Beyond the Basics – A Kitchen Simply Transforms

Beyond the Basics – A  Kitchen Simply Transforms

A Focus on Function helps Strengthen this Bronx IKEA Kitchen Renovation

  • Homeowners: Elisabeth and Jay posted their townhouse kitchen renovation on Sweeten
  • Where: Norwood, Bronx, New York
  • Scope: IKEA cabinetry adds storage to this kitchen to create a more contemporary aesthetic and functional space
  • Sweeten general contractor
  • Homeowner’s quote: “We wanted a thoughtful contractor who would go beyond generic HGTV renovations.

Written in partnership with Sweeten homeowners Elisabeth and Jay


Residing in a 1950’s brick townhouse in Norwood, The Bronx, for over a decade, this family decided to renovate the kitchen in their 1200 sq. ft. space. Years of functional and aesthetic frustrations in their kitchen, left them longing for a more inviting area to host gatherings. Their vision focused on efficient cabinetry, flooring conducive to yoga, and a centralized induction stove.

Challenges arose due to supply chain disruptions, but their contractor managed temporary solutions. The renovated space delights the family with its functional layout, easy cooking experience, and personalized touches like a whiskey rack. As first-time renovators, they urge future renovators to understand their space, needs, and trust in skilled contractors.

Elisabeth von Uhl (Lis), an adjunct professor and poet, Jay Shuffield, urban planner, Dax Shuffield, 12 year old trouble-maker ;), and their pups Monty and CoJack love their Bronx IKEA kitchen renovation. We’re thrilled to be able to share some insights behind the decision to renovate and advice for those planning a remodel

What drove the decision to renovate?

Elisabeth and Jay spent 13 years in their house with a microwave door that would not fully open. The hulking fridge was across he room and an odd presence. With the gas stove squished up against the wall, they couldn’t even use all the burners because standard pots and pan were too big! They had cabinets that needed to be replaced because of use, a tiled backsplash that was uneven and ugly, and a soffit above cupboards that seemed like precious wasted space. They focused on addressing those issues as well as creating a space in the house where they could host friends and family.

“We love having people over and Lis loves to cook, so after lock down, we were aching to have a space where we could have people over again and share our good fortune.”

What was your main goal and look you wanted to achieve?

“We were really hoping for well-functioning cabinetry. Lis had always swooned over well-organized cabinetry with little nooks and shelving and sliding interior drawers. Also, during lockdown our kitchen floor became a yoga space (shout out to @AshtangaOpenPractice), so Lis did not want a tile floor. We needed a good quality laminate floor as well as an open space to unroll the mat and for Jay do to his strength training.”

They replaced the gas stove with an induction stove and moved to a more central place along the wall. Removing soffits and installing cabinets that go up to the ceiling, allowed for endless storage opportunities. Lis also wanted to enlarge the doorway between the living room and kitchen to allow more light to come through the attached townhouse.” The family also wanted everything to remain functional and not be too precious. They had to clean and host and with dogs and a younger boy — this kitchen needed to be strong! And like many kitchen renovations, a need more storage space was also a driving factor.

What was the biggest challenge you faced with this project? Any stories to share?

“IKEA had supply chain disruptions so we experienced an unanticipated two-week cabinet delivery delay. It was hard to live without a fully functioning kitchen for that long, but Eduardo, our contractor, set up a temporary kitchen. From beginning to end, their team was thoughtful and thorough with our project.”

What do you love most about your new space?

“Lis loves how easy it is to cook in it. With the stove moved, it is easier to set up a cookbook, turn on music, and start chopping next to the induction stove. We also love the new induction stove; it is easy to clean and it boils water so fast. And even though the laminate is not the most popular choice, Lis does love being able to do her practice on even floor as well as clean up the muddy paw prints. Jay loves our new tile backsplash as it is subtle art as well as the chair rail installed by our contractor. Also, instead of empty space along the cabinet wall, our contractor was thoughtful enough to install a wine rack for Jay’s whiskey collection.”

Were you a first-time renovator? What were your biggest questions you had before you started your renovation?

“Yes, this was our first time renovating. We have had work done before, but always in bits and pieces, and we worried that we would invest all this money in a renovation and find ourselves unhappy with the results. We had lived in the house for 13 years before we decided to renovate the kitchen. Lis also watches a lot of HGTV and design shows, but knew those shows were generic and staged. Lis did not want an HGTV house, and wanted better craftsmanship than our other smaller house projects.

We wanted a thoughtful contractor who would go beyond generic HGTV renovations. But we also did not have a lot of money, so we wanted to find a skilled, trustworthy team who would do the work well and within our budget. Also, how long would this renovation take? We did not want to have to move out and disrupt our lives too much.

Any advice for future renovators?

“Know your space and your needs for that space! Also, we wish we had known my contractor was going to do such great work. We would have taken more risks like a light above sink instead of just can light, more marbling in the counters instead of a more neutral counter, Lis being more hands-off — Eduardo, Fernando, and the team all did amazing work!”

Thank you to Elisabeth, Jay and their family for sharing their experience with us!

Material Links for this Bronx IKEA Kitchen Renovation:

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