This week, I got to live indirectly through a delightful homeowner’s kitchen transformation on the Upper West Side. Hafeeza and her husband made the big move from a 4,500-square-foot home in suburban New Jersey to Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 2013. After raising five children, Hafeeza and her husband were ready for a retired relocation that would put the City at their feet and free them from keeping a big house. They spent a year in a temporary place before they found the long-term city apartment where they planned to enjoy the essentials: family and friends reunions and nightly meals prepared by Hafeeza’s husband, the devoted family chef. The new space was ideal for those floors, with the exception of the kitchen, which was functional but outdated and lacked the storage and prep space they had envisioned. After speaking to a number of contractors who were not available or interested in the purpose of the job, Hafeeza turned to Sweeten to find a contractor for her list of simple and smart upgrades.
“Our Sweeten Expert was a true professional from the initial meeting through to the final payment.”
– Hafeeza M., owner of a house on the Upper West Side
Usually, when I talk to homeowners about their renovations, I have a dose of renovation envy – I want THAT sparkling new kitchen too! But after talking to Hafeeza, I found myself with something extra and unexpected: a renewed appreciation for New York City life and William Morris’s mantra that we recently explored on the Sweeten blog. One look at Hafeeza’s Sweeten project post and you can see why. Hafeeza started with a call for a no-frills kitchen update to minimize clutter and simplify space. His ideas for big and small updates were simple and to the point, with some unusual details to fit the kitchen into his lifestyle and new city.
The kitchen is enclosed and compact, so Hafeeza planned to add new cabinets, countertops and appliances and initially explored removing part of the wall to create a more open feel. The couple also wanted to move a closet, coat the entire apartment in fresh paint, and equip the kitchen for a refrigerator with an ice machine. If I had to name the mundane desires of most New Yorkers, more kitchen space, new paint and an ice machine could be at the top of the list. However, a request stopped me. Hafeeza and her husband wanted to take out the dishwasher. Exclamation marks!!! Hafeeza laughed when I helpfully explained that a dishwasher is an integral part of a kitchen remodel, if not the holy grail for many new homeowners. She and her husband were certain they appreciated more drawer space than the gadget and were happy to help wash the dishes together. Good. This is a new and interesting dishwashing philosophy!
We paired Hafeeza with Sweeten Expert Pedro who delivered big with a flawless, distress-free kitchen remodel, first creating clean lines and a unified atmosphere for the cabinets with a plywood base for the top set, finished in acrylic laminate. The lower set of cabinets and drawers features acrylic laminate over engineered wood. The glossy finish makes these cabinets easy to clean and will protect against dents and wear over time. To create more counter space without changing the size of the room, Hafeeza moved the sink from the center of the counter to the former dishwasher house, taking advantage of the plumbing already in place, opening up a more continuous counter prep area and installing an extra-deep washbasin. Hafeeza chose a stainless steel Blomberg refrigerator and her husband chose a compact Bertazzoni range. They completed the look with Silestone quartz counters, a bright neutral glass tile backsplash, and porcelain tile floors with a faux wood finish.
Eventually, Hafeeza and her husband decided to leave the existing kitchen wall in place. Trying to open it would only add 18 inches to the galley kitchen. Even altering the plumbing to get a refrigerator with an ice machine turned out to be overly expensive and unnecessary, so they skipped that detail too. As they adjusted their plans to get the most out of work, Hafeeza’s husband told Pedro they had some small bathroom improvements in mind. With some quick calculations on the back of a napkin, Pedro and the couple realized they could make room in the budget for tile makeovers and new fixtures. Hafeeza found most of the new fixtures at Manhattan’s Decor Planet and outfitted the bathroom with an energy-efficient Fresca dual-flush toilet, a full-wall medicine cabinet with mirrors inside and out, and a new dressing table with topped drawers. from a sinking ship. With extra space, new lighting, and an updated shower head, Hafeeza and her husband were thrilled to find they could renovate the bathroom within their budget.
After less than a month of work, Hafeeza and her husband moved into their new home to enjoy more than they bargained for: the new kitchen, the fresh paint throughout the apartment, the sparkling bathroom finishes and a space that allowed them to focus on family, friends and their new vibrant neighborhood. I tried (like three times!) To get Hafeeza to choose her favorite part of the new space, but she didn’t move. “The whole apartment! We are simply thrilled! We have New York City on our doorstep. What more do you need ?! “Really, I’ve been repeating that mantra to myself for the last week. Thank you, Hafeeza, for sharing your space and your unflappable urban dweller with me!
Inspired by the essential renovation of Hafeeza? Post your project on Sweeten and let us connect you with contractors to help you simplify your space.