The After: Upper East Side Kitchen Renovation

After a very long pause, I finally wanted to pick up where I left off and share some more photos (all by the very talented Nicole Cohen) and details on this kitchen renovation. 

If you'll rewind for a moment and take a look at the 'before' photos and the generic floor plan in my previous post, that should all give you a pretty good sense for the original space. Most New York City apartments are built with a few floor plans per floor and then each repeats over and over again on each floor forming a 'line'. Each line is serviced by electrical and plumbing risers that flow all the way up a building, which means they cannot be touched since it would impact all of your neighbors. Once the risers are identified along with the structural supports and you account for any sort of code restrictions (fire escape clearances, ADA, etc.) and other limitations, that's when you can (finally!) start designing your kitchen.

My clients use what was the formal dining room as a second, informal living space - this is where we installed the fabulous vinyl "grasscloth" wallpaper and high gloss built-in! - so it was very important for them to have a dining space with room for several extra family members. Since the original maid's room was being used as an office, it was also important that my clients have a dedicated desk space. Lastly, we needed to convert the (very tight) full bath into a spacious (and fabulous) powder bath for guests. 

We went through several iterations with the architect and given all of those parameters, we settled on option E here, which even changed some more post demolition discoveries:

While it is hard to tell, we stole a few feet from the Sitting Room and opened up that vestibule passage which was previously a very slight 29". The vestibule then leads you past the service entrance, storage closet, utility closet, dry bar, pantry, powder bath, and finally on into the main kitchen space - compression and then release!

Side note - the Sitting Room floor has a very pretty border and the dotted lines on the plan off the foyer represent the balance of that wood floor. The original floor was in good shape so rather than replace it, we kept that little bit of history and had wonderful Dean Barger layer one of his original and beautiful stencil designs. If you take a closer look you can see the wood border on the top and right edges, which continues on in the new Sitting Room with the original parquet.

Truly the perfect detail for the space.

But before decorative floor treatments could happen and were even considered, my client and I spent a thoughtful amount of time selecting flooring, tile, stone, hardware, appliances, cabinet styles, cabinet layouts, paint colors, wall and window coverings, and the list goes on. If for no other reason than decision fatigue, it is worth having a designer on board to help make those calls! Originally my client was leaning towards wood flooring in the new space, but when we found this great ceramic hexagon tile (which is actually a collection of 6 different tiles to create a varied look) we switched gears. My client was very happy with the idea of resilient quartz counters in white, so between those two selections, we had a really positive jumping off point for the rest of the selections and look. 

Even before seeing Emily Henderson's big master bathroom reveal, we had also already selected Fireclay's Ogee Drop for the backsplash in a pale blue. We used a fun turquoise herringbone for the separate dry bar space. The window coverings and powder bath wallpaper are both Galbraith & Paul, which both installed beautifully. The booth cushions are covered in an Innovations faux leather (spills no more - these are wipe-able!), and the booth table is custom made with brass legs and a walnut top. The light fixture in the booth is by Coleen and Company, the sconces in the bathroom are by Ro-Sham-Beaux, and the vestibule fixture is antique murano glass from Vincent Mulford in Hudson, NY.

We used a mixture their children's art and sweet silhouettes on the walls in the booth area, which added such a lovely personal touch. A gallery wall with family photos was designed and hung in the hallway in a mixture of gold frames and an original Wayne Paint hangs in vestibule above Dean's work.

While it certainly didn't just happen overnight, I just love that it all feels so complete, personal, and 'done'. I am really proud of this space and the selections and decisions my clients made. Living through a renovation isn't easy and they really chose to do everything right. Even if their particular selections and styles aren't exactly for you, this space is a true reflection of them, which I think is what design is really all about.

You can see photos of the rest of the apartment here.

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.