During construction, many people, including their immediate neighbors, asked Amber and Chris why they were renovating their Brooklyn apartment. In the earliest stages they would say, semi-seriously, that all they had really intended to do before things got out of control was put in a dishwasher. They had quickly realized that re-doing their kitchen was going to be an all or nothing endeavor for them, and putting in a dishwasher somehow became ripping their kitchen down to bare studs. But once they found out that their second kid was on the way, the focus of the project became carving out a room for their older son that was just big enough to be useful, but small enough to keep the kitchen a reasonable size. After posting their project on Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners to vetted general contractors, they went full steam ahead with their innovative design for their kitchen and new kids’ room.
Their Sweeten contractors understood that they needed to be able to fit a standard-sized crib along one of the curved walls, and that if push came to shove they could squeeze in a standard twin bed running the other way, just in case they ended up staying in the apartment longer than they planned.
Here are some tips on how they successfully created a child’s room from their kitchen’s eat-in area and still feel like part of the living space.
- PLAY UP THE ARCHITECTURE: The couple kept the curved walls of the room as they were, since it is a nice prewar touch that conveys the fact that the room juts out of the facade of the building, forming a miniature bay window with a tiny balcony for plants. Add simple molding or window trim if the room has no architectural details.
- MAKE THE ROOMS FEEL AS ONE: To prevent the child’s room from feeling isolated, they installed a heavy door that swings open to be flush against the wall outside the room, almost making it disappear when it’s open. A new wood floor was also laid down to unify the two spaces.
- BRING IN THE LIGHT: Sharing the natural light from the bedroom helped make the kitchen feel bigger. A full transom milk glass window along the top of the doorway allowed the partition to function as such without dominating the streaming sunlight.
Halfway through renovating the kitchen, they realized that if they didn’t renovate the bathroom too, it was never going to happen. Their apartment and lives had already been turned upside down and knew they were never going to go through it again. The former bathroom had tiling that ran up the sides of the walls which created a tub effect, and everything felt very tired and shabby. They installed large, dark gray tiles, replaced the old tub with a cast iron model, and redid the separate shower stall in simple narrow subway tiles. All the fixtures toe the line between modern and classic.
From starting with just a plan for a new dishwasher to a full kitchen, second bedroom and bathroom renovation, Amber and Chris were able to create a refreshed and functional home all at once for their family.