A Galley Kitchen Gets a Scandinavian Look

Jen’s Crown Heights cook space maximizes its minimalism

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, white kitchen

Project: Renovate a kitchen in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Before: Jen rented in neighborhoods across Brooklyn for 10 years before she bought her first apartment in a 1937 Crown Heights co-op building. She fell in love with how open the space was—with the exception of the tight, closed-in kitchen. It had recently been renovated, but with cheaper, run-of-the-mill materials that didn’t quite match Jen’s style. “I’m a huge fan of the simple, Scandinavian vibe,” she said. (Think: neutral calming colors, simple design and warm touches for that hygge life). Jen purchased the 950-square-foot apartment with the intention to renovate, but decided to wait to get a better sense of how’d she use it.

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“I had a pretty clear vision of the aesthetics and giving myself that extra year solidified those design decisions. My sofa faces the kitchen, so I’d spend more hours than I’d like to admit looking at it and imagining what I’d do,” Jen said.

Though the kitchen had an opening leading to the living room, it still felt closed off to the rest of the apartment because working surfaces were behind a wall. “A weird empty space in the left part of the kitchen was supposed to be an eat-in area, but I was never going to use it for that,” she said.

To achieve the sleek yet warm kitchen of her dreams, Jen posted her project on Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, and chose her Sweeten contractor.

After: A wall came down and in its place, a peninsula was installed to connect the kitchen and living room. Instead of building out full upper cabinets, Jen opted for open shelving for an airy feel, and took advantage of the extra space on the left side of the kitchen to add more base cabinetry. “Though I heard my share of conflicting opinions about open shelving, I’m so glad I stuck to my guns,” she said. The old flooring was replaced with wood to match the living area. An integrated dishwasher and counter-depth fridge were installed for that European vibe. Jen did have to compromise on a built-in gas cooktop and wall oven due to electrical restrictions, but ultimately attained the minimal look she was aiming for.

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Now that she’s a veteran renovator, Jen offers a few words of wisdom. For one, start putting together a materials list before you even hire a contractor. Jen assembled a spreadsheet with everything from appliances to light fixtures (browsing Sweeten reno posts and their detailed source lists definitely helped out) to keep track of things she loved, and to see if they went on sale.

She loved the transformation so much, choosing a favorite element was nearly impossible. “Is it cheating if I say the entire kitchen [is my favorite?] I’m still stunned by how transformed the space is with the wall gone.” She added, “Frankly, I never want to leave my apartment.”

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

Bonus: Jen recommends adding drawers to base cabinets for easier access to dishes. “I’m a shorty, so having all my dishes in drawers, instead of having to reach for them on my tippy toes, has been awesome,” she said.

Style finds: Cabinet pulls: Berenson. Countertops: Caesarstone. Paint in Chantilly Lace: Benjamin Moore. Sink in Anthracite Granite: Blanco. Faucet: Delta Faucet. Lighting: Progress LightingDishwasher, stove, vent, cabinet fronts, open shelves: Ikea.

Marc and Steve restored an outdated kitchen on the border of Greenwood and Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

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