Rusty & Sara: Brooklyn, NY

Rusty - September 2, 2007

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NAME: Rusty & Sara
LOCATION: Park Slope, Brooklyn
SIZE/TYPE: 650 sq. ft. 2 bedroom, 1920 co-op

This is our current apartment in Brooklyn. We bought it so we could have more space (and yes, 650 square feet is more space). It’s probably not fair that the only ‘before’ pictures I have are ones when the previous owner still lived there. That’s why there’s so much stuff all over the place. It’s also unfair that the ‘befores’ are taken at night (with no sunlight coming in) and the ‘afters’ were taken during the day. I also regret not taking ‘during’ pictures because for a month the place was a wreck. Next time I guess.



Our small hallway after walking in the front door.


We cleaned the brick (lots of nasty cat hair), painted the walls white (allowing other elements to act as our color), installed recessed lights and bamboo floors. The old floors were okay but had a 2-3mm space between each board, were way off level (about 6 inches from one width to the other) and creaked like crazy. We tried to level the floor as much as we could but there’s only so much you can do when your front door is on the sunken side.


In this pic you can see that we moved the bedroom door over (and made it a pocket door) in order for us to have a room-wide closet in the bedroom.


Saving space was my only reason for getting a flatscreen. Really. It had nothing to do with HD, cable, sports or my Xbox. I promise.


I actually liked the old door but it just wasn’t feasable for either our space or our design.


There was wasted space in the bedroom wall (after having to increase the walls thickness for the pocket door) so we figured we may as well use it for storage (something this apartment lacks). Now we just need to arrange the stuff on it to look nice.


Another angle of the bedroom.


This closet was the cause of perhaps the most stress in the renovation. We ultimately decided on Ikea because it was cheaper and more storage-friendly than what our contractor could do. But the doors we did custom (Canal Plastics) and aren’t too happy with them. They look okay but the function isn’t so good. Plus they warp a bit. Oh well.


This is the view from the bedroom door. Sara wondered if we’d regret having a flourescent light over the kitchen bar (rather than incandescent pendant lights). Nope.


One of those unforseen issues that you don’t think about beforehand is when building an island how do you attach Ikea cabinets to the floor? Especially a floor that is not level. Well, it looks fine as long as you don’t remove our kickplate.


It’s amazing how much more spacious a space feels when you make certain design decisions.


We like the Ikea white melamine cabinets. We also like the price of them. We also like the fact that I can install them myself very easily and not pay a contractor to do it. We switched the location of the sink and stove, a move we’re extremely happy about. I ordered the white dishwasher thinking it was one which could have a custom panel. I was wrong so now we’re stuck with a not-as-white-as-the-cabinets dishwasher. Oh well. We love our 24″ bottom-freezer counter-depth fridge though.


This was Sara’s unnecessary indulgence (mine was the TV), she needed a big, deep, spacious, beautiful bathtub. I like it too.


We chose this European toilet because we like the design and the two-option flush system (to save water). Otherwise you’re just flushing it down the drain. ZING!


Lesson we had to learn the hard way: remember that the sink height is not the same as the counter height if your sink sits above the counter. I know, obvious. But when there are a million other decisions some get lost. But all is well now. Plus, you can’t see it but the floor is a nice satin slate that feels silky smooth on the feet.


Looking into the second bedroom. The previous owner used it as a changing room for her baby. We’re using it as an office/bed-for-visitors.


Sanding and refinishing the built-in bookshelf took a whole day. Not fun but well worth it. What’s funny is that my wife cleaned it up as if this is how it always looks. Silly Sara.


  1. Nice job guys! I am very impressed. I see we stayed within a similar color palette…white, dark brown, more white. Love it. We considered going with white countertops and it is nice to see that would have worked as well. I love the little tiles you chose. Are they on the floor of the bathroom as well? If so, how is it cleaning them?

    Also, how on earth did you get your hands on the duravit toilet? We had ordered a couple toilets, sinks, etc. from duravit and they were backordered for 2 months. Finally, when it was time for them to ship, they pushed back the delivery date another two months! We finally gave up and went with porcher stuff, and a geberit wall mount. Sigh.

    Comment by sara stratford — September 12, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

  2. Gorgeous…and the only before/after regret I have is the bedroom shot of the bed and the nook. I love your old bed! And I find bed-side storage feels weird because it is so hard to reach: get on bed, crawl over on knees, reach up, fall over…ugh.

    But otherwise, picture-purfect. No pun intended.

    I especially like the new bath and the green curtains.


    Comment by Silus Grok — September 13, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  3. I love how much sunlight this place gets! It’s a night-and-day difference (ha, ha) from our previous pad. The recessed lighting, translucent doors (bedroom/closet) and smooth surfaces really magnify the feeling of brightness. But for some reason we still can’t seem to keep indoor plants alive. Suggestions, anyone?

    Comment by SaraC — October 1, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  4. I love it. It feels wonderful. Simple and happy. A couple of things really put a smile on my face: the green curtain (such a burst of life) and the little tiles in the kitchen and bathroom. Whenever you need a pick-me-up, just look at your tiles. It’s absolutely beautiful and I’m happy you get plenty of light. I’m not having you over anytime soon.

    Comment by mimi — October 2, 2007 @ 6:37 am

  5. Wow. I have been in angst about the design process for weeks now. Our apartment currently looks a lot like your “before” pictures, but we are building a house and now I am totally inspired. Great job! Your apt. looks amazing.

    Comment by another sara — October 2, 2007 @ 9:23 am

  6. Lovely. I’d like to come see it sometime.

    Comment by Chris Williams — October 2, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  7. Seriously beautiful. I love the old brick walls you get in those NY apartments. You know, I never really got into the whole super-clean modern design, but I can totally see it’s glory here in these smallish spaces. The clean lines absolutely make the space.

    Comment by Tracy M — October 2, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

  8. You guys did an incredible job! It’s amazing how you took a cluttered apartmnent and made it a spacious and open home. I love your color choices and I ould be glad to have you guys renovate my home any time…when I have the money :)

    Comment by Seth B. — October 3, 2007 @ 5:49 am

  9. your kitchen makes so much sense now, it should have been configured that way all along! the tub is lux. in the 2nd b/r, like how u’ve painted the radiator and wall unit black. i plan on doing the ikea closet system, but i think i’ll go with the doors they offer at ikea.

    Comment by Suni — October 4, 2007 @ 8:30 am

  10. Thanks everyone!

    Tracy, with such small spaces it’s almost a necessity to keep all the lines clean and walls white. At least in my mind.

    Suni, definitely go with the doors they offer at Ikea, what we did was WAY too much of a hassle and the Ikea ones are great.

    Comment by Rusty — October 4, 2007 @ 8:47 am

  11. Love the remodel… particularly the bathroom.
    My husband and I are currently in the process of designing our remodel of a similar sized place. Just wondering if you could tell me what fridge you bought… It looks like the perfect size!

    Comment by Michelle Linden — October 9, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

  12. Michelle,
    It’s a Liebherr 24″, counter-depth fridge. It really is the perfect size. There was discussion about it and similar sized fridges here at Apartment Therapy.

    Comment by Rusty — October 10, 2007 @ 5:46 am

  13. I have serious tub envy going on here.

    Comment by Ms. Pants — October 10, 2007 @ 7:39 am

  14. I have serious kitchen tile envy.

    Great job. Thanks for sharing it.

    Comment by Kate — October 10, 2007 @ 11:49 am

  15. Thanks for the fridge info. I’m glad to hear that you like it. I’ve been looking at a 24″ counter depth fridge and my co-workers have been trying to talk me out of it (they say its too small). But that size fridge seems fine for two people!

    Comment by Michelle Linden — October 10, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  16. Please, please tell me where you got those curtains. They are fabulous!

    Comment by Cassandra — October 11, 2007 @ 12:45 am

  17. AMAZING!!!!! I love contemporary/modern style, so I love it. Its nice to see NO CLUTTER!!!!!!! Great job. I also love white kitchen cabinets!!! I love all of it. A++++

    Comment by jessie — October 11, 2007 @ 4:13 am

  18. Michelle, the fridge is plenty big for two people (but neither of us are voracious eaters)

    Cassandra, the curtains see from West Elm.

    Jessie, thanks!

    Comment by Rusty — October 11, 2007 @ 5:47 am

  19. Wow! I’m so amazed……it’s all so fresh and beautiful. I love the clean lines, the illusion of so much more space. One question, though………where’d you hide the baby??? LOL

    Comment by Jodi P — October 12, 2007 @ 10:10 am

  20. I absolutely love it- my husband and I have the same Ikea cabinets and a similar dishwasher in our itty bitty 1940’s bungalow. I also adore your bathroom.

    Quick question for you- I love the stand below your flat panel television, but is it functional? I’m asking because we just purchased a flat panel television and I’d like to purchase a stand like yours to replace what we currently have, which is more suitable for a tube television. But, we have a cable box, DVD player, and stereo system. I’m not sure how functional a stand like that would be as far as accessing everything with a remote. I would assume that you would have a similar issue because you do mention an Xbox. Is your Xbox/etc just tucked into the drawers? Any insight you could provide would be great. :)

    Comment by Stevie — October 15, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  21. Jodi,
    We don’t have a baby yet.

    Yes, it’s totally functional, though that probably depends on how big those items are. We’ve got the receiver on the left side and the cable box and Xbox on the right (the Xbox sits on top of the cable box). It barely fits. The problem is that the Xbox runs hot so I have to run a fan while I’m playing which is a pain. But I’d rather do that than have it be exposed out in the open. All my DVD’s and games and miscellaneous items are in the two bottom drawers. Oh, and if you’re wondering, we got it at Room & Board.

    Comment by Rusty — October 20, 2007 @ 6:09 pm

  22. Who doesn’t love room and board? You did a great job of adding high quality elements sparingly for a very classy look. And everyone should have a counter-depth fridge…drives me nuts when I go into a “high end” home with a clumsy deep fridge sticking out. The bright green curtains are a great color (though the length drives me a little crazy) and I think a few blown glass pendants over your bar in lime green (or a big work of art behind the sofa) or even a lighter bamboo tree in the corner would look awesome.

    Comment by Julie — October 21, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  23. wow, you did a beautiful job renovating.
    I stumbled on your website b/c we are thinking about installing the ikea high gloss white kitchen cabinets, too. What material is your white countertop?
    I esp. loved your bathroom. Where did you get the bathtub, and did you install the tiles yourself?
    Julie T.

    Comment by Julie T — March 5, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

  24. Julie T,
    Thanks for your kind words. The white countertop is Corian (we love it, though the white Corian sink is hard to keep clean). The bathtub is Zuma (a bit of a luxury). We love how deep it is (and its shape). I didn’t install the tiles but wish I did because the installers used the wrong grout (sand based rather than latex based) so I’ve had to re-grout it a couple times. Oh, and the tiles are Waterworks.

    Comment by Rusty — March 5, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

  25. Julie T,
    Thanks for your kind words. The white countertop is Corian (we love it, though the white Corian sink is hard to keep clean). The bathtub is Zuma (a bit of a luxury). We love how deep it is (and its shape). I didn’t install the tiles but wish I did because the installers used the wrong grout (sand based rather than latex based) so I’ve had to re-grout it a couple times. Oh, and the tiles are Waterworks.

    Comment by Rusty — March 5, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

  26. Hi - We love the bathroom!! For the Zuma tub, is that the apron front that you tiled up or did you build a little wall and tile the wall and use the drop in tub?

    Thanks so much!

    Comment by David — March 2, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

  27. David,
    Thanks! Essentially it’s a frame that we built in order to house the tub. Then we just sheetrocked the facade and tiled it. So yeah, it’s kind of a little wall.

    Comment by Rusty — March 2, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

  28. Hi, I was wondering where you got your doors? The white ones with the translucent center? Thanks!

    Comment by miso — May 8, 2009 @ 9:30 am

  29. Miso,
    My contractor got it, so I have no idea where. Somewhere here in Brooklyn I imagine. Sorry I can’t be better help.

    Comment by Rusty — May 12, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  30. What can I use to clean white vinyl flooring?

    Comment by showerscreens — August 11, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

  31. I am so grateful for your blog.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

    Comment by Irwin Bedframes — April 15, 2012 @ 12:33 am

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