Brandi’s Kensington Kitchen and Dining Room Renovation – Homeowner Guest Post

We thought maybe the lighting was off in the “before” photos, but it turns out this Kensington kitchen really was coated in olive green… in all directions! On a mission to renovate quickly after buying the place, a Brooklyn family came to Sweeten for clever kitchen renovations plus some bonus dining room storage. Read on for Brandi’s take on making this space a home for a growing family.

kitchen renovation kensington
Guest post by Brandi, Brooklyn homeowner

We bought our Kensington co-op apartment about a year ago, knowing we’d need a full kitchen renovation. The apartment had a wall oven that did not work, and the cabinets had so many layers of paint on them, the hinges wouldn’t close. Not to mention they were painted a horrifying olive green. The backsplash was cracked and yellowing, the floor tiles were beige-y pink (and also cracked), and all of the appliances needed updating. And because it is a galley kitchen and not very big, we wanted extra storage space in the dining room.


We didn’t have that many ideas when we first started. I knew it would be clean and mostly white, I wanted glass tiles for the backsplash, some sort of natural stone counter, and I wanted a fridge with the freezer on the bottom. Also, the kitchen is in the middle of the apartment so we were looking for ways to bring more light in. A lovely neighbor had shown us how well L-shaped wall cut-outs could work to brighten and enlarge the space, so we started with that.

Little by little we pieced together a plan, just through doing research on places like Sweeten and Pinterest and looking at what we liked and what we didn’t. We decided to post our project on Sweeten, and were matched with Sweeten Expert Paul. We spoke to a few contractors and he was the one who had the most creative and constructive feedback on early design plans. For instance, he didn’t automatically agree with me on how we should assemble the cabinets in the dining room (I initially wanted high wall cabinets which we later scrapped), and ultimately we took his suggestions and he was right.

We ended up choosing marbled cork floors, white lacquer IKEA cabinets with modern pulls, bright granite counters, sea green glass backsplash tiles, and stainless steel appliances. Our favorite features are the undercabinet lighting, the easy access spice drawer, and the slightly larger stainless steel sink.

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kensington apartment kitchen

galley kitchen with ikea cabinets

glass backsplash tiles

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stainless steel appliances and white lacquered cabinets

Paul built the dining room console with IKEA cabinets and granite counters, which gives us just the right amount of storage without taking over the whole room.

The floor tiles were my idea; I loved that they are earth friendly, good for the back and knees, and fairly inexpensive. We had our eye on a different tile but when it came time to purchase, they were out of stock so we made a last minute trip to Lumber Liquidators a week before work began and found another design we liked. They look fine, but I did learn that cork has a major drawback: just a year later you can see the wear and tear on them, with pieces of the veneer flaking off around the edges. Not hugely noticeable, but buyer beware.

We also regretted ordering cabinets through IKEA. Yes — it was much cheaper than anywhere else, but about half of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts we ordered were out of stock for about six months (and this was from their brand-new cabinet line!). Over those six months, we probably made the trip to IKEA 15 times; we were frequently told that items were in for pick up, only to arrive and find out they were not actually there. We tried to order pieces online and then received the wrong things. Paul was incredible, and it was not his fault that the cabinet orders were so off, but it was a big hold-up over the course of several months and we ended up assembling half the cabinet fronts ourselves. The cabinets do look great, and we are so grateful to Paul – we loved working with him!

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ikea dining room storage cabinet unit


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