Chip & Katie: Brooklyn, NY

Rusty - November 5, 2007

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NAME: Chip & Katie
LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York
SIZE/TYPE: Apartment, 1918 co-op

We bought the apartment in the fall of 2005. It had originally been a one-bedroom, but had been shoddily converted into a two-bedroom. The kitchen had been moved to the foyer, and only had two cupboards, a sink cabinet, a stove, and a small refrigerator. It all looked very hodge-podge. We were expecting our second child, so our goal was to maximize as much of the 700 square feet as possible and make the apartment tight and clean. We were drastic. Many of the pictures show the original details of the apartment. Rest assured, the pictures make the apartment look much more charming than it actually was. I¹ve included a few detailed “before” pictures that show up-close the poor the condition of the apartment. As I’ve looked back at these pictures, I’ve asked myself many times if we could have preserved more of the original details. But each time I look back and think about the condition and existing layout of the apartment when we bought it, I feel we made the right decision.

FLOORPLAN BEFORE
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FLOORPLAN AFTER
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FRONT FOYER/KITCHEN BEFORE
The makeshift kitchen was a mess. It used PVC pipe for the plumbing (illegal in NYC multi-family dwellings), was totally inefficient from a storage perspective, and was a hideous introduction to the apartment. The first thing you saw when you walked in the apartment was dumpy appliances and the bathroom door.

Our goal was to maximize space and hide as many appliances as possible, so it didn’t feel like you were walking into a kitchen. We sealed up the bathroom door, and came up with a design that totally integrated a stackable washer/dryer, a refrigerator/freezer, and a dishwasher. The skinny doors to the right of the refrigerator are pinned and swing open as one unit into a small walk-in pantry that also includes our microwave.

Besides hiding the appliances and sealing up the bathroom door, the other thing that helped make the kitchen seem less strange, was to knock out the doorway leading from the front entry to the living room. By opening up the space, the kitchen area didn’t feel as isolated from the rest of the apartment.

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FRONT FOYER/KITCHEN AFTER
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BATHROOM BEFORE
Because we sealed the bathroom door in the kitchen area, we had to open a door from the living room. The old bathroom’s best feature was an old claw foot tub. But everything else was totally gross. The plumbing was old and shoddy, with everything coming out of the walls at crazy angles. The tiles were old and even the clawfoot tub had been compromised because someone had tiled directly from the wall onto its lip. The new layout of our bathroom could not accommodate a tub of that size anyway, so we had to replace it with a smaller one.

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BATHROOM AFTER
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LIVING ROOM BEFORE
Knocking out the foyer doorway presented challenges in terms of the floor. By expanding the doorway, the parquet flooring would encroach into the kitchen and no longer match up with the wall. While this would have looked strange, the more critical issue was that the kitchen/foyer area’s floor was 2 1/2 inches higher than the living room floor. You had to take a small step down into the living room. This would not be acceptable because our kitchen table needed to fit in the foyer, and if the floors were at different levels, one of the chairs would constantly be tipping backwards into the living room.

So we decided to replace the floors. Our contractors told us they would have to raise the floor up to the level of the kitchen floor, so we had to cover up the original parquet flooring. We didn’t feel too bad about that. Although the original floors look pretty nice in the pictures, many of the tiles had been replaced with cheap tiles that didn’t match. The condition was poor, and there were many holes and cracks that insects could get through.

All of the new kitchen appliances required electrical upgrades. The apartment’s electrical situation was a mess in general. There were outlets at crazy positions half-way up the wall and the conduit was visible throughout the whole apartment. We rewired the whole apartment and installed recessed lighting because the apartment does not get much natural light. The extensive rewiring was a major reason why we decided to rip out all the original plaster. The other reason was all the mysterious bumps and pipes coming out of the ceiling. We wanted to make sure we knew what was behind there, so we didn’t spend a bunch of money, only to discover that we had to rip through it to repair a pipe or wire we could have fixed during the renovation. Removing the heavy central ceiling fan and installing the two rows of lights also works to extend the living room space and make it feel you have more room to breathe. Just like in the kitchen, hiding appliances works to make the space feel bigger. In this case, it means using a projector instead of having a TV sitting on the credenza. Plus, it’s nice to have a living room that’s not centered around a television.

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LIVING ROOM DURING
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LIVING ROOM AFTER
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MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE
We gave the existing closet space of this room to the kids’ room, and built a closet system that extended the length and height of the far wall. On the other side of the room, we installed a wall-to-wall desk with three open shelves that extend to the ceiling.

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MASTER BEDROOM AFTER
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KID’S ROOM BEFORE
Originally, this had been the kitchen. When we bought the place, it was a depressing bedroom with floors that were again at a different level than the living room. Also, there was practically no storage and a mysterious pipe elbow poking out of the cracked ceiling. Note the strange outlet floating in the middle of the closet wall. We broke into the wall and extended the storage space by claiming the closet of the room next door.

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KID’S ROOM AFTER
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44 Comments »

  1. Wow!! Absolutely amazing. The new version is so fresh, hip, and spacious. I love it. That couple has stupendous taste– and what adorable kids!

    Comment by Miriam — November 5, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  2. Wow. What a difference you guys have made. This is absolutely beautiful. Such clean lines and stunning furniture. It all compliments each other very well.
    Who wants old parquet floors and crown molding when its falling apart. Smart choice to gut….you not only have created a comfortable modern living space but you will also make a killing when you sell. Great job!

    Comment by AB — November 5, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  3. Truly excellent. Your furniture and decor accentuates the newly designed space perfectly. It’s so clean and light. Nice work!

    Comment by Mari — November 5, 2007 @ 1:55 pm

  4. The apartment is so fantastic, it feels clean and spacious for how small it is. You did and excellent job!! Love the design and the feel of the place. Fabulous!

    Comment by jeanie — November 5, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  5. I loooove your kitchen!! Can you please tell me about your cabinets??? I have just started to “design” my kitchen and want a kitchen just like yours!!! I love the color and love the sleekness of your design.

    Comment by britt — November 6, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

  6. Because space was tight and required specific widths for the doors in order to fit all the appliances, we designed a custom kitchen from Garfield Kitchen and Bath on 5th Ave in Brooklyn. It was much more expensive than it would have been to buy cabinets at Ikea. We like the look of Ikea cabinets, but couldn’t get them to work in this space without having a bunch of seams that didn’t match up or allowing some of our appliances to show. So given our goal to integrate all our appliances, we went for it.

    I think we drove the kitchen guy at Garfield a little crazy with our obsessing every detail and insisting on small changes to make sure that all the lines matched up. Some of the doors are pinned together vertically, because we wanted to make sure that all the seams were consistent.

    We love the solution of the small walk-in pantry because it means we don’t have a dead corner and can fit a lot more into the kitchen.

    The countertop and sink are all one piece. We had that fabricated at a restaurant supply store on the Bowery. Same with the stainless steel backsplash. If I remember correctly, this was much less expensive than buying a sink and granite countertop. Even though the stainless steel gets scratched up, it gets scratched up uniformally and still looks great. And it’s nice to be able to cut food directly on the countertop. Plus, there is a steel wool type pad that allows you to essentially sand the scratches out of the stainless steel.

    The refrigerator is a Liebherr, fully-integrated, 24 inches wide.

    The cabinets are cherry, with a natural matte finish. We had considered having the backsplash made out of wood as well, but are glad we didn’t with all the spills and splashing and banging of pots and pans.

    that was probably more info than you were asking for, but I hope it was helpful.

    I think the brand of the cabinets was Luxor, and the handles are Hava.
    The faucet is Franke.

    Comment by chip — November 6, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  7. Wow. Thank you so much for your detailed response. I appreciate your honesty about the costs as well. I too cant use Ikea caninets, so I was looking at Henrybuilt cabinets. I will most certainly check out Garfield as well. Funny, Im leaning towards the Liebherr 24″ as well. Do you mind me asking where you bought yours?
    Thanks again!!!

    Comment by britt — November 6, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  8. That is impressive!! I huge turn around kudos to both of you!

    Comment by Bobby — November 6, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

  9. hey britt,

    thanks so much for the compliments.
    one further detail about the cabinets- they are “1/4 cut” cherry. this affects the pattern of the grain.

    we got the liebherr at “appliance center” on 37th st, right next to costco in brooklyn. we had a good experience with the guy and the appliances we bought from him were hundreds less than we could find elsewhere. still paid a small fortune for that tiny fridge but neither chip or i have regretted it once.

    thanks again,
    katie

    Comment by katie — November 6, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

  10. Gorgeous renovation. You guys did an amazing job!

    Comment by Erin — November 7, 2007 @ 1:38 pm

  11. Great job! You did a great job with only 700 sq ft - You made it work for 4 people - that’s amazing in itself! I especially liked the kitchen (fabulous cabinets!) and bathroom (tile is beautiful!) - all in all a TERRIFIC redo. dp

    Comment by DP — November 8, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  12. Great job! You did a great job with only 700 sq ft - You made it work for 4 people - that’s amazing in itself! I especially liked the kitchen (fabulous cabinets!) and bathroom (tile is beautiful!) - all in all a TERRIFIC redo. dp

    Comment by DP — November 8, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  13. Wow! What a change! This is a very efficient use of the limited space that you have to work with and the shade of white on the walls is absolutely perfect! Bravo.

    Comment by Eric Jones — November 9, 2007 @ 8:17 am

  14. Inspirational, to say the least. Would you care to share your paint selections (walls and trim)? Finding the right white has always proved difficult.

    Comment by lani — November 10, 2007 @ 12:31 am

  15. the walls and ceiling are Benjamin Moore washable matte “Vanilla Milkshake.” The trim and doors are Benjamin Moore semi-gloss “Chantilly Lace”. We love it.

    Comment by katie — November 11, 2007 @ 4:49 pm

  16. Fabulous redo! While many of the choices are not my taste, the entire thing is masterful! I understand when you show the close-up photos why you didn’t save much of the original character. You have truly made 700 feet feel so much larger. I don’t know what your professions are, but I would hire you and your wife to redesign my kitchen in an instant. This is by far my favorite renovation on this site, to date. I hope that you and your family enjoy the place for many years (or until you buy your next one and make a mint on reselling this one).

    Comment by catherine — November 13, 2007 @ 6:48 am

  17. like catherine, this is also my favorite renovation on this site. with three kids under four and 658sf, it’s hard to have an aesthetically pleasing space that is functional for our needs. i love how your home combines design elements with practicality for a young family. it’s refreshing to see a space that doesn’t look sterile, but neat and clean and homey. your wall-hangings are to die for. where did you get the alphabet cards? i loved watching your daughter grow up through the renovation!

    Comment by makakona — November 13, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  18. thank you again everyone for the kind comments.

    makakona-
    the alphabet cards are a part of martha stewart’s line at michaels. i got them several months ago, but just found them available online at marthastewartcrafts.com. only $10.00!

    Comment by katie — November 13, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

  19. Katie!! This place is amazing! I have to say it is neat to see where you are living now! I am totally amazed at how you live in 700 square feet!!! With 2 kiddos! But the place is to die for. I love the clean lines and the overall comfortable but beautiful feeling of your place! Cannot wait to show my hubby these pics. He will be ripping out my walls because he will be inspired— haha!
    Bren

    Comment by Brenna — November 15, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  20. Katie!! This place is amazing! I have to say it is neat to see where you are living now! I am totally amazed at how you live in 700 square feet!!! With 2 kiddos! But the place is to die for. I love the clean lines and the overall comfortable but beautiful feeling of your place! Cannot wait to show my hubby these pics. He will be ripping out my walls because he will be inspired— haha!
    Bren

    Comment by Brenna — November 15, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  21. Where did you get that beautiful couch?

    Comment by Willamena — November 16, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

  22. The couch is called “The Loft Sofa” from The Conran Shop.
    I forget the name of the designer.

    Comment by chip — November 16, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

  23. Great Job Chipper! I wish we owned so Amanda could go to town like you guys did. She has a great eye, but you guys have done something truly impressive here.

    Comment by Matt the Rat — November 18, 2007 @ 12:01 am

  24. Power Design Couple! You guys- the apartment looks fabulous! I didn’t know you guys had bought your apartment and then didn’t live there for awhile while you did such massive renovations- that’s a major overhall! Looking at it makes me realize that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to go about something like that. It was fun to see! Love, Patria and Mark

    Comment by Patria — November 18, 2007 @ 5:08 pm

  25. Chip and Katie. Wow. Either very impressive work with Adobe photoshop or very impressive work on the remodeling. Megan and I feel boring and conventional after seeing your place. Maybe you could give us some tips when you wander out to SLC. Just in the time that it’s taken me to write this, Megan is already threatening changes. Honey, you don’t like my juvenile football helmets? you don’t like having books as wallpaper and sports magazines adorning the commode? and my mom’s hand-me-down couches? What? Great work guys, we’re going to be up late tonight. I blame you.

    Comment by Mike the Bike — November 18, 2007 @ 10:28 pm

  26. […] Love the whole concept of ‘before’ and ‘after’, when it comes to changing interiors, hairstyles, and overall looks? Renovation Voyeur is a great blog that fulfills the voyeuristic cravings of those who are curious about the transformation of people’s living spaces — without even having to tune into those (rather overrated — yes, I think they’re rather overrated!) Interior Design television shows and wait through the entire duration of the show to see the ‘after’ effect. Each post summarises the context of each residential space and what circumstances/situations drove the owners to do a little refurbishing. I assume the project is still new, because the first entry was posted in September and there are about the same amount of posts on that blog as I do on this blog, so I am looking forward to the further development of this project. My favourite renovation so far is Chip & Katie’s residence in Brooklyn, NY. […]

    Pingback by      Design + Culture | DEPORTMARIA.ORG - Hollyweirding since 1984. — November 25, 2007 @ 6:42 am

  27. Your renovation work is beautiful. I’m considering a similar level of renovation on a co-op, but have no idea what to budget. Would it be terribly rude to ask for a ballpark of how much this all cost you?

    Comment by HG — November 26, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  28. Your renovation work is beautiful. I’m considering a similar level of renovation on a co-op, but have no idea what to budget. Would it be terribly rude to ask for a ballpark of how much this all cost you?

    Comment by HG — November 26, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  29. Chip & Katie - way to go. So beautiful. I’d love to come and see it in person. After living in an apartment like your “before” I can’t believe you made it look so great.

    Comment by Tania — November 27, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  30. Chip & Katie - way to go. So beautiful. I’d love to come and see it in person. After living in an apartment like your “before” I can’t believe you made it look so great.

    Comment by Tania — November 27, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  31. Great job guys, the Kitchen is AMAZING!! I love it. It was so great to see your place.

    Comment by Heatherann — November 28, 2007 @ 10:41 am

  32. It sure is nice to see creativity. Job well done

    Comment by Ron — January 13, 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  33. Katie–
    What kind of wood and stain finish did you use for your new floors?
    Thanks.

    Comment by Stephanie — March 2, 2008 @ 10:35 am

  34. I’d also like to know what kind of wood and stain was used on the floors. Also, where did you get the sectional couch and the slotted wood end table next to it?

    Thanks and congratulations on your place.

    Comment by Steve — March 3, 2008 @ 9:16 am

  35. thanks again everyone!

    stephanie and steve- we used clear maple for our flooring. we didn’t have it stained at all, only finished with a coat (or two?) of satin-finish polyurethane.

    steve- the sectional is by perobell, purchased at the conran shop in nyc. pricey place but full of really beautiful furniture and design pieces. the slotted table is one of chip’s genius stoop-sale purchases.

    Comment by katie — March 11, 2008 @ 6:10 pm

  36. Wow oh wow. I am completely head over heels for your place. CONGRATULATIONS. You two have quite the eye. Its a beautiful home & I’m sure made all the more beautiful by your little ones. I love the details & how you really opened it up. I’m so wishing I had 1/2 of your furniture … little by little right?

    (I just met you at Linsey’s baby shower, and realized too late that this was your place… otherwise I would have talked to you about it!)

    Jill

    p.s. I’m finishing my masters in Interior Design, this is the stuff that makes me tick! :)

    Comment by JILL — March 23, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  37. Wow oh wow. I am completely head over heels for your place. CONGRATULATIONS. You two have quite the eye. Its a beautiful home & I’m sure made all the more beautiful by your little ones. I love the details & how you really opened it up. I’m so wishing I had 1/2 of your furniture … little by little right?

    (I just met you at Linsey’s baby shower, and realized too late that this was your place… otherwise I would have talked to you about it!)

    Jill

    p.s. I’m finishing my masters in Interior Design, this is the stuff that makes me tick! :)

    Comment by JILL — March 23, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

  38. Love your tiled bathroom - very clean and minimal. We subway tiled our bathroom, right up to and including the ceiling. Some of my friends called it a little asylum-y but I just loved the freedom of having an almost waterproof room, esp. with kids.

    I noticed you didn’t have cabinetry - do you store your towels and products elsewhere? If so, how are you finding that, with kids and all. I’ve been wondering about the no cabinetry bathroom as the next step in my quest for the perfect bath/waterfight room.

    Comment by Michelle — May 22, 2009 @ 1:11 am

  39. Wow. Wow. Wow. What an eye for design you have. I love the functionality meet simple beauty approach. Fresh and modern yet inviting. Bravo! Don’t you two have three little ones now? How on earth are you fitting all three? I suppose a little rearranging and all is well for now. Good work.

    Comment by Alaskan Andi — May 31, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  40. W.O.W. I’ve seen apartments triple the size without even a tenth as much style, or indeed comfort and feeling of spaciousness. This is inspirational in the best sense- makes you realise what is not only possible with a small space, but what makes smaller spaces desirable and perhaps paradoxically easier to manage in a lot of ways. With the compactness and efficiency of all your renovations you have really designed a machine for living in! And your carbon footprint must be minuscule ;o) Bravo!

    Comment by EmilyKate — July 1, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  41. W.O.W. I’ve seen apartments triple the size without even a tenth as much style, or indeed comfort and feeling of spaciousness. This is inspirational in the best sense- makes you realise what is not only possible with a small space, but what makes smaller spaces desirable and perhaps paradoxically easier to manage in a lot of ways. With the compactness and efficiency of all your renovations you have really designed a machine for living in! And your carbon footprint must be minuscule ;o) Bravo!

    Comment by EmilyKate — July 1, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  42. beautiful remodel. just wondering where you got the chest of drawers in the bedroom and also the chest or side board in the living room.

    thanks

    Comment by susie — August 14, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

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