Rima’s IKEA Kitchen and Bathroom Renovation – Sweetened!

Four years of wishing and hoping for a modern kitchen and bathroom brought this first-time renovator to Sweeten. Read on for Rima’s take on her brand new Brooklyn renovation!

ikea kitchen renovation
Guest post by Rima Rivera, Brooklyn homeowner

I purchased my one-bedroom apartment in the Clinton Hill Co-ops five years ago after a very extensive search. I loved the vibe there and thought the apartment had great bones — and moving from Manhattan, it was larger than any recent apartment I’d had. The place was in decent enough condition when I bought it, but I had every intention of modernizing it. Of course, I couldn’t do it right away because I was financially exhausted after the purchase. So for four years, I sat in my living room fantasizing about my dream apartment, trying to muster up the courage and the money I would need to embark on a major renovation. I was familiar with Sweeten after neighbors recommended the site and frequently used the blog for inspiration. When I was finally ready to pull the trigger, I knew who to call.

I posted my renovation project and Sweeten linked me with Sweeten Expert Bobby. Bobby was a perfect find for someone like me (overwhelmed and a total novice at the whole renovation process!). I told Bobby that I wanted to modernize the kitchen and bathroom and lay down a new floor. I also told him I would love to open up the kitchen and extend it out into the dining area, but I feared that the irregular layout would not allow for it and that I would be limited to working within the constraints of the small space. Bobby assured me that he would be able to tear down the entry wall to the galley kitchen and also open a pass-through on the main kitchen wall so that I’d be able to get more light into the apartment.


As the project started, the new pass-through kept getting bigger and bigger until Bobby suggested I just tear down the entire wall and consider an open-concept kitchen. There was a heating pipe that obviously couldn’t be removed, and we learned that we could not move the stove to the opposite wall, so I couldn’t visualize how it would be done. Bobby is also a designer and when he provided me with a 3-D image that incorporated a hanging range hood, I was totally over the moon, though still skeptical that he could pull it off.

In the meanwhile, I had to decide on materials and fixtures, and although I spent four years daydreaming of this big event, I totally froze and hit a wall of indecision and doubt. Do I go with shaker-style cabinets or modern gloss, Ikea or custom, pedestal sink or storage vanity, dark floors or light? Color was the only easy choice for me since I’m not a fan of color…all my picks seemed to lead to gray or white.

kitchen with ikea cabinets

L-shaped kitchen remodel

Ringhult glossy cabinets from IKEA

I finally decided on the Ringhult glossy cabinet series from Ikea for the kitchen with white upper cabinets and gray on the bottom, split by a snow white quartz countertop. I decided on light maple for the floors after Bobby advised me to check out Hamilton Carpet One Floors in Maspeth, and I was able to floor the entire apartment with mid-size plank engineered wood at a reasonable price. The new wood flooring has a nice matte finish and really transformed the look and feel of the apartment, making it seem larger and fresher. 

My last bout with indecision was at the very end. What to do about the backsplash…

Because I went with subway tiles in the bathroom, I was leaning toward doing the same in the kitchen. But since I was only tiling a small area, family and friends attempted to push me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to go for something bold and colorful. I didn’t go with subway tiles but I did disappoint a few folks after passing again on color and choosing a gray and white hex tile that I purchased from Home Tile Center of NY in LIC. I personally love those tiles!

hex tile backsplash

butcher wood countertop

I replaced everything in the bathroom – new tiles, new tub, new toilet, new sink, new storage. I had basic white subway tiles in mind from the start and chose a porcelain floor tile with a faux-wood finish in a large, modern size. I fit in new under-sink storage with Ikea’s Godmorgon glossy gray bathroom vanity and also added a wall-mounted cabinet facing the vanity and beveled medicine cabinet.

ikea bathroom remodel

bathroom mirror cabinets

bathroom subway tiles

The whole process came together seamlessly — something you don’t hear often when it comes to renovation jobs. There were no major hiccups and Bobby helped me control costs often making cost-saving recommendations. At the end, I had extra money to modernize the hardware on all the doors and open up the entrance to my bedroom closet, installing double doors. Happily, I no longer have to stretch and reach blindly for my favorite wool sweater.

The next phase, in hopefully the not-too-distant future: recessed lighting!


Kitchen Selects >> floors: Hamilton Carpet One / cabinets: Ringhult IKEA / countertops: snow white quartz / backsplash tile: Home Tile Center NY / hardware: IKEA / fridge: Maytag / stove: Samsung

Bathroom Selects >> sink vanity: Godmorgon IKEA / wall tiles: Home Depot / floor tiles: Functional Sculpture Tile Shop / toilet: Toto / fixtures: Kohler  

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

  • shelia ellis

    love love it could you share where you purchased the shower curtain?

  • Barbara

    Love this! Bookmarked!

  • Rima Rivera

    The shower curtain was purchased from Schoolhouse Electric.

  • Becky

    I’ve been searching for the perfect backsplash for my 1040’s home. Yours is perfect! Does it have a name?

  • Rima Rivera

    Hi Becky, yes, it’s called blue stone hexagon tile.

  • Becky

    Thank you. Your renovation is gorgeous, and that tile is perfect!

  • W

    May I ask about the approximate cost of this reno? Thank you.

  • renee

    Hi Becky,
    Can you tell me where you purchased your medicine cabinet?
    Thank you.

  • Haile

    As a neighbor, I love this renovation – great job!

  • Vicki A.

    Hi, I also would love to know where the beveled medicine cabinet is from. Is it from Ikea too? I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and have been looking for exactly what you chose. I love gray and white, I think your whole apartment is gorgeous, especially the backsplash. The neutral colors are calming and if you decide you want to change up down the road, you can just buy new towels, jars, etc. I am green with envy over your upper kitchen cabinets!
    The whole thing is so well done!

  • Rima

    Hi, thank you all for your gracious comments. For those who are interested in the medicine cabinet, I brought it at Amazon and it was sold by Buildcom: KOHLER K-CB-CLC2526FS 25-by-26-by-5-Inch Double Door Aluminum Cabinet. It was priced for 177.00 at the time.

  • Anna

    Thank you so much for sharing your reno story. I have such similar fears and questions that your story resonated perfectly to me. Been wanting to do an affordable Ikea kitchen (in similar colors) but have been so indecisive about materials, construction, contractor and design. Need someone just like your contractor so I’m really glad you had a good experience with Sweeten to inspire confidence. Hope I will be able to utilize the same in the future. Thanks again! Another Brooklynite.

  • Victoria

    Love, love, love this renovation story! You have inspired me to one day tackle renovating my bathroom and kitchen with your ‘Buddy’!

  • Bill Ballesteros

    The redesign of the open kitchen is great. The contractor installed the dropped arch to prevent the spread fire in your kitchen. Not too many contractors do that. Just one question. How was the kitchen hood exhaust out? Was it through the roof or exterior wall?

  • Becky

    Rima, I have searched high and low for blue stone hexagon tile to no avail. Do you know the manufacturer? I have put off installing a backsplash because I’ve never found one that looked authentic yet modern. Yours is perfection! Thanks again, Becky

  • Rima

    Bill, the hood did not have an exhaust out. It was attached to exterior wall.

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  • 325RF

    Both rooms look great; excellent design and I love all of the choices you made in materials. Your place looks fantastic!

  • Gorgeous!!! My apologies if you have already mentioned… Where is the blue-ish couch from, peaking out of the living room? Thanks!

    • Rima

      It’s from Ikea. It’s their dark grey Soderhamn couch.

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  • Wow this is a really nice looking reno. I really like the floating range hood.

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