BEFORE AND AFTER: Opening up a Galley Kitchen

It's true! We've got yet another finished project and this one's reallllly good. This time, it's all about knocking down walls in the name of an open concept and letting in some sunlight. Actually, that's an understatement—it's a TON of sunlight...

Our clients tight galley kitchen was planted smack in the middle of their living room, which is entirely surrounded by bright, massive windows and views of the city. Not only was cooking difficult with no prep space and little room to move, but it was closed off from the very best feature of the apartment! Our clients like to entertain, so they called us in to rework the limited space and create something ideal for gathering friends and family. 

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Of course, everyone was in agreement that the walls needed to come down. But without a full-height wall, we had no way to run electricity to the new island. Since ripping up the floor wasn't an option, we decided on decorative columns to house the wires, allowing us to power the appliances (both the range and microwave drawer) that live in the island. We ran the counter and cabinetry the length of the back wall and added an overhang for stools, doubling their prep space and making it a place for guests to hang out or even pitch in.

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Our clients were tired of the old builder-grade wood cabinets and dark countertops. They opted for white shaker doors and brought the cabinetry much closer to the ceiling to maximize storage space. Low maintenance quartz counters add the look of marble without the risk of staining or etching . Inspired by some of our past projects, they chose to carry the island counter over the edge with a waterfall treatment. Then, they wrapped it up the back wall to use as backsplash, too. Fewer grout lines mean less cleaning!

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To stay within budget, we decided to keep almost all of the appliances in the same location and simply upgrade them.  A taller counter-depth fridge gained our clients space without eating up any countertop, and a drawer microwave was easy to hide within the island. Since we kept the oven in the same spot, we chose one with a downdraft so we didn't have to block the view with a bulky hood vent. 

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Another benefit of maintaining a similar layout? We were able to salvage most of the original flooring! There were a few places that needed patching, so we borrowed wood from underneath the cabinets to ensure a perfect match. 

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Ultimately, removing a few walls and planning the cabinetry strategically made for a brighter, open space that finally feels inviting. Now, anyone cooking can enjoy natural light and beautiful views, all while keeping up a conversation with whoever is hanging in the Living Room. To see more of this bright, beautiful space, check out the full project here

Autumn Interiors

We're huge proponents of summer (long weekends, longer days, and outdoor projects!) and we like to drag it out as long as possible. But this year, the never-ending humidity has us wishing for cooler days and cozy design accents to match. So, we sat down (in our very air-conditioned office) to round up our favorite ways to usher in fall. Here they are—and here's hoping for at least a 75 degree day sometime soon...

MIXING OLD AND NEW

We love to incorporate a client's furniture or collected accessories into a design, especially when the piece has a good story or interesting provenance. As we renovate and install new cabinetry, flooring, appliances, etc., a space can seem cold without accents that show their history. This antique table, for instance, is the perfect foil to the sleek waterfall countertop and plaster hood. It makes you want to sit down and offer to help make dinner...almost.

PLAID AND PLASTER

The above photo is a two-for-one deal. First up—an easy way to instantly transition any room from late summer to early fall. Plaid pillows, throws, even dish towels in rich, earthy tones (think persimmon, deep indigo, aubergine and saffron) add an autumnal layer. Choose lightweight fabrics like linen to keep them from feeling too stuffy.

And speaking of keeping things light—how about this insanely beautiful wall treatment? Though it's not new, plaster is subtly making its way into more than just traditional homes. Not the heavy-handed venetian plaster of the 90's, this gently textured application creates the perfect cozy backdrop without the need for wallpaper or excessive trim work. It has a similar look to the lime wash paint we mentioned in another post, but requires a different application. Since it's hand done, every wall is essentially a custom work of art. It's one of our favorite projects to accomplish, so let us know if it's something you're considering! 

STATEMENT STONE

Yes, we already did an entire post on our love for natural stone. But this season, we can't get enough of the crazy-strong veining mostly found in marble and quartzite. From fireplaces to countertops to furniture, this bold look commands a whole room (which is why it's best to let the rest of the space remain simple and clean-lined).  And while not everyone has a brownstone with original marble mantels to restore, we can all get the look. Our favorite trick? Try visiting your local stone yard to browse the remnant section. If you see something you like, have them trim it down to fit the top of a side table or nightstand. Minimal cost, big impact!

PROMINENT PENNY TILE

Every time we have a new client renovating a bathroom, our project manager crosses his fingers and asks if they've agreed to a room full of penny tile. Why? Just look! Sure, it makes a great shower floor, but it's so much more compelling when you get this much of it. Instead of being busy, the repetition creates a sense of calm and allows your fixtures to be a focal point. What's more inviting than a warm, welcoming shower after a crisp, chilly day?

STRONG SINKS

Last but not least is another double-header. Integrated sinks are making us swoon this season. Choose a lovely countertop stone, then keep things seamlessly sleek with a sink made of the same material.  Perfect for pre-washing all those squash and pumpkin rinds you're roasting this time of year.

And finally—the one trend we're on the fence about. It's polished brass, and though we're hesitant, we also kind of like it. Sure, it still brings back memories of every cherry kitchen from 1998, but this time around the profiles are sleeker. In a more modern silhouette (think plain, unadorned designs), this once-banned finish is sitting pretty again. We've yet to convince a client, but it's on our radar.

What do you think? Any trends you can't get enough of, or want to avoid at all costs? Tell us in the comments below.

BEFORE AND AFTER: A Full Renovation in a Historical JC Building

Just like our last post, we've finished up another extensive renovation and are ready to share all the details! This one took place in a historical Jersey City building, complete with ancient wiring, crumbling plumbing, and terra cotta walls. 

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Our first step was to gut the kitchen. Though we tried to salvage that once-pretty glass front cabinet (see below), unfortunately it wouldn't come out in one piece. Similarly, removing the backsplash was a challenge, too. The tiles were double-thick and adhered to walls made of clay blocks. Once the backsplash was taken care of, we began to rewire and clean up the plumbing. 

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Next we had to deal with the awkward closet taking up precious wall space.  It backs up to a hallway, so we decided to open it on the other side and close off the opening in the kitchen. This allowed us to move the fridge to the back wall and widen the entrance into the room, making it feel more cohesive and spacious. We added a floor to ceiling pantry to the right of the doorway, providing more storage.

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Though there wasn't anything worth saving in the kitchen, we did find some architectural elements to restore in the rest of the space. Hidden by some bad plaster work, mirrors, and doors, were original arched alcoves (two in the entry vestibule and one in the dining area of the LR), that were begging to be re-instated. We opened them back up, then built floating shelves for art and other small decorative items to rest on.

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The bathroom was in need of a full refresh, as well. We removed the same double-thick tile and an old vanity, tub, and toilet. Next we created a new, wider shower floor, enclosed some pipes, and tiled floor to ceiling (including around the window alcove) to create a new walk-in shower. A floating vanity and efficient toilet finished out the space. 

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Other upgrades included refinishing the floors, repairing and adding new moldings, and restoring some fixtures like original door knobs. We also installed closet organizers and refinished an original radiator to make the space as functional as possible. 

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To see the full project, visit the Jersey City project on our site!

Before and After: Our Most Recent Renovation

We've just finished up a pretty new project and we're beyond excited to share the final pictures! This full gut-reno was unfortunately prompted by a fire in our sweet client's kitchen. Thankfully no one was harmed and once their belongings had been moved out, they came to us to begin the re-build.  We laid all new floors, re-imagined the kitchen layout for a better flow, and even added a beautiful new plaster fireplace. Keep scrolling to see the transformation...

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The old layout featured a peninsula that blocked off the dining area and made it difficult to fit more than two people at a time in the kitchen. Adding the island gained us some precious prep-space and opened it up, making it freer for entertaining or busy family weeknights.

For finishes, we opted for rift cut oak cabinets and durable quartz counters and backsplash to give it a more modern feel (finally, a break from shaker, ha!). We loved that they decided to bring the counters over the side in a waterfall—such a clean and crisp detail. 

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Next up was the Living Room. Our clients wanted to warm up a once-blank wall without overwhelming the room. We installed a new fireplace insert and custom built the sleek, minimalistic surround, finishing it in a hand-plastered treatment. 

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Of course, the bathrooms were completely overhauled as well. Our clients hadn't changed out the builder-grade finishes they inherited when they moved in, so we started from scratch to create luxurious spaces that will stand the test of time (and three young kids).

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Lastly, to change the feel of the entire apartment, we upgraded the trim throughout and swapped the doors for fresh single panels with new chrome hardware. 

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For the full apartment photo tour, head over to our Shipyard Project page. And stay tuned this week—we have some fun summer-inspired spaces to share!