One thing was very clear when Claire and Mike moved into their co-op in a converted Brooklyn industrial building in August: they were not enthralled with the kitchen. And one thing was very unclear: with a baby on the way and no experience with home renovation, what were they going to do about it? Contemplating everything from a complete gut to swapping in a single line of pre-fab cabinets, Claire posted the project on Sweeten and met with a range of designers, design/build firms, and contractors to discuss options for this Park Slope kitchen renovation. Claire and Mike saw bids from Sweeten experts with very different scopes of work; extensive facelifts detailed down to the radiator cover designs as well as very basic, Ikea-centric proposals. Sweeten Experts Paulina & Albert piqued their curiosity with options that offered all-custom cabinetry or a part-custom and part-Ikea hybrid.
“Sweeten Expert Paulina was so friendly and open to our ideas, and she had the design background to help me articulate what I wanted. I have nothing but the highest praise.”
–Claire, Brooklyn homeowner
The apartment’s 13-foot ceilings gave Claire and Mike lots of room to play with cabinet space, but the kitchen had an unusual layout that made the area between the sink and stove inaccessible. Claire and Mike thought about relocating plumbing and electrical lines but, as we saw in Sweeten’s kitchen pricing guides, that move would divert thousands of dollars to permits and specialty fees. Claire and Mike chose to work with the design/build duo, Paulina and Albert, after discussing the custom approach and realizing that for a relatively limited additional cost, they could significantly expand cabinet space and make better use of the unconventional layout. They had also decided to leave appliances (except the fridge) in place, freeing up room in the budget for custom cabinet upgrades.
As the ideas came together, designer Paulina worked with Claire and Mike to translate their interests into material selections. The couple went with basic plywood cabinetry, lined with melamine interiors. To demarcate the kitchen, Claire played around with different navy and gray paint colors, settling on Benjamin Moore’s Evening Dove. Claire had her heart set on a farmhouse sink and spent weeks searching online for the right dimensions. Her research also turned up an unusual bridge faucet – a gorgeous detail that set the feel for the rest of the transformation.
Claire and Mike wanted the heft and gleam of Carrera marble counters, but were worried about staining and durability. They opted for quartzite counters – an admitted splurge – but Claire advises fellow homeowners that countertops are a worthy splurge because they are so visible and functional. These countertops are especially stunning because the quartzite feels more polished than marble and is available in thicker cuts, topping the new cabinetry with an extra-substantial contrasting layer. To complement the bold cabinet color and textured countertop veining, Claire opted for a simple white subway tile backsplash to replace the original square grid tile. Claire also found oil-rubbed bronze and black porcelain cabinet pulls from Rejuvenation, which bring some understated grit to this gleaming new kitchen.
The original stove and dishwasher stayed, but Paulina helped Claire and Mike find a new counter-depth fridge to free up space and make the L-shaped cabinetry transitions more seamless. Paulina also stepped in to prevent a potential delay when the wrong fridge was delivered. Paulina opened the box and realized the mistake in time to refuse delivery, heading off a classic mistake that plagues many renovations.
Like fellow Park Slope resident, Carol, Claire and Mike designed a custom kitchen island to replace a butcher block that had been too big and inflexible. The couple wanted the extra storage and counter prep option but didn’t want to anchor anything in place, so Paulina put the new island on wheels that let it sit against the wall or roll into the center of the kitchen. Paulina also cleverly added storage to the kitchen’s exterior line – the majority of that space is already claimed by interior storage and the oven, but Paulina tunneled into the section near the wall to give Claire and Mike an unusual storage nook for a section of cabinets that had never been accessible before.
Albert’s construction team wrapped up work a week early, giving Claire and Mike some extra time to get settled before the arrival of their new baby. Claire reports that they now have more storage than they need and are waiting to see what kind of baby necessities they will end up stowing away in this super-stylish new space. So many thanks to Claire and Mike for sharing this space and best wishes from the Sweeten Team as you welcome your new arrival!
Is this not one of the most gorgeous kitchens we’ve seen all year? If you’re feeling inspired by Claire and Mike’s first foray into renovation, post your project on Sweeten and we’ll introduce you to hand-picked contractors who are right for your project!