Sweeten hand-picks the best experts for your renovation project

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 Ben & Therese’s Brooklyn Heights bathroom wasn’t even 10 years old before they recognized that the space was ugly, outdated, and felt cramped — even little Enzo (pictured above) didn’t want to bathe in what he regarded as a cheap, generic tub — it was time for an update.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
Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sweeten’s Renovation Map Launch!


Yesterday we launched our new, interactive renovation maps on Sweeten! We’re super excited about the project, and, already, so are our friends at Curbed, Brownstoner, & Gizmodo! We’ve mapped all of the projects posted on Sweeten along with the last 10 years of alterations permits filed with the NYC Dept. of Buildings.


Each dot on the map represents one building address, and by clicking on an address you can view the full record of each renovation in that building — including the owner, permit applicant, a description of work, the estimated cost of construction and filing fee, along with a link to the original DOB digital filing. Go to your building and see all the renovations on file …or on your block, in your neighborhood, or zip code!

We designed these maps to help the entire Sweeten community better understand the current renovation market, as well as how it changes over time, and we’ll be creating followup posts highlighting renovation investment trends that we see in neighborhoods across all five boroughs. We are also offering an email alert service for our “insiders” to receive monthly email updates on any new renovations filed in your list of watched addresses. Insider accounts are $10 per month. You’ll be automatically informed of work in your building, or any building on your watch list.

A fun fact for anyone curious about the map’s color palette: after a few trials that weren’t quite right, Jean used the orchid on her desk as the final color inspiration— doesn’t it look great?!

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 4.12.44 PM

The new maps are just one of the many educational features we’ve been developing at Sweeten to help our community better understand the renovation market here in NYC. Check out the project and let us know your thoughts in the comments below! http://sweeten.com/maps

Posted by: Categories: Renovation Maps 0
Thursday, November 21, 2013

One Kitchen, Three Ways in Clinton Hill


Ever since Billy & Sally came to us with their cramped Clinton Hill kitchen last year, we’ve spent a lot of time Sweetening homes in the Clinton Hill co-ops. One of the most remarkable things about these projects is that they all start with the exact same, 1940′s bones, but by the end, no two of these spaces ends up anything alike. I personally cannot decide which of these kitchens I love most, but one thing is for sure, they have all come a very long way! Have a look at these three renovation outcomes and let us know which you like best.


Kitchen #1: Billy & Sally’s Stylishly Curated Kitchen


Kitchen #2: Kyle & Angela’s Mid-Century Inspired Kitchen

03_sweeten_carrieKitchen #3: Light & Modern, Family Kitchen

Let us know which you like best in the comments below (–and check back in a few weeks to see how this one finished up)!

Posted by: Categories: Inspiration, Kitchens 8

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.


“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!




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…)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Home School Giveaway #8


When it comes to shopping real estate, we’ve all heard the classic rule of thumb, “location, location, location!” So, what happens once you’ve got location covered? What other qualities of a home can help determine its potential – especially when we’re dealing with a fixer-upper?

Whether you’re currently in the market, the deal is done, or you’re just a design-conscious renter, we’d like to help you on your path to home improvement. For this Home School giveaway, we’ve teamed up with the lovely ladies of Remodelista, the creatives behind Design Brooklyn, one of our favorite Brooklyn-focused architecture and interiors blogs, and the folks at Breuckelen Berber, the only shop in Brooklyn with a dedicated collection of killer Moroccan carpets, to bring you an amazing post and prize package:


–A copy of Design Brooklyn: Renovation, Restoration, Innovation, Industry by Anne Hellman and Michel Arnaud (ABRAMS/Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, October 2013), *signed by Mike D of the Beastie Boys!

–A copy of Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home by Julie Carlson with the editors of Remodelista (publishes Nov. 5, 2013).

–An amazing, vintage Moroccan Beni Ouarain carpet from Breuckelen Berber. The carpet measures 12’5″ x 6’5″, is handmade of 100% wool, and is in excellent condition. With stippled lozenge motifs containing chains of diamonds within (symbolizing fertility), this vintage Moroccan Beni Ouarain carpet shifts from a more open to closed structure as the piece progresses; the carpet features a natural, undyed dark brown pattern with side borders. On the reverse site, its creation date, “1982,” is evident, as woven by the artist.


* * *

Tips for Finding a Great Place to Renovate

1. Work with a broker who has both market knowledge & creative vision.


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After renovating. Photo (above, bottom): From Design Brooklyn (Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 2013). Courtesy of Michel Arnaud.

There are many benefits to renovating a new home, which is why more than two-thirds of all home renovations occur within that first year of purchase. We recently chatted with our friend Lindsay Barton Barret, a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker at Corcoran, whose distinguished career has landed her countless awards, including, recently being named one of Wall Street Journal’s 2013 top 250 real estate professionals by transaction volume, nation wide. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Contests, Inspiration 0


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!



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



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



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 6

Home School is a series of design stories and giveaways we run in partnership with Brooklyn Based, the best source for events, food and cultural news in and around Brooklyn. For the latest installment of Home School, we share some ideas about thoughtful design for kids’ rooms. Read on and enter at the bottom for a chance to win a Growing Up with Design prize package worth over $2,100. Details below!

sweeten-brooklynBasedKids-logos copy


Great design isn’t just for grownups — in fact, kids are notorious for wanting whatever it is that the grownups have, so it’s only natural that they’d envy our well-considered spaces! Here are a few local examples and ideas for designing a fantastic room for a baby, toddler, or big kid.


This family’s TriBeCa loft (above) underwent a full gut renovation once their daughter was born. Their architect, Olga Bakic, was clever to integrate built-in bookshelves and display niches into the little girl’s room. These details seem almost mature for such a little one, but they’ll be useful for storage and display at any age. When renovating with young ones in mind, it’s always wise to think ahead, sometimes way ahead! If built-ins are out of the question for now, HEARTWORK’s bookcases are a great alternative—they’re perfect for all ages and, since they’re built to last, they make a good investment for the kiddos. (more…)

Posted by: Categories: Bedrooms, Contests 2