The Before: Upper East Side Kitchen Renovation

I feel really lucky that I fell into some really wonderful clients pretty immediately after starting my own business. Without any real portfolio to show for myself, they took a chance on me and trusted me with their homes. You have to start somewhere, right? Well it's no exaggeration to say I am incredibility fortunate and all the business I generate today is directly linked to those successful first relationships and projects. 

One of those very first clients reached out to me last year about this time to discuss a large project she and her husband were excited to finally take on: renovating their kitchen, office (originally intended to be the maid's room), family room (originally intended to be the formal dining room), and one full bath. 

The year prior to that I knew and communicated to them I wasn't ready to take this type of project in Manhattan. At the time I had completed a small renovation in Greenwich Village and some kitchen renovations in Texas, but nothing like this. If you are familiar with New York City renovations, you know that it is no small miracle that anything gets done in this city considering the DOB filing process, building requirements, short building work days (not to mention holidays!), prohibitive cost, not to mention the long-term headache that the client has to endure while all of this is going on. 

We ended up plowing ahead! and on July 1 began demolition. While it was admittedly that headache I mentioned (x100), it was worth it. Regardless of where you live, the modern kitchen truly is the heart of the home and seeing this family genuinely enjoy their new space is so gratifying. 

I am admittedly not a great blogger, but I hope to capture, share, and memorialize this special project here so you can really see the transformation. I also had the joy of working with Nicole Cohen (check out her blog Sketch42, art, and photography) for the first time on some professional photos of the whole apartment, so I am especially excited to share those. 

But first thing's first, here is the original building layout for their particular apartment line. Their layout happens to be slightly different, but this should help you understand what you're looking at and the space we were working with:

Here are some "before" shots of the space. You enter the kitchen and family room (previously the dining room) off of the large entry way via a narrow hallway. The kitchen was galley style with just enough room for a breakfast table on one end. The office (previously the maid's room) was just on the other side of the kitchen with a tight full bath attached. 

Between the kitchen, maid's room, bathroom, and hallway, we were working with about 325-350 square feet. Not large by suburban standards, but generous for New York City and - funny enough - about the same square footage of my entire apartment!

Looking forward to sharing more in the coming weeks!

Emily C. Butler

Emily C. Butler, 1153 3rd Avenue, New York, New York 10065, USA

Emily C. Butler is a New York City based interior designer + decorator.