A Kitchen Shines with Some TLC

A Manhattan rip-and-replace (with help from dad) makes a big impact

kitchen renovation

Project: Give a functional kitchen a small facelift in the Upper West Side

Before: Melissa bought her Upper West Side 650-square-feet condo in 2015 from a family of four, who utilized the space differently than she does as a single homeowner. A big plus of the purchase was that the space only needed some “finishing touches rather than a major reconfiguration.”

kitchen renovation

While the kitchen was serviceable, she felt some of the cost-cutting measures made in a prior renovation just didn’t measure up. “I loved the open-concept of my kitchen and how it flowed out to the rest of the space,” she said, “but it was clear they skimped on the details.”

Melissa hated the existing countertops (“the counter was cheap dark wood with many seams!”), and the cabinets without a toe-kick accumulated a ton of food debris, creating a cleaning nightmare. The bar needed tweaking; it was two different pieces with different depths. The space was much darker than she wanted, getting only morning sunlight, and the wood countertops didn’t help. “They swallowed the room whole!” she noted.

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To make it her own, she posted her project to Sweeten, a free service that connects homeowners with vetted general contractors, and selected this Sweeten contractor.

After: Smart, small changes transformed Melissa’s blah kitchen into a place she’s proud to call home. She replaced the dark wood countertops with quartz (“so easy to clean and visually opened up my space!”). The bar was not standard height, and so it required custom carpentry to finish it off properly. Adding a white subway tile backsplash and switching out the existing hardware for a larger size instantly improved the space. “I selected modern handles and knobs that accented the tall cabinets and gave the space more function as well as a polished look,” she explained. “I saw many examples on Sweeten’s blog, which gave me the confidence to go for it!”

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But her favorite swap? Her single huge basin sink, that came with various add-ons, has been the game-changer. “It has a removable dish rack that inserts into the sink, which I use every day because it frees up counter space; perfect for small spaces!”

Melissa said, “I used Sweeten’s Client Services to vet unfamiliar questions that popped up, such as buying a counter through a wholesaler so I could resolve my questions quickly.” Her contractor completed the project on time and on budget. Now, she’s thrilled with the final result. “I love the new bright look and functionality!”

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Bonus: Melissa finished her renovation on a tight budget and armed with her helpful dad. They painted the space to make it brighter and replaced the floors themselves, which saved money. “Let’s just say it was an adventure and I’m glad I didn’t get evicted,” she said, “but a little paint and nicer floors went a long way!”

Thanks for sharing your kitchen renovation story with us, Melissa!

Style finds: Kitchen cabinets: Ikea. Cabinet hardware: My Knobs. Countertops: Home Depot. Backsplash: Tile Bar. Prolific sink: Kohler. Lighting: Home Depot.

An Upper West Side kitchen turned up the brightness with glossy finishes and under-cabinet LED lighting.

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