A family remodels and finds the calm in their 1922 home

For Sandra and Nelson, raising their children was their priority. Now, after 22 years, they turned their sights on giving their South Slope Tudor-style home a revamp. Concerned with the house’s age and how far their budget would stretch, they posted their project and found a general contractor from Sweeten, a free service matching renovators with vetted contractors, who would guide and advise them throughout the renovation process. Their family home received a new spring in its step: an open kitchen, a sunroom, and a refresh that even impressed a group of young adults.

Guest blog post by Sweeten homeowner Nelson

Sandra is an educator and I’m a music movement instructor.  Our three children are Julian, 24, Abigail, 18, and Avery,17, plus we have a 2-year-old dog, Blue. We purchased our first home in 1997 after living on the top floor of a private home located in South Slope, Brooklyn, for about seven years.

We did not focus on any major renovations to the house until 2018. The house is a charming red brick Tudor-style home originally built by an Armenian family in 1922.

Our vision for our project really began with a desperate need to makeover our ’70s kitchen. Eventually, we began to see that the rest of the main level was also crying out for a change. Sweeten was a very interesting website that my wife spotted while doing her research. We loved the stories and photos displayed with the recommendations of contractors. We had site visits with two and immediately felt a connection with the Sweeten contractor we would ultimately hire.  We shared our concerns regarding how difficult it will be to tackle an old house and, of course, our budget.

We loved that the house did not intimidate our contractor at all. We shared our ideas and all our concerns with him and within two weeks, a proposal was handed to us that included a renovation for the kitchen, the entire main level floor, and important necessary improvements of the entire lower level family room.

One of the challenges we faced was how to end the years of living with drafts and cold temperatures in our home.  The draft we experienced came from the dining window where the large permanent air conditioner sat on the ledge for years, the office space (now the sunroom) that included nine old large windows, and the old kitchen exit door.

We also could not see nor understand how to expand the space for comfort. After a solid consultation with our Sweeten contractor, permission was granted to include in our home improvement budget a cooling and heating system and knock down existing walls in order to create new space and bring in outside light.

(Above) Existing kitchen door becomes a window over the sink

We have developed a new confidence working with our contractor and hope that very soon we will have him back to renovate the upper level.

The most exciting part of the project for us was eliminating the old kitchen door and replacing it with a large window that brings in sunlight. Adjacent, the office space was transformed into a sunroom with a huge new pantry for multiple purpose storage and a new glass deck door.

We considered tearing down all the walls of the house but had a change of heart because of the mosaic of details spotted throughout the house.  Our contractor’s wise tip with our project was to keep in mind that the house was built decades ago and that we can save so much of the budget if we come up with a fresh new look without disturbing too much the original plumbing, electrical, and gas connections.

We both shared a love of antiques and traditional aesthetics. We have lived in our house for 20 years and never updated our look. We realized that a simpler, uncluttered, Zen look is what we needed. We traded the original maple-colored parquet floors throughout the main floor, including the kitchen, with a delicious chocolate-colored plank wood that reminds us of rich gardening soil. We also wanted to include materials and hues that immediately took us back to nature—silver grays, dairy whites, and galaxy black. The color of the walls was chosen as a canvas to complement all of the materials chosen.

We owe it to Sweeten for matching us with the general contractor for our project. He did nothing but listen until he totally understood the vision and ran with it. He led our construction journey in such a peaceful transformation. We loved how he unselfishly gave us the liberty to do some of our own research on materials we really loved, and then with only some of the higher-priced items would he suggest his connections at a lower price to keep us on budget without losing the integrity of the look. The budget was our biggest concern with our renovation and he always kept it in check. His team was just as amazing. We enjoyed having them arrive on our project every day and some weekends.

We cannot express how much we love the new kitchen shared with the dining space, living room, sunroom, and our newly improved lower-level family chill room. The entire new space gives us a sensational feel of living outside instead of inside. We are completely covered with so much light and warmth. We recently celebrated our son, Julian’s 24th birthday by inviting 22 guests ages 17-26. They had all visited our home prior to the renovation and they literally felt as if they were in another house. They could not get over the transformation.

We are thrilled our Sweeten contractor truly helped us to create a Zen space that works well with everything, including our antique pieces. I really believe that something needs to be said about the old working in a harmonious manner with the new. We have developed a new confidence working with our contractor and we are hoping that very soon we will have him back to renovate the upper level including the family bathroom. But first, we must concentrate on building, once again, our home improvement budget.

Thank you, Sandra and Nelson. We hope your family enjoys your new home!

KITCHEN RESOURCES: 2019 Café SeriesGas oven, convection/microwave, and refrigerator, dishwasher: General Electric Appliances. Cabinets and marble & granite countertops: Supplied by general contractor. Goldenwarm hardware in brushed brass and Casamotion handblown glass pendant lights: Amazon. Paint in Chantilly Lace, #2121-70: Benjamin Moore. Bar stools: Pier One. Sink and faucet collection: Italian Tile NYC  on 1958 Coney Island Ave.

FLOORING RESOURCE: Chocolate wood floors: Supplied by general contractor.

DINING ROOM RESOURCES: Paint in Chantilly Lace #2121-70 and Barren Plain, #2111-60: Benjamin Moore. Window treatments: Smith & Noble. Light fixture and dining table: Overstock Furniture. Dining chairs: Furniture Center on 1984 Flatbush Ave. Dining room area rug: Pier One.

LIVING ROOM RESOURCES: Paint in American White, #2112-70:  Benjamin Moore. Throw pillows: Pier One. Living room sofa set: Macy’s. Living room lamps: Wayfair.

SUNROOM RESOURCES: Paint color in Tudor Cream,#2157-60: Benjamin Moore. Window treatments: Smith & Noble.

Meredith’s Tudor townhouse is full of charm.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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