5 Couples Renovate for the First Time—Together

When happily-ever-after meets home renovation

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’ve owned a home before, taking the plunge and moving in with your partner is both thrilling and terrifying. Throw a renovation into the mix and suddenly the notion of a shared space that’s both personal and cohesive can seem impossible—especially if you’re a first-time renovator as well. Take heart that it can be done. Read on to meet five couples who combined romance and renovation with help from Sweeten.

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First-time homeowners and renovators Amy and Nick wanted to avoid a renovation at all costs. Things changed when they came across an outdated 2-bed, 1-bath condo in Prospect Heights that was just the right size and layout for them to imagine their home together. The couple moved in and started saving for a renovation. While remodeling, they refreshed the worn-out bath and tore out the triangular-shaped kitchen, replacing it with new cabinets, appliances, and a custom 10-foot-long island topped with sparkling Carrara marble. And if you’re wondering how Amy and Nick feel about the results, just ask Amy. “We use the kitchen and joint living spaces for relaxing, cooking, and entertaining. The room has all the things that make us happy.”

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These homeowners spent a year dreaming about the possibilities of renovating their two-bedroom co-op in Brooklyn—their first as a couple—before they kicked things off by hiring a general contractor. Despite the many windows and breathtaking views of the city, the apartment felt crowded and closed-off. They opened up the layout by removing the wall separating the kitchen from the living room and installed an island—a feature that they had both loved from their childhood kitchens. The changes improved the overall flow and flooded the space with sunlight. Creative choices—from the bright green backsplash in the kitchen to the warm gold fixtures in the bath—allowed them to inject their personality into the space.

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Joshua also dreamed of replacing the parquet. I much preferred parquet, so those conversations often ended in agreeing to disagree.

Erica and Joshua, a newly engaged couple, planned on transforming Erica’s apartment—the home she had grown to love, despite its quirks, over the past 10 years—into the perfect space to begin their new lives together. The renovation focused on opening up and updating the kitchen. “We were seeking to strike a balance between Joshua’s partiality to completely open spaces and my desire to keep some visual privacy,” says Erica. Custom cabinets replaced builder-grade cabinetry and a new peninsula provided generous storage and a place for the duo to dine. “Joshua also dreamed of replacing the parquet. I much preferred parquet so those conversations often ended in agreeing to disagree,” she said. After speaking to their contractor, “Joshua was right. The floors needed to be replaced.” The apartment is now cozy—instead of cramped—and overflowing with natural light. At the end of the renovation, Erica found that there was so much more to love about her home.

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Becky and Sarah moved in together with the intention of renovating their kitchen, but the project was put on hold. When it came time to renovate, the planning stage involved a few different versions until they settled on the right design; an open kitchen with shelves instead of upper cabinets. To make sure there was enough storage, they installed an island with pull-out drawers and nestled the fridge within cabinetry. While the project was stressful at times, the results were well worth the effort. Once the punch list was complete, the couple got engaged. “It could have torn us apart but in the end it bonded us together,” said Sarah.

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While searching for their first home together, Cecilia was looking for a place within walking distance of shops and subway stations, while Jonathan wanted a fixer-upper with plenty of square footage. The couple combined their requirements and fed the list into a computer code that Jonathan had written to find his first apartment. The code scoured real estate websites and narrowed down the results so that they only looked at the ones that met their needs. Renovating their home led them to a unified design for the main living spaces, while also allowing them to create their own spaces where it mattered the most: in this case, his and her bathrooms.

Romance meets remodeling: take a look at 5 couples who grew closer to one another while renovating.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.