A Modern Black and White Kitchen, Sized Just Right

by Jennifer Malise

A widened kitchen window + fresh kitchen cabinets = A modern black and white kitchen

brooklyn townhouse

“After” photos by Miao Jiaxin for Sweeten

Before: Renovate an outdated Brooklyn kitchen

Longtime renters Marc and Steve dreamed of having a place of their own. Their search for a one-bedroom in Brooklyn eventually led them to an unexpected choice: a co-op or house? The townhouse, they discovered, was a short commute (only two express train stops) from Manhattan. It would provide more space than a one-bedroom apartment and not have the maintenance fees that go with living in a co-op. After purchasing their new home, they lived in it for seven months before turning their attention to the kitchen.

“It was perhaps the most outdated room and we knew it needed a major renovation,” Marc said. The existing cabinets were grimy and had broken doors. Some were so high up that they were almost unusable. The countertops had seen better days. The too-big appliances—combined with a low drop ceiling—made it feel like the walls were closing in on the already small space.

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After: Creating the “must-haves” list and choosing the contractor

With a list of must-haves that included a full-size dishwasher and additional storage space, Marc and Steve set out to plan a renovation. “Before Sweeten, we weren’t sure how to find a contractor we could trust,” Marc said. Posting his project on Sweeten led him to his general contractor. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection— for free.

After reading through great reviews and discussing the contractor’s past work with Sweeten, he felt confident he was making the right choice and accepted his contractor’s bid.

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Fans of the classic, black-and-white New York kitchen, the couple aimed to create a bright space with a clean look, layering plenty of white to make the space feel bigger. “The kitchen needed to be truly functional and not just pretty,” Marc said. As for the design, “we landed on something like ‘a traditional white kitchen goes modern.’” With a contractor on board, they were finally on their way to the modern black and white kitchen renovation of their dreams.

kitchen floor

Planning and ordering kitchen cabinets

The need to demo the entire space meant that measuring would have to wait and the new cabinets—which usually require some lead time—couldn’t be ordered before work began. The couple decided on IKEA cabinets and Semihandmade doors because they would arrive sooner than a fully customized set (although Marc noted that the cabinet door delivery took longer than planned). He also mentioned taking advantage of running the cabinets from top to bottom on two walls to get as much storage as possible.

With cabinets of varying sizes, they chose flat-panel doors to streamline the look rather than the Shaker-style that was initially under consideration. The couple opted for full-size appliances (they got their dishwasher!) since they cook and bake on a daily basis, while a counter-depth fridge was installed to save some space and make room for a pantry cabinet. For unity between the backsplash and countertop, marble-looking quartz was selected for both surfaces. To let in more light, their contractor also widened the window over the sink to give a clear view of the garden.

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Marc + Steve’s renovation tips

Overall, the renovation took closer to three months—“a month or so longer than we hoped,” Marc shared. “But it was worth it!” While waiting on cabinet doors, his contractor tackled smaller projects, adding new baseboards and trim to the main living area, hanging pendants over the dining table, and removing the drop ceiling that continued throughout the rest of the ground floor. Marc tells us that working with his contractor was a great experience. “We are perfectionists, so we’d come home to see the work done each day and have a bunch of questions. He always answered patiently and quickly, or fixed things as soon as he could.”

The couple’s advice to future renovators: “Check return policies on everything. We ordered a range hood online that wasn’t what we thought it was. They wouldn’t let us return it because you have to reject it immediately at delivery.” Another tip: Dust is going to get everywhere, even with a contractor who’s careful, so be prepared for some clean-up after the work is done.

kitchen storageWhy they love their new Sweeten kitchen

The new space feels light and airy—and much bigger than before. “We can both stand in the kitchen at the same time and it’s not overly crowded,” Marc said. “Design-wise, it’s the kitchen we always wanted and I don’t think we have any regrets about the choices we made (and there were so many choices!).”

Bonus: Marc and Steve were most excited for the new kitchen floor and the “wow” moment they achieved with patterned black-and-white tile.

Thank you, Marc and Steve, for sharing your modern black and white kitchen renovation with us! 

Ready to start planning your own dream kitchen renovation?

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KITCHEN RESOURCES: Coptic black-and-white porcelain and marble floor tiles: Tilebar. Sektion kitchen cabinets: Ikea. Supermatte kitchen cabinet doors: Semihandmade. Vauxhall hardware: Restoration Hardware. Countertops and backsplash in Bianco Cristal, #CQ853: Colorquartz. Delta Trinsic faucet, #9159-AR-DST: Home Depot. Kohler Strive sink, #K-5286-NA: Home Depot. 24″ refrigerator, #CS1321: Liebherr. Whirlpool 30″ range, #WEG515S0FS: Home Depot. Bosch 24″ dishwasher: P.C. Richard & Son. Whirlpool 30″ hood: Best Buy. Princeton Short sconce and Fuller dining room pendant light: Schoolhouse. Paint in kitchen, Pure White, #SW7005; in dining room, Icicle, #SW6238: Sherwin WilliamsBaseboards, casings, and plinth: New Mouldings.

A rip-and-replace turned Deborah’s Upper East Side galley kitchen into another classic yet modern black-and-white New York kitchen.

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.

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