When Sarah, an editor at Vanity Fair, and her husband Michael, a writer for Bloomberg News, bought their home on the Upper East Side, they knew the kitchen could use a little work. Their apartment, which dates back to 1910, hadn't had many improvements since then. The kitchen, in particular, was a strange mish-mash of styles: the upper cabinets, original to the apartment, were beautiful, but riddled with wood putty spots and pockmarks from the past 100 years. The lower cabinets, a more recent addition to the home, were in great condition, but their high-varnish reddish oak finish clashed with the rest of the kitchen. What to do?
Sarah and Michael wanted a renovation that would be respectful of the home's traditional style — and their budget. After much deliberation, they decided to paint the cabinets. They hired a painter who specializes in historic interiors, settling on a cool grey color, Benjamin Moore's Cool Breeze. They also replaced the appliances. The Bertazzoni Heritage Range was a bit of a splurge, but it fits in nicely with the kitchen's traditional aesthetic. At this point, the homeowners joined forces with Gennadiy Kaliberda, the owner of Brooklyn-based South Fork Projects (who they found through The Sweeten, a New-York area resource that connects homeowners with designers and contractors). Gennadiy worked with them for the final stages of the reno — replacing the countertops, the backsplash, the sink, and the glass in the upper cabinets.
Gennadiy added soapstone countertops and a farmhouse sink to the grey cabinets and modernized appliances. It's a transformation that updates the kitchen while respecting the apartment's traditional roots. The icky 80s spec house feel is completely gone, and the new kitchen feels beautiful, spacious, and timeless.
The farmhouse sink is the perfect style for the kitchen — although finding a farmhouse sink that was scaled appropriately for this small New York kitchen proved to be a real challenge. From Sarah:
Gennadiy and I worked like dogs to find a fireclay farm sink that would work for a New York apartment kitchen. They’re so heavy and so huge—most are 30 inches wide and 10 inches deep, which would swallow the entire counter—that we had to really scour for one small enough, shallow enough, and with the clean, traditional shape that I wanted. This was the sole one that would work and, coincidentally, the very last one in a showroom I called.
The backsplash, a carrera marble subway tile, nicely complements the overall color scheme. Throughtout the house the doors and transoms above were left in their original wood finish, providing a nice contrast with all the painted surfaces.
In place of the original frosted glass cabinet doors, Gennadiy substituted antiqued mirror panels — a suggestion from Sarah's aunt. The panels simultaneously enhance the light in the space and add to the traditional feel.
Everyone's very satisfied with the new kitchen. It feels like a little escape in the city, Sarah says — "maybe if Beatrix Potter had a New York pied-a-terre.”
To see more photos and read more about the renovation, check out the project page on The Sweeten.
(Images: The Sweeten)