A Fresh Home Renovation Trend: Mint as a Neutral


light green galley kitchenPale yellow used to be the cheerful go-to color and beige was the sought-after neutral; now, mint is quickly becoming a popular home renovation trend, popping up in newly-renovated kitchens. Mint brings a light and fresh vibe. Here, examples of this kitchen design trend recently completed by Sweeten contractors. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

A galley kitchen goes minty-green

Laura and Tim lived in their 1929 brick townhouse in Rego Park, Queens, for many years before deciding to renovate. They loved their home. However, it became what Laura calls “grungy and old.” The kitchen had been damaged by a leaky shower from the bathroom above and needed new cabinets, flooring, and wall treatments.

The couple turned to Sweeten for the overhaul. Their contractor enclosed an outdoor patio connecting it to the back of the kitchen. With the introduction of skylights and a new color palette, the kitchen became a cheerful space for the family to gather.

Laura and Tim selected Shaker-style cabinet fronts in mint green. The hue “matches the feel of the old house but is also clean and modern at the same time,” said Laura. Moreover, the brushed bronze hardware and stainless-steel appliances provide a nice contrast. “The kitchen came out beautifully,” Laura said.

The mint home renovation trend brings the outside, inside

Two years after buying their two-bedroom apartment in Queens, Gina and Andrew decided to renovate. The couple wanted to fix the kitchen’s small, awkward layout and create a space that would inspire them to cook. After hiring a Sweeten general contactor, they were on their way.

The pair was inspired by the lovely mix of greens in their co-op courtyard. To bring this into their design, they chose beautiful lower cabinets in the shade of agave. Warm brass hardware stands out against the more muted green cabinets. “I never used to cook and after our renovation, I’m cooking up a storm,” said Andrew.

A compromise on color becomes a designer kitchen

Design is definitely in this couple’s wheelhouse. A former architect and interior designer, Maggie and Adam knew that they would have to make some concessions when designing their co-op. Their focus: the kitchen.

Their kitchen was small and outdated. Luckily, they were able to make it much larger by removing the surrounding wall, changing the location of the refrigerator, and adding shelves instead of upper cabinets.

According to the couple, the kitchen really reveals the way they communicate. “The kitchen shows the full-scale of compromise between our distinct design ideas,” said Adam. “For instance, the light green lower cabinets add the layer of color that fit her style, but have a gray tone that doesn’t stray from my own style.”

It was important to Maggie to “add a personal touch, warmth, and texture to the kitchen,” which they achieved through the mint-green cabinetry—a style that is classic yet contemporary.

Find more inspiration in the Before & After: Kitchen edition.

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 with Sweeten.

 



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8 Paneling Designs to Hide a Fridge Door


Let your fridge blend neatly into its surroundings with these paneling ideas

One of the first things you notice in a kitchen is the refrigerator. It is big and usually holds souvenir magnets, wedding invitations, or to-do lists. With more homes featuring open-plan layouts, its size and boxy shape interfere with the visual harmony. Paneling and built-ins can help hide a fridge door and integrate it into cabinetry, unifying the look of the entire kitchen.

The homeowners below lassoed their oh-so-necessary refrigerator into functional design statements with their general contractors from Sweeten. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

A custom touch for a fridge

For their East Hampton kitchen, homeowners Jennifer and Alex wanted to keep the redesign simple but inviting. They chose to add a large island for entertaining and splurged on a wine fridge and quartz countertops. To make the design more modern, they decided to install an integrated refrigerator, which streamlined the look of the cabinetry.

refrigerator paneling

A repurposed structure

When Ainsley and Simon’s architect discovered that the column in the kitchen was merely decorative, they came up with a plan to tuck the refrigerator inside of it and add custom panels. “You don’t look at it and think it is a fridge at all,” Ainsley said.

refrigerator paneling to hide fridge door

A seamless built-in

Lauren’s front door led directly into the kitchen. She had to choose between a traditional entryway or a hybrid space that would add square footage to the kitchen.  She chose the latter and added a seamless wall of cabinetry with a refrigerator and pantry—plus, a coat closet.
kitchen storage and integrated refrigerator

A wall of closets

To improve the flow between their living and kitchen space, Tara and Brian’s contractor came up with an idea to move the refrigerator to a wall already outfitted with closets. Now the refrigerator fits right in with the cabinetry instead of jutting out in the main cooking space.

refrigerator paneling

A fridge in disguise

Casey and Kumar’s apartment is full of clever storage solutions to maximize their limited space. The kitchen is one such example thanks to creative built-ins, which also hide the fridge door. Custom cabinetry covers the refrigerator along with a neighboring pantry, and the whole unit conceals a structural column.

wooden cabinets to hide fridge door

Closet-turn-fridge spot

Scandinavian chic was the look that homeowners Roxana and Gabriel were going for in their Long Island City loft.  They turned to a Sweeten contractor who was able to update their space to match their minimalistic style. The refrigerator, which moved from the main kitchen area into what was formerly a coat closet proved to be one of the biggest challenges. They had to find the right size appliance and custom cut the Ikea panels to fit.  

Panels unify the kitchen

Creating an open concept living arrangement was the biggest goal for this Manhattan couple. They took down the dividing wall between the kitchen and family room and replaced it with a custom unit with storage on both sides. It was really important to the couple that they fit a fully integrated Sub-Zero refrigerator and other standard-sized appliances. “They [general contractor team] worked with me through a few kitchen iterations until we found a great open layout that permitted full-size appliances,” the homeowner shared.

A puzzle of panels

Less like appliances, more like furniture—that was Sally’s directive for her kitchen renovation. Her contractor built out a wall of cabinets covering the refrigerator, a pantry, and added narrow units designed to hold brooms and mops, too. 

Set your calendar. Here’s how long an average kitchen renovation will take.

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 with Sweeten.



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A Rental Property Upgrade into a Spacious Williamsburg Apartment


Walls go up in a sleek upgrade to a Williamsburg rental property

rental property updates to Williamsburg loft

“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten

Appealing to the ideal renter

Originally when entrepreneur, we will call him AC, bought his apartment,  he intended to live there himself. However, after a few months, he decided it would make an even better investment property as a rental. To make it more renter-friendly, he wanted to enclose the upstairs loft. Doing so would convert the apartment into a two-bedroom —opening it up to a whole new market. He also wanted the design of the space to reflect the neighborhood vibe and attract young professionals with a modern aesthetic and lifestyle. To take on this rental property upgrade, he needed a professional for the renovation.

Finding the renovation team

AC posted his project on Sweeten and hired this general contractor. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

“The contractor I found through Sweeten was great because he was very flexible with the changes to the scope of the work,” says AC. “Plus, the Sweeten team was accommodating and always on top of looking after my project.”

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Choosing the finishes

To appeal to young professionals, AC chose on-trend luxe materials and finishes. He put in brass hardware that pops against the deep-blue kitchen cabinets. The cabinets weren’t originally this color, but AC knew that simply painting this rich hue would drastically change the look of the space. He was right. It went from drab to sophisticated.

He also made other smart paint choices. He brought the stair railing up-to-date with a new coat of paint and gave one of the bedrooms a masculine dark-blue accent wall. The bathroom was refreshed as well, adding interest with gray walls instead of plain white. 

upgraded bathroom sink in rental property

Creating a second bedroom

A lot of the renovation was more behind-the-scenes. The newly-enclosed bedroom required the electrical to be rewired and recessed lighting was added. They also changed the narrow hallway into a more useful space by configuring it as a small office area. 

AC’s advice to those thinking of renovation? “Just to be realistic,” he says. “With little changes, you can make a big impact.”

Thank you, AC, for sharing the results of your rental property upgrade.

Style Finds: Paint: Farrow & Ball. Kitchen hardware: CB2.

Check out another inspiring loft renovation.

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 with Sweeten.



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The 411 On Kitchen Cabinet Door Designs


kitchen cabinet styles

There are many decisions that go into a kitchen renovation—it can be hard knowing where to start! Selecting cabinets is one of the most important decisions you will make. They not only affect the overall design aesthetic of your space; but also your budget. It is important to understand the types of doors available, as they’re the focal point of the actual cabinets. Here, Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects, breaks down the most common types of cabinet doors, plus the different kitchen cabinet door designs being used in kitchen renovations today.

TYPES OF KITCHEN CABINET DOORS

Before we get into the different kitchen cabinet door designs, let’s review the types of doors. There are two main types of cabinet doors: inset and overlay. These are also called “partial” and “full”.

  • An inset door is typically more expensive than overlay varieties, and has doors and drawers that sit flush inside the face frame. This design has been around for many years and is often associated with Shaker and Mission styles.
  • A full-overlay door is one that almost completely covers the cabinet face and leaves only a short portion of the frame exposed. This creates a uniform look found in contemporary cabinetry. Because of the extra material needed to cover the face, these doors usually cost more than the less expensive partial-overlay. A partial overlay door is exactly what it sounds like—it partially covers the cabinet face, leaving between a one- to two-inch frame. Smaller apartments or starter homes often feature this type of design. 

TYPES OF STYLES

Cabinet Door Designs: Open Panel

 

An open panel simply means that the door itself has no center panel, which can be filled with any material. The most popular material for open panels is glass and mullions. In the photos above, we see how Sweeten renovators have incorporated open-panels with glass fronts into their kitchens. There are many reasons to add glass-door fronts into cabinet designs. For example, glass-door fronts can be used to break up the monotony of multiple cabinets of the same material in larger kitchens.

Renovators have used open panel cabinets to display family keepsakes and/or beautiful glasses and dishes. They also provide an added depth to make smaller spaces appear larger. Or, they can just be a nice compromise between fully-closed cabinets and open-shelving. For one Sweeten renovator, they decided to install cabinets top and bottom with glass fronts, displaying their favorite cookbooks, wine collection, and larger culinary gear.

Cabinet Door Designs: Raised Panels

 

First, what is a raised-panel cabinet door? It is a door that is made of a frame with a panel in the middle that is “raised” to be flush with the frame itself. These tend to be more traditional in style and have a high level of detail that can be intricate. They draw the eye in, adding depth and interest to the cabinet design.

For one Sweeten renovator, replacing the cabinets didn’t fit in with their budget (they were also tackling other rooms in their home as well as the kitchen) so they opted to refinish their country-style cabinets with a more updated gray hue, keeping the look of the raised panel doors. Other Sweeten renovators specifically chose raised-panel cabinet doors to match their colonial-style home in Brooklyn. They ordered them in a gray-blue color and paired with brushed-gold accents to make their kitchen feel modern yet warm.

Cabinet Door Designs: Recessed Panels

 

Recessed panel doors are known for their streamlined look and lack of decoration. The most widely recognized style of recessed-panel cabinet doors are Shaker-style cabinets. The style dates back over 200 years when the Shaker community flourished on the East Coast. The Shakers were known for growing their own food, making their own tools, and crafting their own furniture. This is how the Shaker door originated. Although Shaker cabinet door history goes back hundreds of years, it is considered a more contemporary option in kitchen design. They are good at blending into many different styles of kitchens—from contemporary to traditional to transitional.

When homeowners Erin and Jonathan hired a general contractor through Sweeten,  they knew they wanted a more contemporary look for their 750-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn. They opted for sleek stainless-steel appliances and a dramatic waterfall island topped with marble-like quartz. But they wanted some classic updates, too, like Shaker-style cabinets and a herringbone tile backsplash. For another Sweeten renovator who redid her kitchen in her 1929 townhouse, she decided upon Shaker fronts in a minty green to “match the feel of the old house but also to be clean and modern at the same time.”

Cabinet Door Designs: Slab/Flat Front

 

The defining characteristic of slab cabinets (sometimes referred to as flat front) is the lack of a frame and panel. They are a sleek option for those looking for a modern sensibility in their kitchen spaces. Minimalist by design, slab-front cabinet doors lack expensive detail but still create a luxurious look as seen in this kitchen by Sweeten renovator and chef Arnish. To use his own words, Arnish wanted a “sleek, modern, and high-end” kitchen, so he chose bright white cabinets with a slab front and instead of handles or pulls, his Sweeten contractor recommended “tip and touch” for a cleaner look.

When homeowners Roxana and Gabriel were thinking of updating their Long Island City, Queens, loft, they wanted it to be in keeping with their Scandinavian, minimalist style: integrated appliances with all clean lines and everything stowed away in cabinets and drawers.

When selecting cabinets for your kitchen, it comes down to personal preference. Do you want a more modern, streamlined look, which can be achieved by slab or recessed panel cabinet doors? Or, do you like more traditional raised panels and glass fronts? Either way, the choice is yours. We hope this guide to kitchen cabinet door designs helped you narrow down your style preference and added some inspiration along the way as well! 

These kitchen organizational ideas are conversation-starters. Click here to jumpstart your kitchen wishlist.

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 with Sweeten.



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11 Takes on a Work From Home Space


open kitchen and dining space with desk(Above) Erin and Chris’ home office

We may call them laptops, but we all know that a desk and it’s organizational layout is the crucial formula for any work from home space. Whether you have a whole room or a section of a single wall to use, you can still create the functional working space that you need.

See how the homeowners below turned to Sweeten, a free service that connects renovating homeowners with vetted general contractors, for help transforming closets, spare bedrooms, corners of living rooms and kitchens—and even a stairway landing—into efficient places to get work done.

Kitchens do double duty with office nooks

For many families, the kitchen is the heart of the home, where they spend most of their time. Kitchen desks provide space away from the cooking mayhem, especially for anyone without a designated room for an office. These Sweeten renovators added this feature into their homes and created a perch for recipe-reading or working from home.

white kitchen with desk

A separate office wasn’t in the cards for Laura and Randy, but they found a solution: a kitchen desk niche. It’s right off the main kitchen area and matches the rest of the white cabinetry. Bold, patterned wallpaper gives the desk a sense of separation from the rest of the kitchen, too.

blue kitchen with work from home space

With climbing prices in her Fort Greene co-op building, Mollie faced a problem. She could cash out (but deal with the huge hassle of moving) or stay where she was. The neighborhood was ideal, but the look of her outdated studio apartment was not. She decided to remain and turned to a Sweeten contractor to help fix-up her 500-square-foot home. Her contractor came up with a plan to update her kitchen and found space within it for a desk nook, which Mollie made her own by adding interesting patterns and bold blue hues.

kitchen nook for work from home space

Barbra and Sean waited almost 10 years before renovating their 1,100-square-foot home in Kensington, Brooklyn. After living there for so long, they knew exactly what they wanted and what they needed to make their space work better for their family. Their kitchen had an existing spot for a desk so it seemed natural to carve out a similar area in their fully remodeled kitchen as well. The renovators found a desk that fit right into the opening, and used leftover wallpaper from their foyer to give it a finished look.

Turn spare bedrooms into your home office

If you have a spare bedroom, you can turn it—or just a part of it–into a beautiful workspace like the homeowners below. Bedrooms usually have good lighting, with natural sunlight from windows as well as overhead lights. Closet space can also be used for extra work materials or storage.

spare bedroom converted to work from home space

When Jenifer Herrmann, a media executive, and her partner, Mitzie Wong, a designer, painter and co-founder of creative design firm Roar + Rabbit, found a two-bed, two-bath apartment for sale at a price that left them with a renovation budget, they snapped up the 1,050-square-foot condominium. In addition to kitchen and bathroom renovations, creating a home office space for Mitzie was a priority for their remodel. They turned the second bedroom into a home office—a perfect space since Mitzie really wanted to separate work from life with an office that could contain her art materials, books, and growing plant collection. 

second bedroom turned into work from home space

Having a work from home space was essential for first-time renovators Maria and Eric. They planned to include a home office in their 850-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in Woodside, Queens. They worked with their Sweeten contractor to convert the second bedroom into a small office and designed it to keep with the Scandinavian-chic aesthetic featured in the other rooms in their home. 

multipurpose living room with home office

Lavanya, the executive producer for Artifex Productions, a New York City-based production company, and her partner, Regis, did an exhaustive search for just the right apartment to meet their needs. They wanted a railroad-style layout with distinct spaces that could serve different purposes for home and business activities. They found it in a 700-square-foot, two-bedroom condo in South Park Slope, Brooklyn. The long-skinny layout (a style that was introduced in New York City in the mid-19th century) was a perfect layout and could be configured into a private office for Lavanya to work in without feeling like the rest of their home life was overlapping with her space.

Work from home space—in unexpected places

There’s a saying: “There’s nothing that can’t be done.” That is just what these Sweeten renovators believed when trying to incorporate a home office into their small living spaces. With out-of-the-box thinking, they envisioned spaces that would make working from home more comfortable. We love seeing how they squeezed their desks into creative places!

home office nook in corner of room

This beautiful corner apartment in Hudson Heights, Manhattan was a perfect spot for Marisa and Cody’s growing family. They turned to Sweeten to help renovate the space, with the goal of joining the kitchen and living area. They wanted the apartment to “feel open, light, and modern, but warm and homey at the same time.” They were able to fit into the design a desk nook in the corner of one room, utilizing the ceiling height by installing storage cabinets above the desktop. 

SLIDESHOW:

What do you do with that little bit of extra room on your stairway landing? If you are creative like Dianna, an advertising agency director, and Todd, a college professor, you create a small office. The couple lives in a 440-square-foot studio alcove apartment, so space efficiency was critical. The office space is made possible by using a corner table that fits perfectly on the landing and floating shelves for storage and aesthetic interest.

SLIDESHOW:

For the DeChirico sisters, Deanna and Daria, staying in New York City’s Sutton Place neighborhood was a must. So when they found a one-bedroom that they could convert into two, in a 1962 building, they jumped at the chance. They worked with a contractor from Sweeten’s network to revamp the awkwardly laid out space into a charming home. They reduced the size of the master bedroom to make way for a shared 7’ x 10’ walk-in clothes closet. It also fits a home office decked out with a simple white desk, blue-fabric chair, and a desk lamp.

Multipurpose rooms combine work and play

Sometimes you just can’t justify allocating a whole room to an office. Instead, you have to rethink the traditional concept of a home office and utilize what you have. One way to do this: turning parts of other rooms into your work area. Here, a look at two Sweeten renovators who worked with that they had to make efficient, convenient work areas.

a multipurpose room provides work from home space

Since homeowner Toby had working knowledge of design and architecture, he was was very involved in his Manhattan co-op renovation. He partnered with a Sweeten contractor to redo his galley kitchen and the apartment’s single bathroom. The living/dining area was already open and spacious, so it was simply refreshed. He split the room into a dining area, office space, and sitting lounge (not pictured). A truly multi-purpose room!

basement work from home space in QueensGordon and Tracy looked to Sweeten to help them find a general contractor who they could trust to turn their townhouse in the Sunnyside Historic Garden District into a more family-friendly space. They knew they needed to use all three floors so, with the help of their contractor, they transformed the basement into a dual living and utility/storage space, complete with an office area. The floating desk and shelves enlarge the room, leaving space for an entertainment area, cat sanctuary, laundry room, and second bathroom.

Inspired by these renovations? Start planning your own. Here are useful tools to help you plan and budget.

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 with Sweeten.



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A Historic Brownstone Bath Remodel Stays True to Its Roots


On-trend? No. On point? Absolutely.

classic bathroom remodel in BrooklynProject: Bring a vintage pink-and-black bathroom into modern-day while keeping it classic.

Before: For Peggy and Jack, renovating the master bath in their circa late-1800s brownstone in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, was an easy decision: they had leaks in the bathroom that couldn’t be ignored anymore. They were nearing the end of their twins’, Cayley and Sam, college careers so they could refocus their financial commitments. The outdated pink-and-black tile and the oddly-placed shower also contributed to the necessary overhaul. They wanted to modernize their Brooklyn bathroom, but not load it with trendy design statements that’d be “out” in a few years. 

renovator portrait

Before bath remodel pink tileTheir brownstone is configured as an owner-occupied triplex and basement rental unit—and they have grand plans for the historic building in the future. “ We have a multigenerational plan for living in our house, so we aren’t concerned about short-term resale maximization,” says Peggy. “We wanted to stay true to the spirit and look of the classic brownstone style, but update the bathroom with a water-efficient toilet and fixtures.” 

After: “The idea was to have this renovation be fine for decades,” says Peggy. “We wanted something classic, electrical and plumbing up to code, and environmentally friendly but that would respect the aesthetic of our centenarian house.” Installing safety compliant features like easy tub access, grab bars, and non-slip flooring was also a priority. 


They posted their project on Sweetena free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects, and found the right contractor for their Brooklyn bathroom renovation project. 

They originally planned to move the tub under the window, which had been done with their kids’ bathroom a few years ago.  “We like to take baths, and were motivated to expand floor space and have the window view when soaking,” said Peggy. “However, we realized that also meant we couldn’t have grab bars on a  window wall.” 

Their Sweeten contractor referred them to a designer, who then consulted on the space’s layout. The designer suggested leaving the tub in place and moving the toilet to make more space for a larger vanity. Good advice! The end result of the renovation is undeniable: “It’s clean, fresh, serene…and has no leaks!” The couple also used six inches of space behind the shower wall for building in double storage niches.

Bonus: They repurposed their hallway mirror for their bathroom, since it had the vintage feel they wanted. 

Style finds: Vanity: build.com. Hardware: Miele. Bathroom floor tile: Classic Tile. Paint: Benjamin Moore.

WATCH VIDEO:


Check out other small bathroom renovations here.

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



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Five Boroughs, 10 Fixer-Uppers on the Market


Reno-ready properties brimming with potential

In New York City’s always-competitive real estate market, fixer-uppers are the answer to finding the right space at the right price. As evidenced by our before-and-after renovation “reveals” every week, a property can become a dream home with a little TLC and a general contractor you can communicate with and trust. We’re obsessed with scouting on-the-market properties from NYC’s real estate marketplace StreetEasy. Here, we share a few of the currently available homes that will inspire your search.

146 West 121st Street

Located in a neighborhood that routinely sees homes sell for upwards of $4 million, this five-story townhouse in South Harlem is a find. It is currently set up as an SRO (single room occupancy) and has one tenant in place already. It has 11 rooms, eight bedrooms, and three baths and is in need of a renovation, but has original details like fireplaces and wood floors and woodwork. It is a great opportunity for a multi-family investment.

Price: $1,995,000

 

46 Mercer Street #7W

This condo has sweeping views of SoHo—you can see all the way to Hudson Yards. Its 13-foot-high ceiling is pretty impressive as well. Oh, and did we mention the space is primed and ready for renovation? It has been completely gutted, so feel free to bring your general contractor or architect when you check it out to help you envision what your dream apartment could look like. Right now, there is a floor plan for three bedrooms and three baths—but this 2,000-square-foot space can really be what you make of it.

Price: $3,500,000

 

68 Middleton Street

This legal two-family home has a walk-down basement and separate front entrance. It is a three-bedroom-over-two duplex and has an existing footprint of 1,650 square feet. Another property ideal for multi-family investment, its location in popular Williamsburg is just a short walk from the neighborhood’s trendy restaurants and stores, but still has a quaint residential vibe.

Price: $1,500,000

 

1478 East 28th Street #1PP

Renovating a small space can help maximize its potential. Even though this studio apartment is diminutive, it has outsize potential. It has a steady stream of natural light from its living room and bathroom windows—and a large closet to boot. Re-envision the kitchen and spruce up the bathroom and you will have the perfect studio in Midwood, Brooklyn.

Price: $140,000

 

5601 Riverdale Avenue #4T

This co-op in Riverdale is great for commuters, with easy access to the bus, Metro-North train, and major highways. With a little updating, this studio will be a steal, as it also boasts hardwood floors, two rooms, and a bathtub/shower combo. Plus, it is conveniently located near a major shopping plaza and numerous dining establishments. 

Price: $140,000

 

1 Metropolitan Oval #6E

This large one-bedroom condo in Parkchester is appealing for its locale (it is close to shops and restaurants) as well as its potential. It is spacious, featuring a large living area that can take on different configurations, a nook near the kitchen that can be converted into an office or dining space, and a bedroom that can accommodate a king-sized bed and other furniture.

Price: $225,000

 

418 Ilyssa Way

A family room/den, laundry on the top floor, central air—and situated on a cul-du-sac…what more could you ask for? This single-family townhouse in Arden Heights has three baths and two bedrooms and plenty of natural sunlight. The galley kitchen could use a refresh. See some galley kitchen ideas from past Sweeten renovators here.

Price: $349,000

 

140 Daleham Street

Located on a charming, tree-lined street, this Cape-style detached house in Great Kills sits on a 50×100 lot. The homeowners have already done some of the work for you: it has a new roof and windows, as well as maintenance-free Trex decking in the spacious backyard. The basement is ready to be renovated to make it even more family-friendly. The property currently has three bedrooms, one bath, and a wood-burning fireplace—a cozy home in a desirable Staten Island neighborhood.

Price: $568,000

 

53-51 66th Street

This detached Colonial in Maspeth, Queens is a good home for a small family, with its three bedrooms, a finished basement, a detached garage, and a fenced-in backyard. It also has lovely wide-plank floors and three large bedrooms. Some rooms could use updating from an aesthetic standpoint, but the “bones” of a nice family home are all there.

Price: $799,000

 

7618 69th Place #3D

This two-bedroom, two-bath condo in Ridgewood comes with a lot of top perks for city living: views of the Manhattan skyline, a gym, a rooftop deck, a playroom, two elevators, and your own private parking spot. Inside it features 14-foot ceilings, large windows, wood floors, stainless steel appliances, and a washer & dryer. It is move-in ready but the kitchen could use some TLC. (These 11 Sweeten kitchens renovations may spark inspiration.)

Price: $540,000


Here’s how to line up your renovation with your fixer-upper purchase.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. 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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Before & After: Kitchen Edition


A successful kitchen renovation isn’t measured by the number of walls knocked down or the size of a kitchen island. Instead, it’s the thoughtful details and design elements culled over time from Pinterest and the hours of research on materials coming to life that brings the joy for a lifestyle that finally fits you and your family.

Here we look at 11 kitchens renovated by homeowners who came to Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects. Some were major transformations removing walls, creating built-ins, and adding new windows, while others proved that smart improvements in space efficiency, updated materials, and renewed layouts gave them the overall refreshes they wanted. 

From outdated to classic gray

After living on Long Island for many years, Rosalind and Lawrence were ready to downsize and return to their beloved former hometown of Brooklyn. They purchased a 100-year-old home in Cypress Hills and slowly started renovating the outdated spaces. After refreshes of two bathrooms, a staircase, and a walk-in closet were complete, they decided to turn their attention to the kitchen.

The main problem besides the yellow walls, dated wooden cabinets, and orange-tiled backsplash, was the lack of storage. Rosalind was forced to store her larger appliances like the slow cooker and mixer in the living room. So, with the help of a Sweeten contractor, the couple reimagined their layout and added a kitchen island that doubles as storage as well as a convenient gathering spot. Rosalind chose gray tones throughout and accented them with interesting geometric shapes.


Same layout, more storage

Shoko and Rob really liked their 900-square-foot apartment in Harlem, New York. The only thing that gnawed at them was the “orange-y cabinetry, shiny black appliances, and brown countertop.” So they decided to take the plunge and redo the small kitchen. 

They did their research and found information from designer Keren Richter on how to make the most of their cook space and turned to Sweeten to execute their vision. In addition to overhauling the look of the kitchen, they wanted to improve the flow and functionality with more storage as their top goal. Their original kitchen didn’t take advantage of the ceiling height so they extended the new upper cabinetry to get as close as possible to the ceiling. In all, they were able to create a minimalist style yet warm space to cook in and entertain.


Dark and dated to contemporary chic

How do you make a house feel more like a loft apartment? First, you open up the layout so that you have an unobstructed sightline across the first floor. For Romuald and his family, this meant tearing down a wall between the kitchen and the main living space. To regain the storage space lost by removing the cabinets on that wall, they decided to do what many do: build an island. 

They also added other design touches to fit into their cooking-centric lives. Their Sweeten contractor suggested they install an “appliance garage” to make their countertop less cluttered. Being avid cooks, Romuald and his wife have a lot of small appliances, including a toaster, coffee maker, and mixer, that would be nicely concealed—but yet easily accessible—by this storage solution. They also put in a pot-filler above the stove and a microwave drawer in the island. 

The warm gray cabinets complement the white quartz countertop and the classic subway tile of the backsplash. For ease of cleaning and added durability, Romuald installed a porcelain floor that mimics the look of real wood.


Island design

Veteran renovators Jennifer and Joe always knew their New Jersey apartment wouldn’t be complete without a kitchen remodel. They, like many homeowners, wanted an open-concept layout in order to see the amazing views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, and George Washington Bridge that their apartment affords. 

They asked their Sweeten contractor to knock down a wall to get better sightlines to the wall of windows in their living room. Unfortunately, the entire wall could not be removed as it was load-bearing. So their contractor took down as much of the wall as possible and utilized the rest of the space to house the refrigerator. 

Jennifer and Joe based the design entirely around the marble waterfall island, which features a deep black base with white veins throughout the countertop. The color palette of the entire kitchen plays off the two tones, with glossy black drawers and all-white upper and lower cabinetry as well as a white quartz countertop. Not one detail was spared, from the under-cabinet lighting to the textured backsplash.


Midcentury Scandi meets Italian modern

“I wanted midcentury Scandi meets 70s Italian modern,” says Brooklyn Sweeten homeowner Melissa of her design preference for her kitchen. The co-op building itself had a midcentury vibe so she wanted to continue it inside. 

First things first, her Sweeten contractor removed walls that were blocking off the kitchen from the living area. Once that was complete, natural sunlight bathed the entire apartment. She carefully selected a mix of different materials (matte concrete floor and counters) as well as warmer accents in her textile and paint choices. A built-in shelf intersects over a new peninsula for additional seating. She didn’t move the plumbing (which is an added cost) or change the location of the appliances. 


From the ’80s to modern industrial

For their one-bedroom co-op in a 19th-century converted warehouse, homeowners Dan and Mike wanted to bring their 1980s kitchen into a new era. While they desired a nod to the industrial roots of the building, they did want the aesthetic to be balanced.

They hired a Sweeten contractor to help redefine the space. To create an open floor plan, a wall was removed as well as the upper cabinets, which were replaced with beautiful open shelves of salvaged Douglas Fir. The base cabinets were updated from laminate to a full set of IKEA cabinets and drawers, customized by Semihandmade. A modern waterfall countertop on the peninsula was used to visually separate the kitchen entry. They also utilized different natural and synthetic wood finishes to maintain a measure of warmth and masculinity.


A dark kitchen sees the (natural) light 

Even after tackling other updates to their colonial-style home, Nydia and Jonathan knew that renovating their Brooklyn kitchen was a top priority. The old version had mismatched appliances, dated cabinets, and not enough counter space. The dark space hardly felt welcoming (or functional) for their family of five. 

They turned to Sweeten to help with the construction process, hiring a trusted contractor from its carefully vetted network. The project involved rethinking the layout to opening up the stairway to the basement, which is accessed via the kitchen. The renovation helped key kitchen elements find new locations: the refrigerator moved out of the main cooking area, the dishwasher now sits directly across from the sink, and the walls surrounding the basement stairs were taken down. By replacing existing cabinets with ceiling-height ones and adding a peninsula, the space was really transformed.


From functional to fabulous

A mutual love of cooking (and of cooking together) ultimately led Marissa and Jeremy to renovate their small kitchen in their Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, co-op. The space was so cramped that it brought about a special house rule: Only one person allowed in the kitchen at a time when cooking in order to keep the peace. 

Twenty-four inches of usable counter space was quintupled through the renovation, while other unique elements were added to suit the couple’s preferences and lifestyle. For example, they went non-traditional for the backsplash, using an antique mirror. They also installed a ventless washer/dryer combo unit and removed the space-invading gas dryer vent. “While a gas dryer dries clothes much faster than a ventless dryer, I wanted the extra counter space more than I wanted clothes dried in 20 minutes,” Marissa said. They capped off the gas vent and went long with the back counter. “I am excited about so many parts of our kitchen that I don’t know if I can pick a favorite!” she said.


A modern vision brought to life through an extension

For Laura and Tim, they decided they needed to do something about their kitchen that was “falling apart”—it had water damage from a leaky shower upstairs, the door to the patio was drafty, the cabinets were dark and “grungy,” and it generally just needed some fixing up.

The couple consulted their friend and designer Suzy Leon of Suzy Leon Design, Ltd. and came up with a plan to gut the existing kitchen but also enclose their back patio. The additional interior square footage would connect and provide a better flow between the kitchen, dining room, and outdoor space. The new enclosure would feature skylights to brighten the space. 

They kept the galley layout but chose a light color palette in the “minty” green shaker cabinets to offset the dark plank wood floors. White quartz countertops were utilized to help make the flow look more open and airy.


Reaching new heights—with less ceiling

With an 18-inch tiny dishwasher, an oven that wasn’t big enough to fit a cookie tray, and a kitchen sitting underneath a loft, a renovation was long overdue for this mom who cooked five nights a week.

One major challenge homeowners Emily and Trey faced was the inability to move the building’s intercom system that was smack in the middle of the kitchen. They hired a Sweeten contractor who came up with a good solution: create an L-shaped peninsula to accommodate the immovable pole—and give them more space and storage at the same time.

In addition to the new peninsula, they were also able to get rid of the loft above, which increased the ceiling height drastically. The result was a well-thought-out new kitchen perfect for the family of four’s busy lifestyle.


First time’s a charm

Jennifer and Jonn couldn’t believe their luck when they found their 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom duplex in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was the perfect location for their family of two kids and a dog. The story goes that the co-op was the result of combining three one-bedroom apartments to create a huge two-level residence with sole access to a sprawling rear garden. Voila! The perfect home…but with one catch: It needed to be renovated. 

The couple had their work cut out for them with this space that hadn’t been updated since the ’70s. They hired a contractor through Sweeten who was able to transform their white laminate kitchen into a light-filled galley kitchen with an eat-in banquette. They used shaker cabinets and five-panel doors while incorporating metals like brass lights and stainless steel appliances for a modern look.

Kitchens are arguably one of the most pivotal spaces in our homes. From giving us a gathering point to break bread together to providing space to tackle assignments and hobbies; every kitchen should deliver the kind of peace of mind (and organizational flow) that homeowners need. 

Inspired to renovate your kitchen? Check out Sweeten’s cost guides here.

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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A Bath Refresh: From Leaky to Luxe


A renovator redoes her bath out of necessity and finds the beauty in it

Project: Fix leaky plumbing in a Manhattan co-op and while you’re at it, renovate the entire bath

Before: When commercial photographer, Veronica, moved into her Upper West Side apartment in 2014, she considered it move-in ready.  “All I had to do was paint and tile the kitchen,” she explains. “I hoped to redo the bathroom one day, but it seemed like an overwhelming and big job—and especially expensive in New York City.”

Cut to a few years later. She received a complaint from her neighbors directly below and after investigating, it turned out her tub was leaking into their apartment. “I had a plumber check it out, and he confirmed I’d have to get the tub replaced to fix the leak,” says Veronica. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that meant the attached surrounding tile would need to be replaced. “It kind of became a domino effect of redoing everything, but I figured it was a good time to make some upgrades,” she says. 

Veronica was more than happy to get rid of the outdated beige tile and grimy old jet tub and posted her project on Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects. “I was really looking forward to designing a bathroom that had a walk-in shower with a glass door,” she says. The light fixture didn’t work and the vanity was small and crammed in next to the shower so it was a no-brainer to replace those as well. 

After: The bathroom was transformed from a basic beige bathroom into a rich, modern space. Through Sweeten, Veronica found the contractor who would renovate her space with her vision in mind. “The bathroom got very little light to begin with so I decided to embrace the cave-like atmosphere and go dark,” Veronica says.

Black bathroom tile

She added matte brass fixtures for warmth as well as marble floor tile for texture. “My favorite thing is the walk-in shower,” says Veronica. “It’s so much easier to clean, it makes the tiny space feel more open, and it gives a modern look and feel.” 

Having a wall-mounted sink without a vanity also opened up the room. Veronica was “glad not to have crammed in an 18-inch vanity that doesn’t hold much anyway and visually disrupts the room.” Initially, the plan was to install a wall-mounted toilet but found out that it was out of the budget and required permits.

black and gold bathroom

Bonus: A cabinet above the bathroom door serves as added storage for towels and other supplies.

Style finds: Metro collection floor and wall tiles in graphite: Nemo. American Standard Decorum 20″ sink: Build.com.  Kohler exposed hardware, #K-9018-BDG p-trap with long tubing outlet; set of two npt angle supplies; Glassware House frameless fixed glass panel, #GW-SFP-35.5-PB; San Souci elongated one-piece toilet: Wayfair. Mirror: Pottery Barn. Dewdrop Globe vanity light: Shades of Light. Paint in Day’s End: Benjamin Moore. Cabinet above door: Ikea.

Thank you, Veronica, for sharing your new bathroom with us!

WATCH VIDEO:

Check out another stunning renovation born out of a water leak.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. 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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8 Bathroom Vanity Style Ideas


If you are thinking about redoing your bathroom—whether it is a minor refresh or an extensive update—choosing the right vanity is essential. It can be a nice focal point for your design as well as a functional item that will keep you organized.

We pored over some of the bathroom renovations done by contractors in Sweeten‘s network, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects, and found some common motifs—designs that keep coming up in recent bath transformations. Here is a look at some of the classic vanity styles that might inspire you as you plan your next renovation.

Similar to exposed plumbing vanities in the fact that they are largely known for their space-saving qualities, pedestal vanities are making a resurgence, or so many believe. However, we would argue they never really went away. They have always been a classic option when it comes to updating a square-foot-challenged bathroom. They come in a range of designs—from contemporary to traditional—allowing them to blend into many different design environments.


When you are thinking about a bathroom model, one of the main ways to ensure that your new space will work for you is to consider how to reconfigure the layout to maximize space and storage as well as to make it suit your lifestyle. This is an opportunity to get clever and rethink the traditional vanity format.

For example, in one of the bathroom renovations featured above, you will notice that there is room for two sinks but the homeowners elected to install only one in favor more counter space—an unconventional decision but one that worked for them. In another renovation below, you will see the sink is placed in the corner with a long narrow “runway” countertop running along the wall, yet another example of out-of-the-box thinking.


The exposed plumbing trend probably started as a way to save space in small bathrooms but is now a design statement. These out-in-the-open water and waste traps come in two basic types: the European P-trap and the standard U-pipe, both named for their shapes. While there are usually only these two basic styles, sink traps do come in all different finishes to suit your design aesthetic: chrome, brass, oil-rubbed, copper, stainless steel, brushed nickel, among others. Plumbing has never looked so good!


It might not be the first thing you think about when deciding on a vanity for your bathroom but your choice of an undermount, vessel, or vanity top sink can drastically change the look of your space. An undermount sink is flush with the counter, giving it less chance of debris to be caught in between. A vanity top sink is just as it sounds, one placed on top of the vanity itself. It is considered a more modern-day choice but can be used effectively in any bathroom style, from rustic to contemporary. A vessel sink is usually (but not always) exposed on all sides and sits atop the vanity. It is more sculptural in appearance and doesn’t have faucet holes, making it necessary to mount the fixtures on the wall or counter.


White goes with everything. Basically, you can’t go wrong with a white vanity. But don’t be mistaken, not all white vanities are created equal. There are so many styles to choose from—from classic two-drawers, one-cabinet configurations to two long drawers with open storage space underneath. But to truly make a white vanity your own, consider the hardware you select. Do you fancy classic knobs, contemporary pulls, or none at all? Choose your favorite!


Wall-mounted or floating, vanities are great for so many reasons. First, they are non-traditional so always a nice option for those who like to try something different. Second, they instantly make the space appear larger and give you extra room underneath if you like to place storage bins or baskets (however, these Sweeten renovators opted for a more streamlined look). Floating vanities are also easier to clean around and provide more square footage for radiant heat. Lastly, they can be placed at any height you desire, freeing you from the confines of the standard 30″ to 36″ vanities.


Many people are enamored with double sinks—and for good reason, and really one big reason: SPACE. They provide extra “breathing room” for larger families, or just for couples who like their own space. Even though double-sink vanities often take up more counter surface,  we bet you will find the trade-off is well worth it.

Has this inspired you to remodel your own bath? Then you might want to check out how long bathroom renovations typically take here.

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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