First-time homeowners Jill and Aaron landed a sunlit co-op (with parking!) in Prospect Heights. The downside seemed daunting: a faux-wood-and-laminate-counter combo in the 1960s kitchen and thick gray tile throughout the small bathroom. With no idea where to start and trepidation about finding a contractor online, Jill came to Sweeten to hire a team who could re-think their galley kitchen and gut the old bathroom. Read on for Jill’s take on their bright new space!
We lived in a brownstone garden apartment in Prospect Heights for six years before seriously looking to buy. Over six months, we spent every weekend checking out open houses and coming to terms with what we could actually afford (Move-in ready two-bed/two-bath in Park Slope? Keep dreaming!) After getting outbid on two apartments, the third time really was the charm. We were officially in contract for a one-bedroom in a doorman co-op building three blocks away from Prospect Park (and our current apartment). It had a space we could convert into a den, extra closet room, tons of natural light, and every New Yorker’s dream: parking! The only downside was that it hadn’t been updated since the ‘60s and needed a complete overhaul. Now what?!
None of our friends had done renovations so we didn’t have any recommendations to go on for a contractor. We reached out to a few random ones we found online, but we hadn’t seen any of their work and didn’t feel like we could really trust them. I was so nervous someone was going to take advantage of us, since we hadn’t done this before.
That’s when a friend told us about Sweeten and we decided to post our project. We had never owned an apartment before, let alone renovated one, and we needed all the help we could get. After a quick budget check (the Sweeten team helped us realize we were completely unrealistic in how much the renovation would cost), we were matched up with Sweeten Expert Kris. We loved that he had done work in our neighborhood, and it seemed to match our modern style. Plus all of his reviews said he finished his work on time, and since we would be paying rent on top of a mortgage until we could move in, that was music to our ears.
When we met with Kris, he really listened to what we wanted to do and was quick to point out if something wouldn’t be possible. After walking the space with him, we agreed on a game plan: close off the wall between the galley kitchen and the dining room, open up the wall between the kitchen and living room, make a sliding door for the bathroom to maximize the space, extend the parquet floors into the kitchen and closets, and gut everything else! Almost as soon as we closed, his team was on site and starting demo.
Since we knew this wasn’t our forever home, we tried to stick to a budget and not go too overboard. Kris helped us make all our decisions with the bottom-line and timeline in mind. New hardwood flooring would have been nice but the parquet flooring could just be refinished. Custom cabinets would have been gorgeous in the small kitchen but the Ikea ones would still look great.
I would have loved marble flooring in the bathroom but ceramic tile wouldn’t need any maintenance. There were definitely areas where we splurged though. Higher-end appliances and quartz countertops for Aaron. Italian glass backsplash and a new soaking tub for me.
We were lucky our rental was close by, so we could stop in anytime and check on the progress. Kris was always there to meet us and show us how things were going and checked with us even if minor changes had been made. There were so many times we questioned whether we had made mistakes, but keeping in close contact with Kris and having him walk us through the progress really gave us hope.
In the end, Kris was true to his word. We were able to move in after just six weeks and stay on budget. Now, when we hear some of our friends’ stories about their contractors and what a nightmare renovating was for them, we feel very fortunate and even talk about taking on a renovation again!
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