Before: Sharon and Laurence have lived in their Financial District apartment for 25 years. They moved to the area for more space and because, at that time, it was considered “off the radar.” Eight years ago, they renovated the kitchen but were hesitant to tackle the bathroom—mostly due to the logistics of living without one during a remodel. But the space was falling apart and they hardly used the tub, so it finally came to the point where a renovation was in order. “We felt confident with Sweeten when we learned that they had contractors that worked in New York City and were comfortable with the unique challenges of working in a co-op with its strict rules,” Sharon said. They posted their project to the platform and matched with a general contractor.
After: Sharon and Laurence had initially hoped to expand the 48-square-foot bathroom, but after investigating a “mystery space” behind a wall, they learned it wasn’t quite big enough to make a significant difference in the overall footprint. A debate also occurred over whether to install a new tub or move forward with just a shower since tubs are often a big selling point for buyers. Ultimately, they decided to go with a shower and replace all the fixtures and finishes to create a neutral, easy-to-clean, and minimalist bathroom.
Their contractor recommended that in order to get the project done as quickly as possible, the homeowners should plan to have all the materials delivered and ready to install upon demolition. “We have high-end aspirations with a down-to-earth budget so, to that end, we spent a considerable amount of time sourcing the best prices on fixtures that we liked,” Sharon said. The couple ran their choices by their contractor to make sure everything was compatible and found materials that aligned with their vision, including all-recessed lighting instead of separate sconces and large-scale tiles for the walls and floors.
They ran into one hiccup during the process that added about two weeks to the overall timeline. During demolition, their contractor encountered a waste pipe that ran horizontally not vertically—unlike many other jobs he’d worked on. The homeowners couldn’t return the toilet and had to pay a restocking fee, but their contractor went to a showroom with photos of the waste pipe to find a solution. Turns out, few manufacturers actually make toilets that fit horizontal waste pipes, but he found one for the homeowners to order. The rest of the work was near completion as delivery issues with the toilet cropped up (all out of the contractor and homeowner’s control.) After a fourth delivery—previous toilets arrived broken—they were able to make the final touches, including installing the glass shower door.
Through it all, Sharon and Laurence stayed in the apartment during the renovation, using a neighbor’s apartment for bathroom access. Even though it wasn’t ideal, the bathroom was cordoned off with plastic, and Sharon thought it was better to be living on-site anyways to deal with potential issues quickly and efficiently.
In the end, the couple is very happy with their new bathroom. “Our contractor was professional, responsible, and able work with us to get the job done in a timely manner considering the toilet problems,” Sharon said.
Bonus: Sharon and Laurence’s apartment is in a former office building originally built in 1902!
Style finds: Floor and wall tile: 12′ x 24′ light gray polished porcelain: Tiles Unlimited. Fresco wall-mounted vanity: Decor Planet. Towel bar, toilet paper holder, faucet, and shower fixtures: Speakman. Toilet: Duravit. Medicine cabinet: Robern.
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