My Sweeten Story: A Tudor-style Home Begins a New Chapter

A family finds peace in their 1922 South Slope remodel

kitchen and ding area

  • Homeowners: After 22 years, homeowners Sandra and Nelson posted their Tudor-style house renovation on Sweeten
  • Where: South Slope, Brooklyn, New York
  • Primary renovation: Revamping the ground floor, including an office-turned-sunroom and new access to the deck
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovators with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in financial protection—for free

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner Nelson

Starting a major renovation

Sandra is an educator and I’m a music movement instructor.  Our three children are Julian, 24, Abigail, 18, and Avery,17, plus we have a 2-year-old dog, Blue. We purchased our first home in 1997 after living on the top floor of a private home located in South Slope, Brooklyn, for about seven years.

We did not focus on any major renovations to the house until 2018. The house is a charming red brick Tudor-style home originally built by an Armenian family in 1922.

couple portrait

house exterior

photo of an area with concrete floors and pendant lights and another photo of white cabinets that are to be installed during renovation
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during renovation
backside of house before renovation
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family room before renovation
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Hiring a contractor

Our vision for our project really began with a desperate need to makeover our ’70s kitchen. Eventually, we began to see that the rest of the main level was also crying out for a change. Sweeten was a very interesting website that my wife spotted while doing her research. We loved the stories and photos displayed with the recommendations of contractors. We had site visits with two and immediately felt a connection with the Sweeten contractor we would ultimately hire.  We shared our concerns regarding how difficult it will be to tackle an old house and, of course, our budget.

We loved that the house did not intimidate our contractor at all. We shared our ideas and all our concerns with him and within two weeks, a proposal was handed to us that included a renovation for the kitchen, the entire main level floor, and important necessary improvements of the entire lower level family room.

entryway

family room

family room

Changing the layout

One of the challenges we faced was how to end the years of living with drafts and cold temperatures in our home.  The draft we experienced came from the dining window where the large permanent air conditioner sat on the ledge for years, the office space (now the sunroom) that included nine old large windows, and the old kitchen exit door.

We also could not see nor understand how to expand the space for comfort. After a solid consultation with our Sweeten contractor, permission was granted to include in our home improvement budget a cooling and heating system and knock down existing walls in order to create new space and bring in outside light.

kitchen

kitchen

kitchen

Knocking out a door

The most exciting part of the project for us was eliminating the old kitchen door and replacing it with a large window that brings in sunlight. Adjacent, the office space was transformed into a sunroom with a huge new pantry for multiple-purpose storage and a new glass deck door.

We have developed a new confidence working with our contractor and hope that very soon we will have him back to renovate the upper level.

We considered tearing down all the walls of the house but had a change of heart because of the mosaic of details spotted throughout the house.  Our contractor’s wise tip with our project was to keep in mind that the house was built decades ago and that we can save so much of the budget if we come up with a fresh new look without disturbing too much of the original plumbing, electrical, and gas connections.

dining room

vignette

Decluttering and blending materials

We both shared a love of antiques and traditional aesthetics. We have lived in our house for 20 years and never updated our look. We realized that a simpler, uncluttered, Zen look is what we needed. We traded the original maple-colored parquet floors throughout the main floor, including the kitchen, with a delicious chocolate-colored plank wood that reminds us of rich gardening soil. We also wanted to include materials and hues that immediately took us back to nature—silver grays, dairy whites, and galaxy black. The color of the walls was chosen as a canvas to complement all of the materials chosen.

kitchen

open arch

Working as a team

We owe it to Sweeten for matching us with the general contractor for our project. He did nothing but listen until he totally understood the vision and ran with it. He led our construction journey in such a peaceful transformation. We loved how he unselfishly gave us the liberty to do some of our own research on materials we really loved, and then with only some of the higher-priced items would he suggest his connections at a lower price to keep us on the budget without losing the integrity of the look. The budget was our biggest concern with our renovation and he always kept it in check. His team was just as amazing. We enjoyed having them arrive on our project every day and some weekends.

closets

back door

A stunning outcome

We cannot express how much we love the new kitchen shared with the dining space, living room, sunroom, and our newly improved lower-level family chill room. The entire new space gives us a sensational feel of living outside instead of inside. We are completely covered with so much light and warmth. We recently celebrated our son, Julian’s 24th birthday by inviting 22 guests ages 17-26. They had all visited our home prior to the renovation and they literally felt as if they were in another house. They could not get over the transformation.

We are thrilled our Sweeten contractor truly helped us to create a Zen space that works well with everything, including our antique pieces. I really believe that something needs to be said about the old working in a harmonious manner with the new. We have developed new confidence working with our contractor and we are hoping that very soon we will have him back to renovate the upper level including the family bathroom. But first, we must concentrate on building, once again, our home improvement budget.

Thank you, Sandra and Nelson. We hope your family enjoys your new home!

Renovation materials

KITCHEN RESOURCES: GE Café Series gas oven, convection/microwave, and refrigerator, dishwasher: Appliances Connection. Cabinets and marble & granite countertops: Supplied by general contractor. Goldenwarm hardware in brushed brass and Casamotion handblown glass pendant lights: Amazon. Paint in Chantilly Lace, #2121-70: Benjamin MooreBar stools: Pier One. Sink and faucet collection: Italian Tile NYC  on 1958 Coney Island Ave.

FLOORING RESOURCE: Chocolate wood floors: Supplied by general contractor.

DINING ROOM RESOURCES: Paint in Chantilly Lace #2121-70 and Barren Plain, #2111-60: Benjamin Moore. Light fixture: Overstock Furniture.

LIVING ROOM RESOURCES: Paint in American White, #2112-70:  Benjamin Moore

SUNROOM RESOURCES: Paint color in Tudor Cream,#2157-60: Benjamin Moore.

A note on appliance deliveries: If you’re on a tight timeline, Appliances Connection has over 10,000 items in stock and ready to ship. In-stock items can be delivered to NY/NJ within 2 days.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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