Author Archives: Sweeten

About Sweeten

Sweeten is a free renovation service that matches homeowners with the best general contractors, providing support until the job is done. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

A Shaker-Style Kitchen Basks in Natural Light

When Anne and Michael moved into their two-bed, one-bath apartment in the Clinton Hill Co-ops, the space was in need of an overhaul. Instead of jumping right into a renovation, the couple decided to live with the kitchen for a couple of months to understand how to customize the space to their needs. They moved into the bedrooms but kept the living room and kitchen fairly empty. “We felt it was a plus to live in the space for a minute before diving into our first renovation, even if the space did feel quite sparse at times.”

Prior to the renovation, the small, cut-off kitchen was saddled with an outdated color palette and cheap materials: wood-paneled cabinets, a busily speckled countertop, and pink square floor tiles that brought out an unflattering orange hue in the cabinets. The two small doorways leading into the kitchen created an awkward flow and isolated the space from the rest of the apartment.

Anne and Michael posted their project on Sweeten after being stuck in a “contractor no man’s land.” They had spoken to handymen who felt the scope of the project was too ambitious for their skills, while contractors they met only wanted to take on larger and costlier projects. “Neither of these options felt right. Sweeten was great; we posted the project and the budget and got serious responses from contractors specifically interested in a project of our size. Filling out the Sweeten project form helped us to clarify the specs of the renovation for ourselves as well.”

With great views and an abundance of natural light, Anne and Michael knew the big windows in their apartment needed to be the focal points of the space. A reconfiguration of the floor plan eliminated the two small entrances and created a new, U-shaped kitchen that opened up into the dining space. This allowed more light into the kitchen while maintaining a separate cooking area. Anne and Michael also traded in the orange-brown-pink for a more subdued and calming color scheme. “Our contractor helped us source our appliances, counters, and backsplash tile, which we found really helpful as first-timers,” says Anne. The couple decided on Caesarstone quartz surfaces for their countertops and felt Frosty Carrina fit their color scheme perfectly. Shaker-style cabinets were semi-custom in a cool, soft gray and paired with a backsplash made of small-scale white tile laid in a diamond pattern.

Having lived with compact appliances in a small rental kitchen, they were thrilled they could fit full-sized appliances and the storage they wanted in their new kitchen. “We just hosted Thanksgiving for ten people, and the kitchen really worked from a storage and counter space perspective. It’s exciting to be able to host like that in our new home.”

With a kitchen like this, it’s safe to say there will be many more holiday parties to come!


For more Sweeten renovations: A New Kitchen, and Baby, on the Way! | At Home with Sweeten


A Condo Overhaul With Sweeten

When you’ve lived in a 700-square-foot Manhattan apartment for four years, anything bigger feels like a sprawling oasis – just ask Sarah and Craig, who experienced that feeling when they moved into a modern one-bedroom Long Island City condo that measures 1,160-square-feet.

But over time, the shiny newness of the space began to wear off, and the improvement wish list starting growing. Topping that list? A big, white farmhouse sink to replace their disproportionality tiny one. “We like to joke that our entire renovation started with the kitchen sink,” said Sarah.

And started it sure did.

Sarah and Craig wanted an aesthetic they coined as “industrial eclectic” and wanted to preserve the industrial history of Long Island City while adding a touch of their own rustic taste. What better way to complement such a design than with Sleek Concrete surfaces? Quartz Concrete features the warmth of stone, but with a durability that typical concrete counters lack.

The kitchen’s dark cabinetry was swapped out for a bright white that, of course, complemented that big, white farmhouse sink.

In order to make the kitchen and living room into two distinct areas, the Sleek Concrete island was extended into something of a casual dining area that was ideal for pre-dinner drinks or a meal for a low-key evening at home.

One of the highlights of the new design is the bar area. A small nook of dead space fit a wine fridge perfectly, while the wooden carving on the shelf above the racks of wine and beer naturally reads “Cheers.”

And to think it all started with a kitchen sink… we’ll certainly cheers to that!


For more Sweeten renovations: A Kitchen Set StraightNew Life For A Brooklyn Retail Landmark


A Retro-Modern Update With Sweeten

Dog is man’s best friend, or so the saying goes. An addendum: “big dogs require space.” This was the case with Alicia and Ed. After adopting their Rhodesian ridgeback, Roxy, they moved from Manhattan to a 1,400-square foot duplex in Park Slope.

They loved the building, a turn-of-the-century brownstone, but issues had arisen since its conversion into condos ten years before. Although the kitchen had high-end finishes and appliances, the couple wanted to truly make it theirs and add a real wow factor befitting a building this pretty. The look they were going for- a muted, classic design with a modern twist. Knowing they needed help, they turned to Sweeten, a free service that matches homeowners with the perfect contractor for their renovation.

The kitchen had mismatched countertops, dated cabinets, and no space in the fridge for wine. Though it didn’t need a full gut, the kitchen needed a refresh.

In line with the desired aesthetic, Alicia and Ed chose Caesarstone’s Statuario Nuvo countertops and peninsula with a waterfall edge, a style Ed loved. They kept the state-of-the-art appliances, refaced the cabinets to a soft grey, and added unique touches like antique light fixtures to compliment the space.

The last thing to tackle? The fridge. Unable to find space for a larger refrigerator, they came up with a creative solution. With their Sweeten contractor’s help, they discovered they could place a wine fridge in the drywall under the staircase. The chalkboard-painted drywall gave the sense of an expanded kitchen and added a personal yet practical touch. (We’re sure Roxy loved it too.)

We love a happy renovation ending!

For more Sweeten renovations: A Kitchen Set Straight| New Life For A Brooklyn Retail Landmark





A Pre-War Update with Sweeten

Welcome to New York, a city full of landmarked buildings with outdated, pre-war apartments. With the help of Sweeten, the free New York City-based renovation service that matches homeowners with the perfect general contractor, these apartments are given a 21st-century upgrade.

Come on into Cat and Jordan’s 1,000 square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bath co-op apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Their apartment had uneven walls, old cherry cabinets, a non-functioning fireplace, old parquet with a shiny yellow varnish, and an all-together old space.

The goal was simple: create a simple, sleek, elegant but functional design while preserving the traditional elements of the prewar apartment. They chose satin-finished dark grey cabinetry custom built by the contractor with contrasting Frosty Carrina counters and backsplash. Due to space constrictions, Cat and Jordan decided on a peninsula that holds kitchenware and cookware on one side and napkins, cookbooks and more on the other.

In addition, they built a standalone reverse L-shaped bar that complements the style and shape of the peninsula. It makes for the perfect gathering location when hosting and a smooth transition from the kitchen to living room.

Each of the drawers have carved-out pull tabs rather than handles for a streamlined look. Cat’s favorite addition? The drawer interiors are made of natural walnut, complete with perfectly sized compartments for silverware.

To add a touch of character, Cat found Moroccan tiles in black, white, and grey hues. The tiles were extended to the fireplace flooring to really tie the two rooms together. In addition, they designed a new fireplace mantel with clean lines and built-in bookshelves. The walls were skim coated and painted, the floors stripped and refinished and the apartment instantly became light and bright!

We love a good success story!

For more New York renovations: Renovation Made Easy With Sweeten | At Home With Sweeten

A Kitchen Set Straight

What do you do when you have a nonsensical kitchen in the Chelsea apartment you just purchased? Enlist the help of Sweeten, the free New York City-based renovation service that matches homeowners with general contractors! Before Meredith and Jason’s kitchen was light and bright, it comprised of dark mahogany cabinets that blocked the window, a misplaced island causing them to squeeze by to enter the kitchen, and a slightly raised floor that resulted in regular toe-stubbing.

Prior to meeting with their Sweeten contractor, Meredith and Jason were told their options were limited as the ceiling, which dropped a foot, could not be lifted. To their excitement, the new contractor was able to lift the ceiling about seven inches. With more space for cabinets, the couple focused on creating a functional space. Their contractor offered a wide peninsula rather than an island that doubles the counter space and gives Meredith a space to work while Jason prepares meals.

Photo from designer AhA!nteriors

A closer look: Meredith and Jason chose Statuario Maximus for both the countertops and backsplash to create a harmonious look. The custom cabinets were created by the contractor and freed the window for maximum natural light. In order to install Jason’s dream hood, a microwave was placed under the peninsula.

The Statuario Maximus was extended to the waterfall-edge peninsula and the wood floor was lowered an inch to eliminate the risk of toe-stubbing and match the rest of the apartment flooring. Such a simple change makes the kitchen feel “bigger, brighter and cleaner.”

We can dub this as another successful renovation!

For more Sweeten renovations: Renovation Made Easy With Sweeten | A New Kitchen, and Baby, On The Way!

Renovation Made Easy With Sweeten

You’ve been on the hunt for the perfect New York Apartment. You’ve looked far and wide and finally, you find one that’s right for you. Except for one little issue- it hasn’t been renovated in over 40 years. Updating a home is easy with Sweeten, the free New York City- based renovation service that matches homeowners with general contractors. Take a look at how two renovators brought their kitchens to the 21st century.

Fabio and Melina’s lease on a 550-square foot apartment was quickly coming to a close, and so was Melina’s due date. After three months of searching, they came across a two-bedroom Carnegie Hill apartment that was in an ideal location. The condition, not so much. It was occupied by a single family for 40 years and had all its original fixtures. Fabio and Melina found Sweeten in an online search for contractors and quickly posted about their project. As their move-in date was not flexible, they chose a Sweeten contractor they felt a connection with and trusted would get the job done on time.

With a love for cooking, Fabio and Melina focused on creating a kitchen in which they can work together. The contractor was happy to accommodate their vision while also making sure the ideas were practical. Demolition began as soon as Fabio and Melina closed on the apartment. They began with widening the kitchen entryway to allow more light into the dining area.

As they spend a lot of time cooking, they didn’t want to incorporate bold colors that they would grow tired of. Thus, they chose black cabinets with contrasting patterned ceramic floor tiles. They splurged on heavy-duty appliances and added a farmhouse sink.

To maximize prep space and to accommodate a semi-professional espresso machine, they added London Grey countertops on opposite sides of the kitchen. They were excited to have double the storage space compared of their rental!

On top of a full kitchen renovation, the contractors helped Fabio and Melina replace the flooring throughout the apartment and update the bathroom and closets. While the team hit a few roadblocks, the contractors were able to resolve the issues and complete the renovation on schedule.

Nancy spent 35 years mentally cataloging her favorite buildings, blocks, and parts on Manhattan. She went to many open houses over the years but never found one that clicked until she decided to buy a place that required a lot of work, even if it meant sacrificing space. She found a 550-square foot apartment in a postwar high-rise that needed a complete refresh. Having known about Sweeten from magazines and colleagues, Nancy went straight to our site. With her clear vision of what the apartment would look like, Nancy found the perfect contractor that was able to give a new life to the space.

The kitchen was a 6-foot-wide galley and needed to include lots of drawer storage. The contractors began with widening the entrance and ordering semi-customizable cabinets up the ceiling. Nancy opted for an induction cooktop on the Organic White countertop to allow space for a dishwasher. To further maximize space, Nancy chose a microwave/ convection oven above the stove. While being traditional with the permanent fixtures, Nancy played around with the wallpaper, fabrics, lighting, and other decorative items throughout the apartment.

We are happy to work with renovator’s budgets and help match them with a contractor that understands their vision. Updating an old apartment is no easy feat, but with a little help, any space can be transformed.

For more renovations: A New Kitchen, and Baby, On The Way! | At Home With Sweeten

A New Kitchen, and Baby, On The Way!

Looking for an apartment in New York is not a simple task. Picking a neighborhood, finding the right layout, bidding wars, the list can go on! It gets increasingly difficult when the buyers have a baby on the way. Here is a tale of two families navigating the apartment search and renovation with the help of us, Sweeten, the free New York City- based renovation service that matches homeowners with general contractors.

Tina and Fletcher’s search for a two-bedroom home turned into a hunt when they learned their family of two was about to grow. With the due date as their deadline, apartments needing structural, electrical, or plumbing work were ruled out. Four months into the pregnancy, they chose a duplex in a historic Brooklyn townhouse. The living room was lined with 10-foot windows, but the kitchen was closed-off and the garden level felt like a basement. It was in need of some TLC and Tina was excited to exercise her skill as an architect and tailor the home to their needs. She turned to Sweeten to find the perfect contractor that best understood her vision and can help strategically meet Tina’s goals.

Tina had three months to plan- opening the kitchen and re-tiling the bathroom turned into refinishing the floors and adding classic feels to the historic space. Tina initially planned for standard semi- custom cabinets due to their tight budget, but her contractor suggested a custom cabinet maker that was more cost-effective. They decided on an L-shaped kitchen with an island, blue shaker-style custom cabinets, white subway tile backsplash, and Caesarstone Frosty Carrina countertops to allow the blue to pop.

As the previous owners installed top-of-the-line appliances, Tina had to work around them. This included hiding the microwave in the island to allow space for a true exhaust hood and rotating the island to accommodate the refrigerator’s away-from-the-cook swing. As luck would have it, Tina went into labor on move- in day.

Sam and Sean’s apartment search was cut short when their first bid on a Clinton Hill apartment was accepted. Upon taking a closer look, they realized the space was old and not lived in for many years. The listing agent suggested Sweeten, given the ever-growing list of Sweeten alumni in the complex. Sam received multiple bids on the project and found the perfect contractor to update the apartment.

The plan was to remove the walls separating the kitchen from the dining and living rooms and update the bedrooms. With two kids under five, it was important to have sight of the common areas while cooking.

To make the kitchen feel as large and open as possible, the contractor created a separate space for the refrigerator and pantry by closing a space of the hallway and kitchen. The renovation was under way and Sam discovered their family of four was about to become a family of five. This quickly became a temporary home and needed to be planned strategically.

They decided on a neutral palate for the kitchen to combat the colorful chaos of children’s toys and games. Thus they chose gray cabinets with a soft eggshell-colored backsplash and Caesarstone Frosty Carrina  countertops. The bronze knobs and pulls provided a pop of color and a warm contrast. Their renovation was completed in just four months, allowing them to turn their attention to their next major project, a new baby.

With a baby and a kitchen on the way, these families had a lot of big decisions to make. We are happy to have been able to match them with the perfect contractors that were able to take some pressure off the expecting parents. The results are absolutely beautiful!

For more Sweeten renovation: At Home With Sweeten | 3 Modern Kitchen Countertops With Waterfall Edges

At Home With Sweeten

Hi, it’s Sweeten again, the free New York City-based renovation service that matches homeowners with general contractors, and helps until project completion. We’re excited to take you through a beautiful renovation transformation in Queens!

The place: Woodside, Queens

The size: 850 square feet

The results: amazing

Every renovation tale starts with a horrendous “before”. This space lacked imagination, the layout and fixture details limited the use of the space and the laminate counters, discolored floor tiles, and warped cupboards did little to help.

Luckily, this before space transformed into a beautiful after!

The goal of the renovation was to open the space through the use of clean design details and minimalist style found in matte finishes, simple profiles, and rich wood textures.

The Frosty Carrina countertop even wraps around the kitchen wall into the living room for a more open, inviting space.

The design team strategically worked on the kitchen, forgoing upper cabinets on one side to create the illusion of more space, more light, and achieve the Scandinavian-chic look the homeowners wanted.

On the opposite wall, storage is a focus with full-height cabinets. The matte finish and simple lines keep the space light, bright, and airy. Who knew galley kitchens could be so roomy!

Cheers to another zero-to-hero renovation!

For more Sweeten: 3 Different Kitchens Using Caesarstone Countertops | 3 Modern Kitchen Countertops with Waterfall Edges

3 Different Kitchens Using Caesarstone Countertops

When considering countertop materials for your kitchen renovation, you’ll want to keep both aesthetics and functionality in mind. Out of the many materials available, quartz is one of the most popular choices among kitchen renovators who use Sweeten, the free New York City–based renovation service that matches homeowners with general contractors.

Quartz is engineered stone made from a combination of mineral and resin, available in a wide range of colors and texture complexity. It is prized for its extreme durability, which resists stains and scratches, and its non-porous surface, which retains polish without sealants or waxes. Quartz has risen in popularity in part because of these traits, and also because it’s slightly less expensive per square foot than some natural stone options. Read on for three kitchen renovations that feature quartz countertops.

Caesarstone: Pure White (photo courtesy of Sweeten)

Ron decided on a classic aesthetic befitting of the Upper East Side. Instead of a pricier granite or marble, his general contractor helped him choose a quality Caesarstone quartz countertop with traditional accents like custom bevel on the edges. The pristine white countertop matched the custom cabinets, making the entire apartment feel new and fresh.

Caesarstone: Ocean Foam (photo courtesy of Sweeten)

Lindsay and Matthew decided on a few budget-friendly, yet creative upgrades in the kitchen, where the finishes were somewhat “cheap” and bland. To get the most bang for the buck, they worked with their general contractor who replaced the laminate countertop with a quartz Caesarstone countertop and installed a classic white subway tile backsplash and a new stainless steel sink. These subtle upgrades aligned with their overall budget while brightening the space.

Caesarstone: Blizzard (photo courtesy of Sweeten)

To keep the space open and airy, Allison and Jovito teamed up with a general contractor who got rid of the upper wall cabinets and the dropped ceiling. With extra space, they added plenty of base cabinet storage for pots and pans and stacked glass-front cabinets up to the ceiling to display their collection of vintage glassware. To add contrast to the gray cabinets and to brighten the space, they replaced the beat-up laminate countertop with a durable Caesarstone quartz countertop.

For more countertop inspiration: 9 Kitchen Countertop Ideas!


Sweeten is a free, easy way to find the best general contractor for your renovation and get personal support from start to finish. Follow our blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation.

For more sustainable renovation ideas: 5 (Affordable) Ways to Make Your Home Look More Expensive | 5 Sustainable Home Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

A Match Made in Heaven: White, Shaker-Style Cabinets + Dark Caesarstone Countertops

All-white kitchens are having a moment. After years of preferring wood tone cabinets, homeowners have turned to white cabinets as a way to refresh and brighten up their kitchens. But an all-white space can run the risk of being boring, and on the opposite side, adding too much color can hurt resale. One way to stay neutral while avoiding boredom is to play with contrast. Here are a few families who used Sweeten, the free New York City–based renovation service that matches homeowners with general contractors, to implement the white cabinets and grayscale Caesarstone countertops combo in their two-toned kitchens!

Caesarstone: Concrete (photo courtesy of Sweeten)

Looking to brighten up a dark, outdated kitchen, Brooklyn homeowner Sanaya worked with her general contractor to swap wood tone cabinets for white shaker-style cabinets and a black backsplash for soft gray penny tile, creating an effect that reversed the darkness of the original design. When it came to the countertop, Sanaya chose Caesarstone in Concrete to match the backsplash and offset the new white cabinets.

Caesarstone: Raven (photo courtesy of Sweeten)

With resale as a priority, homeowner Heather decided upon a classic, mostly white approach for her kitchen renovation. She chose white shaker-style cupboards, a white subway tile backsplash, and a gray Caesarstone quartz countertop in Raven to provide just enough contrast without straying from her vision.

Caesarstone: Jet Black (photo courtesy of Sweeten)

These Upper East Side homeowners wanted their half-galley kitchen renovation to make a big impact in a small space, so they went with maximum visual contrast: white shaker-style cabinets paired with a glossy black tile backsplash and a black Caesarstone countertop. This stark contrast shakes things up--in a good way.


Sweeten is a free, easy way to find the best general contractor for your renovation and get personal support from start to finish. Follow our blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation.

For more renovation inspiration: 3 Modern Kitchen Countertops with Waterfall Edges | Eat-In Kitchens: Lounging with Banquettes