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Pre-war Apartment Renovation In Kensington

Posted by Barbra D. in Kensington
Brief description

We bought our apartment 7 years ago, knowing we needed to renovate. Time flew and now the situation is dire. The bathrooms are still circa-1930s, mold growing and fixtures falling apart - shower doesn't work in one, sink doesn't work in the other. Kitchen was "renovated" in the 1980s - very poorly, I might add. Electrical needs an update, cabinets/ shelving need to be built, window sills need to be replaced.

Project details
  • Space

    Entire Unit

  • Services

    Design and Build

  • Style


Before Conditions

Falling apart; Functional but...; Not my style; Outdated

The apartment hasn't ever been properly renovated - last "fix-up" was in the 1980s, but it was done very poorly by the former owner. Bathrooms still have original tiles and growing mold in ceiling (not sure if this will be an issue the building will have to fix or unique to our apartment). Kitchen falling apart. Both are completely outdated and need to be modernized. We have a fairly strict budget, so would love to work with someone who can help us to find budget materials and splurge where needed/makes most sense and can help prioritize tasks (i.e. maybe shelving can be put in at a later date?) to maximize our current budget. $100K is ideal for us, based on our loan amount, but we may be able to stretch it a tiny bit with savings. I know this is on the low end, but is unfortunately all we have. We will move out during the renovation, so construction doesn't have to work around us.

Scope of work

Kitchen: Complete overhaul/ redesign - replace floors, reconfigure space (if needed) but keep gas/water lines in same place, add desk space, replace cabinets, counter tops, lighting, some appliances (keep fridge and dishwasher, which are relatively new).
Bathroom: 2 baths - complete redesign and replacement of all materials. Keep cast iron tub in main bath, but replace everything else.
Living Room/ Bedrooms: Replace/repair all window sills in apartment, replace/repair doors, all new door fixtures, rewire apartment (many fixtures/switchplates don't work) and replace all lighting fixtures, alter wall placement for room that was split (they did this unevenly, so one room is significantly smaller than the other; would like to balance out the size of the two rooms), replace or repair moldings, sand/ refinish wood floors (if possible), paint. If possible in budget, we'd like to add built-in shelving to main room. Would like to use budget materials (i.e. Ikea kitchen) but splurge on some items to enhance look (cement tiles, fixtures, some lighting). I love simple design with splashes of bright color and pattern. Love wallpaper, too. Would also love general design ideas for furnishing space, but this is secondary to the renovation.

Nick charmed us at the first meeting set up by Sweeten. His openness to our ideas and his willingness to offer suggestions to better our initial plans - without going over our budget range - were clear from the onset. He was realistic and kind and incredibly helpful. I'm happy to say that Nick and his team exceeded expectation. Not only is their work stellar, but the entire team were all incredibly nice guys who gave valuable feedback and advice throughout the process. Dmitri was a great project manager who communicated with us effectively every step of the way. Every element of our home was done with care and an attention to detail. Plus, the project came in close to budget and schedule. What more could we ask for?

We had a few stumbling blocks, all of which were dealt with the same care as everything else during this process. When we initially opened up the walls to upgrade the plumbing, a leak sprung in the two apartments below us (probably due to the decrepit building pipes). While we are unsure if the leaks were really due to our work, Nick didn't balk at making fixes and repairs to the other apartments, which they did immediately and without charge. When the floor-to-ceiling tile was installed in our master bath, there were distinct variations in the whites. Before I could even point it out, Nick called and told me he was going to have the tiling work completely re-done, calling the tile company to get a singular lot redelivered immediately. This work probably set them back a few days, but they dealt with this setback quickly and without complaint. When we had delays in delivery of the glass shower doors, Dmitri came and installed a temp shower curtain to make sure we had a working shower to use when we moved back in. They replaced our existing dishwasher (which we were going to keep since it was only about 5-years old) without charge when they couldn't find a replacement for the handle that was broken in the construction process. In general, they were quick to rectify any delay or setback in an effective manner.

He has a great team of workers. You could tell that each and every worker cared about the end product and really wanted to make your home look it's best. Nick's attention to detail was also impressive; if something wasn't up to his very high standards, he would insist on revisions. He had great ideas and kept me in check when design ideas I had were unrealistic, weren't going to look great, or were out of budget. And he also helped me realize which of my design wishes were worth the splurge - custom closets, custom-sized shower doors, wallpaper - and I'm glad I moved forward with all of these things. He also worked well with the building and effectively dealt with some early challenges we had thanks to ancient building pipes. Any unexpected overages (waste pipe replacement, additional electrical outlets) were communicated clearly to us before work was undertaken.