A Galley Kitchen Gets a Scandinavian Look

Jen’s Crown Heights kitchen renovation goal: maximize its minimalism

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, white kitchen

“After” photos by Miao Jiaxin for Sweeten

  • Homeowners: Sweeten homeowner Jen posted her updated kitchen renovation on Sweeten. 
  • Where: Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York
  • Primary renovation: A complete modern update of their kitchen to create a warmer and more welcoming feel
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Sweeten’s role: Sweeten matches home-renovation experts with vetted general contractors, offering input, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free

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.

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

kitchen renovation, Crown Heights, Brookyn
kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen
kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen
SWEETEN JenniferLee-Apt-Before-01
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SWEETEN JenniferLee-Apt-Before-01
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“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.

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

Opening up the space

“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.

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

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.

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

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.

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, white kitchen

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.

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

Finding tips and tricks for a renovation

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!)

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

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.”

kitchen renovation, Brooklyn, Crown Heights, neutral kitchen

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.

Renovation materials

KITCHEN RESOURCES: Cabinet pulls, #1060-4055-P: Berenson. Countertops: Caesarstone. Paint in Chantilly Lace: Benjamin Moore. Blanco sink in Anthracite Granite: Appliances Connection. Faucet, #4159-BL-DST: Delta Faucet. Lighting, #P3203-30: Progress Lighting. Dishwasher, stove, vent, cabinet fronts, open shelves: Ikea.

When you post your project with Sweeten, we’ll help you level your bids—even with non-Sweeten contractors.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

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

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