A Clumsy Kitchen Becomes a Masterpiece

No dancing in the kitchen! A cooking couple improves the flow

kitchen renovation, Queens

Project: Optimize the workflow of a kitchen in Queens

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Before: Lisa and Chris (with their four-year-old daughter Mackenzie and a dog called Porkchop) bought their prewar co-op apartment in Kew Gardens knowing it would need some work. After a year of living in the 1,100-square-foot space, they pulled the trigger on a kitchen renovation. It had very little working counter space and the layout was a little on the silly side. “The old refrigerator, when opened, blocked the door to the living room,” said Lisa, making for a clumsy dance when someone needed to get by. If Chris was using the stove and she needed the microwave that meant another awkward shuffle to accommodate. “It was a nice kitchen, but it just didn’t work for us,” they concluded.

After: Lisa and Chris posted their project on Sweeten, a free service matching renovating homeowners with vetted general contractors, and were matched with a Sweeten contractor who had experience reworking kitchens in co-op buildings. To open up the kitchen, the couple had part of a wall torn down where the fridge once was. That allowed them to extend the counter space and paved the way for a peninsula with storage below and seating for guests to gather while the hosts cooked.

“I think knocking the wall down and adding the countertop was what we were most excited about,” said Lisa. It also made the space feel larger. “It opened up the natural lighting between the living room and kitchen because of where the windows were situated,” said Chris. The swinging doors on the bottom cabinets were replaced with sliding drawers, so the couple no longer needed to “squat down and peer into dark shelves.” The daily progress updates from their contractor were appreciated as the family lived in the apartment during the renovation. Porkchop also had a deep fear of the plastic sheeting in the renovation area. To calm the pup, their contractor minimized the footprint of their workspace at the end of each day and kept the plastic as contained as possible.

Bonus: They added strip lights under the cabinets for some ambient lighting. It became a perfect midway between no illumination and the aggressive glare from the overhead fixture. “It turned out to be a really nice touch during those sleepy, overcast mornings,” they agreed.

Style finds: Oceanside Oak Gray HD Porcelain floor tiles: Lumber Liquidators. Sektion kitchen cabinets: IKEA. White Diamond quartz counters: Eco by Cosentino. Backsplash tile: Gemstone Hexagon Series backsplash tile in Glacier Onyx: Glazzio Tiles. Sink: Kohler. Faucet: Moen. Stove: Samsung. Hood: IKEA. Dishwasher and fridge: Whirlpool. Possini 15-light pendant chandelier: Lamps Plus. Bernhard bar stools: IKEA.

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Thinking about giving your kitchen a refresh? Check out our guide on kitchen renovation costs.

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