Kim and George Nguyen
Brooklyn Heights — Brooklyn, New York
725 square feet
Years lived in:
4 years — own
When Kim and George moved into their apartment located on a charming tree lined block of Brooklyn Heights, they had their work cut out for them. The space was outdated with old appliances and the walled off kitchen area felt claustrophobic. Working on and off over the next two and a half years, the couple embarked on a renovation project that had them sleeping on the floor and living out of boxes.
After contractors removed walls and expanded closets, Kim and George got to work laying hardwood flooring, finishing the molding and building the kitchen island. After taking a bit of a break to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they embarked on a total renovation of the bathroom. Once again contractors started them off but the rebuilding work such as tiling, laying new flooring, and installing the mirror, vanity, and toilet was done by Kim and George.
With hard work and dedication their home has been transformed into a welcoming space that showcases both of their personalities and is well equipped as a hub for friends and parties.
Clearly this pair is never afraid to do things themselves and many items from around their home elicit DIY stories. One such example is a pair of stump side tables. After seeing a similar set that they both admired, they decided to try their hand at putting together a pair themselves. After a visit to a Massachusetts farm and a trip to the hardware store, they built a pair. This is the type of creativity and openness to working on projects together that make their place a home.
While their design aesthetic is relatively minimalist, the selective decor that they have on display are pieces that have personal meaning to them. In the entry, a painting by Kim's grandmother welcomes guests while a framed posted of Endless Summer, a wedding gift from Kim to George, adds a pop of color. She explains:
He surfs, it's his favorite surf movie and the Spanish version had special significance because we got married in Costa Rica. Not to mention we are native Floridians so endless summers are always something we dream about.
Near the bedroom, a pair of clipboards hang, one with special photos of her grandfather and his grandmother and the other with favorite photos from a zip-lining excursion in Costa Rica.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Modern simplistic with industrial inspiration.
Inspiration: Google. Nate Berkus. Candice Olson. Apartment therapy. David and Im.
Favorite Element: Our kitchen. Taking down the wall between our kitchen and living room to build an island was the best design decision we could have made. The openness of the space and the amount of light it allows in are life changing. We had four electricians and two contractors tell us it couldn't be done because of the wiring in our building, but we kept asking until we found the team who agreed with us that it was possible!
Biggest Challenge: Timing our construction with moving. Massive fail! We did our demo and construction while living IN the apartment. Never again! We moved all of our furniture into our bedroom to demo our living room and then into our living room to demo our bedroom. We slept in our construction clothes on the floor for many many nights. But living in the madness gave us a sense of urgency we wouldn't have had otherwise.
What Friends Say: Let's have a party here! We have ample counter space to hold large amounts of food. Clearly a party necessity.
Biggest Embarrassment: Our first name basis with the return counter employees at every home improvement store in Brooklyn. We changed our minds... a lot.
Proudest DIY: Our bathroom. After the tub was installed we took it from there. Literally from the cement blocks up. Drilling the hole in our tub to hang our shower doors was one of the scariest moments of the entire renovation! You only get one chance to drill that hole in the right spot... that's what she said.
Biggest Indulgence: Our bathroom vanity. It's not the most expensive thing in our apartment but it was the hardest joint decision to purchase. We bought two other less expensive vanities first and tried to make them work. But it turned out only Italy made the vanity with the ideal dimensions for our tiny bathroom. It was worth the extra shipping.
Best Advice: Home renovations are not recommend for new couples. Be sure you love the one you share a chop saw with! And if you go to Home Depot and they tell you they don't have what you are looking for - ask someone else.
Dream Sources: Herman Miller. Ingo Maurer. Mark Rothko. Antonio Gaudi. Family hand-me-downs. And in a perfect world our own massive empty loft to fill with cement built-ins and all white/wood/steel furniture.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
• Bench: Sitcom Furniture
• Coat rack: Pottery Barn
• Wreath: Handmade by Kim and George
• Art: Grandma Evelyn Grosse
• Built in Cabinets: Ikea
• Rug: Ikea
• Trunks: Salvation Army
• Couch: CB2
• Rocking chair: Urban Outfitters
• Pillow: Annie Lim
• Stump table: Handmade by Kim and George from a Massachusetts farm wood pile
• Appliances: Viking & GE Monogram
• Cabinets: Ikea
• Counter top: Caesar Stone
• Bed: Crate & Barrel
• Rug: Ikea
• Dressers: CB2
• Nightstand: CB2
• Secretary: West Elm
• Tub: Kohler
• Toilet: Kohler
• Vanity: Iotti Nameeks
• Tile: Nemo Tile
• Medicine Cabinet: NuTone
Thanks, Kim and George!
(Images: Liana Walker)
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