A Mom (And Interior Designer!) Lends Her Expertise to a Bath Reno



For this Kensington bathroom renovation, Mother (an interior designer) really knows best

Project: Renovation of a bathroom in Kensington, Brooklyn; replacing fixtures and updating a lackluster look

Before: Amy moved to Kensington, a neighborhood in south Brooklyn, from Baltimore, Maryland, after completing graduate school. She purchased a 789-square-foot co-op just a few years later in 2015. The homeowner, who works for a nonprofit, waited to renovate and lived in her home for about four years before deciding to make any major changes. In addition to updating her kitchen and adding a second bedroom, her priorities including refreshing the outdated bathroom. “The biggest problem I was trying to solve was to replace the exposed pipes with a toilet tank and to replace the tub,” Amy shared. She posted her project to Sweeten and received contractor matches. “I think the idea of a web-based service that matches you with contractors based on your location, renovation needs, and budget is ingenious. It meant that I didn’t have to look for contractors on my own and could start getting estimates from these matches right away. I was also able to use Sweeten to read about previous clients’ comments about each contractor, which was instrumental in me ultimately choosing the contractor I did,” she said.

After: Before any work began, Amy’s mom (who’s an interior designer) came to the city to lend her expertise. Amy also worked closely with her contractor to pick out materials, going to a showroom together to make selections for the tiles, hardware, and fixtures. “I asked the contractor to tell me exactly what I needed to order first so that as soon as demolition was complete the items were ready to be installed,” Amy said.

She opted for a classic black and white look, choosing hexagon floor tiles and subway tiles for the shower and halfway up the walls. The renovator also wanted consistent hardware throughout her home so matte black seemed like just the right fit. The neutral color scheme makes the 40-square-foot bathroom look much more spacious than it is.

Deciding on all the fixtures was the most difficult part of the process for Amy, though between her mom, contractor, and a friend who’s also an architect, she received plenty of guidance. Her Sweeten contractor was always available when she had questions, was upfront about any possible budget changes, and helped her save money with an appliance vendor recommendation. “He and his staff were very professional and maintained as clean a space as possible throughout the renovations (I actually stayed in my apartment the whole time).”

As a first-time renovator, Amy’s biggest question was about where to start. Fortunately, a neighbor recommended Sweeten (her renovation was also featured on the blog!). Her advice? “My first tip would be to use Sweeten. My next tip would be to get as many estimates as you can. The more estimates you get, the more you’ll learn about what you want, what you can afford (or not), and how long it will take.”

Looking at her entire renovation, the bathroom turned out to be Amy’s favorite spot. “I love it. Instead of wanting to get in and out of the shower every morning as quick as possible, I want to stay in it for hours,” she said.

Bonus: Before the renovation, there was a carved out space in the wall originally used as a garbage shoot. Another owner installed shelves in the space for more storage.

Style finds: Black hexagon floor tile with gray grout; White subway tile with gray grout: Brooklyn Express Tile. Comfort-height toilet, #K-3887-0; Pedestal sink, #K-2362; Frameless medicine cabinet, #K-3073-NA: Kohler. Wall-mount hand shower, #55085-BL; Hand shower, #50560-BL; Tub and shower trim, #T17459-BL: Delta Faucet. Octave 3-light fixture: Savoy House. Hoooh matte black towel bar, toilet paper holder, robe hooks, #BS100S3-BK: Amazon.

Loving the black-and-white look? Check out these five bathroom renovations featuring the iconic color combo.

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

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