My Sweeten Story: Opening and Brightening an East Hampton Beach House
An open plan 2nd home in the Hamptons, with child-friendly stairs and new baths
“After” photos by Lena Yaremenko for Sweeten
- Homeowners: Alex and Jennifer Figueroa, the parents of two young boys, posted their renovation project on Sweeten
- Where: East Hampton, Long Island
- Primary renovation: A gut renovation of a 2,500-square-foot, 1979 house to create a family-friendly weekend and rental home
- 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.
Guest blog post by homeowner Alex
We purchased a cedar-shingled house in East Hampton and started renovating immediately. With two young kids, we were anxious to get this beach-house dream going. Jennifer, a speech-language pathologist, and I, a banker, also knew it would make an excellent Airbnb and wanted to have the house ready to list before summer.
The house, which was built in 1979, had five bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. It needed a refresh. We wanted to give it an open, modern beach-house feel, and were looking to reconfigure the first floor to an open-plan concept, which would require not just knocking down a wall but removing essential load-bearing beams.
We knew we would need to work on the staircase, which looked dated and was not up to code. It had a railing, but was essentially open, and a kid could literally duck under it and fall through. We also knew that we’d have to do gut remodels of the kitchen and bathrooms, which had never been renovated.
We started on the first floor. Our Sweeten contractor had warned us that revising the floor plan would be the biggest part of the project, and it was. The kitchen, which was nestled in the house’s center, had a wall that contained a support beam. That essential wall, which separated it from the foyer, was the one we wanted to do away with. It took removing multiple load-bearing beams but that wall came down. From our contractor’s suggestion, we lowered the ceiling a few inches to conceal the perimeter beams making the ceiling entirely flush and seamless.
Now, the first floor is completely open and the space that was once three separate rooms—the kitchen, dining room, and den—is a continuous area. The change gives the home a much more open and airy feeling, letting the light filter through.
We felt so pleased with the openness that we reinforced the look in other ways. Instead of replacing the dated floor tile that we tore out of the kitchen with the large faux-concrete slabs we had purchased, we decided to do the entire ground floor in continuous hardwood flooring. Our contractor urged us to consider this as it would give the downstairs a cohesive look. We’re glad we listened, as it looks sleek and seamless.
We felt especially excited about the kitchen. Because we love to cook and entertain, our design included a large island that could be a gathering spot. We splurged on a wine fridge, quartz countertops, and an integrated refrigerator, but otherwise kept the open kitchen fairly simple.
Our Sweeten contractor customized Ikea cabinets with walnut panel doors, and added a panel along the ceiling for a more high-end look. We built out the big island with counter seating and a five-zone induction cooktop. The install day for that island was really an exciting milestone. Finally, our open plan now had a center!
The successful reconfiguration of the downstairs led us to the next big task: the staircase remodel. We had a good idea of how we wanted to approach it. Safety was the primary concern, but given that the stairs are a focal point as you enter the home, looks also mattered. We decided on wood-trimmed glass panels placed vertically to create a transparent enclosure, making the staircase safe while staying true to our goal of light and openness.
With the stairs under control, we moved on to the bathrooms. We gave each one a different look: minimal white in the master bath, ocean-blue cabinetry and hex tile in the guest bath, and a white console sink in the first-floor powder room. All three bathrooms used black marble for contrast. We’re thrilled with the large-format porcelain slabs we chose for the master bath shower. The expansive, smooth surfaces with minimal grout lines give the room a clean look and easy cleaning. We love the result.
Fortunately, throughout the renovation process, our Sweeten contractor was a reliable asset. He found a solution to every snag and never said no to a request. He was always available to answer questions and we felt at every step that his goal was to make us happy.
For us, the biggest challenge was distance. East Hampton is a two-hour drive from our home in Long Island City, so we had to manage our project from afar. On many weekends, we made same-day round-trips to check in on the work. The payoff came when the finishes went in and months of planning materialized. The space came out exactly as we hoped it would and we are happy with the decisions we made.
Thank you, Alex and Jennifer, for sharing your East Hampton renovation with us!
LIVING SPACE RESOURCES: Wall paint in Bakery Box, #BL-W9: Behr. Fireplace mantle tile in Realta II: Cement Tile Shop. Custom glass doors: Crystalia Glass. Living room built-in cabinetry: custom millwork by Sweeten contractor.
STAIRCASE RESOURCES: STUDIOC WOW drop tiles on risers: Crossville Studios.
KITCHEN RESOURCES: Cabinets customized by contractor: IKEA. Walnut panels: Semihandmade. Pental quartz countertops and backsplash: Avenza. KitchenAid microwave/oven: Build.com. Refrigerator/ freezer: Fisher & Paykel. KitchenAid wine refrigerator, KitchenAid dishwasher, Samsung induction 5 burner cooktop: Best Buy. Meurice Chandelier: Jonathan Adler. Carlisle Metal counter stools: Threshold.
MASTER BATHROOM RESOURCES: 4” Hexagon Fosso marble floor tile: Nemo Tile. Stone Calacatta black smooth porcelain wall tile: Florim. Kallista hardware: Build. GrohFlex Essence dual function thermostatic trim shower fixtures with control module: Grohe. Crystalia glass shower doors: Custom by contractor. Mason Apothecary single sink vanity: Pottery Barn. Infinity rectangular wall mirror: CB2.
GUEST BATHROOM RESOURCES: 4” hexagon Griglio Cielo marble floor tiles: Nemo Tile. Stone black smooth porcelain wall tile: Florim. Kallista hardware: Build.com. GrohFlex Essence dual function thermostatic trim shower fixtures with control module: Grohe. 60” Kendall blue bathroom vanity: Houzz. Infinity rectangular wall mirror: CB2.
SECOND FLOOR LANDING RESOURCES: 30-light chandelier: Lumens.
Remodeling in the Hamptons? Read our Hamptons home renovation cost guide to understand your budget.
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