My Sweeten Story: A Kitchen Gets Social in Miami

A kitchen pass-through finds its flow—and breakfast bar—in a historical home

Three leather bar stools at the serving hatch

“After” photos by Real Estate Captured for Sweeten

  • Homeowners: Andrew and Germàn, a Florida couple renovating their first house, posted their kitchen renovation on Sweeten 
  • Where: Miami’s Upper Eastside neighborhood
  • Primary renovation: Focus on a kitchen pass-through in their 2,500 square-foot Mediterranean-style home
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Homeowner quote:For every challenge we faced, our Sweeten contractor found a straightforward solution.”
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in financial protection—for free.

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner Andrew

Portrait of the Sweeten homeowners

First home, high style

We are Andrew and Germàn, and we moved into our house in Miami just before the pandemic slowed everything. This is our first house, and we found a special one. Historically designated and built in an architectural style unique to Miami, it’s a combination of Mediterranean and Art Deco, referred to as Med-Deco.

Built in 1936 and located in the city’s Upper Eastside neighborhood, the 2,500 square-foot home is full of original elements, including beamed ceilings, wood and Cuban tile floors, arched doorways and alcoves, and interior French doors.

Kitchen before renovation

We felt the house was perfect, except for the kitchen, which was last remodeled in 2000. We knew we wanted to improve it but lived here for about a year before renovating. 

An anti-social kitchen

The kitchen was closed off from the rest of the house. This was intentional to the original layout. The home has a kitchen entrance and was once a staff cottage at the property’s rear. The kitchen, formerly used by domestic employees, was hidden out of sight.

Galley kitchen with stainless steel refrigerator
View of the kitchen from the living room through the serving hatch

Things have changed. We are the staff now, and we spend time in the kitchen with our kids. Our goal was to open it up to the rest of the house. Since it was right behind a living room wall, it seemed like a simple plan.

Finding the right construction team

We didn’t have contractor recommendations from anyone we knew, and no word-of-mouth leads, so we selected one through Sweeten. After entering the project details in the inquiry form, I received three matches, and had quotes from those contractors within a week or two. Sweeten’s $50K of renovation insurance made me feel comfortable—I had protection in the event my chosen contractor was not as they seemed. 

Kitchen with dark gray cabinets and white counter
Three leather bar stools at the serving hatch

This was our first experience with home renovation. The questions I had were, How much will it cost? and How long will it take? Our contractor was obviously experienced at kitchen remodels, and told me what I needed to know. We planned to live in the house, kitchenless, during the project, which motivated our contractor to finish as fast as possible.

"We settled on keeping the room size the same. But if we couldn’t move walls, we could break through one."

Key design idea: kitchen pass-through

Working with our designer, Nancy Beckham, we agreed on what we needed to do to increase the kitchen’s functionality. The existing room’s footprint was small, and the layout comprised of an obtrusive peninsula bar. If someone opened the refrigerator door, it closed off the kitchen’s entryway. No one could walk by!

Kitchen sink with matte black faucet
Kitchen sink with matte black faucet

Expansion of the kitchen was an early thought, but we realized it would require demolishing key architectural features. We settled on keeping the room size the same. But if we couldn’t move walls, we could break through one. We would create space and flow by opening the kitchen to the living room, creating a pass-through breakfast bar.

By eliminating the kitchen peninsula, we could make the most of the small space kitchen. This was a gut renovation, down to the studs and subfloor. The centerpiece was the kitchen passthrough, which reoriented the whole room.

We wanted a wide opening, and our contractors were able to create an eight-foot bar, perfect for our needs. Building the pass-through wasn’t easy, but it totally changed the house, connecting not only the rooms but our family throughout each day, and allowing light and conversation to move from room to room.

Kitchen with dark gray cabinets and white countertops
Three leather bar stools at the serving hatch

Family-friendly materials

For the kitchen finishes, we chose materials for durability and timeless appearance. A super-contemporary look, we felt, would be contrary to the style of the house. With Nancy’s help, we picked Shaker-style cabinets in a rich, dark shade of blue. I wanted marble countertops, but with two small kids and a dog, they weren’t practical. The quartz countertop material we chose resists anything we throw at it.

When it came to flooring, I really wanted that trendy herringbone hardwood I’d seen on Pinterest, but it wasn’t reasonable given our drip and spill numbers. The large-format tiles we went with were challenging to lay, but have almost no grout lines. They look great. We mop the smooth floor daily.

A splurgeworthy stove

The centerpiece of the room is an Italian-style range from Hallman. Before placing the order, I’d only seen the stove online—I didn’t know anyone who owned one. It’s a fraction of the price of a La Cornue, which we considered, but still gorgeous and functional.

Black and gold stove range
Exterior of the Miami home with Halloween decorations

A snafu-free job

The renovation process was close to issue-free. With every challenge we faced—and we encountered complications running utility lines, as well as cracks forming in the floor tiles during installation—the contractor found a straightforward solution. The process was smooth, and we never needed Sweeten’s intervention or insurance.

Lots to revel in

Our kitchen remodel cost more than we’d planned, but was worth it. What do we love most? It’s hard to pick! The sconce lighting fixtures are a perfect blend of modern and traditional vibes. The cabinetry is stocked with custom pull-outs, which I love. Appliance garages on both sides of the sink hide our gadgetry, keeping the countertops clear.

But overall, the Hallman range has to be my absolute favorite thing about our new kitchen. The built-in center griddle gets super hot for pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches and is large enough to make six of either at once. This isn’t just a beautiful home, after all. It’s a family home.

Thank you, Andrew and Germàn, for sharing your stunning kitchen!

Renovation materials

KITCHEN RESOURCES:

Moher 48” x 48” Ash porcelain floor tile: Casa Cielo Tile & Mosaic. Chelsea Plain Brick Mashiro backsplash tile: Marble Systems. Custom kitchen cabinets: NCI Wood Designs. Cabinet paint in Evening Sky; walls in Decorator’s White: Benjamin Moore. Honey bronze Nouveau pulls: Top Knobs. Absolute Blanc quartz countertops: Compac. Blanco sink: Appliances Connection. Matte black faucet: Hansgrohe. Inca Lux hood insert: Appliances Connection. Drywall hood surround designed by contractor. Café refrigerator: Appliances Connection. Miele dishwasher: Appliances Connection. 36” Dual Fuel Range: Hallman. Rejuvenation sconce and pendant lighting: Williams Sonoma. Bar stools: West Elm.

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 nationally. If you’re in NY/NJ, in-stock items can be delivered within 2 days.

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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