A Dated NYC Kitchen Gets the Most Unbelievable Transformation (It Doubles the Storage!)

published Jun 9, 2024
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Sometimes, buying a fixer-upper or saving big on your home’s closing price can help justify a dream (read: somewhat pricey) renovation to your home. For Karol and Dave, who live in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, landing their apartment for a steal allowed for a splurge-y kitchen remodel later. 

“We had money left over from our home purchase to soften the blow of the renovation cost,” Karol says. “We consider that the life-hack/budget success story of it all!”

When the couple first moved in, the kitchen was “old and worn,” Dave says. “The vinyl flooring was yellowed and curling up at the edges, the countertops were sagging, the microwave was charred and even melted (!) in spots … the door frames had been painted over so many times they were shapeless blobs.”

The couple disliked the kitchen’s no-frills, dated look, but they did like its decent square footage for an NYC kitchen and its light. “We definitely saw potential in the space,” Dave says. Karol and Dave worked with a contractor and a designer, Emi Young, to transform the kitchen. The team demoed the entire kitchen, taking everything out, but kept the same layout in their new kitchen (with a few key upgrades, of course).

Credit: Karol and Dave
Credit: Karol and Dave

The cabinets are MCM perfection with a pop of color. 

Karol says she and Dave wanted the new kitchen “to celebrate the unique contrast of urban beach living,” and the “after” certainly nails the look. The new cabinets, which stretch all the way up to the ceiling and add storage on both sides of the stove, are the perfect blend of mid-century modern and bright, beachy color. 

“The pop of the bright-colored cabinet fronts balances the sandy terrazzo floor in just the way we’d hoped it would,” Dave says. (In addition, the white countertops keep the space bright and airy.) “We love the solid new range and stylish fridge, and the spacious and sturdy new cabinets,” Dave says. “Most of all, we love that the space feels like us.”

When Karol and Dave embarked on the project, they each wrote down three words for their vision for the project: Karol’s were bold, bright, and alive, and Dave’s were cool, functional, and inviting. Mission accomplished!

Credit: Karol and Dave
Credit: Karol and Dave
Credit: Karol and Dave

A pass-through bar lets more light into the space.

One of the biggest changes to the kitchen is that there’s now a pass-through bar that allows for a glimpse into the living room — and a spot to sit and eat. “Having an opening from the kitchen to the living room created more openness for conversation and entertaining,” Karol says.

She adds that there are way more surfaces for food prep in the “after,” too, thanks to the introduction of a new coffee bar to the left of the fridge and a vintage buffet that the couple already owned.  

Credit: Karol and Dave
Credit: Karol and Dave

Wallpaper adds a bit of pattern.

Last but not least, another fun new detail is the addition of wallpaper in the arched threshold to the kitchen; that’s from Hygge & West and could be replicated by a renter with a peel-and-stick option. Other fun pops of color include the mustard yellow Schoolhouse lighting and the new rugs.  

The renovation wasn’t easy. Karol and Dave were hit with a couple of surprises like a wiring issue and an over-budget bill, and they had to be away from home during much of the work. “We were able to arrange a series of house-sits and cat-sits and weekend getaways, and it ended up being much less of a disruption to our lives than we thought. It actually turned out to be kind of fun,” Dave shares. When it came to the final product, though, the process was worth it. 

“I’ve learned that in renovations (and in life) nothing is ever perfect, permanent, or complete,” Karol says. “Now that we’ve created a beautiful kitchen, I’m doing my best to exist in it and enjoy it wholly, rather than worry about messing it up or being too precious about everything!”