A Couple Divides (and Conquers) a Bathroom Reno

One handled the budget; the other, the design

White subway tiles and gray trim with white offset sink and brown vanity after renovation

Project: Refresh an old and outdated bathroom

Before: Penny, a product manager for a financial firm, and Kevin, a puppeteer with the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and their son, have lived in their over 100-year-old-plus co-op building for five years. They’ve been remodeling the Sunset Park, Brooklyn, apartment room by room, and until recently, waited on any major changes to the bathroom. They did, however, replace an old and “hideous” shower door with a curtain for a short-term fix. Once they were ready to bring the dingy space up to speed with their clean, simple style, they posted their project on Sweeten and were matched with a general contractor.

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White bathroom with black granite countertop below top mount sink before renovationBeige bathroom with glass separator for bathtub and top mount sink before renovationHappy homeowner with her kid

After: While they stuck to the original footprint, Penny and Kevin made one big change that had a big impact on the overall look of the bathroom: replacing the bathtub for a walk-in shower. “We spent most of our budget converting the old tub,” Penny shared. They were especially excited about the brand new glass door. A big priority for the couple was sourcing materials locally. When they went to select their wood-like porcelain tile floor at a nearby supplier, they found the light blue and white tiles from the same store. The hardware and major fixtures also come from a Brooklyn showroom close to their home.

White subway tiles with light blue trim and white sink over brown vanity after renovation

Blue tiled walk in shower with brushed chrome bathroom fittings after renovationHappy homeowner with her kid White and gray bathroom with glass shower door and brown cabinet after renovation
The only issue that came up during the renovation was a leak from an apartment upstairs. It was resolved, as the neighbor became more vigilant about making sure water didn’t escape from outside her shower curtain, though if it leaks again, the issue will have to be readdressed.

Otherwise, the biggest challenge was the division of labor between Penny, Kevin, and their contractor—especially since the family was out of town for the majority of the project. The couple divided responsibilities, with Penny taking on the budget and Kevin handling the aesthetic aspects. “He presented me with beautiful designs and then I approved or suggested how we could do things on a budget,” Penny said.

They coordinated with their general contractor mostly via email and phone calls. “His willingness to work with a neighbor, send emails, and call was really helpful,” Penny said. As an experienced renovator, she’s learned to be more trusting of a contractor’s advice, but also that it’s important to speak up about what you’re looking to achieve.  “Be clear on what you want, don’t give up on your design, but be flexible and listen to your contractor. You will be surprised on how that can help—they see a lot.”

Bonus: Penny also added these words of wisdom: “Go with the contractor that listens and seems pleasant to work with,” she said.

Style finds
: Glass door: Hofman’s Glass. Shower wall and floor tile, and bathroom floor tile: Express Brooklyn Tile. Shower hardware, vanity hardware, vanity, mirror, faucet, and toilet: GalacticTiles.

This Murray Hill, Manhattan, bathroom stuck to its original footprint but got a stylish update.

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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