Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom

Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom

Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom

Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom – If you’re constantly wondering how to turn your home into a more relax yet sophisticated place, why not start with the bathroom? Here’s enough inspiration to turn this part of your home into a both luxury and comfortable retreat. Knowing that everyone is different, take a look at every style and select the one that fits you the best – all the way from Modern to Classic.

Continue reading Design Ideas and Inspiration – Add a Mid-Century Twist to Your Bathroom at Maison Valentina Blog.

A Dark Bathroom Goes Hollywood-Glam

Exposed bulbs and graphic tile create an unforgettable look

Project: Update and brighten a small bathroom in a Chelsea studio

Before: The bathroom tub, fixtures, and drain in this circa 1964 co-op had done their job, but were now way past their sell-by date. “The shower and tub had gotten a little scary,” says Kristen, the homeowner of this 700-square-foot studio. Peeling paint on the tub and hard water stains on the tiles didn’t help. Plus, the windowless room was dark, with floor-to-ceiling slate tile and poor lighting. And there was no medicine cabinet or built-in storage.

Chelsea bathroom renovationChelsea bathroom renovation

After: Knowing that she wanted the bathroom to be bright and modern with classic elements and storage, Kristen posted her project on Sweeten and was matched with a general contractor. Because of building regulations, she wasn’t able to change the location of the plumbing, so the work was cosmetic only. Flash forward to the finished room…now, the crisp, light lavender-gray walls and tub paired with the black-and-white floor tile. A porcelain-tiled shower and Hollywood-glam mirror lighting brighten up the bathroom considerably.

“I’m glad I chose porcelain over marble because it requires less upkeep,” said Kristen. She decided to pass on installing a vanity. This gives the illusion of more space—as does the stripe pattern on the floor tiles. A free-standing cabinet is part storage and part display. The overall feel of the space hits the modern yet classic style she was looking for.

porcelain shower

bathroom renovation


Kristen’s biggest challenge was finding all the materials that would work together. It was difficult, she said, narrowing down selections, “considering the many options out there.” Her contractor “provided a lot of information to help make decisions.” In addition to having a Renovation Checklist, Kristen had a list of products and materials to order for her project. “I checked off each item once I had sourced it. This was really helpful because there are some things I never would have thought of, like a new vent for the wall,” Kristen said.

Having an organized list also allowed her contractor to make sure it was all compatible with the space. The contractor, she said, “helped incorporate eco-friendly elements into my renovation, telling me what to look for in a toilet, showerhead, and faucet.”

Tile ideas at the airport

Her other challenge was that she was traveling during the renovation. But her contractor took care of any bumps, even going directly to the manufacturer when there was an issue with a showerhead. At one point, she said, while she was at the airport waiting for a flight, the Sweeten contractor’s tile installer called with a layout question. “Luckily, this airport had a lot of tile,” she said with a laugh. “So I walked around and looked for different layouts to help reinforce my decision.” Who needs subway tile when airport tile offers loftier inspiration?

Style finds: Floor tile: Cement Tile Shop. Battiscopa Renaissance Calacatta porcelain wall tile: AKDO. Shower and sink fixtures: Brizo. Pedestal sink: Signature Hardware. Toilet: Toto. Lighting: Illuminate Vintage via Etsy. Hutch: Target. Medicine cabinet: Robern. Art: Neue Galerie.

Marissa created a glamorous bath with high-contrast design, combining black walls with gleaming tile and a sparkling chandelier.

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.

The post A Dark Bathroom Goes Hollywood-Glam appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

2020 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Dallas

A guide to home remodeling costs in Dallas; including kitchen, bath, whole home, and outdoor, plus outdoor deck & patio costs

Dallas remodeling costs

Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the United States. It’s a headquarter for multiple Fortune 500 companies like American Airlines. There’s the Dallas Cowboys as well as real cowboys. And of course, there’s BBQ. Dallas is a thriving city and a great place to renovate your dream home. Sweeten‘s guide to home remodeling costs in Dallas provides a jumping-off point to get you on your way. Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner.

Developing a budget is your first step to your dream home. Sweeten contractors will want to sit down with you and inspect your home to reach an accurate number. 

Here’s a quick overview of budgets for some typical renovation projects:

  • Gut renovation: starting at $80 – $100 per square foot (psf)
  • Low-end kitchen remodel: starting at $10,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range kitchen remodel: starting at $25,000 – $30,000
  • High-end kitchen remodel: starting at $40,000
  • Low-end bathroom remodel: starting at $8,000 – $15,000
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel: starting at $15,000 – $25,000
  • High-end bathroom remodel and expansion: starting at $30,000
  • Deck composite: $19,000 or $60 psf
  • Wood deck: $13,000 or $40 psf
Dallas home remodeling costs per square foot

A total gut renovation in Dallas that brings your home down to its bare bones and remodels it to your liking, starts at $80 – $100 psf for a home that has low-range finishes. This means materials such as laminate flooring and countertops, value-brand appliances, and basic tiles from big box stores like Home Depot. 

Although a gut renovation is a big project, consider doing it all at once to get you the best bang for your buck. You’ll also have your dream home much quicker than renovating room by room. 

How much a Dallas kitchen remodel costs per square foot
  • A kitchen renovation in the best-value range can start at $10,000 and reach $15,000. To get a new kitchen at this price, it needs to be a rip-and-replace job, meaning a layout of the kitchen must stay the same with pipes and appliances remaining where they are. Materials will be pre-made cabinets and appliances from big-box stores. 
  • A mid-range kitchen remodel in Dallas has costs starting at $25,000 – $30,000. What does a mid-range kitchen look like at this starting cost? The kitchen layout must remain the same as a rip-and-replace: swap your old oven for your new one and your old sink for your new sink. You can get a stainless steel sink with single-lever faucet, laminate countertops, a built-in microwave, new appliances, custom lighting, and semi-custom cabinets. An island could also be added. Moving plumbing, gas, and electrical, reconfiguring the layout, or choosing custom features will increase the budget.
  • For an upscale kitchen, labor costs and a refresh with select high-end materials such as marble or quartz countertops, imported backsplash tile, and high-quality fixtures start at $40,000. The costs increase from there with custom features, new cabinets and appliances, and reconfiguring the layout.
chart of home remodeling costs in Dallas
How much a Dallas bathroom remodel costs per square foot
  • At the low-end, expect a rip-and-replace bathroom with no behind-the-wall surprises to start at $8,000 – $15,000. The layout will remain the same where plumbing doesn’t move. This budget won’t include any issues like leaks or mold discovered once the project begins. Materials will include a prefabricated vanity, ceramic tile, and fixtures from big-box stores.
  • In the Dallas area, a mid-range bathroom can start at $15,000 – $25,000. The average cost for this price range remodel is about $20,000 or $570 psf, as per Remodeling‘s Cost Vs Value report. The key to a budget in this range is rip-and-replace. This means keeping the layout the same and swapping out an old toilet for a new one, an old vanity for a new one, etc. That way, no expensive plumbing work is needed.

The example project for this budget is a 35-square-foot bathroom. You can install a new porcelain-on-steel bathtub, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting. More than 55 percent of your budget can be recouped in the value the project adds to your home.  

  • For a high-end bathroom remodel and expansion, the cost can start at $30,000. This budget includes a three-piece bathroom (tub/shower combo, toilet, and sink) for a typical 5’ x 7’ space. The cost increases with features including a double vanity, creating a separate shower from the tub, specialty tile, a custom vanity, or a toilet with additional functions.

Adding outdoor space to your home

Dallas is a city perfect for outdoor entertaining, whether it’s a crisp winter night in front of the fire pit or a cold beer paired with a hot summer evening. An outdoor area is often the cherry on top of a dream home remodel. It’s the project to really let your creative juices flow. There are endless options to make your outdoor area your own with extensive outdoor kitchens, gas fireplaces, fans and misting systems for cooling, custom lighting, and landscaping. 

A basic wooden deck will likely cost $40 psf or $13,000 for something in the 320 square foot range, according to the Cost Vs Value report. A deck made from composite, a mix of wood product and plastic, will cost just under $19,000 for the same size or $60 psf. This material tends to last longer and requires less maintenance. 

Permit costs

Dallas is experiencing a lot of new building construction. This has resulted in a more rigorous approval process compared to approvals for existing homes. 

There are numerous cities and towns that make up Dallas. Each one has its own building department and its own fee structure for permits. Your Sweeten contractor will likely put an estimate in the budget for building permits, which will be determined by your end costs or square footage of your project.

The upmarket suburb of Highland Park bases building permit costs on square footage. The permit for a 200 square foot kitchen renovation costs $490, according to Highland Park’s calculator.  

In the city of Addison, building permit fees start at $40 for projects under $500 in value. Fees then increase with the project’s budget. For example, a project with a budget between $2,000 and $25,000 will have a base cost of $115 with an additional $23 per $1,000 for estimated costs over $2,000. That means the permit for a $20,000 mid-range bathroom remodel will cost $529

Building permit fees in Cedar Hill, southwest of the city’s center, are determined by square footage. There is a set fee of $400 for any renovation of less than 1,250 square feet. For each additional square foot over 1,250, the permit increases by $.60. After 2,500 square feet, it increases by $.40.

Enjoy making your Dallas home your own. Understand the costs and find the right renovation team to bring your vision to life. Post your project on Sweeten and you’ll be one step closer to your home sweet home. 

Six steps on how to start your renovation and finding the right general contractor for your scope.

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

The post 2020 Cost Guide for a Home Remodel in Dallas appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Clean Up After Renovation & Minimize Mess During Construction

Renovation cleaning tips to protect your home from particles and paint fumes, and your floors to furniture

home renovation clean up

As you prepare for a major renovation, you will be rightly focused on finding a great general contractor. Other items on the list include selecting materials and figuring out costs. With this long to-do list, it’s easy to overlook plans for site prep and protection. It can have a big effect on your home during and after the renovation. Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors offering support through project completion, outlines the ways to minimize mess and prevent damage with thorough site prep before work gets underway; plus tips to clean up after a renovation.

Discuss site prep and protection with your contractor

Contractors generally work with you on protecting the existing space. However, it’s mainly to prevent damage rather than block dirt and grime. That is to say, your floors shouldn’t be scratched or dented, but they may be dusty, streaky, or even sticky. They will need to be cleaned up after the fact. You’ll want to discuss with your contractor your expectations for cleanliness over the duration of the renovation. What services are included and for what price varies depending on the project and the contractor.

Decide whether to stay or go

Site prep is an important undertaking, especially for homeowners who are renovating just one part of their residence. It becomes even more important if you plan to continue living at home through the renovation. Staying put may cost more than clearing out completely. Extra time and effort go into set-up and tear-down each day. Crews must first lay paper, hang tarp, and add any other protective barriers. These all have to be taken down at the end of the work day in order for the owners to use their home at night.

For example, if you are renovating the kitchen and your only bathroom, your contractor will need to make sure you can maintain access to the facilities. You’ll also need a pathway to walk through to the rest of the apartment. On the other hand, a renovation in an unoccupied home allows the crew to leave the space in relative disarray at the end of the day. The next morning, they can pick up right where they left off. For this reason, whether or not you leave during the renovation is usually part of the initial conversation with your contractor to determine a project estimate.

Prep and protect your home, and seal the construction site

If you are undertaking anything other than a complete gut renovation, you can do the following to limit the disruption and minimize the mess:

  •  Cordon off the renovation zone by hanging heavy-duty tarp (at least 8 millimeters thick) from the ceiling down to the floor to create a seal. Apply masking tape across all sides of the tarp where it meets the ceiling, walls, and floor. Tension rods can also help hold up heavy tarps. Particles will fly through any and all gaps you leave, no matter how small. If you need a flap for entry and exit, consider applying an adhesive zipper to your tarp. Add a double layer if there will be a lot of sanding or if you know that dangerous particles will be released into the air.
  • Within the reno zone, protect anything that you’re keeping. Floors should be covered with construction paper (maybe even a double layer, as insurance against tearing). Cover window treatments or appliances with tarp (again, leaving no gaps).
  • If the reno zone is in the center of your home, consider laying continuous paper or tarp through all the high traffic areas. This will prevent dirt from tracking into the rest of the space.
  • Cover all furniture throughout the home (especially textile surfaces such as couches and beds) with a drop cloth or tarp.
  • Seal up closet doors by applying masking tape to the gaps between the doors and the floor. Nothing more annoying than having to wash all your dusty clothes because you forgot to do this. 

Clear the air

  • Vacuum, preferably with a HEPA (“high efficiency particulate air”) vacuum at the end of each work day—you can rent one or discuss getting one with your contractor. HEPA vacuums are able to trap much smaller particles than normal vacuums.
  • If you have one, run a HEPA air purifier on high 24/7, and change or wash the filters frequently since they will be working a lot harder than usual. If you don’t have one, consider renting a commercial-grade air scrubber for the duration of the renovation.
  • Open the windows! The more air circulates, the better. 

The costs of prevention are fairly minimal (with the exception of an air scrubber rental, which can run you several hundred dollars depending on how long you need it) but important to identify and account for upfront so that you and your team are on the same page about expectations. And even with excellent containment, you’ll most likely need a dedicated cleaning after the project is done. Read on for how to approach a deep post-construction clean. 

How to approach your post-reno deep clean

Unless you explicitly build it into your contract, extensive cleaning is typically not part of your contractor’s job. The industry standard is “broom-swept,” which usually involves vacuuming up larger bits of debris and then running a broom across the floor. Anything beyond this (including cleaning up common spaces such as hallways and elevators) will need to be specifically arranged, and will most likely incur additional costs that you’ll bear as the homeowner.

Renovation clean-up services

Whether you moved out or stayed put in your home during the renovation process, you’ll need to arrange for a deep post-construction clean up once that last drawer pull is attached and the final coat of paint applied. Homeowners can undertake the deep clean themselves or outsource it to one of the many companies that focus on this service. Thumbtack shared that the cost of a deep clean isn’t necessarily determined by the size of a space but by the level of effort. A 3-bed, 2,000-square-foot home costs $250 to clean on average, while a 1-bed apartment starts at $110. Post-construction cleans will cost more so you can expect to at least double these numbers for a deep, post-construction clean. 

Clean-up steps after renovating:

Usually, a post-construction clean up will include the following:

  • Sweep and vacuum all surfaces, including ceilings and walls
  • Sweep, mop, and disinfect floors
  • Vacuum all upholstery
  • Wipe down doors, knobs, baseboards, moldings, and hardware
  • Thorough wipe-down and sanitization of bathrooms and kitchens (including appliances, cabinets, and counters)
  • Dust, vacuum, and wipe-down of all window interiors including sills and frames
  • Dust all ducts, grates, vents, blinds, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures
  • Clean all hardware hinges and handles, shelves, and cabinets
  • Clean inside all closets
  • Removal of all remaining trash and debris (although your contractor should have removed most of this as part of the contract)

If you’re trying to decide whether to tackle clean up after a renovation yourself or to outsource it to the experts, ask the following questions:

  • Do you have the energy and time?
  • How long will it take you?
  • Do you have any money left in the renovation budget you could put toward the clean? (Or better yet, build it in now if you haven’t started!).

Different circumstances will determine who does the job, but a thorough clean is crucial. All kinds of particles are released into the air during renovations, including various toxins, mold spores, silicates, and ultrafine dust that can damage your lungs. Freshly applied paints, lacquers, and primers also give off fumes. Given the possible dangers to your health, the hefty price tag for a proper clean may well be worth it!

Read about Sweeten homeowners who left their homes during their renovation—and those who stuck it out.

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

The post Clean Up After Renovation & Minimize Mess During Construction appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Surviving a Renovation: Should I Stay or Go?

Six Sweeten homeowners weigh in on staying or leaving during their remodel

One of the main points to consider when planning a renovation is how you’re going to minimize the disruption of daily life. It can be tricky if you are updating a kitchen or bathroom. Living without some elements will make surviving a renovation tough (running water, electricity, Wi-Fi), so moving out while work is being done is probably your best option. But if the renovation won’t affect your needs in a major way, then you might be able to stay.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner. Here are six Sweeten homeowners who moved out—or stuck it out—during their renovation.

Moving out during demolition

(Above) Carly’s new apartment

Carly had been looking—and saving—for years to buy an apartment of her dreams. So when she found this 500-square-foot co-op in Greenwich Village, she snapped it up. It was a studio with a  lofted bedroom and balcony—what more could she ask? It did need work, however. She wanted to literally raise the roof in order to enclose the loft bedroom and redo the kitchen. The entire renovation took five months.

In the interest of surviving her renovation, Carly decided to move out during the messiest part of the process: the demolition and raising the roof.  “For much of it, though, I was there,” said Carly. “I had no kitchen for six months and lived out of suitcases.” But she doesn’t regret “slumming it.” “The money I saved on short-term housing enabled me to buy the gas stove of my dreams!”


moving out during a renovation
(Above) Zoe and Arvid’s apartment combination

Combining their apartment with the unit next door eliminated the option of living at home when work began. Since the scope of work extended beyond demolishing walls and the two existing kitchens to build a new one,  Zoe and Arvid moved into a short-term sublet. The couple embarked on an Airbnb-hopping adventure when their lease ended before the work was done. They then decided to live on-site for the second half of the project.

Expecting while renovating

moving out during a renovation
(Above) Lindsay and Roger’s updated kitchen

Renovating the kitchen while nine months pregnant made getting around the apartment a challenge for Lindsay. “You think you can live through it for a week or two, and then realize how long a week or two really is. It would have been a nice break to go somewhere where there wasn’t dust and tools and boxes everywhere,” she said. To make it work, she moved everything from the kitchen and living room into the nursery. For future renovators, she recommends going away for a weekend during heavy construction.

Surviving their renovation: A couple toughs it out

(Above) Sharon and Laurence’s New York City apartment

Sharon and Laurence lived in their Financial District apartment for more than two decades before renovating their bathroom. They previously had remodeled their kitchen but were wary of redoing their bathroom. The couple only has one in their apartment so they thought it being out of commission would be tough. Sharon and Laurence ultimately decided to stay in the apartment during the renovation. It wasn’t ideal but they used a neighbor’s apartment for bathroom access. Sharon thought it was better to be living on-site to deal with potential issues quickly and efficiently.

Moving into a rental

(Above) The light-filled renovated living room

For their family of five, these homeowners wanted an open and airy space. That meant renovating their Upper West Side home, adding another bedroom and bath. They also knocked down walls and updated their kitchen. They turned to Sweeten to find a reliable contractor.

The couple decided to take their three boys (and two dogs) and move into a rental while the work was being done. “When I told our Sweeten contractor that we wanted to move back in before the apartment was completed, he worked with us to allow us to do that. Even though we lived there without a kitchen, there was no question that it would be worth it in the end.”

Neighbors offer hospitality

moving out during a renovation
(Above) Nikki and Chris’ apartment renovation

Nikki and Chris had to get creative to manage the challenges of being in the space mid-construction. “Through this experience, we showered at our friends’ homes, brushed our teeth at local coffee shops, and ordered from Seamless four times a week,” Nikki said. But it was all worth it to see the daily progress and watch the couple’s vision come to life. The routine became so natural that the couple’s pug started waiting at the door each morning to greet the contractor’s team when they arrived.

Surviving a renovation (whether remaining in or leaving your home) is an important decision. We’ve outlined the pros and cons of sticking it out vs. moving out during your renovation.

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.

The post Surviving a Renovation: Should I Stay or Go? appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

A House Addition Plan Allows a Family of 5 to Grow

When a home addition plan for a new a sunroom, deck, and dormer enhances everyday living

When this family decided they needed more room, they opted to remain in their beloved first house built in 1932 and make it work. Once a 2,500-square-foot Dutch Colonial in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, they carved out an additional 1,000 square feet. While they had done several smaller renovations along the way, this was the largest—and scariest. Adding a dormer to the attic meant that at one point they were without a roof while waiting for support beams to arrive and constantly checking the weather.

To bring their plan for a home addition to life, they posted their project on Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors offering support through project completion, and chose their contractor.

home addition sunroom

“After” photos by Pixy Interiors for Sweeten

Guest blog post by Sweeten homeowner

My husband and I used to live in Manhattan in a one-bedroom apartment. Once we decided to have children, we knew we wanted to live closer to our families. So we opted to buy a house in the Bronx and have our parents partake in child-raising. Originally we thought we would have one child, live in the area for a few years, and then move back to Manhattan once school started. 

Bronx renovation

We were most excited about having a bathroom on the first floor and not having to go upstairs.

Our home addition plan: Envisioning more space

However, we soon fell in love with having a house and knew we wanted to have more kids. Our neighborhood is quite ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. It’s a nice mix of feeling like we’re away from the city, but not quite in the suburbs. 


We wanted more living space on the first floor because it’s where we spend most of our time as a family. We also wanted our children, who are 9, 6, and 3, to have larger bedrooms and decided to add a 250-square-foot attic dormer for that purpose. The idea was for the new space to be airy and maximize the view of beautiful trees in our backyard. Our 280-square-foot basement converted to a ping pong room for extra recreational space.

kitchen remodel
Transformation outside the kitchen

In the kitchen, the window that previously looked out on the old deck was converted to a passthrough window that now connects to the new sunroom. The kitchen countertop was extended about two feet to the end of the wall that divides the dining area and kitchen. 

Off of the kitchen, we added a 280-square-foot sunroom that includes a bathroom, pantry room, and living area. We were most excited about having a bathroom on the first floor and not having to go upstairs. The pantry provides tons of food, toy, and sports equipment storage. The new outdoor deck is off of the sunroom and is 250 square feet.

home addition space with deck

The renovation process

Our favorite part of the renovation was working with the architect and our Sweeten general contractor on the layout of the new rooms. The biggest challenge and most anxiety-provoking situation was waiting for support beams to be delivered and installed. For two days we had no roof and obsessed about checking the weather to make sure it didn’t rain! 

Our Sweeten contractor had experience with all aspects of our project, including beautiful glass doors installed in his own home. He was great at giving us ideas and then executing the plan. We also shared the same taste in simple, modern, open design. He was able to deliver exactly what we envisioned. And if you need to file for city permits, our advice is to use an architect who can do that. 


It was great to have Sweeten follow up every step of the way. We knew we could turn to Sweeten if we experienced problems with our contractor. Luckily, we didn’t need that assistance. Our contractor’s team was excellent!

Our new home addition space makes us feel less crowded. Now, our children can grow and play without feeling like we’re being swallowed up by all of their toys!

 Thank you for sharing your renovation with us!

OUTDOOR DECK RESOURCES: Yosemite TruOrganics™ 3G deck composite in gray: Calibamboo. Deck railing kit in Premium Somerset: Vista.

BATHROOM RESOURCES: Vintage mirror: Pottery Barn.

PAINT: Walls throughout in #OC117, Simply White; Dining room walls in #C52, Gray Owl: Benjamin Moore.

Maintain the charm of an old house while upgrading the interiors for comfortable living.

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

The post A House Addition Plan Allows a Family of 5 to Grow appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Have your Bathroom Ready For The Next Season: Summer Trends Report

Have your Bathroom Ready For The Next Season: Summer Trends Report

Have your Bathroom Ready For The Next Season: Summer Trends Report: Days are getting longer and warmer and you defintely know what it means: Summer is coming and you need to freshen up your home decoration! What about starting by the bathroom, the ideal space to create your own retreat with products that fit your personality and that above all, raise your well-being?Maison Valentina team has gathered a careful selection of trends to Summer 2020, read the article and discover how to make the best out of it!

Continue reading Have your Bathroom Ready For The Next Season: Summer Trends Report at Maison Valentina Blog.

Meet Sweeten General Contractor Yoel

A veteran general contractor with 19 years of experience

At Sweeten, the experts in our network are experienced contractors and design pros we’d be thrilled to have working in our own homes. We check their licenses, insurance, quality of work, and customer service skills. Trust and open communication are the lifeblood of our free renovation platform. Our personal connection to our experts enables us to match you to the best choices for your project. Here, get to know their personalities and click to view their portfolio and client reviews, so that you can hire the right team and renovate with confidence.

nyc general contractor

View Yoel’s profile and portfolio.

Where are you from and how long have you been in construction?

I moved to the United States in 1999 after completing my military service in Israel as an officer. I co-founded my general contracting firm in 2001.

What is the biggest challenge about renovating in New York?

Renovating your home anywhere, especially in New York City, is definitely not an easy task; even for the most seasoned pros. Here are the five biggest challenges we find:

  • Hurrying through the planning phase: Before starting demolition, be certain your plans, specifications, and details are worked out in precise detail. Before any hammer hits any wall, you and your contractor should do a thorough walkthrough of the space.
  • Getting only one proposal or going with the cheapest bid: You should never accept the first proposal you receive. Compare at least three different contractors. Always remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If your project is a gut job, consider hiring an interior designer: If your kitchen remodel is a full gut and includes tile, stone, cabinets, and paint, then you will benefit by hiring a designer.
  • Spending money in the wrong places: Make the best use of your budget and reserve the largest amounts for the spaces and features you’ll use regularly. This could be a large countertop or a great cooktop. Remodel the lesser-used areas with simpler finishes like lighting and backsplashes.
  • Living in the apartment during the renovation, or moving back too soon: You’ll have plenty of stress while overseeing your renovation, but living in the midst of it all will multiply that stress.
What do you want all of your clients to know before you work with them?

Before we begin working with you, they should think about the goals they want to achieve. Is stellar design the driving force? Improved functionality? Resale? Perhaps you’re looking for energy-saving ideas? Or maybe it’s a combination of all these elements? They should also know their budget. Developing a budget range will help you make decisions when you are choosing materials and appliances.

What’s the number one thing clients should know before starting a renovation? 

As contractors, we’ve learned a lot of lessons on the do’s and don’ts of construction. The number one thing is to be a confident decision-maker. 

We all want our remodel to move forward with as few problems as possible. Make as many decisions about your project before the work actually starts. A good contractor will always discuss a list of possible situations that might come up on your renovation project. Their project manager Nick said, “Most of the problems are usually connected to choices about small things such as faucet selection, paint, or trim.” These may seem small and unimportant when you start your project. If your faucet is two weeks late because of shipping, your plumber will have to be rescheduled.  This can balloon into a week delay on a four-week project.

What is your favorite architectural building?

Santiago Calatrava, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub is my all-time favorite. I love his workit’s organic and always feels like his structures could be a skeleton for something that was once alive.

What is your favorite neighborhood?

My all-time favorite neighborhood in New York is Greenwich Village. It has pre-war buildings, thriving arts and a foodie scene,.Greenwich Village was and continues to be full of cultural and artistic edge.   

What is your favorite NYC borough? 

Manhattan, although I complain about many aspects of it, like the traffic.  However, I really feel that it’s the greatest city in the world. Despite popular attractions like Central Park or Radio City Music Hall, there is so much more to the borough. Manhattan has classic bars, charming neighborhoods, hidden green spaces, and trendy boutiques. 

Yoel has been a Sweeten general contractor since February 2015.

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, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

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Renovate an Outdoor Space in Chicago

Renovate your outdoor space in Chicago to maximize living on the porch, deck, or city roof decks

outdoor patio

Patio and garden of family home at summer

Spending time outdoors is a major craving. We see flowers blooming and trees greening up and we can’t resist the call. Soaking up a little sunshine, breathing in fresh air feels exhilarating. Without leaving home, that may mean stepping out onto a balcony less than 20 square feet. Or up to a spacious roof deck. Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors offering support through project completion, shows how to upgrade your outdoor space in Chicago.

The outdoor living trend is robust as ever. Furniture manufacturers are more in tune with the needs for small or larger scale furnishings. Lifestyle and outdoor spaces are the catalyst.

Most of these outdoor layouts include landscaping that frames the area, some with built-in fireplaces or firepits. Add to these al fresco trends another growing segment—that of outdoor kitchens. 

House decks and patios

Adding a deck is one of the most sought after remodels in Chicago. And it brings one of the highest ROI (return on investment)—72 percent for wood.

The prevailing design thought is to create a flow from indoors to out. That means designing a space in sync with your home’s architecture and interior decorating style. In most Chicago homes, the main living space often is at least four feet above grade. So an ideal location for a deck is just outside a family room. French patio doors or sliders are the perfect bridge to the outdoors. 

The overall deck size depends on the footage between the back of the house and the garage. Usually, that’s minimal, considering that an average city lot is 25’ x 125’. Garages are at least 20 feet deep. And steps leading outdoors eat up space. Or, you might opt for a smaller landing area at grade, with courtyard terrace in between house and garage. That affords some opportunities for green space—a small tree, perimeter planting, and/or containers. “With a fixed amount of land,” said Chicago-based Sweeten contractor David, “you have to make the most of what you have.”

Older single-family homes, like those in the northern fringes of the city, enjoy more sizeable backyards. Some have deeper lot sizes, while others may have side lots. Victorian houses often have porches, some that even wrap around. Patios are especially desirable, as they especially suit entertaining and grilling. Some of them are quite spacious. 

Outdoor space materials

Some options for patio materials include brick pavers and stone (bluestone is especially popular). Porcelain is gaining traction because there’s a wide variety of lookalikes including slate, stone, concrete, and wood. Concrete offers different looks, too: staining or painting in colors and stamping, which can mimic flagstones. Synthetic composite polymer decking is another popular choice.

For outdoor deck spaces, some designers like to continue the look of flooring inside to out. Wide plank hardwood, for example, can transition to a synthetic decking in a similar shade. Porcelain plank options resembling wood are authentic even down to the feeling of a grain. 

chicago outdoor patio(Above) Chicago renovation by Sweeten general contractor Brad. Photo: Bitter Jester Studios

Another outdoor material option is wood, like teak, the Brazilian ipe, or South American cumaru. Sweeten contractor David is a fan. Ipe is a very dense wood that will not decay, is resistant to termites, mold, and mildew.

“It’s a little more expensive,” he said, “but it doesn’t rot and has fire ratings better than steel.” For roof decks, he has installed cumaru as a 20” x 20” tile. Tiles pre-drilled to fit tile connectors allow draining and picking up sections for repairs, like leaks on the roof. “That’s the beauty of it,” he said.

Urban decks

Roof decks are particularly tricky outdoor Chicago spaces and there are city codes that must be implemented. For one, a garage with a roof deck requires a full foundation. That expenditure is between $12,000 and $19,000 for concrete alone for a typical 22’ x 24’ foot two-car garage.

“If you go within two feet of an adjacent building, the material has to have a one-hour fire rating. That’s two thicknesses of drywall before you get to the siding,” said David. “Also, a three-foot parapet wall is code. So is a membrane for the roof and a scupper, so water can drain off.”

In addition, if you have a grill, you need a fireproof landing. A slight pitching of the roof helps drainage. Contractors often coordinate with landscapers, who can create a system of planters with integrated irrigation. Most decks these days have built-in electrical outlets. They cover not only lighting but charging laptops, phones, or even installing ceiling fans in pergola-like structures.

Building a deck requires a permit. But it’s easier and takes less time to get than a typical building permit. Sweeten contractor David also has built porches on several levels at the back of homes. “We did one that was only about 7 x 8 feet, a third-floor walkout right off of the bedroom,” David described. “It had a roof, with sides open. They’re putting in a two-person hot tub. “

City outdoor living

Todd Haley, principal of the design firm, tmh, in Chicago, does most of his work in city highrise condos with balconies or private terraces. He has done outdoor kitchens, with grills, undercounter refrigerators, and wine coolers, with custom teak or ipe cabinets. One favorite quartz countertop wrapped around the ends in waterfall style—“a very clean look.” It’s applied over waterproof fiber board as a substrate.

“The big difference between doing something in the city versus the ‘burbs is that it’s like designing a yacht,” said Todd “Every inch matters. In the suburbs there’s more room to play around.”

“Also, if you want to build a pergola, for example, you have to go through the HOA (Homeowners Association), get your plan approved per condo rules,” he said. ‘That might be a lengthy process.”

Todd changes up paving materials according to the location. On balconies, he usually uses painted concrete slab; on terraces, wood plank flooring “floating above the slab for drainage.”

Fence aesthetic

For Sweeten contractor David, aesthetics are most important, and he doesn’t like additions to look tacked on. He always is sympathetic to architectural style. With fences, for example, he sees an opportunity to look at them as sculpture. “In wood-frame homes, I like (fences) to be more like a wall, to look like the house.” From that starting point, he said, you can create the hard spaces.

Connecting a home to an outdoor space

That sometimes is challenging when homeowners want a more direct connection to a roof deck. “In one location, we’re building a bridge from the second floor back porch directly to the garage,” said David. “That also adds a degree of security so nobody can just walk up to the deck.”

The general contractor also likes to create more gracious back entries. “Typically, we build a roof—not a flat roof, but one that complements the style of the house,” he explained. It also shelters from the elements “so you can stand there and not get soaked when it’s raining.” 

Building wide stairs

The other consideration is scale. A three-foot-wide set of stairs is hard to navigate with two bags of groceries, let alone kids. They are usually constructed five feet wide, ideally seven. It’s more welcoming, too. “On the landing, it maybe didn’t start out as a deck,” said David, “but because of the better scale, it’s more inviting. And you can put out some chairs, sit and have a drink.” Plus the shelter provides a comfortable spot without direct sunlight.

“Consider the architectural style of the house when you build exterior spaces,” David said. “You can look at the space 10 to 15 years later and say, ‘those were good choices.’ “

Investing in an outdoor space in Chicago increases the value of your home while expanding the footprint of your living accommodations. And the level of enjoying nature? Immeasurable.

Read our Chicago home renovation cost guide to help understand your budget.

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

The post Renovate an Outdoor Space in Chicago appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Who Do I Hire For My Renovation?

An overview of the right team of professionals to take you through your remodel

You’ve decided to renovate your home. Who should you hire for a renovation? Do you only need to hire a general contractor, or are other professionals needed? Depending on your scope and spend, knowing who to reach out to, and when, will help you plan.

Do you need an architect or interior designer on your “dream team”? Every major renovation project requires a general contractor to handle the actual construction work done. Some renovations, however, need a trained architect for technical and design services. This can include creating architectural drawings for board or Department of Buildings (or local equivalent) permitting and approvals. Some renovators hire architects to provide a level of style, detail, and management. Some feel it’s worth the expense, sometimes estimated at 20% of the budget.

It’s important to note that there can be overlap among services. For example, some architects can also provide design expertise for layout and materials. If you hire an interior designer who has drawings, he/she may be able to secure the services of an architect to have them stamped.

Here, Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and offers support, outlines what each pro brings to the project:

flowchart on how to hire a contractor, designer, architect


You’ll need an architect if any of the following apply to your renovation:

  • Changing the layout, making additions or tearing down walls
  • Moving plumbing lines such as bathtub or dishwasher
  • Moving gas lines
  • Doing work on a landmark property
  • Any changes that require approval from the Department of Buildings


Going straight to a contractor may best suit your job if none of the above apply to your renovation. You would also have a general idea of what you’d like to do with the space. Most contractors can give some guidance on design, materials, and creative solutions for tackling challenges.

NOTE: A contractor who is licensed ensures that the necessary level of checkpoints and screening processes have been met. More on this below.


If walls and room functions are not being altered dramatically, an interior designer can help with things like:

  • Considering overall traffic flow, lighting, and space planning
  • Designing custom built-ins and cabinetry
  • Project management and purchasing of materials, fixtures, and appliances
  • Choosing furniture styles, color palette, and finishes


Design-build can be a cost-effective option for medium to large-scale renovations. They also work well on any project that requires high attention to detail. These teams offer:

  • A full package of design, construction, and project management services
  • A single point of contact from start to finish
  • A fluid process with more predictable timelines between design and construction phases


A renovation has a lot of moving parts. A frequently asked question is how to tackle a renovation in an organized fashion. Look to build your team based on your needs, whether that involves architectural plans or permits to deciding the aesthetic or finishes, or all of the above.


A locally valid license and proper insurance is a must for any reliable general contractor. Your county or state website will list all licensed contractors in the licensing or consumer affairs sections. To join Sweeten’s NYC network, for example, a contractor must have a valid Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) license. They must also pass the Department of Consumer Affairs background check to meet certain industry standards.

Should I take the lowest bid?

A note of warning to those tempted by the lower estimates of an unlicensed contractor: Contractors without bonafide credentials may not be able to obtain the required permits for your job. If work fails to meet building codes, you will be responsible for the repairs. (That can turn into an unpleasant surprise when some homeowners want to sell their house.)

What is my liability if I hire an unlicensed contractor?

Allowing work on your property by an unlicensed contractor could also nullify your homeowner’s insurance policy. If the contractor doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, you become the de facto employer. You’ll be responsible for any accidents on the property, or anyone else’s property, if the contractor is negligent.

Are you looking for a vetted and licensed general contractor? Sweeten can help!

Named “Best Contractor Locator” by New York Magazine, Sweeten is a free service that matches homeowners and business owners with the best general contractors for their renovation, with personal support from start to project completion.

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