All the Right Decisions for a Galley Kitchen

Making design choices for this galley kitchen renovation wasn’t easy, but the end result was worth it

kitchen sink and shelves

  • Homeowners: New homeowners posted their galley kitchen remodel on Sweeten
  • Where: Nolita neighborhood in Manhattan, New York
  • Primary renovation: Create a new built-in bar, repurposed closets, and an urban vibe for a 704-square-foot condo
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.  

renovating the kitchen so it is more functional and bright, including installing appliances smaller than standard.

Updating a dark kitchen

After renting an apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, the homeowner decided to purchase the place and officially make it her own. Two years earlier, she had moved from Chicago to New York City with little time to find somewhere to live and found the apartment in the quiet, yet bustling, neighborhood with walkable shops, stores, and restaurants. She decided to make some minor cosmetic changes, like shining the floors and repainting the walls, while she saved up for a full renovation. The goal? To replace the dark kitchen cabinets and countertops and the smaller-than-standard appliances. Ready to create an inviting and more functional space, the homeowner posted her project to Sweeten and was matched with a general contractor.

kitchen with oak cabinets and black countertop and beige walls before renovation

Without overhauling the galley floor plan or footprint, the homeowner worked with her Sweeten general contractor to give the kitchen a facelift. A large pantry cabinet was replaced with two separated cabinets (upper and lower) to extend countertop space. They also knocked the bar down to countertop height and enlarged the pass-through window, which better connects the living and kitchen areas.

She opted for a two-tone cabinet finish that makes the kitchen feel so much more open thanks to the white upper cabinets. “I had a hard time deciding what color cabinets (white or greyish-blue) I wanted, so I went with both! I thought adding in a touch of color on the bottom would be a fun way to add a bit of character,” the homeowner shared. Open shelves above the sink in lieu of upper cabinet also contribute to a more spacious feel.

kitchen with white overhead cabinets and white countertop and farmhouse sink and gray under counter cabinets and dark tile flooring after renovation

white kitchen cabinets and countertop with undermount sink and white backsplash and wooden shelves after renovation

white kitchen cabinets with farmhouse sink and wood shelves above farmhouse sink and pass through window with white countertop and white walls and hardwood floors after renovation


Actually making decisions turned out to be the most difficult part of her renovation process, from picking the countertop materials (and understanding the difference between them) to finding the right appliances that would last.

Her general contractor provided assurance from the beginning, sharing ideas and material options in their initial consultation, and responding quickly to texts and emails throughout. “He made me the most comfortable right off the bat and I felt like I could trust him with my project and home. I would recommend him in a heartbeat,” the homeowner shared. As a first-time renovator, Sweeten was a vital resource for her in finding the right contractor for the job. “I had no idea where to start. Sweeten made that process so much easier by providing reviews, success stories, matching you with contractors, etc. I don’t know how I would’ve known where to start without them,” the homeowner continued.

kitchen with white overhead cabinets and white countertop and farmhouse sink and gray under counter cabinets and dark tile flooring after renovation

beige entrance with white trims to kitchen and living room with hardwood floors and built-in storage and tile flooring after renovation

All-in-all the kitchen came together without a hitch and transformed the feel of the home. “It’s the first thing I see when I walk in the door and every night when I turn on the light I get excited to see it all over again. Having my vision come to life is amazing. I’ve been so excited to show off the space to my family and friends. I’ve been cooking a lot more that’s for sure,” she shared.

kitchen with white overhead cabinets and gray under counter cabinets and pass through window with white countertop after renovation

Bonus: The homeowner offers her words of advice: “Things are not always as they appear. Pinterest and Instagram, blogs inundate you with so many options that you search and search and finally feel like you know exactly what you want…..well I felt like I had a good idea of what I wanted, but when I saw certain samples in my space I realized that they were not the right fit or was told reasons why a design wouldn’t be functional.”

Renovation materials

KITCHEN RESOURCES:  Maple cabinets in Juniper Berry (bottom) and white (upper), floating shelves in Whiskey Black stain: Kemper Cabinets. Countertops and backsplash in Swanbridge quartz: Cambria. Conga pulls in warm brass: Atlas Homewares. Delta sink faucet in Champagne Bronze: Home Depot. Gas range: Appliances Connection. Haier microwave, Blomberg dishwasher, #DWS55100SS, and 24” counter-depth refrigerator, #BRFB1312SS: Appliances Connection. Nantucket farmhouse sink, T-FCFS27 27″ L x 19″: Wayfair.

A galley kitchen renovation in Murray Hill, Manhattan, gets a complete overhaul.

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

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