Before and After: This Apartment Kitchen’s Smart Reno Makes Room for More Cabinetry

published Oct 10, 2023
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While an apartment kitchen described as a “disaster” and “outdated and unmaintained” might not be appealing to most people, it was, in fact, exactly what Joshua Brady and his wife wanted when they were searching for a new home. 

“I only wanted an apartment we could buy cheap — based on other units in the area in good condition — and renovate to our liking,” Joshua explains. And the kitchen in the apartment they settled on was indeed in need of some major TLC. Prior to the Bradys moving in, the apartment was vacant for seven years; as a result, it was full of leaks, paint was peeling off the walls, and none of the appliances were in working condition.

Joshua grew up working for his dad’s construction company, so he’s no stranger to big renos, but he also worked with a general contractor to make several changes to the apartment that included plenty of work in the kitchen.

Credit: Joshua Brady
Credit: Joshua Brady

Removing walls allowed for better flow.

First up, Joshua and team removed the waist-high walls that separated the fridge and stove from the kitchen’s old eat-in area, creating one continuous galley-style kitchen. “We felt the eat-in area was a waste of space that would be better served to utilize with more cabinets,” Joshua says. 

To make room for even more cabinets and some floating shelves, they removed the walls that separated the kitchen from the entryway and foyer to extend the kitchen almost to the front door of the apartment. 

Credit: Joshua Brady
Credit: Joshua Brady

Moving the fridge made room for more storage on the opposite side.

“From there, we pretty much gutted the kitchen to its studs and did some minor reconfiguring of electrical and plumbing,” Joshua says. They reconfigured the layout so that the kitchen could stay on the same side of the kitchen as the sink and stove. 

This allowed for a new fridge with a water and ice dispenser (because they ran a water line from the sink to the fridge and dishwasher), which was on Joshua’s wife’s wishlist. It also made room for more storage with drawers and a pull-out spice rack on the other wall — also on his wife’s wishlist.

“Where there used to be no real cabinet storage, we created that entire wall to the left where the fridge used to be and put a very large, deep cabinet with three sections of uppers and lowers,” Joshua explains, adding that it comes in handy for storing food containers and silverware.

Joshua says the two-tone cabinets were big on his wishlist because he’s not into anything super “matchy-matchy.” The uppers are flat panel and white, and the lowers are Shaker-style and grayish blue.

Credit: Joshua Brady
Credit: Joshua Brady

Fresh finishes modernize the space.

Now, there’s fresh white paint on the walls, marble fish scale tiles on the backsplash, and silvery porcelain tiles on the floor, all of which bring a contemporary glam to the space. Joshua’s best renovation advice is to “find a style of tile that is timeless and makes a statement without costing a fortune.” Another one of his favorite details is the waterfall countertop edge, which ups the sophistication of the space.

He also likes the flush-mount light fixture, the pop of metal the brass hardware provides, and the new black-framed window. “I don’t like the typical old-fashioned metal window frames in these old NYC buildings,” he says. (The new window is painted Benjamin Moore’s Black in a semi-matte option.)

Overall, Joshua says renovating in a Queens co-op was a learning curve, but he couldn’t be more proud of the result — and the kitchen’s added storage and organization. To see more city kitchen renos, check out this $3,600 redo, this cottagecore-meets-Manhattan one, and $35 cabinet transformation