Invisible improvements—like soundproofing—are worth as much as the splurges you see
- Who: Samantha and Jameson, seeking a kid-friendly apartment renovation, posted their project on Sweeten
- Where: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, New York
- Primary renovation: A kid-friendly, gut apartment renovation of the 1,000-square-foot layout to become ideal for entertaining guests of all ages
- Sweeten general contractor
- Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection— for free
Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner, Samantha
We bought what was essentially a flip and closed on it the month before our oldest daughter, now almost seven, arrived. We finished the buildout that became her bedroom the night before her birth. The apartment’s finishes weren’t our favorite, but we had our own place, and were a family. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom (with a creative-industry résumé); Jameson is a partner and the digital director at Athletics, a Brooklyn-based creative studio.
Outgrowing a home they love
After having our second daughter nearly four years ago, we knew the apartment needed to change. We loved its location in the Clinton Hill Co-Ops and our hope was to extend our time in this place and the neighborhood. Our growing daughters needed room more than ever, and we wanted to overhaul our kitchen and bathroom. It was time to make this home more liveable for our family.
We posted our project on Sweeten and began our search for a design-build firm. We wanted someone who could help make our space bright and modern, nodding to both Midcentury and California design. Time was tight—we were looking to renovate during our kids’ summer break and move back in before school resumed—and when we weren’t excited about any of the contractors we were initially matched with, Sweeten quickly presented more options, including some who’d worked in our co-ops. That sold us.
The kitchen kicks off the apartment renovation
I’m a big cook, and it was top-of-the-list for me that our kitchen renovation was as functional as possible. Secondary, but non-negotiable: We wanted the whole apartment to be social, conducive to entertaining, and hanging out. We realized that opening the kitchen to the living room could help us achieve both goals, letting me see my family in the living room while I’m in the kitchen cooking.
The dining area, previously over by the window, flip-flopped with the living room sofa, to make the table easily reachable. We also added a breakfast counter within the cutout, letting me interact with the girls while they eat breakfast or do homework and unload about the day.
The new kitchen is a pleasure to work in. We chose top-of-the-line appliances and built in the refrigerator, creating a giant cabinet above it. There was other storage, too, to house the accessories I’d collected. Wide, shallow drawers installed by our contractor in the cabinet kickplates give me an awesome place to store my serving pieces and cast-iron pans. Our color palette was basic with matte white and rift-oak cabinetry and black accents.
This choice, and the whole process, taught me that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what I wanted.
Kid-friendly soundproofing for bedroom doors
Previously, our daughters’ shared bedroom had French doors opening to the living and dining room; they weren’t soundproof, so when the kids went to bed at 8pm, Jameson and I felt like we had to retire to our bedroom. With the new layout and the kitchen opening to the bedrooms, we installed a sound-blocking pocket door for the girls’ room. Now we can have company over or stay up late watching television or listening to music, never worrying we’ll wake them.
Flooring idea: Terrazzo
Another high-quality splurge was on the eco-friendly terrazzo flooring for the kitchen. I’ve always loved the style as a component of Midcentury modernism. This choice, and the whole process, taught me that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what I wanted. We still came in under budget for both renovation and furniture.
A bath refresh in navy and brass
While we decided against a full reno of our bathroom, some improvements were made, adding style and storage without gutting it. The room was done in basic black and white, so when I found the navy blue and brass vanity cabinet, I thought it would add visual interest. The old, space-wasting pedestal sink was replaced with a smaller basin and the drawered unit. The black light fixture and shower-curtain rod match hardware in other rooms—we updated the doorknobs and fixtures throughout the place, and it made a huge visual impact.
Sweeten contractor completes punch list
My favorite part of the project was moving back in. Our new home is a joy! We had all of the art we’ve collected over the years professionally framed and hung. We achieved our objective of making our home feel worldly, warm, and timeless. After the project wrapped, our contractor even came back a few times to complete punch-list items and handle touch-ups. I love all of the finished elements. It makes me happy to come home, and we all love spending time here, comfortable, at ease, just hanging out in a place we truly love.
Thank you for sharing your amazing (and kid-friendly) apartment renovation story, Samantha and Jameson!
KITCHEN RESOURCES: Terrazzo Renata floor tiles in Brulle; Context 2×6 Matte White backsplash: Ann Sacks. Kitchen cabinets: Custom by contractor. Countertops in Fresh Concrete: Caesarstone. Sink, #KHU101-21: Kraus. Align one-handle 7555BL faucet: Moen. Refrigerator, stove, and microwave/convection oven: Viking. Panel-front dishwasher: Bosch. Traditional Schoolhouse Shade in Black Stripe with Norfolk Base in Black light fixture: Schoolhouse. Perimeter pendants in Ochre: Blu Dot. Cabinet hardware: Top Knobs. Bar stools: Crate and Barrel. Counter-height stool in black: Delta.
BATHROOM RESOURCES: Fowlkes 24” sink/vanity set by Modern Rustic Interiors: Wayfair. Dia single-handle bathroom faucet in Brushed Bronze: Symmons. Nel brass medicine cabinet/mirror: CB2. Lighting: Illuminate vintage handmade Midcentury cone-cover sconce: Amazon.
LIVING AREA RESOURCES: Reserve Collection doorknobs in satin black/modern square trim: Baldwin. Otis light fixture: One Forty Three. Young House Love Bubble hallway sconce: Shades of Light. Shelving: Vitsoe.
Changing the layout of your New York co-op or condo? Here’s what you’ll need to know first.
ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.
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 with Sweeten.