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Before & After: Robyn and Alejandro’s Brooklyn Bathroom Renovation – Sweetened!

We’re back this week with a Brooklyn family of three to take a look at their complete bathroom renovation. Robyn and Alejandro took a personal approach to renovating the kitchen in their Columbia Waterfront District condo and continued the overhaul in the bathroom with a mix of classic materials and an unexpected pop of color in two unconventional places. Like the kitchen, the bathroom was beyond salvageable when they found the place. Serious damage included peeling walls and temporary storage that could not withstand the room’s moisture. This project was a true family affair on both sides: we sent Sweeten Experts Paulina and Albert to rip out the interior walls and replace all of the fixtures, and Paulina’s father, Andrzej, lent his considerable talents to help Robyn and Alejandro open up and modernize their bathroom with a trio of new tiles and a full set of whiz bang fixtures.

Before & After: Robyn and Alejandro’s Brooklyn Bathroom Renovation – Sweetened!

“In all instances, Paulina came to the table with a small detail that ended up completely making the space work for us – just brilliant.”

– Robyn, Brooklyn homeowner

From the start, Robyn and Alejandro had a clear vision for an all-tile bathroom with frameless glass to separate the tub from the rest of the room without closing off the space. Initially, they assumed that a standard two-tile approach would be the way to go, but as the outdated bath was demolished and the space became a blank slate, they opted for a set of three different tiles in varying styles and materials and ran with a unique pop of powder blue for contrast.

bathroom before

Robyn chose beveled white porcelain subway tiles for the room’s upper half and incorporated Paulina’s suggestion to use natural stone tile to line the lower half. Large-format Carrera marble helps provide a transition from the crisp subway tile down to the grittier black cement hex tiles that Robyn chose for the floor and tub wall.

Robyn felt drawn to incorporating a powder blue sink – this Kohler Vapour Blue oval basin is a little bit of a throwback in an otherwise modern space. To continue that theme, Paulina created a custom frame to line the recessed, mirrored medicine cabinet with the same color pop.

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Robyn and Alejandro surveyed friends and family members as they considered how to make the tub as functional as possible and the verdict seemed clear: a whirlpool tub would be an expensive luxury that would probably go un-used. Despite the well-intentioned warnings, the couple forged ahead with the Kohler Tea-for-Two whirlpool tub with reversible drains and a built-in heater. Happily, it has become a frequent and favorite personal retreat for each family member!

Paulina and Albert designed and built the custom vanity with two roomy drawers (modeled in the same simple Shaker style they used for the kitchen cabinets) and topped it with a slim Carrera marble counter. To complete the look, Robyn went with a vintage-styled Kohler Artifacts faucet with a single lever handle and continued with a second set of polished Kohler Artifacts fixtures for the shower as well as a polished chrome double swing-arm wall sconce light from Rejuvenation.

SWEETEN_Robyn's Bathroom 03

Thanks again to this fun family for giving us a tour of their shiny new bath!

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

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Celeste’s Sweetened Park Slope Bathroom – Homeowner Guest Post

This week, we have a full bathroom renovation guest report in from Celeste G., a condo owner and marketing, brand building, and copywriting triple threat in Park Slope. Read on down for Celeste’s debrief on her Brooklyn bathroom before and after!

celeste park slope bathroom

Homeowner guest post by Celeste G., Park Slope homeowner

I purchased my one bedroom condo in Park Slope in 2008. It was new construction, which was great because I am the exact opposite of handy or DIY. The “design” of the apartment was standard for new construction buildings at the time: bamboo floors, limestone tile, and dark cherry cabinetry. I lived in the apartment for a few years before considering any cosmetic changes and around year three, I noticed that the limestone tiles in my bathroom had darkened in some spots. In fact, the tile had never been sealed and as I learned the hard way, limestone is extremely porous. Several failed cleaning experiments later, I had nearly ruined the color and texture of a small patch near the sink vanity. As a clean enthusiast, the sight of the floor drove me bananas, but I wasn’t ready to take on what felt like an overwhelming renovation.


Instead, I decided to replace all the bamboo floors in my apartment (why start small when practically moving out of your home is an option?!). Luckily this foray into renovation was successful and the change in flooring literally changed the entire look and feel of the whole place. I felt confident tackling my tiny bathroom.

I did some research on what I might spend (why are toilets so expensive???) and asked my friends for contractor recommendations. My building required contractors with a certain amount of insurance, so I started looking beyond friend recommendations and luckily landed on Sweeten. I posted my project and was matched with three contractors including Sweeten Experts Paulina and Albert. All I knew for sure was that I liked the idea of a gray/black/white graphical floor, and I definitely needed more storage space because clutter makes my eyes swim — during our first meeting, I felt that Paulina understood the general aesthetic I was interested in and suggested a number of possibilities to open up the small-ish space. I sent her a few pictures from Pinterest and she developed 3D models based on my bathroom’s measurements. For someone spatially challenged, the modeling was enormously helpful. I could see the transformation and make adjustments before touching a thing. For example, we initially thought gold hardware would elevate the bathroom’s overall look but once I saw it in the model, I opted to go with chrome instead.

Once we were decided on the 3D model, Paulina sourced floor and wall samples and sent me a photo of the type of wood planned for a custom vanity. I presented a lot of options to her and relied on her expertise for guidance. For example, a friend of mine replaced her bathroom sinks with Corian surfaces and I really liked the seamlessness of it. I shared a photo with Paulina and she designed the sink and vanity with a beautiful, white Corian top, complete with side cutouts to add some dimension and visual interest. Honestly, I was unsure about the cutouts initially but after seeing it in the 3D model, I decided to give it a whirl.



The main challenge with this bathroom was the lack of storage space. I asked Paulina for a deep medicine cabinet along with a good amount of storage space in the vanity. I got my wish in spades. As we were discussing options, I pointed out that there was no place for a trash bin. Paulina worked it into the design of the vanity so not only do I have space for a small trash bin, it’s also completely hidden from view.

The original inspiration for the renovation was again, the floor. I fell in love with a cement tile in a M.C. Escher-like pattern. Paulina ordered samples for us to review but expressed some second thoughts about the durability and appearance of that tile. Maybe two or three days later, she emailed me to say that she was concerned about this particular pick and suggested I look at some marble tile with a similar pattern at a showroom nearby. I’m so glad I took her up on it. The marble option, from Walker Zanger (in Facet Ash), was not only more in line with the aesthetic I wanted but also less expensive and more durable. I kept my original tub and Kohler toilet, and framed the room in a new beveled, white subway tile. I kept the walls white and Paulina’s team installed a Minka-Lavery Downtown Edison lighting fixture.




The two weeks of actual renovation are a blur to me now. They seemed to go by very quickly and yet take forever. I was close enough to check on progress every day and Paulina’s team really did work fast. The transformation was fun to watch, even though I admittedly had a few panicked moments and doubts about the chair rail tile (why do I even know what this is?) and the vanity. I remember one email I sent Paulina after the vanity was installed. I spent maybe 10-15 minutes in the bathroom while it was still under construction trying to get the drawers to the vanity open, and then emailed to ask if the drawers would be easier to open when the bathroom was finished. It didn’t occur to me that the pulls hadn’t been installed yet. Thankfully, Paulina has a good sense of humor…!

A few months later and I still love my new bathroom. When I think back to that stained limestone tile and cherry wood vanity, I can’t believe it took me seven years to switch it up.


Thank you, Celeste, for this most insightful look into your bathroom renovation! We love that iconic tile and are so happy to have made the introduction to your expert design and build team.

Selects >> floor tile: marble Walker Zanger in “Facet Ash” / toilet: Kohler / countertop: white Corian /  lighting fixture: Minka-Lavery

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

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A Murray Hill Bathroom Turns Over a New Leaf

Black tile + luxury fixtures = the perfect fit

Editor’s Note: You would think that keeping the existing footprint of your bathroom during a renovation wouldn’t result in much of a difference, but Pallavi and Keyur’s remodel proves that anything is possible. This post, which originally ran in mid-2015, reveals an absolutely stunning transformation from an outdated washroom coated in a thick layer of grime to a luxurious bath with clean lines, sleek tile, and high-end fixtures. Don’t believe us? Keep reading and see the change for yourself.

Project: Renovate a bathroom with a small footprint in Murray Hill in Manhattan

Before: Pallavi, a sustainability consultant, and Keyur, a software engineer, came to Sweeten after a few failed attempts at finding contractors through online directories for their Murray Hill apartment renovation. Initially, they planned to leave the bathroom in its original state, but as the project progressed, they decided to work with their Sweeten general contractor on a complete bathroom remodel to parallel the space-efficient, clean-lined haven they were creating elsewhere in their home.

After: Pallavi had a traditional black-and-white color palette in mind, playing on the bathroom’s original uniform tile and natural wood elements. She sourced and layered materials in different shapes and sizes and accented the geometric white and black contrast with warm wood features.

While all of the fixture footprints were kept in place, the contractor’s team ripped out the worn floor tiles—remnants of the building’s earliest residents—and replaced them with oversized black floor tiles. As an accent, small, square-shaped tiles now line the tub wall and shower niches and also found their way over to the window, creating a wraparound effect for the bath. To outfit the narrow space (so typical of so many NYC bathrooms), Pallavi opted for the Duravit Starck tub and Toto toilet. Both offered slender profiles and simple footprints to keep the space as efficient as possible.

The contractor installed a custom-built wood vanity with a Duravit Bacino sink and Kohler Purist wall-mounted faucets to save counter space. He also hung red Kontextur Hanging Lines in lieu of a standard towel rack and toilet paper stand and replaced the rickety shower rod with a ceiling-mounted shower rod.

The balance of modern, minimalist materials against the natural wooden door is a perfect combination that highlights the contrast of colors and textures. Black is still the new black and is surprisingly stunning paired with original and new wooden touches.

BATHROOM RESOURCES: Black Alta porcelain floor tile and Seta ceramic accent wall tile: NemoTile. Starck tub and Bacino Washbowl sink: Duravit. Purist Wall-Mount Sink Faucet: Kohler. Kontextur hanging lines and toilet paper holder: Amazon. Ceiling-mounted shower rod: TRAX. Toilet: Toto.

High-end fixtures, like a rain showerhead and Toto toilet, elevate the experience of Terri and Brett’s master bath.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.

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

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Before & After: Mario and Joe’s Clinton Hill Bathroom – Sweetened!

We’re back in the Clinton Hill Co-ops to admire another apartment that shed its walls to reveal a spacious layout, oversize windows, and light-filled open plan. Word is definitely getting out: if you can see beyond the cramped and divided interiors of so many of the units in these 1940s-era Brooklyn towers and get in there with a major renovation, you can end up with more square feet (and style) than you can find almost anywhere else in NYC.

Mario, who works in media, and Joe, who works in healthcare, bought their 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom co-op in 2013, and spent a year hashing out a game plan for the bathroom. It felt old and small and cramped; out of sync with the style they had going elsewhere in the apartment.

Mario posted a project on Sweeten to gut renovate the bathroom and kitchen, and we introduced the pair to Sweeten Expert Jon, head of a veteran design-build team based in Park Slope. While the bathroom was the main motivation for renovating, Joe had big plans for the apartment’s dark stained parquet floors, and the couple started to envision a kitchen renovation that would get rid of all of the little compartmentalized spaces and doors separating the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. Let’s focus first on the bathroom upgrade — we’ll be back soon with a full photo spread of the rest of this gorgeous place.



Mario and Joe headed to Ann Sacks for sleek, large tiles that wouldn’t require lots of cleaning or have tricky little crevices. They found a gorgeous striated, gray porcelain tile that almost suggests the feel of coarse denim – it glitters just a little bit behind its tough exterior. They covered the floor in these tiles and continued up the bathroom’s vanity wall, splitting the bathroom with a racing stripe between white walls. In the shower, they went with the same gray tile but in a small cube version (to reduce slickness on the shower floor), and they chose a modern narrow, white porcelain tile for the shower walls. Sweeten Expert Jon accented the shower storage niches with extra slices of gray floor tile and replaced the old tub with a sleek walk-in shower.



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Mario and Joe picked a streamlined IKEA vanity with a stained oak-effect finish and worked with Jon to top that storage set with a squared Kraus sink and a Caesarstone countertop that extends across the wall. They also found a contemporary wall-mount faucet to keep the counter clear – the combination of the gray tile and built-in vanity features makes this all look custom! Mario and Joe upgraded from the previously teeny medicine cabinet with a recessed, mirrored cabinet that aligns perfectly with the silhouette of the vanity and found a very cool and current lighting fixture from Lighting Direct that completes the ensemble. With brushed nickel shower fixtures from Danze (via Faucet Direct) and a slim Toto toilet, this new bathroom is equal parts minimal and decorative.


We are so excited to see this first peek into another Clinton Hill Co-op renovation. Thank you, Mario and Joe, for welcoming us in. Looking forward to seeing all the fun that came after this updo!

Selects >> floor tile: gray porcelain Ann Sacks / accent wall tile: gray porcelain Ann Sacks / shower wall tile: white porcelain Ann Sacks / sink vanity: stained oak-effect finish IKEA / sink: Kraus / vanity countertop: Caesarstone / lighting fixture: Lighting Direct / shower fixtures: brushed nickel Danze via Faucet Direct / toilet: Toto

Sweeten handpicks the best design and construction experts for major renovations. Follow the blog for fun stories from real homeowners about creating spaces they love and when you’re ready to renovate, start your project.

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