How a Product Designer Renovates Her Kitchen

by Kelley Rowland

From a bamboo drying rack to cork floors

kitchenProject: Create a clean and classic kitchen 

Before: As soon as Jo moved into her Sutton Place home, she knew a kitchen renovation was in order. The space was disconnected and closed-off from the rest of the one-bedroom apartment, and the tall metal cabinets from the 1950s were impractical. As a product designer, she planned to be very hands-on with material selection, most of which would be neutral so that her colorful dishware could pop. “I’m very changeable in terms of my taste, I’m always looking to update my home accessories,” Jo shared. Before contacting Sweeten, she actually removed the tile floors herself. From there, she posted her project to Sweeten and was matched with a general contractor.

kitchen renovationAfter: To better connect the kitchen to the rest of the home, Jo’s contractor created a look-through window in the wall that was blocking it off. Jo would’ve preferred to knock down the whole wall, but the building’s intercom system kept them from doing so. It ended up being the perfect spot to display plants!

Jo focused her creative energy on curating materials, from the flooring to the appliances. She took inspiration from her travels. In Portugal, she discovered that cork was a popular flooring choice. It’s easy to clean, matches with parquet floors in her apartment, and is also very forgiving (Jo has dropped dishes from five feet or so off the ground—without them breaking!). The bamboo shelves, one that serves as a drying rack above the sink (similar to this renovator’s), were a play off of what she’d seen in Europe, too. Jo ordered the shelves, made some design modifications, and had her contractor execute the plans, sealing them to receive wet dishes.

kitchen kitchen sinkWhile most of the job went smoothly, Sweeten stepped in at one point to help with some miscommunication regarding the cabinetry—which was all resolved in just a day and a half.

This was Jo’s third renovation, so she came to the table with plenty of experience—and advice for first-timers. Namely, write everything down! Communication discrepancies are natural, so the best way to avoid them is to put everything in an email—and send follow-ups as needed. “I took the entire contract and expanded on it, because I didn’t want there to be any gaps,” she said. 

Her attention to detail paid off: “I love being in the new space, it’s enabled me to have more family celebrations.” 

kitchen cabinetssliding doors

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Bonus: Jo painted the sliding doors in the adjacent dining space herself. They open up into a big walk-in closet.

Style finds
: Kitchen cabinets: 21st Century Cabinetry. Oversized white glass tile backsplash: Home Depot. Blue penny tile backsplash: Bargain Tile. Bamboo shelves modified by contractor: Kitchen Edge. Cork floor: Globus Cork. Glass cabinet pulls: Restoration Hardware. Refrigerator and dishwasher: Samsung. Stove: Blue Star

Find out how much it costs to renovate a kitchen in New York City.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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