Black-and-White Kitchen Cabinets Have a Timeless Appeal in Brooklyn

A well-deserved upgrade with black quartz countertops reveals a compact cookspace remodel under $35,000

Two-tone black and white kitchen cabinets
  • Homeowners: These co-op owners posted their project on Sweeten
  • Where: Brooklyn, New York
  • Primary renovation: Rip-and-replace a black-and-white small kitchen in a 750-square-foot prewar apartment
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Homeowner’s quote: “We had a truly positive experience working with our contractor.”
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and secure payments—for free.

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowner. “After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten.

A well-timed purchase with room to improve

I purchased the co-op in September 2020 when property prices were down. Nobody was talking about inflation just yet. So, it seemed like a good time to invest in New York.

Split image of the kitchen before renovation
Dining area right outside of kitchen

We had been renting prior to buying the place. Eventually, I sold some stocks and used the money for the down payment. The prewar apartment is in a co-op building, built in 1938. It has six floors with many combined units. Ours measures 750 square feet. We wanted to update the apartment, modernizing it a bit and making it feel like our own.

The dealbreaker: no dishwasher!

Our renovation’s focus was on the apartment’s kitchen. It hadn’t been updated since 2003 and lacked a dishwasher—we needed one, and wanted to give the otherwise workable kitchen, which had been done in black and white, a facelift. So, I posted my project on Sweeten, asking for bids from local general contractors we met for a “simple update.”

L-shaped black and white kitchen cabinets
Black and stainless steel range

As a first-time renovator, I had questions. “How long does a kitchen remodel take?” “How much would it cost?” Will my contractor rip me off?” “How do I deal with the co-op during the process?” But Sweeten helped answer them, and got me on the way to hiring a vetted renovation team.

A bigger fridge changes the scope

From the beginning, we’d thought we would install a dishwasher and a new countertop and that would be it. We liked the existing black-and-white kitchen as it was. But the scope of the job changed quickly when we decided to upgrade from the skinny, column-style refrigerator that was there.

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With help from our contractor, we did a redesign to make room for a fridge that was closer to standard size. Other than that, we left the kitchen layout pretty much as it had been.

Stainless steel fridge, range, and fixtures
Black cabinets and counter with white backsplash and upper cabinets

Black-and-white kitchen cabinets simply elevate

I’d visited Ikea and made a cabinet selection, but a friend of ours who was working for Semihandmade, a company that makes high-quality doors to fit Ikea base cabinets, suggested we speak to them about our project. The company’s products were a worthy improvement and they had the colors we wanted. We went with a black-on-black vibe for the lower-cabinet surfaces, and white for the uppers.

We spent an evening evaluating handles and pulls up close with the cabinets to see what we liked best and bought $400 worth. However, we saved a bit on the hardware by asking our contractor to rebuild the existing white open shelving units.

"We saved a bit on the hardware by asking our contractor to rebuild the existing white open shelving units."

Black quartz countertops set the tone

When it came time to choose the countertops, we looked at Corian, quartz, polished granite, and Dekton. The offerings include so many types and textures. We ultimately went with Jet Black quartz countertops, which coordinated the best with our matte-black doors.

Plants hang over the kitchen sink

The new, larger refrigerator was the right call, no question. The kitchen had come with a gas range that we liked, but we opted for a sleeker, black style at the last minute and we’re thankful that we did. We decided to buy a small microwave, too, and hide it behind a cupboard door. It’s only used to heat up coffee. Similarly, the new dishwasher adds cleanliness and convenience, while keeping the countertops less cluttered.

A solid renovation partner

We had a truly positive experience working with our Sweeten contractor. One of the last days of the project, I put together a PowerPoint presentation highlighting all of the things that needed to be completed. Our contractor and his crew were very receptive to this. Tell us you work in sales without telling us you work in sales!

White subway tile backsplash and open shelving

Our black-and-white small kitchen came in on budget

I know that these kitchen projects can be really expensive, so I’m happy we were able to get the result we wanted, and a great-looking kitchen, at a cost that was reasonable and reachable. We made one mistake that cost us about a thousand dollars, but otherwise the project was without any major bumps, and we kept our total costs under $35K. 

The new-and-improved black-and-white kitchen is our own now. It gave us the opportunity to collaborate and improve our living space—and allowed me to tour all of the tri-state Ikea locations in search of the missing cabinet parts. Truth is, there’s nothing “simple,” about a kitchen renovation. But no regrets here.

Thank you for sharing your new kitchen with us!

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