Best of NYC: Renovating on the Upper West Side

Our favorite projects nestled between the Hudson River and Central Park West

Penthouse remodel on the Upper West Side

Once home to Nora Ephron, John Lennon, and countless other writers, artists, and musicians, the Upper West Side boasts a lively history that’s been captured in a myriad of films and immortalized in books. Broadway runs through it, and landmarks like the Apthorp, the Dakota, and Lincoln Center lend their impressive architecture to the texture of the neighborhood. The brownstone-lined blocks are quiet in the early mornings and evenings, making it an ideal spot for city dwellers seeking solitude. Join us as we take a look at some of the Sweeten renovations in the neighborhood.

Empty nesters return home

apartment remodel on Upper West Side

Beth and Bob relocated back to Manhattan after working in the Midwest and South for some time. They found an apartment on the Upper West Side that satisfied their desire for pre-war architectural details. However, living with modern amenities meant updating the electrical wiring which was not expected, but had to be done. Adding a washer/dryer and a dedicated home office space were top of their list. After living in the suburbs with easy access to laundry units, they never wanted to be without them in Manhattan again. The kitchen was overhauled and they loved ditching the bathtub for a large shower stall.

While they had past renovation knowledge, every experience had its unexpected nuances. They felt relieved to have Sweeten as the backstop when needed.

The right fit with small-space appliances

kitchen on upper west side

This Sweeten homeowner made it clear in her posting that an electrical upgrade would be required for her project. To put the kitchen plan into action, she hired a woman-owned contracting firm through Sweeten. The plan included replacing the electrical box and addressing plumbing issues before installing a new sink and faucet. Another top focus was purchasing small-sized appliances such as an 18″ dishwasher, a 24″ fridge, and a 20″ range. 

The homeowner appreciated the way her contractor worked with her during the remodel; it was a solution-based approach. When they ran into budget issues, the contractor offered alternative solutions that proved just as effective. Constant communication was highlighted as the reason for her smooth renovation. Similarly, we also checked in periodically with the homeowner. While no issues arose with the contractor, the homeowner found comfort in having us available to step in, if needed.

A penthouse overhaul

Penthouse remodel on the Upper West Side

Film director and novelist Jan Eliasberg made the decision to purchase a penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side. Few were willing to undertake the dual challenge of acquiring a property and renovating it in the third month of the pandemic. 

The 1,750-square-foot apartment presented numerous challenges, including roof leaks, asbestos-laced glue under the linoleum, mold, and a perplexing layout. With the help of her Sweeten contractor and a designer, they strategically modified the apartment, creating a seamless flow that emphasized the elegance of the tall ceilings and original windows. While addressing code violations, asbestos hazards, and water damage, the contractor’s professionalism and expertise proved invaluable.

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Keeping within the parameters of the co-op’s remodeling budget, Jan successfully completed her project despite unforeseen obstacles, including Jan being the first homeowner to have central air installed in her apartment in the building’s history.

A small bathroom remodeling success

black bathroom on the upper west side with walk in shower

Veronica’s bathroom remodel was always on the to-do list, but it felt overwhelming and expensive. However, things took a turn when she received a complaint from her downstairs neighbors about a leak from her tub. This incident prompted Veronica to take on the challenge of renovating the entire bathroom. She met with several Sweeten contractors who did work on the Upper West Side and chose the right one to partner with.

One of her favorite additions was the walk-in shower, which not only made the space feel more open but also gave it a modern touch. She further improved the room’s aesthetics by opting for a wall-mounted sink instead of an 18-inch vanity, which wouldn’t have stored much anyway. Although she initially planned to install a wall-mounted toilet, it didn’t fit the bathroom remodeling budget nor the permit costs it would require.

Vital communication skills

apartment remodel on upper west side

Tijesh, an experienced renovator, discovered his 750-square-foot one-bedroom co-op on the Upper West Side and posted his project to find a GC. To begin his apartment remodel, his list of “must-haves” included installing Brazilian hardwood flooring, revamping the electrical system and three closets, and modernizing both the kitchen and bathroom. For example, a peninsula connected the newly-opened kitchen to the dining room space. The plan for the bathroom upgrade proved challenging with no ability to rearrange the plumbing. Therefore, the solution was a rip-and-replace with streamlined fixtures and a glass-enclosed walk-in shower.

There were some unexpected hiccups and delays during the remodel but his Sweeten contractor kept the project moving along. He even sent progress photos when Tijesh was away. He appreciated his contractor’s communication style and reliable expertise.

Built-ins organize a home

SWEETEN_ChristineApt-06As an Upper West Sider, Christine guided her apartment search by one very important piece of criteria: the new place could be no more than 10 blocks from Zabar’s! Unfortunately, the right location came with outdated finishes and peeling paint. She hired a Sweeten contractor who helped Christine renovate the kitchen and build custom built-in cabinets in every room. The shelves stored her massive collection of books and artwork, adding character to the space.

Open flow brings in the light

open kitchen on upper west side

A bigger home was just what Sophia and Leon needed when they decided to grow their family. The apartment they found on the Upper West Side had been laid out like a rabbit warren. Although the latest arrival to their family was tiny, the space would have to fit the three of them comfortably for years to come. The remodeling budget for the kitchen facilitated the removal of the walls and connected it to both the living and dining rooms on either side. There was now plenty of room for the family plenty to spread out. The decision for an open-plan also came with the added bonus of improving the flow of natural light throughout the space.

A new floorplan makes the difference

SWEETEN_Tim_Kitchen_Bathroom-12Lindsay and Tim landed on Central Park West when it came time to purchase their first home together. The apartment had plenty of square footage, but the rooms felt dark and cramped. They planned on restructuring the co-op layout to join the kitchen with the dining room. This created the perfect spot to host dinner parties, while classic finishes and a muted palette throughout paid homage to the apartment’s prewar roots.

A new layout welcomes a nursery

Contemporary white and black bathroom

Preparing for a baby meant shuffling the floorplan of Karen and Kevin’s Upper West Side apartment to fit a nursery and a kid-friendly bathroom. The small dining area at the end of the kitchen was sealed off and transformed into the baby’s room. Additionally, the bathroom needed a refresh. The grimy tiling was replaced with crisp white subway tile while the bulky bath was swapped out for a new, standard-sized tub. As a result, this made room for an open console vanity and a basket of bathtime essentials.

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A galley kitchen opens up


Heather loved everything about her Upper West Side apartment except the galley kitchen, which was functional but felt like cooking inside of a shoebox. Her Sweeten renovation opened up the kitchen to the dining room, converting the half wall into a peninsula with deep storage drawers on one side and bar seating on the other. The transformation was just what she needed to take the space from just another place in the world to her home sweet home.

Take a tour of the best Sweeten renovations in Queens and Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

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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