If the extra-sunny corner windows in this kitchen renovation are looking familiar, it’s because we’re back in Clinton Hill for another original take on a great kitchen space. Becky and Sarah’s apartment is a near-mirror image of both Mario and Joe’s mod renovation and Casey and Kumar’s space-savvy co-op. These neighbors must be onto something: read on down to see the natural wood finishes and open shelving that were in the works at the very same time in two different apartments!
For Sarah, who works in finance, and Becky, who works for a media company, the kitchen renovation was some time in the making. Sarah had been living in the one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment since 2010 (with Becky joining her in 2013) and had her sights set on overhauling the kitchen from the get-go.
A previous renovation had tiled off the kitchen, chopping up the open living space and giving guests a clunky raised border to trip over. White appliances and heavy cabinetry were outdated, and the kitchen’s generous square footage wasn’t all that useful for hosting or entertaining. Great space to stand around in, but not much else. After seeing successful Sweeten rehabs featured on Apartment Therapy, Sarah decided to post her renovation project on Sweeten. “It seemed like an easy solution for such a risky kind of decision,” she said. We matched the couple with Sweeten Expert Alan, a regular in this Brooklyn enclave.
At the start of the project, Sarah envisioned limiting cabinet installation to one wall and contemplated adding an island, but after a design consultation, she decided to re-work the game plan. Thankfully, Alan was up for anything. “Alan’s really a nice guy, super trustworthy and very patient,” Sarah said. “He was willing to wait throughout that time while I was re-designing things.” The new plan was worth the hold-up: they would tear out the L-line of cabinetry and use multiple variations on open and closed storage on each of the walls and in a central island. Plus, they geared up to create a new entry connecting the kitchen to the hallway, improving the flow around the apartment.
Becky and Sarah found inspiration from a previous project for the striking white-on-wood contrast that now unites the new space. “I had redone my radiator covers and my windowsills with white Caesarstone slabs and I thought it would look nice to match that,” Sarah said. Her original vision paired the white stone composite with gray cabinets, but after looking through Ikea photo pairings, a warmer, walnut-inspired wood started to feel like a better match.
To give the Ikea base cabinetry some added oomph, Sarah chose custom doors from California-Ikea-one-upper Semihandmade. Semihandmade also provided coordinating custom paneling for the new island – a gorgeous detail with the stark white waterfall countertop. The island’s added storage freed Becky and Sarah to be more adventurous with other cabinetry choices. They skipped an upper line of cabinets on the most visible wall and went with slim open shelving made from recycled wood. White globe pendants and sconces from Schoolhouse Electric are anchored on an intricate porcelain backsplash tile from Stonesource; the tile’s folded paper-style pattern adds another level of visual detail in barely-there-beige.
The floor is where Alan and his team really earned their oats. The kitchen floor now matches the rest of the apartment’s original tongue and groove parquet—thanks to Alan’s painstaking work to cut and stain new flooring to match the original (and no longer available) planks.
The finished product looks amazing, and Sarah now has some hard-earned wisdom to share. “I probably could have timed the delivery of everything better,” she admits. The summer-long process paused when the cabinets beat the doors’ arrival by a few weeks, and delivery of a few additional custom pieces dragged until January. Her advice to future renovators: temper your eagerness to get started, knowing that your patience will pay off with a more reasonable timeline (and with all of your packages in place).
While Sarah and Becky didn’t love hiding out in their bedroom for a good part of the summer, the new cohesive kitchen was worth it. The couple didn’t just survive they process—they thrived: Sarah and Becky recently got engaged! “It could have torn us apart but in the end it bonded us together,” said Sarah with a laugh.
Kitchen Selects >> cabinets: IKEA / cabinet doors: Semihandmade / open shelving: Barnwood Designs / countertops: Caesarstone in Blizzard White from Galatic Tiles / cabinet hardware and all lighting: Schoolhouse Electric / stool: homenature / dishwasher and fridge: Blomberg / oven and hood: Bertazzoni / faucet: Grohe / backsplash tile: Mutina Folded from StoneSource
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