3 Homes, Untouched for Decades, Get Renovated by Sweeten

These homes were stuck in the past until a (long overdue!) home renovation brought each one back to the future

Homeowners who are feeling ambitious and want to take on a home that hasn’t been changed in decades have a unique opportunity. In an older home that’s been given new life, updated features sit alongside quirky and charming details from the past, such as crown molding and arched doorways. This kind of home renovation where the marriage of old meets new provides all the benefits of a modern space while retaining the character that can only come from a place that has a history. Below, three Sweeten homeowners take on the challenge of revamping older homes—and the results are truly magical.

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home renovation
Meredith’s townhouse, built in 1941

Meredith set out to find a fixer-upper and fell in love with a two-family brick Tudor townhouse in Kensington that only had one owner since 1941. With good bones and plenty of personality in the form of arched doorways and a 1950s Caloric stove, the home had potential, but it also required intensive repairs. Lead paint, cloth-wrapped aluminum electrical wiring, and old steel windows all had to go. Meredith found a contractor on Sweeten and started her renovation, focusing on maintaining some of the ‘40s charm while making necessary functional updates. A new kitchen was designed around the old stove, and in keeping with the theme of nostalgia, Meredith installed a salvaged Sub-Zero fridge and vintage enamel sink. The Pepto-Bismol pink bathrooms were redone in a much more tasteful palette of muted blues and received all new fixtures. Upstairs, the renovation included converting the second kitchen into a master bath, building a nursery, and updating the master bedroom and closet. Click here to see the rest of this lovely townhouse.

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Ron’s postwar apartment and home of 40 years

Ron lived in his Upper East Side postwar apartment for 40 years before making the decision to renovate. He worked closely with his interior designer, who came to Sweeten to find a contractor to complete their team. The plan consisted of a total gut renovation of the kitchen as well as painting the apartment, stripping and refinishing floors, cleaning up the crown molding in the living room, and adding custom millwork to hide old radiator units. He decided against joining the kitchen and living room and instead chose to keep the kitchen enclosed and add finishes that would make it feel larger and brighter. With all new appliances from Thermador, including a refrigerator, gas range, hood, and dishwasher, the kitchen got the functional upgrade it desperately needed. Architectural details in the kitchen mixed well with traditional custom cabinets and beveled countertops for a refreshed yet classic style. In the living room, custom built-ins with ample shelving were built to show off Ron’s collection of art and treasures from around the world. Click here to see the rest of Ron’s home, including his updated bedroom and bath.

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Claudia’s 1929 apartment that underwent a mid-’80s renovation

Fifteen years after moving into her Upper East Side apartment, Claudia felt ready to renovate. It had been three decades since the apartment’s last home renovation, which had brought with it dated finishes, carpeting, and boxy built-ins. Claudia wanted to highlight the original bones of the home that had been covered up, reclaim some of the square footage lost to the old built-ins, and install some much-needed electrical outlets. She also ripped up the 30-year-old carpeting, uncovering original parquet floors. The windows in the living room were combined, allowing the space to become flooded with natural light, and the built-in surrounding the fireplace was demolished, revealing a wood-burning hearth. Crown molding was designed and placed along doorways, windows, ceilings, and floors to evoke some of the lost 1920s charm. To brighten up her home, the walls of the apartment were painted white, replacing the dark green shade that had ruled the living room for decades. Click here to see her updated kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.

Inspired to take on the challenge of a fixer-upper? Check out our guide on home renovation costs per square foot.

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.