Mimi's Bronx Renovation

Mimi's Bronx Renovation

Aaron Able
Jan 3, 2011

Name: Mimi Fong
Location: Bronx, New York

My husband and I purchased a 3-story house four years ago. Although charming and quaint, the apartment’s 1960’s renovation was showing its age and use throughout. After living there for nearly two years and contemplating what we would like to change, we decided to take the plunge. Naturally, being an interior designer, I took on the responsibility of designing and running this project, and my husband as the client.

High on our wish list was to have more counter and storage space in our kitchen. We also wanted to have better layout for cooking and entertaining. Our old bathroom was a standard, 3-piece layout that did not provide much privacy if more than one person is using it. We knew it would be so wonderful if we could get ready in the morning without hurrying the other person! Of course a girl must have storage space for her bottles and jars too.

So I set out to renovate this apartment, aiming to maximize every square foot and every renovation penny we pulled together. After living with construction dust and debris for eight months, we were finally able to settle back in.

There are many houses in this neighborhood that have similar floor plans, so no doubt we are not alone in facing the same kind of dilemma: how to transform an out-dated floor plan with separated formal rooms into contemporary, open floor plan that fits the present-day life style. We hope that our renovation will inspire the creative sparks in others to transform their spaces into something they will love to come home to.


My Style: We want to this apartment to reflect our contemporary yet casual life style: an open floor plan that is effortless and fresh. Being an interior designer, I work with colors, shapes, and texture all day while my husband holds a busy and stressful position. To create a calm and peaceful retreat for ourselves, I purposely kept the color palette scheme very subdued and the furniture shapes clean and simple in this project.

Inspiration: It all started when we were on vacation in Aruba. While sitting on the beach, I was completely fascinated by the color of the sand against my husband's dark brown sandles. I want to always remember the way we felt while we were there: happy, carefree, calm, and serene. I incorporated the color of sky on the walls and window treatment, the lush green colors with the plants, and the sound of ocean through water fountains.

Favorite Element: Radiant heat in the bathroom floor. It is such a treat in the cold winter mornings to step onto this warm floor. During a visit to our house, our friend's daughter sat on the floor and let out a very content 'ahh'.

Biggest Challenge: Budget! Throughout this process, we are very conscientious of the budget set forth since renovation can be expansive in this part of the region. And we worked hard to set the priorities of the renovation so that sufficient budget is allocated to the features that matter to us the most. Our willingness to do some of the work ourselves, such as installing kitchen cabinets and base moldings helped tremendously towards lowering the labor cost. In the end, we spent approximately $65 per square foot compared to the typical renovation budget of $200 per square foot!

What Friends Say: They feel our apartment is soooo much bigger than old floor plan.

Biggest Embarrassment: None. We love everything we did!

Proudest DIY: Installed all of the kitchen cabinets, building the pantry base, and the kitchen island. It really put our carpentry skills to test!

Biggest Indulgence: Radiant floor heat for the bathroom, and Sicis mosaic tiles for kitchen back-splash. Luckily we did not need a lot of tiles!

Best Advice: List everything you want to change and pay attention to details. It is often very difficult and costly to change your mind when you are in the middle of construction. It also helps to work with a professional if you want to change your floor plan. They can help you see things that you haven't considered yet.

Dream Sources: The Internet. You can find so many things without leaving your house!

Images: White Door Photos

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