A Galley Kitchen Gets a Scandinavian Look
Jen’s Crown Heights kitchen renovation goal: maximize its minimalism
Before: Update a kitchen with low-grade materials
Jen rented in neighborhoods across Brooklyn for 10 years before she bought her first apartment in a 1937 Crown Heights co-op building. She fell in love with how open the space was—with the exception of the tight, closed-in kitchen. The kitchen was recently renovated, but with cheaper, run-of-the-mill materials that didn’t quite match Jen’s style.
“I’m a huge fan of the simple, Scandinavian vibe,” she said. (Think: neutral calming colors, simple design, and warm touches for that hygge life). Jen purchased the 950-square-foot apartment with the intention to renovate but decided to wait to get a better sense of how’d she use it.
To achieve the sleek yet warm kitchen of her dreams, Jen posted her project on Sweeten and chose her Sweeten contractor. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection— for free.
“I had a pretty clear vision of the aesthetics and giving myself that extra year solidified those design decisions. My sofa faces the kitchen, so I’d spend more hours than I’d like to admit looking at it and imagining what I’d do,” Jen said.
Though the kitchen had an opening to the living room, it still felt closed off to the rest of the apartment because its working surfaces were behind a wall. “A weird empty space in the left part of the kitchen was supposed to be an eat-in area, but I was never going to use it for that,” she said.
After: Opening up the kitchen and adding a peninsula
The contractors removed a wall came down and replaced it with a peninsula to connect the kitchen and living room. Instead of building out full upper cabinets, Jen opted for open shelving for an airy feel. She also took advantage of the extra space on the left side of the kitchen to add more base cabinetry. “Though I heard my share of conflicting opinions about open shelving, I’m so glad I stuck to my guns,” she said.
The old flooring was replaced with wood to match the living area. An integrated dishwasher and counter-depth fridge were installed for that European vibe. Jen did wind up compromising on a built-in gas cooktop and wall oven due to electrical restrictions. However, she ultimately attained the Scandinavian-minimal look she was aiming for.
With her Crown Heights kitchen renovation behind her, Jen offers a few words of wisdom. For one, start putting together a materials list before you even hire a contractor. Jen assembled a spreadsheet with everything from appliances to light fixtures to track items she loved, and see if they went on sale. (Tip: Jen browsed Sweeten reno posts and their detailed source lists to find items!)
She loved the transformation so much, choosing a favorite element was nearly impossible. “Is it cheating if I say the entire kitchen [is my favorite?] I’m still stunned by how transformed the space is with the wall gone.” She added, “Frankly, I never want to leave my apartment.”
Bonus: Jen recommends adding drawers to base cabinets for easier access to dishes. “I’m a shorty, so having all my dishes in drawers, instead of having to reach for them on my tippy toes, has been awesome,” she said.
KITCHEN RESOURCES: Cabinet pulls, #1060-4055-P: Berenson. Countertops: Caesarstone. Paint in Chantilly Lace: Benjamin Moore. Sink in Anthracite Granite: Blanco. Faucet, #4159-BL-DST: Delta Faucet. Lighting, #P3203-30: Progress Lighting. Dishwasher, stove, vent, cabinet fronts, open shelves: Ikea.
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