It’s Just a Heights One-Bedroom Reader Renovation Diary: We Moved In!

The finished kitchen

Editor’s note: Welcome to the fourth installment of It’s Just a Heights One-Bedroom, a reader renovation diary. We’re excited to publish Robert Schwartz‘s tale of buying and renovating an apartment in Brooklyn Heights. See the first one here.

Because the end of the month came faster than our contractor could finish the apartment, we moved in with work still left to do.

We moved in!

The work left to do were really minor things: lights yet to be hung, tile in the bathroom cat litter box niche yet to be grouted, a floating cabinet hadn’t been hung, and the backsplash hadn’t yet been tiled. So while my wife went to work, I hung around forcing upon our contractor and his assistant coffee and encouragement. And while some people may not like letting their contractor in so early in the day after moving in, I didn’t mind it one bit.

brooklyn heights apartment

The bathroom!

We got luckier with our contractor than most people do. His eye, attention to detail, and willingness to make changes regardless of how insignificant or seemingly ridiculous they were was pretty awesome! With every change we asked for we made sure to tell him that if those triggered a new fee outside of the contract, to let us know. He never did!

We couldn’t be more thrilled with how things turned out. The apartment is exactly what we hoped it would be! The timeline only days longer than promised! And the budget—don’t ask about the budget. We stopped keeping track weeks ago.

cat box

The cat litter box niche!

We did learn a lot of things through this.

1. If you see something you like (hardwood floor, tile) buy it! Don’t wait, because someone else will come in and buy it out from under you.

2. Do not feel like you need to agree on every single decision. Hours-long discussions about which door pull to buy are ridiculous and unnecessary. Delegate those decisions to one person, and the other should just be happy with the choice.

3. The horror stories of your friends’ renovation are entertaining, but you don’t need to hear them. They will only keep you up at night.

The bedroom!

4. Don’t worry, about anything! In the end, it all gets done and you will be happy.

5. If your contractor is willing, let him hang the towel bar, the toilet paper holder, et al. (It will save you from having to patch the holes of failed attempts.)

6. Be nice (very, very nice!) to your doorman if you have one. They can make life easier/they can make your life a nightmare. The choice is yours!

7. Your first scratch in the new hardwood floors comes fast. Accept it and move on.

8. Apologize to your neighbors every time you see them. This will make sense when they renovate their apartments.

9. Tip everyone. It is truly appreciated.

10. Be nice to your spouse/partner/bf/gf. Remember, you’re in this together. It all goes much more easily when there isn’t any rancor.


The bar!

Some thank yous:

Evin. Yes, I am thanking my wife, who kept her cool every step of the way. The apartment looks that good because of her.

Our contractor. We wish we could recommend him to everyone we know. But, he is so good, he is booked until summer of 2021.

Our friend Iris, who is responsible for lesson No. 2 above. I only wish she had told us this BEFORE WE STARTED!!!

Richard Samson, who is a friend only from social media. I pestered him several hundred times throughout the reno with questions and advice. He never let me down and, most of the time, unknowingly mediated between Evin and me.

And, of course, Brownstoner, which let me ramble and complain the whole way.

Would we do another reno again soon? You bet we would!


Because we didn’t get the second bedroom we wanted, we were at least able to turn one of the five (!) closets into an ‘office’

[Photos by Evin Lowe]

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