After five years of renting their Brooklyn one-bedroom from a fellow resident, Molly Bloom and Jonathan Schultz got a rare renters’ opportunity: they bought the apartment straight from their landlord! They loved the building’s close community of neighbors and were excited to be new parents in a co-op full of young families. There was no debate about which project they’d tackle first: the bathroom was ringed with original orange creamsicle tiles and filled with creaky old fixtures. Read on for Molly’s take on their modern Ditmas Park bathroom renovation.
We moved into this apartment in 2008, just after coming home from ten months in South America. It was a rental in a co-op in Ditmas Park and full of young families—there are about 40 children in the building, with two born in the past couple of weeks and two due by the end of the month! Our unit is a one-bedroom and we bought it it from our landlords, who live in the building in another unit they own. I left freelance copyediting to be home with our new baby and Jonathan is a contributing editor at Time Inc.’s TheDrive.com. (No, we do not own a car… Jonathan commutes by bicycle when he has an office job.)
The bathroom was heinous: sunburn-colored tiles striped with speckled grayish-white ones, original to the 1960s construction. Everyone in the building gets rid of that tile as soon as they can. There was a riser pipe in the corner that got hot and carried noise from our neighbors’ apartments above and below. The flush-o-meter toilet was a pain to keep clean, and it was incredibly loud. There were other original fixtures, too, such as the magazine rack and the laundry hamper, which we used to store toilet paper. And the replacement sink cabinet was strangely low, perhaps designed for oompa-loompas. We wanted a crisp space with easy-to-clean fixtures—that’s all. We decided to post our project to Sweeten, and were soon introduced to Sweeten Expert Gennadiy, ready to help us re-build the bathroom with charm.
We completely gutted the original finishes and started fresh with a black, hex tile floor. It attracts a little dust but still looks sexy. We went with simple ceramic subway tile to line the shower and partial sink walls, but in a slimmer 2” by 8” modern format to mix it up a little. We chose a utilitarian wall-mounted porcelain sink with exposed piping, and Gennadiy put the sink a touch higher so we wouldn’t have to stoop while brushing our teeth. He also recommended a smooth Corian windowsill, which is easy to clean.
Gennadiy boxed out the vertical heating pipe and installed a sleek grille to give us some soundproofing and a little distance from the heat, and we chose a Toto toilet on Gennadiy’s recommendation, one with flat sides to make cleaning easy. We also added a pull-out drying rack because when you have a baby, you need to wash everything all the time.
I’m really glad we got the work done before our son arrived, though ideally any renovations would happen before someone moves into an apartment. I found out I was pregnant after work had already started, and there were a few cold winter days where it was extra tough to be crashing with family and sneezing in single-digit temperatures. I remember thinking, “This renovation can’t be done soon enough!” And thanks to Gennadiy and his team’s quick work, it was!
Bathroom selects >> floor tiles: Galactic Tile / shower tiles: Galactic Tile / toilet: Toto / sink: Caracalla / faucet: Kohler / showerhead: Kohler / windowsill: Corian / lighting: Schoolhouse Electric
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