighbors will never have to face: which kitchen to keep! Andrew pointed out that you can decide between existing kitchens, or create a new kitchen space altogether, but you need to keep plumbing lines in mind because New Yorkers are generally (more…)

Brooklyn Heights Bathroom Renovation by Sweeten, Sweeten.com

“Renovations can be painful. Sweeten takes the hassle and guesswork out of the process. Overall it was a very pleasant experience and we are thrilled with the end product.”

-Ben C., Brooklyn Heights homeowner

What do you do when you realize that your bathroom is just not working for you anymore? Ben & Therese’s Brooklyn Heights bathroom wasn’t even 10 years old before they recognized that the space was ugly, outdated, and felt cramped — even little Enzo (pictured above) didn’t want to bathe in what he regarded as a cheap, generic tub — it was time for an update.

The couple took a savvy approach, collecting enough inspiration and research online that, together, they were ultimately able to design the bathroom of their dreams and a space that would reflect their personal tastes. They even built a 3D model of their ideas using Google SketchUp to help them plan and visualize the space; according to Ben, ”we didn’t want to leave anything to chance, and we wanted to make sure we utilized every square inch as best we could.” With their very real vision, Ben & Therese were more than ready to renovate, so they posted their project on Sweeten to be matched with a contractor who would help them finish the job.

Brooklyn Heights Bathroom Renovation by Sweeten, Sweeten.com

Ben & Therese moved forward with their first match who was just the right fit for the project, and in just 4 weeks, Sweeten Expert Aleks and his team were able transform the generic bath into the homeowners’ inspired vision. Here’s their space before & after:

Brooklyn Heights Bathroom Renovation by Sweeten, Sweeten.com

Brooklyn Heights Bathroom Renovation by Sweeten, Sweeten.com

The couple took a universal ideal of clean, simple and modern, but made a space that is uniquely theirs by incorporating industrial elements like cement tile & shower doors on sliding hardware, and adding a splash of color with Moroccan-inspired flooring tiles. Ben even says that it feels bigger and more open after renovating (a big plus in BK), not to mention that it’s much more functional. I love it, they love it, their friends love it, and little Enzo couldn’t be happier — sounds like a win!

Great work to Aleks & his team — and big congrats and many thanks to Ben, Therese & Enzo!

Jealous? Post on Sweeten to get matched and start renovating!

Posted by: Categories: Bathrooms, Completed Projects, Sweetened 4

This is certainly one of those renovations that I have been anticipating with bated breath. Partly because the amazing homeowners, Kyle, an IT professional at a law firm, and Angela, a freelance illustrator, have the style and the je ne sais quoi to totally charm; but also, I love projects like this one, where the homeowners have lived in the space, dreamed about what it will be one day, and saved up for years towards the goal of making that dream home their real home. It gives all of us who may still be far from that goal, a sense of possibility.

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“We’d been living here for eleven years and things were starting to get a bit shabby. When we moved in, the apartment had been freshly renovated with all the cheapest materials available at Home Depot, which was fine back then, but we really wanted to make it ‘ours.’ We saved up for renovations all the while and put a lot of thought into what we wanted to do.”

 –Angela, homeowner

When the time had arrived early this year, Kyle and Angela (and their “mean, little chihuahua”) posted to Sweeten to get started on renovating their 900 sq/ft, 2 bedroom Clinton Hill co-op apartment. The road to selecting ‘the perfect contractor’ was made a whole lot sweeter by our three suggestions; according to Angela, “we feel confident that any of the contractors Sweeten selected for us would have done a great job, but we’re really happy that we chose Famurat Builders.” Kris Famurat’s team was able to take the homeowners’ dreams of extra counter space for baking and a place that showed off their personal mid-century style, and turn them into a reality, on-time and within-budget!

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The Famurat team worked closely with Kyle and Angela to meet their main objectives for the project: to create a modern, open apartment AND stay on budget. First order of business was making the ‘big moves,’ which meant tearing down the non-structural interior walls and tearing up the outdated and damaged parquet flooring. With just these changes, the homeowners could already begin to anticipate their moment of, “I can hardly believe it’s the same place we’ve lived for the past decade!” (more…)

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Around the end of last year, Elliot, a Graphic Designer, and Katie, a Benefit Specialist, decided that the time had come to take the scary but sensible plunge and become first-time homeowners of an older 1,800 sq/ft, 2-story townhouse in Williamsburg. The couple fell in love with this house’s lovely bones, plus it had a backyard for their dog, Desmond; but what they did not love was that it had the common NYC problem of disjointed spaces caused by a layout of many smaller rooms, not to mention the interior’s outdated everything.

Though the couple had never done a renovation before, they were excited by the idea of fixing up an older home. So the next task was to find their general contractor, which wouldn’t be easy (they thought) since they didn’t know many other homeowners, and therefore word-of-mouth was out of the question. After hearing about our resources at Sweeten, Katie & Elliot posted their project right away to get matched with members of the Sweeten Network. After comparing their matches, the young homeowners chose to put their project in the trustworthy hands of sustainability design build experts Ecostruct, who worked with the renovation newbies to think through everything from the practicality of materials to overall design concepts, before beginning construction on their 4-month project. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Completed Projects, Inspiration, Kitchens 1
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gowanus House Renovation, Complete!

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You know that sort of childish feeling of being so excited about a future event that it actually seems to slow down time, and the only way around it is to put it out of your mind until the moment finally arrives? Whether the timeline is 2-weeks, or 20-months, renovation projects epitomize this trial of patience — and in following so many of them at Sweeten, we always have so much to anxiously await!

For me, Milktrout’s gut renovation in Gowanus has been the ultimate test. We’ve had this project on our radar since construction began last fall, and I made my last visit to the site while it was under construction back in January, at which point, things were really taking shape… and I already, seriously, could not wait. The project finished up on time this past spring, which meant between moving in, getting settled, and the natural slack brought on by summering, this fall would be it! At long last, after a very patient run (–I’m just kidding, I’ve been totally impatient), Milktrout firm owner Kent Johnson along with homeowners JD & Meaghan recently invited us back to check out the finished space, and I couldn’t be happier to say that this home fully exceeded my expectations. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Completed Projects, Inspiration 3
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Art Collector’s Loft in Chelsea

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Here at Sweeten, we understand that pairing the correct architect and client is more than circumstantial, and that the best working relationships are based largely on shared visions and philosophies. This Chelsea gut renovation project brought together Sweeten member firm Future Project, co-owned by Pedro Pachano and Ampara Vollert, who specialize in exploring theories of space and sensory discovery in their architecture, with an art collector client who wanted more than just a space to showcase her individual art pieces. The art-loving homeowner was looking for something that would act as a flexible framework for her entire collection and lifestyle.

The apartment’s original layout was made up of a number of smaller rooms that varied in floor height, which did not allow for two key aspects that the homeowner specified for her remodeled home: to be able to entertain large numbers of people, and to have significant wall space for her collected works. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Completed Projects, Inspiration 0
Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nate & Michelle’s Greenpoint Roof Deck

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Nate & Michelle had just about finished settling into their Greenpoint condo last spring, when it came time for the new homeowners to tackle their unfinished roof deck with its killer skyline views. The couple, both creative professionals in advertising, posted on Sweeten to find someone who could help convert the derelict roof into an extension of their home — an outdoor room with comfortable seating and plants to soften up the space. We introduced them to a few matches, and before long, they awarded their project to Sweeten member Hutson Landscape, owned by Corey Hutson, whose expertise in landscape design & construction was a perfect fit. When we stopped by to see how the project turned out, Nate, Michelle, and their bouncy labradoodle, “Kid,” were setting up to host some friends on their renovated roof. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Completed Projects, Inspiration 2
Thursday, September 5, 2013

Park Slope Apartment Interior Makeover

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“Creating efficiently beautiful spaces is what we do and we believe this apartment is as efficient as it gets.  We design spaces that function with little room for excess fluff…everything has a purpose.”

-Anishka Clarke tS member & co-owner of Ishka Designs

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The owner of this bright, 750sqft 1-bed in Park Slope works for one of the top 3 consulting firms in the US which means she works long hours and weekends, and travels a ridiculous amount for work — then, when she gets a break, she’s back out the door, traveling for leisure. Though she spends so much of her time away from home, she still finds time to “live” in each room and entertain regularly. When she first purchased her apartment a couple years ago, however, its vibe wasn’t right for her lifestyle, and she contacted tS member Ishka Designs, co-owned by Anishka Clarke & Niya Bascom, to help make it her own. The Ishka team transformed the dark, cramped apartment into a relaxing oasis where this homeowner can unwind after her usual busy day or weeklong work trip, and likewise, its sophisticated, urban character makes it a perfect place to entertain high-level clients & colleagues. (more…)

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This week we’re off to a beach bungalow in the Hamptons to get our last taste of summer and catch up with tS member firm Uli & Associates (formally Fractal Construction). Firm owner and lead architect, Ulises “Uli” Liceaga walked us through the recent renovation of his own summer home, this little 800 square foot, 2 bedroom bungalow, which he retrofitted for his family of 7 — yep, Uli and his wife Christina have 5 kids, all under the age of 8! The family enjoys a particularly active lifestyle; they especially love biking, horseback riding, kitesurfing and wakeboarding, and they spend a lot of time in the Hamptons during the summers. So, a few years ago they purchased their own house at Amagansett’s Lazy Point, a kitesurfing and windsurfing mecca. While the location was perfect, the house itself was far from it, and Uli immediately got to work designing his family’s new beach bungalow. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Completed Projects, Inspiration 0