Finding an affordable two-bedroom and relocating while pregnant, plus a toddler in tow proved beyond daunting for this Brooklyn family. So, when they decided to hold off on moving and get creative with their current space instead, we introduced them to an experienced design pair to re-imagine and re-purpose their kitchen and living space. Read on for Chris and Amber’s take on their total kitchen renovation, and check back next week to see what they did with their bath and brand new kids’ room!
Guest post by Chris, Ditmas Park homeowner
For six of the seven years that we have owned our one-bedroom co-op apartment in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, our dream was to renovate it. A year ago, we did just that, but the path there was far from a straight line. When we actually looked into what a renovation would mean in terms of time, cost, and effort, with all the headaches that co-ops can entail, we realized that just buying another apartment would be infinitely easier. (Having our two-year-old in the bedroom with us definitely added the kind of urgency that any parent can probably relate to). When we started to look for two-bedroom apartments that actually felt like upgrades in terms of space and location, we found virtually nothing.
So it had to be a renovation. But how? We started to tackle the issues one by one. We figured out the financing, looked into sublets, and tenuously read through the pages and pages of legal documents our co-op’s management company required before any work could happen. When it came to finding an architect to work with us, we hit a brick wall. Our job was too small for the architects we had seen featured on our favorite design blogs, but too big to just leave to a contractor to wing it.
We needed to convert our eat-in kitchen into a bedroom for our son and open up the rest of the kitchen into the living room, but we had no idea how. Our contractor duo won us over with their easygoing demeanors and their innovative design for our space, which involved sealing off the existing entry to the galley kitchen and completely opening it up to the living room. It meant one less doorway in our foyer which already felt like a cross between Grand Central and a stroller parking lot, and one big living/eating/cooking space that would feel open and airy, the opposite of the rabbit warren we feared the apartment would become by carving another bedroom out of it. Then we found out that Amber was pregnant again, and things got real, real fast.
The contractors brought a team to the table who were very competitively priced for work with a high degree of detail and things suddenly started to fall into place: financing, co-op, and management company approval, permits. Our contractors served as our construction managers as well as our architects which enabled them to oversee all aspects of construction and deal with most issues long before we ever were aware. They had regular meetings with us to make sure we knew exactly where we were in the process. It meant we could deal with the fun stuff — configuring our cabinets and open shelves, choosing the right quartz countertops and lighting, and spending less time worrying about the day to day construction details and timeline.
We went into this project with the intention of buying ourselves a few more years in the apartment, since ultimately we want to move to a house outside the city. Knowing we would sell in a few years, we bought appliances that have outstanding value but aren’t necessarily top of the top. The NXR range is fantastic for the money, plenty good for the cooking we do at home, and great looking. Our fridge is a Summit since we needed a true counter-depth fridge (just wait until you realize how many manufacturers call their products counter-depth when they are anything but), and our Bosch dishwasher is everything we could want, considering it is the first dishwasher my wife and I have ever had.
A year later, we have the kind of bright open space that we dreamed of and a kitchen that makes cooking fun. Our son Finn is growing so fast that soon our days in the apartment may start to feel numbered, but then again we can always call our contracting duo to see if they can work another miracle.
Kitchen selects >> floors: maple wood / cabinets: IKEA / under-cabinet lighting: IKEA / counters: white quartz / sink: Blanco Quatrus / faucet: Grohe / oven range: NXR / dishwasher: Bosch / fridge: Summit / pendant lighting: Restoration Hardware
Check back next week for the full reveal of this family’s new kids’ room and bathroom!
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.