We’re in Ditmas Park this week for an extra fun assignment! Usually, we chronicle all of the shiny new things in a New York City renovation. This week, the challenge is to figure out what stayed put in a family’s kitchen and closet upgrade. One quick look at the before and afters here might leave you thinking that this was a classic gut renovation, but a closer study reveals a more surgical project with a lot of smart design compromises that let a Ditmas Park family keep what was working and fit in a lot of extra storage and style.
Nikkia and Daniel moved into their 850 square foot two-bedroom apartment feeling grateful that the previous owners had taken care of restoring hardwood floors and putting a coat of fresh paint throughout the place. The kitchen had new cabinets and appliances, but the dark finish and heavy trim obscured the room’s natural light and the layout made key storage space inaccessible and inefficiently used. The kitchen lacked a backsplash in its high traffic stove and sink area and the previous owners had skipped on cabinetry in the windowed corner, opting for slim open storage instead. In the bedroom, two narrow adjacent closets were no match for two sets of clothes and shoes, ceding precious storage space to an unnecessary dividing wall. The family’s Sweeten project post called for giving the kitchen a more modern, light and open feel without making major architectural or construction changes and combining the two small bedroom closets into one large closet with smarter organization options. We thought this Sweeten contractor would be a great fit for the clever work that would be needed to make both spots work harder for this family.
The Sweeten contractor and his team started in the kitchen with a few targeted plans: they removed the traditional molding that added heft to the upper line of cabinets, gave the cabinets a new coat of Benjamin Moore “Simply White” paint inside and out, and swapped in more modern and sturdy hardware to complement the Shaker-style cabinet lines. They also added classic white subway tiles from Home Depot to wrap around the stove and sink prep space, protecting the newly white walls from cooking collateral and replaced the original sink with a sleeker, deeper, and more durable under-mount. The team replaced laminate counters in two spots with a new contemporary gray quartz and installed a more flexible Grohe single-handle sink faucet.
The most significant upgrade is also in some ways the most unassuming: out with the limited shelving and storage cart that never quite fit in the corner by the window, and in went expertly matched new cabinetry and counters to mimic the materials now in place on the other two sides of the kitchen. Deep IKEA drawer storage puts cookware within a few feet of the stove and a translucent upper cabinet displays glass and barware. The new section of countertop doubles as a mini eat-in kitchen nook with its extra overhang. Appliances and original cabinetry and floor tiles all stayed put, saving thousands of dollars and keeping the project on a much tighter timeline.
In the bedroom, the contractor took on two tiny closets with side-by-side doors and a single row of hanging rod space, freeing up un-used space in between and adding simple improvements to every inch. Double hanging rods, open shelving, drawer storage, bright all-white materials, and interior lighting now house a wide range of wardrobe necessities with dedicated spaces for bags, shoes, a hamper, and folded clothes. The contractor re-did the door molding and hardware to make the addition look seamless and matched a new set of extra-tall 96″ swing doors, minus the builder-grade insets from the previous set, for a more modern look.
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