An Old Bath Gets Investment-Ready

A first-time renovator gets the guidance he needed—and a huge shower!

Glass doors for walk in shower in a small white bathroom with white sink and wooden floating vanity after renovation

Project: Freshen up a worn-out bathroom in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Before: After renting an alcove studio in Park Slope for about two years, Matt, a software engineer, purchased his first home in July 2013. The 360-square-foot apartment in a neighboring co-op, built in 1950, would also become the future home of a cat named Josie, adopted in the months following the renovation. Four years passed while Matt lived in the space and saved up some money to update the outdated and decrepit bathroom. “Random pieces of tile were missing, my old sink was missing one of its support legs, and parts of the ceiling showed weakening,” he explained. “I wanted a complete renovation not only to feel better about the space, but also as an investment.”

Because this was my first renovation, I was a complete novice to the process. I’m grateful for Sweeten because they gave me the confidence I needed to get started.

White pedestal sink with bathtub and toilet in an orange bathroom space before renovationSmall orange wall tiles and white bathtub before renovation

After: Not knowing where to begin the project, Matt found Sweeten and was matched with his contractor. He imagined a clean and refreshing space, one with an inoffensive style that wouldn’t deter a future buyer or sublet tenant. “I love subway tile, so selecting that for the walls was an easy decision,” said Matt. Large-format charcoal gray square floor tile completes the simple backdrop for the space. A floating wood vanity injects a modern sensibility. For additional storage, a matching wooden cabinet sits in a recessed spot on the wall opposite the vanity. And to make sure the cabinet didn’t protrude too far out, its depth was halved.

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Floating wood vanity under a white sink in a white bathroom with walk in shower and toilet after renovationWhite sink with brushed nickel bathroom fixtures and a dark brown vanity after renovation

Although Matt intended to install a new bathtub, a tricky plumbing situation would have affected nearby apartments, so the installation was a no-go. Instead, the existing tub was transformed into a spacious walk-in shower, complete with corner shelves, a sliding glass door, and subtly patterned floor tile. “Despite the scope change, I couldn’t be happier with the result,” he reports. “The shower is huge!”

The biggest challenge? Living through the renovation. “For about seven weeks, my bed became my apartment. It’s where I slept, ate, read, and watched Netflix.” And while his bathroom was out of commission, Matt took advantage of the full bathroom in the building’s basement, which was newly renovated. “Each day I waddled down there with flip-flops and a shower caddy,” he said. “I felt like I was back in college using the dorm’s community bathrooms.”

White walk in shower area with large nickel shower head and large window after renovationLarge nickel showerhead and open shelves in a white walk in shower area with subway tiles after renovation

Challenges aside, Matt worked with Sweeten every step of the way, from project posting to completion. “Sweeten’s client services team was engaged throughout the project and made sure I had everything I needed,” he explained. “They were really specific in their communication; during the bidding process I was asked how one contractor compared to another, and other questions that helped guide my decision-making.” Heading into the project, he states, “Because this was my first renovation, I was a complete novice to the process. I’m grateful for Sweeten because they gave me the confidence I needed to get started.”

Brown wooden cabinet in recessed space over dark gray floor tile and white subway tiles on walls after renovation

Bonus: Matt’s advice for future first-time renovators: “Do your best to limit options for each decision, using your theme as guidance. It’s far easier to select the color of stone shower shelves from three colors instead of 10.” He also found his contractor’s input incredibly valuable, “My contractor’s best contribution was providing thoughtful, targeted material and fixture options,” which he said saved him from decision fatigue.

Style finds: Sink vanity: Fairmont Designs. Aquia toilet: Toto. Trinsic shower fixtures and hardware: Trinsic. Mirror and medicine cabinet: Fresca. Storage cabinet: IKEA. Lighting: Quoizel.

With its rainfall shower head and sleek glass enclosure, Mary Ann and Frank’s guest bath proves that size needn’t be an issue when it comes to creating a dreamy walk-in shower.

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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