Before & After: Two Manhattan kitchens, two glossy (and budget-friendly) renovations

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Two New Yorkers on opposite sides of the island had ambitious ideas for gut-renovating their kitchens, combined with one big budget-saving trick.
Megha Desai, head of MSD marketing in Midtown West, and Lee Hoffman, the Midtown East founder and CEO of the photo-sharing app Memoir, each decided to do away with hulking dividing walls in the kitchens of their respective apartments, and after careful independent research, each made room in the budget for major demolition by going with IKEA cabinets in the newly-opened spaces.
Both Megha and Lee found contractors for their projects on Sweeten, the New York City–based renovation matchmaker.
Megha's  Midtown West Kitchen, Before & After :
Megha spent nine years in her Midtown West home before taking on the jigsaw puzzle wall that separated the foyer from the kitchen and living room (pictured above). She loved the apartment and was ready to overhaul flooring and re-create the kitchen as the central gathering spot. With input from an architect, Megha determined that the entire wall could come down, leaving a sole structural support and opening the place from the entry through to the windows.  
After a ton of research on custom and stock cabinet choices, Megha was impressed with the quality of IKEA's year-old line of white lacquer cabinets and went for a semi-custom option - building custom-depth bases and finishing with IKEA doors and pulls. A gray Caesarstone countertop,  molded and poured into smooth slabs and installed with waterfall edges gives this polished kitchen a grittier, more urban detail, and ties in with the natural marble backsplash tile and light wood flooring.
Megah's Midtown West Bathroom, Before & After:
In her bathroom, Megha paired a custom vanity with a Caesarstone countertop and gray porcelain floor tiles, and lined the shower with white glass tiles (from Home Depot) with a green-gray grout to tone down the gloss -- creating a look that is part spa, part five star hotel.
Lee's Midtown East Kitchen, Before & After:
Lee took on his renovation with all of the resolve and resources of a tech entrepreneur. Weeks of research into cabinet options across the City yielded the depressing realization that even the lowest price for a custom-built set was uncomfortably beyond his budget. Lee's market study also led him to IKEA's modern white, high-gloss lacquer Sektion cabinets, keeping his total order for two full walls of new drawers and a line of upper cabinets well under $10,000. 
Lee’s research led him to other unusual and budget-savvy finds. He loved the look of white marble but was wary of durability and stains down the road. Six months of hunting around turned up a porcelain slab by Euro West with an almost-identical but indestructible effect. Lee skipped the expense of backsplash tile and focused his remaining funds on stainless steel appliances, including a Samsung stove with a high-tech touchpad and a sharp, zero-radius Blanco Quatrus steel sink. Bringing the kitchen's wall down had a huge impact on the flow and natural light in the apartment - the kitchen is now connected to the living room and the unit's multiple exposures can get to work.  
Lee's Midtown East Bathroom, Before & After:

Lee also transformed his bathroom into a haven of bright whites and crisp glass.  In addition to a Kohler touchless toilet and  recessed cabinet above the Fresca sink vanity, he selected a frameless shower glass from Mirage Shower Doors that lets the white Glassos wall tiles shine through.
Renovating can be a lot of work—Sweeten makes it easier by matching you with the best design and construction experts in New York City. Follow the Sweeten blog for fun stories from real New Yorkers about creating spaces they love—and when you’re ready to renovate, start your project with Sweeten.

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