Before and After: This NYC Triplex Is Now Living Up to Its Full Potential

Reader Kate refers to the purchase of this apartment as “When the Only Good Thing Is the Layout.” After several months of renovation—and plenty of NYC red tape—this home is now living up to its full potential.

This is so glam. I love the glimpses of the bedroom and kitchen through the screens of the balustrading, the deep duo-tone wood railings, the rich wood floors, the boutique hotel feel of the bedroom, and the entire vibe. There are a lot of dark elements—floor, cabinetry, bed—but the rug, countertops, backsplash, and accessories brighten things up. That blue throw pillow ties into the next (and, to me, most exciting) part of this reno.

I love a tiny apartment kitchen—though I’m never a fan of the corner sink—but Kate reveals that this one (and the entire home) had some issues:

When I first saw the apartment it was busting at the seams with junk. Once I was able to see past the garbage and cheap furniture that covered nearly every inch of the apartment, I could see the space. The floors were that gymnasium-colored polished wood, there was a gray carpet on the steps, it looked like a family of dust mites had been procreating in the bedroom since 1975. The banister separating each level of the apartment was dingy and looked like it was in the background of a sad 1990s awkward family photo, and the kitchen…. oh god the kitchen. The plastic tile on the floor looked permanently sticky, and, combined with the laminate countertops, outdated appliances, and cheap cabinets, it made for quite a sight.

When I told friends that this was the home I was buying, they thought I was crazy. I know that with the right kitchen, flooring, and railing, this triplex layout would be, for lack of a better word, dope. I needed to change the entire apartment. I purchased the home because I knew the triplex would look sleek if completely re-done.

The layout is really cool. Each room has its own distinct zone, yet they all flow into each other naturally. It appears that if you’re prepping in the kitchen, you could still easily interact with guests in the living room, and perhaps even glimpse the TV during repetitive tasks.

Fantastic. What a dramatic change. The sink has been moved from its position and is now a lovely mini-farmhouse number, that stove is ridiculously cute, and it appears that the full-size fridge has been replaced with an under-counter version, opening up room for additional counter space and cabinetry. I love the bold blue—especially in this predominantly gray apartment—and the high contrast look of the kitchen with the bright white and the dark wood and blue.

I re-designed the entire layout of the kitchen, utilizing the dead space under the steps and opted for navy cabinets with brass hardware. Ironically, looking for the exact railing that I had envisioned and at least pretending to try to stay within my original budget was a huge challenge.

I decided to throw my budget out the window and, after months and months of being held up in building permits and the “two more weeks” from my contractors, I present a completely different apartment.

The now-usable space under the fridge can be seen in the first “after” photo, and it’s an admirable reclaiming of space.

Here we can see another little counter that was cleverly added—I could envision this even being used as a breakfast bar, either with some very narrow stools or full-size stools that can be stashed under the stairs. In the meantime, it’s very valuable workspace. Having completed this renovation, Kate might do a few things differently:

I love everything about the after aesthetically. For cost efficiency, I would consider going for IKEA cabinets and a stone surface that is highly durable. I ended up getting white marble and I am constantly afraid of staining it with a spill.

If you have similar concerns, read Kitchn editor-in-chief Faith’s account of living with, and maintaining, her marble countertops, and rest easy.

Now we have a view from the bedroom overlooking the living room that allows us to fully admire the fabulous window and high ceilings. Kate was correct that this apartment has an excellent structure, but just needed a little updating. Or a lot of updating:

The initial part of the process was putting in hardwood floors, staining, painting, and adding a closet upstairs. That part was quick and took three weeks before I moved in. The hold up was in ordering custom-made kitchen cabinets. Then I was held up for months waiting for NYC permitting from my co-op (that I didn’t actually need). Once I was able to begin the kitchen I had to completely move out of the apartment for three full months.

Months of waiting for something that turned out to be unnecessary—how frustrating!

This looks so cozy. I admire all the stealth seating possibilities in a small yet uncrowded room—note the woven pieces on either side of the TV and the side table stool we saw earlier in a kitchen shot—as well as all of the lighting options that manage not to clutter the space. I also enjoy the way the sightline from the bedroom to the window has been kept clear, creating a nice flow and unimpeded view.

I wouldn’t do anything differently aesthetically except maybe paint the walls a deeper gray. I would never do construction in a co-op in NYC again because of all the red tape involved. That said, I did all my research and shopped around and would be happy to manage a remodeling project again.

Thank you, Kate!

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