A Daunting Remodel Transforms into a Darling New York Townhouse

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Meet AJ and Ray, a young married couple who moved from a 450-square-foot studio apartment into a 3-floor, 2-family brick row house. While the couple rejoiced over the dramatic size upgrade of their living space, not to mention the view of the New York Harbor and the neighborhood park across the street, they were less than satisfied with the interior layout and design.

The townhouse had been poorly maintained and bulky temporary walls sectioned off each room, making the 2,964-square-foot space feel cramped. Flash-forward three years and AJ and Ray were ready to take the plunge into the daunting world of remodeling. Oh, and did we mention that AJ was expecting at the time? With a baby on the way, the couple was excited to transform their run-down house into a swanky New York home. After ditching a contractor who underbid and sent an over-priced contract, the young couple turned to Sweeten to find a trustworthy design-build firm. With the help of AJ’s sister, Robin Rathmann-Noonan (an interior designer at RobinR-N), AJ and Ray were ready to begin the much-anticipated remodel.  

Robin and AJ collaborated to create a cohesive look throughout the house. One of the first steps was to determine the location of the new kitchen. They ultimately decided on a space adjacent to the cozy backyard. The new kitchen is filled with natural light from the back windows.  “With the beautiful southern light at the back of the house and the openness of the view to the backyard, it made sense to relocate the kitchen there and open the rest of the house up to that space,” said Robin.

“The lightness of the kitchen helped connect the spaces visually from the front to the back of the home. The dark floors and kitchen table and chairs made a nice contrast to white cabinets and the light Caesarstone countertops,” says Robin. The kitchen island with its built-in sink steals the show. A minimalist ceiling and simple color scheme open the space up and let the natural light shine through.

Mothers always know best and this certainly held true when it came to the open built-in shelves near the kitchen. AJ and Robin’s mom suggested this handy feature so that AJ and Ray would have an easy and convenient place to store cookbooks and baby items alike. “The space was designed to accommodate the way they live,” explained Robin. “If someone is cooking or the baby is playing, the family and guests can congregate on the ground floor and still feel connected even if they are in different rooms.”

Upstairs, the guest and master bedrooms got a much-needed facelift with built-in shelving, ornate lighting fixtures and clean, crisp, white-painted walls.

The bold rug used in the master bedroom adds a flair of personality to the otherwise neutral room.

When the couple was planning the location of a third bedroom, they had a big choice to make: where would they put it? After much deliberation and helpful sketches from Robin, they decided the new bedroom would fit perfectly adjacent to the front bedroom. There was only one hiccup - they had to make a skylight in the middle bedroom in order to comply with the Department of Buildings code, which specified there must be a light and an egress to legally call the space a bedroom. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the skylight allowed tons of natural light. This inspired the couple to use the room as a nursery.

Once all of the architectural elements were decided upon and the interior design process was well underway, there was one more integral aspect to consider - installing AC. Their landlord had installed a unit in the apartment and while it was functional, it was anything but aesthetically pleasing. In addition, Ray had to say a sad goodbye to the NYC radiators that he had been accustomed to his entire life. “It was always too cold or too hot—and he loved it,” said AJ. They finally settled on installing a ducted mini-split system, which was tactfully hidden in the ceilings.

As per usual, Sweeten didn’t disappoint in providing the couple with ample storage space. “When we worked on the interior layout, it seemed like we had planned for an extreme amount of storage space, but wouldn’t you know, we’ve managed to use it all!” says AJ.

The couple has since settled into their sleek and spacious townhouse with the newest addition to their family: their beautiful baby. This extensive renovation was a process that took years to plan, but we can safely say it was well worth the wait.

For more Sweeten renovations: Little Kitchen, Big Design |At Home With Sweeten

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