My Sweeten Story: An Office Kitchen Becomes a Busy Family Hub


Double the storage and a small layout change impact a galley space in Riverdale

office kitchen with floral wallpaper

(Above) A new office kitchen surrounded by extra storage

  • Homeowners: Sally, a children’s book editor, and Aaron, a UX designer, posted their project on Sweeten
  • Where: Bronx, New York
  • Primary renovation: Revamp a cookspace to include a kitchen desk in a prewar building
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Homeowner’s quote:Sweeten was valuable in providing the ability to look through different contractor profiles and viewing previous work. It was nice to know that everyone on the site had been vetted.
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

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

Updating a loved home

The lobby is what initially drew us to the 1939 building in Riverdale. We still love it. We purchased a 1,200-square-foot sponsor unit that had been a rental for many years.  My husband, Aaron, and I live in the co-op with our children, ages 4 and 1.5 years old. 

Portrait of the Sweeten homeowners

With both of us working from home, renovating our kitchen and building an office kitchen would have the most impact on our daily life. The kitchen and bathrooms were very basic in budget finishes, so we had always hoped to renovate.

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Galley kitchen with gray cabinets and white counters
Gray cabinets with matte black hardware and fixtures

Improvements in flow and function

There were half walls midway through the kitchen that created a little breakfast nook at the end of the room. However, I started using this space to work during COVID. The plan was to knock down those walls and have a more continuous flow. We wanted a kitchen desk large enough to seat two so that our kids could use it while my husband and I cook. 

We’ve been eating at home a lot since COVID. Updating our appliances and creating more counter space would improve how we function in the kitchen.  

Another huge issue was the electrical load. There weren’t enough outlets or enough circuits. For example, we couldn’t run our dishwasher at the same time as our toaster oven. We knew we needed to spend some money on serious electrical work.

Moving image of storage opening and closing

An office kitchen benefits the whole family

The only layout change was moving our refrigerator away from the kitchen entrance. That simple shift made the whole room seem larger and gave us more counter space.

Our Sweeten contractors really helped us figure out the floorplan with the cabinets. Our kitchen had some wonky angles in the walls. They found solutions to make the whole design look more streamlined which incorporated an office kitchen. Our cabinets didn’t reach all the way to the wall near the entryway. The contractors suggested filling it in with open shelves and we love them. They make the space look so much homier.

"In the end, our kitchen cost between $45,000 – $50,000, including materials, appliances, and some small upgrades."

Cabinetry would be a big part of the budget since it would also be used to create the hutch around the kitchen desk. We used a brand from a big box store. Originally, we wanted to install IKEA but they were sold out for months. 

To spruce up the cabinets, we added elegant hardware. A counter-depth refrigerator was a must-have. Our old fridge protruded out but it also didn’t have a lot of storage space; it was a lose-lose. The French-door style in counter-depth fixed both of those issues.

Kitchen desk within galley kitchen
Kitchen with stainless steel appliances and white countertops

Easy material upgrades 

We went with a gray/black/white color scheme so our large collection of  bright green kitchen accessories would pop against a neutral background. Our contractors recommended the gray vinyl plank flooring. It’s easier to care for than stained wood, and so far it’s been great. 

Our countertops switched to quartz which is such a nice upgrade from the ugly Formica we had before. 

How much our renovation cost

The biggest challenge was living at home during the renovation. With two young children, it was hard to get by without a kitchen. We stayed at my mom’s apartment over a few of the weekends, but weeknights were a struggle. Luckily, the contractors were friendly with the kids!

As first-time renovators, we knew absolutely nothing about the remodeling process. We have a strict co-op board, so our biggest questions and concerns were about going through the co-op approval process, making sure the project was completely on schedule, and not going over budget.

In the end, our kitchen cost between $45,000 – $50,000, including materials, appliances, and some small upgrades. A large chunk of the budget went toward upgrading our entire electrical panel to bring it up to code.

Kitchen desk with floral wallpaper

Working with our general contractor

Our Sweeten contractors were helpful and spent time explaining different options for flooring, counters, and other materials.

Sweeten was valuable in providing the ability to look through different contractor profiles and viewing previous work. It was nice to know that everyone on the site had been vetted.

It’s so hard to pick what’s our favorite part of the kitchen! We love the countertops, the open shelves, and the workspace. For cooking, the large sink and spray faucet has been a game-changer.

Renovation Materials

KITCHEN RESOURCES: Glacier Spring Ash waterproof rigid vinyl plank flooring: LL Flooring. Townsend Pearl Gray cabinets: All Wood Fast. KitchenAid 20-cubic feet french door counter-depth refrigerator: Appliances ConnectionBosch 500 series dishwasher: Appliances Connection. GE stove: Appliances Connection. Warwick cabinet hardware in Flat Black: Emtek. Quartz countertop and backsplash in Carrara Morro: MSI Surfaces. Undermount granite composite kitchen sink in Black Onyx: Kraus. Trinsic pull-down kitchen faucet in Matte Black: Delta. Paint in Decorator’s White: Benjamin Moore.

A note on fixture and appliance deliveries: If you’re on a tight timeline, Appliances Connection has over 50,000 items in stock and ready to ship nationally. If you’re in the NY/NJ metro area, in-stock items typically deliver within 2-3 days.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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