Spotlight / By Kelley Rowland / October 3, 2018
A Kensington Kitchen Finds Its Rhythm
Sixties-era appliances are finally replaced
Project: Revamp an outdated kitchen in Kensington, Brooklyn
Before: Racquel scored a deal when she found her 800-square-foot co-op in an estate sale, though she knew the kitchen (that hadn’t been updated since the ‘60s) would need work. “The first thing I did when I put my offer in was ask people how to get the kitchen done. It looked like it belonged in a museum. I kept staring at the stove—I could not believe it,” she said. Her renovation journey, however, got off to a rocky start. After a year of work with a kitchen designer she found through an ad on Facebook, walkthroughs without results, a quick purchase of a too-big fridge, and poor communication overall, Racquel had enough and took a year off from the process.
Once she felt ready to take it on again, a friend, who was renovating her house with Sweeten and had joined their referral program, suggested Racquel give them a try. “My friend said, ‘I’ve already started with Sweeten and they’re great.’ I was done trying to find people on my own that I couldn’t properly vet. I needed people who knew the business,” Racquel explained. She posted her project with the goal of bringing the old-fashioned space to the 21st century while maintaining a feeling of playfulness and joy.
After: Once she was matched with this general contractor, work began. Some debate about the stove ensued, but ultimately she decided to replace it. After living with it for over two years, “I had a Stockholm Syndrome relationship with my stove,” she said. While her initial thought was to incorporate quirky touches in the main elements of the kitchen, like using butcher block for the countertops, she decided to stick with modern, easy-to-clean materials, and incorporate more of her personality through accessories and paint. The white glossy cabinets with simple matte black hardware achieved that sleek look while offering a neutral backdrop for a creamy yellow wall and colorful knick-knacks.
The elevator broke down, which caused some minor hiccups. The stove, which was set to be delivered, had to be delayed and was then lost. Despite the holdup, Racquel’s renovation was completed within the three-week time period the general contractor had quoted from the beginning. “He worked around the issues without batting an eyelash,” she said. He even joined her on a trip to IKEA, waited for the cabinets, and brought them to her home the next morning. “He told me every day what was going to happen that day, and that’s exactly what happened,” she continued.
As a first-time renovator, Racquel shared this advice: “Resist the urge to rip things out before you have a chance to live with it. If I hadn’t, I don’t think I would’ve made the best decisions,” she said. Her patience certainly paid off. “Sometimes I walk into the kitchen with the sun coming in and it feels like a postcard. It looks like a magazine,” she said.
Bonus: The cabinets were still a little difficult for Racquel to reach, so the contractor also left a space for her ladder between the fridge and the wall, so she’d have easy access to it when she needed to reach higher shelves.
Style finds: Metro Gris 12 in. x 24 in. porcelain floor tiles and Greecian white herringbone backsplash: Home Depot. Ringhult cabinets and Norssjön sink: IKEA. Nouveau III Collection cabinet knobs and pulls, and Progress overhead lighting: Amazon. Summit 28” refrigerator, Bosch 18” dishwasher, Frigidaire 30” microwave, and Frigidaire 30” gas range: AJMadison.
Kasey bought his Murray Hill studio through an estate sale and completely overhauled the kitchen.
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.