My Sweeten Story: A Condo Discovers Its New York Style

A built-in bar, new kitchen, and exposed brick give a vanilla box a redo

Dining area with hanging pendant lights

“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten

  • Homeowners: First-time homeowners Dan and Emily posted their home renovation project on Sweeten
  • Where: Nolita neighborhood in Manhattan, New York
  • Primary renovation: Create a new built-in bar, repurposed closets, and an urban vibe for a 704-square-foot condo
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Homeowner’s quote: “We were impressed with the quality of the contractors but think everyone should work with our Sweeten contractor.”
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering guidance, tools, and support—for free..  

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner Dan

My girlfriend and I purchased our condo knowing it would need renovating. We’d been renting just a block north in NoHo, but in February, the market conditions were ideal for investing in a home. The condo we chose was the perfect unit, although the kitchen and bath needed some upgrades. The style was too vanilla for us.

Portrait of the Sweeten homeowners

Seeking a New York state of mind

The kitchen and bathroom were usable but they lacked any charm. Everything felt colorless; actually it was all cream-colored. The kitchen was a blank canvas of off-white and peeling cabinets, as was the bathroom. We needed to inject personality and a cool New York feel to our home.

Dining area before renovation
Kitchen before renovation
Bathroom before renovation
Living room before renovation
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Living room with exposed brick wall

Natural wood dining table with hanging pendant lighting

Deep, rich tones captured the contemporary feel we were after. Shades of gray and textural details uplifted the condo with a sophisticated touch.

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One of the surprising elements of the apartment was the abundant closet space. The walk-in closet in the bedroom gave us more than enough square footage for our clothes. So, we chose to repurpose two storage cabinets in the dining room and transform them into a home bar. 

A built-in bar and kitchen connect

Knocking out the closets completely changed the space. The dining area features a built-in bar with a wine cooler as well as open shelving. My mom sketched out a plan for the bar that our Sweeten contractor interpreted beautifully. We now have a wonderful spot for entertaining or relaxing that we really enjoy.

Dining area with built-in bar

Galley kitchen leading out to dining area

Kitchen with wood cabinets and black accents

My mom sketched out a plan for the bar area that our Sweeten contractor interpreted beautifully.

The kitchen, updated with sleek cabinets and new hardware, now ties in with the dining space. The wood-tone cabinets and black hardware added the much-needed color. We love the glass tile backsplash, which is stylish and easy to care for. All of the new appliances have clean lines and bring the kitchen into the present.

Also, we discovered old, brick walls behind the sheetrock. Why cover those up?! We wanted to expose them for the character it would bring to the space. The rough texture and warm color was the New York City iconic touch we were after. We got lucky that the original walls were under the sheetrock. The architectural interest became a focal point in the living room.

Bedroom with home office area

Bathroom with walk-in shower

A spa-like bathroom

The bathroom was updated with features like clear glass doors to eliminate the need for a shower curtain. This would visually open the space. The dark charcoal shower tiles and matte black finishes made a spa-like bathroom. The rainfall showerhead felt luxurious.

Recommending their contractor

Our Sweeten contractor was incredible—always going above and beyond. When the butcher block counter for the bar wasn’t the perfect color, she immediately came up with plans to re-stain it. When the cabinets were delayed (up to a year!), she sourced a vendor who sold only to general contractors. We had them installed in a week.

Renovation Materials

KITCHEN RESOURCES: MSI Hillside Gray matte flooring and porcelain wall tile, Palisandro mini brick polished marble mesh-mounted mosaic tile, Hampton Bay Designer Series Edgeley driftwood wall cabinets, and Viatera Soprano quartz countertop: LG Hausys. Slim square matte black kitchen cabinet pulls: Ravinte. Elkay matte black single-handle kitchen faucet with pull-down sprayer: Elkay. Vigo stainless steel Edison Signature Plus undermount kitchen sink: Vigo. Black Samsung stainless steel Smart Linear Wash dishwasher, Black Samsung stainless steel Smart Slide-in gas range with air fry, Black Samsung stainless steel sensor cooking over-the-range microwave, Black Samsung stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator: Samsung. MS Kitchen & Bath 29 bottle stainless steel Dual Zone wine refrigerator (Part number: AWR-290DB): Wayfair.

BATHROOM RESOURCES: American Villa glazed Cityscape Gray porcelain cement floor, wall tile, and border tile, Style Selection glazed Galvano Charcoal porcelain granite stone floor and wall tile, and Woodbridge LOWESTOFT frameless Sliding Black Shower Door with Tempered Glass: Lowes. LuckIn modern bathroom hardware set: Amazon. Vigo matte black Davidson bathroom faucet and matte black Kingsley two-spray shower panel system: Vigo. Bryant wall-mounted bathroom vanity set: Wayfair. Alfi Brand recessed medicine cabinet with LED light: Alfi Brand. Kohler white Santa Rosa one-piece compact single flush toilet: Kohler.

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.

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