6 Renos With a Designer’s Touch

Whether they work simultaneously or on different timelines, their goal is one and the same

Behind every renovation is a hardworking team that’s striving for one thing: executing a successful project. Homeowners come to Sweeten to find a general contractor who can reimagine their homes and sometimes bring along an interior designer who can help them visualize the new space. Other times, interior designers come directly to Sweeten to hire a general contractor for their clients’ projects. How a designer and contractor work together on a project varies case-by-case, sometimes they’re involved from the get-go, and other times a designer will come in post-construction. 

“General contractors are essential to our work,” said NYSID faculty member Harry Heissmann. “While we can dream up and lay out rooms and houses, we need help executing our vision and while all of us are perfectly capable of supervising a job, the GC takes a lot of pressure off and organizes the different trades on a job according to a schedule. I always create an atmosphere of mutual respect right at the beginning, which in turn can make miracles happen.” See how these renovators partnered with a general contractor and designer to create their home sweet homes. 

black bedroom with white bed and gray french windows after renovation (Above) Danielle Brooks’ Brooklyn brownstone renovation. 

A dream came true for actor Danielle Brooks, who plays Taystee on the Netflix hit show Orange is the New Black: She owned her first home by the age of 30. Eager to make her mark in her new Brooklyn brownstone, she approached interior design duo, Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason of AphroChic to meld her love of color, her draw to cultural heritage, and her sense of glamour. With a vision in place, the designers tapped Sweeten to find a general contractor who would set the stage with distinct Moroccan lighting, a sultry master bedroom painted in black, and African-inspired art.

beige walls and white doors in a bedroom with white chest of drawers after renovation (Above) Dianna and Todd’s renovation on the Upper West Side

While Dianna and Todd had long been planning to renovate their 440-square-foot apartment, a roof-top blaze is what got their plans underway. They came to Sweeten to find a general contractor who amongst many things, advised on where to focus their attention, from refreshing the cabinetry instead of replacing it, to restaining and sanding the existing wood floors.

Once the renovation was complete, they brought in interior designer Julia Oddo of TC Interiors, who created a scheme to complement the material choices—tans, blacks, and whites—the couple had already made with their contractor. In this case, the designer and the contractor were not working hand-in-hand throughout the project, but still wanted to create a great home for their client.

peach bathroom with hexagon backsplash and brown vanity and white bathtub after renovation (Above) Erica’s renovation in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

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Erica traded a Pepto-pink bathroom for a blush and chic retreat. Her renovation team, a Sweeten general contractor and interior designer Amy E. Bishop joined forces to revamp her Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, bath. Amy came up with design ideas, like the cascading statement wall and in-shower shelving, while the contractor brought them to fruition.

Originally, the built-in shelves were supposed to be on a different wall, but after the contractor discovered the wall was solid cement, the team reconsidered the location, moving the niches to the back wall instead. The renovation was a collaboration between all parties and resulted in a relaxing space for Erica.

WATCH: Our two-minute video from Sweeten founder, Jean Brownhill

white open kitchen with white subway tiled backsplash and wooden kitchen island with metal chairs after renovation (Above)Melissa’srenovation in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

This mid-century-meets-Scandinavian-inspired cook space was the product of homeowner Melissa, her Sweeten general contractor, and interior designer Danielle Herman’s smart ideas and hard work. Originally, the kitchen was closed off from the rest of the living area, making it dark and cramped.

They decided to knock down the walls and let the light in from the living room windows. A mix of reflective and refractive materials help harness that light, too. Danielle, the principal and founder of Persephone Spring worked hand-in-hand with the contractor to translate the vision, and select finishes from paint color to tile.

(Above) Homeowner’s renovation in Kips Bay, Manhattan

The homeowners’ three-bedroom apartment in the Kips Bay Towers had been through a renovation before, but thirty years later the time had come for another refresh. The owners’ called on interior designer Tara Benet, who then turned to Sweeten to hire a contractor to refresh what had become a tired and outdated space.

From refinishing the floors to repainting the walls a slightly orange-tinted white and touching up millwork, the Sweeten general contractor created a new canvas for Tara to embellish with luxe furniture, lighting, and accessories.

small kitchen island with drawers and black granite countertop and light brown kitchen cabinets with black backsplash after renovation (Above) Meliss and Russ’ renovation in Park Slope, Brooklyn

After seeing designers Casey and Kumar’s (of Studio Miller Atre) own renovation on the Sweeten blog, Melissa and Russ came to Sweeten to hire the contractor the duo used for their project, and the designers themselves. Melissa and Russ were inspired by the seamlessly integrated kitchen they’d designed and their unique approach to open layouts.

Studio Miller Atre conceived an idea that made each space feel distinct but connected and the general contractor executed their vision, building out custom cabinetry and covering up once-exposed brick walls.

Looking for a general contractor? Here are tips for finding the right one for your project.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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