The homeowner liked the layout of her co-op, so she focused her attention on infrastructure updates and sophisticated design upgrades. 


Margaret, a successful Manhattan-based executive, had been living in her 1,000-square-foot, Upper West Side co-op for 15 years when she decided it was time to renovate. Her two-bedroom, two-bath apartment was in good condition, but upon closer inspection, it became clear that many elements of the space were in need of repair: The radiator covers were rusted, the kitchen cabinet doors and living room cabinets were constantly falling apart, and the paint on the walls was chipping—a series of annoyances that, over the years, had accumulated into major frustration.

With a $250,000 budget in mind, Margaret engaged Bolster for her renovation. Bolster is a New York City-based, data-driven design-build firm on a mission to eliminate risk from major home renovations by being radically transparent across everything they do. Bolster’s vertically-integrated team and commitment to resourcing puts them in the unique position of being able to financially guarantee that all renovations are delivered beautifully and on-budget.

With Bolster’s help, Margaret was able to determine how best to tackle the upgrades her home needed. As part of their process, the Bolster team visited her home to better understand her project and define her unique design and build requirements. Bolster also produced a set of high-fidelity sketches accompanied by granular pricing for Margaret’s total project cost benchmarked against their data sets for similar projects. This type of granularity is central to the Bolster process, helping homeowners be empowered to understand their renovations from start to finish. 

Bolster estimated that Margaret’s project would cost a minimum of $248,481, or $248 per square foot, and a maximum of $323,427, or $323 per square foot. 

Armed with this information, Margaret opted to do a full gut, treating her entire home to a high-end refresh. She reasoned that she intended to live in her apartment for many years to come and wanted to transform it to better match her classic sense of style. Margaret worked with Bolster architect Agustin Ayuso to create sketches based on this plan. Then, with Agustin’s sketches, Bolster supplied a bid of $266,685 ($266 per square foot) to gut renovate the home. 

Pro Tip:

Whether you're renovating a two-bedroom prewar co-op or a 4,000-square-foot brownstone, Bolster guarantees a beautifully designed home renovation risk-free and on-budget. "Expect flawless communication, white-glove service, and absolutely no surprise costs," says Bolster's CEO and co-founder Anna Karp. Ready to start your renovation? Learn more >>

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NYC Renovation Calculator

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About Bolster's NYC Renovation Calculator: Bolster's Renovation Calculator enables you to easily calculate the estimated cost of a major New York City renovation. All you'll need to know is 1) the scope, complexity, and type of your project, 2) the quality of your desired finishes, and 3) the area being renovated. [Hint: Bookmark this page for easy reference!]

About Bolster: Bolster is a New York City design-build firm that delivers a seamless, radically transparent renovation experience--beginning with a line-by-line cost estimate that empowers you to plan your scope, budget, and schedule.

Standard: The quality of the finish is acceptable with attention to detail but reliant on big-box store sourced cabinetry, MDF etc. 

Mid Range: The quality of the finish is good (grade A) with attention to detail but reliant on big-box store sourced cabinetry, MDF etc.

High Range: The quality of finish is high (grade AA) and customized with fine finishes and materials being used that can last years, if not a lifetime.

Upscale: The quality of finish is the highest possible (grade AAA) and labor-intensive, with every surface bespoke, new, and beautifully finished.

Low: Simple design, no layout or structural changes, elevator in building.

Medium: Average design, moving of some systems and/or structural changes, no elevator in the building.

High: Complex design, complicated engineering, lots of logistics (e.g. boom lifts, suspended scaffolds, etc.), dangerous working conditions.

Small: Changes to surfaces only (e.g. painting, tiling).

Medium: Small + Changes to the finishes themselves (e.g. removing plaster, replacing flooring etc).

Large: Small + Medium + Changes to the building's infrastructure (e.g. replacing all systems, walls, floor joists etc).

Collaborating with the architect and designer

Having already lived in her apartment for 15 years, Margaret had grown to appreciate its existing rectangular, semi-open plan layout. And because the renovation would not be driven by an urgent need, it was challenging to determine where to focus her attention.

After a series of meetings with Agustin, Margaret was able to identify construction challenges—like the need for an overhaul of the cabinetry and the plumbing—as well as opportunities for stylish improvements. 

After consulting with Margaret, Agustin worked on creating a design that would reflect her elegant and understated taste. Rather than changing the floor plan, he focused on detailed, luxurious upgrades, and offered suggestions on items like tiles and countertops. After Margaret decided on most of these, she engaged an interior designer to help with a final analysis of the specifications.

The architect fees for the renovation totaled $38,606, which included a survey of the property—including taking detailed measurements and photos—creating sketches, revisions, and a schematic design, and overseeing the process of getting approval from Margaret’s co-op board and the Department of Buildings. Furthermore, Agustin provided oversight of the project once underway ($5,889), making visits twice a week to ensure everything was built in accordance with his design, and making adjustments as needed.

 The homeowner chose to invest in her kitchen, installing custom cabinetry and elevated appliances. 

The homeowner chose to invest in her kitchen, installing custom cabinetry and elevated appliances. 

Revamping the kitchen and bathrooms

The work began with a demolition and removal of kitchen cabinetry, counters, appliances, fixtures, and plaster ($3,500). The co-op’s plumbing was removed back to the risers (the pipes that supply the entire building) and new rough plumbing was installed ($5,500).

Once complete, the Bolster team turned their attention to electrical, installing new outlets, switches, and LED lighting ($3,500), cabinetry ($21,000), stone countertops ($4,500), and tile backsplash ($2,300). Margaret selected elevated, brand-name materials, such as the high-end line of Kohler. The same goes for her new appliances: a Gaggenau fridge and Viking stove and range with super white Carrara marble tiles ($9,200). 

“The kitchen will shine thanks to its bespoke, feminine new look,” said Anna Karp, COO & co-founder of Bolster. 

The bathrooms underwent a similar demolition and installation of new plumbing ($11,500). Upgrades included both soundproofing ($500) and waterproofing ($800) of the shower stall walls and floor. The shower stall also received high-quality, white Carrara marble tiles ($2,250) and a sliding glass door ($1,600). Supplying and installing new medicine cabinets, vanities, and faucets amounted to $4,250.

Throughout the room, a level five finish—that is, multiple layers of spackle, primer, and paint that make for a finish with no visible imperfections—was also applied ($3,000).

 Rather than replace the existing hardwood floors, the homeowner opted to restore them, as seen here.

Rather than replace the existing hardwood floors, the homeowner opted to restore them, as seen here.

Determining the woodwork

Margaret chose many of the details herself, making the most of her renovation with custom selections. One of the big-ticket items on the final bid was the cabinetry: In the early stages of planning, Margaret learned that the existing cabinetry, which occupies a large area of the apartment, had deteriorated and needed a complete overhaul. Seizing the opportunity, she decided to upgrade to higher-quality products.

To this end, the current built-in cabinets were demolished and removed, and new, custom cabinetry was installed in the living area ($24,441) and two bedrooms ($23,305). The shelves are bespoke millwork, with LED lights to illuminate the books and photographs on display.

Other high-end details include spackling and re-caulking the existing crown moldings and painting walls white and moldings in a pearl finish ($12,350). A level-five finish was also applied throughout the apartment ($6,708).

One area of savings was the flooring. Rather than replace the existing hardwood floors in the kitchen, living room, hallway, and bedrooms (which could have cost between $14,000 and $20,000), Margaret opted to restore them by sanding, staining, and sealing them ($6,500).

Nevertheless, this is a sophisticated renovation, one that Margaret felt confident in pursuing once empowered by Bolster’s reliable cost information about the options available to her.

“She afforded herself that luxury because she knew we had her back, and she thoroughly understood the process,” Anna said.

The Bolster Smart Renovation Zero-Risk Guarantee

How can a design-build firm guarantee a Zero-Risk renovation?

Bolster has pioneered Smart Renovation. We apply quantitative analysis along with our proprietary technology solution to identify and quantify the performance risk on every renovation project. The result is a personalized strategic approach to each renovation that allows us to absorb 100 percent of the homeowner’s risk. Your home will be beautifully designed, and delivered on-time and on-budget. That is our guarantee.

Smart Renovation & Zero-Risk means that Homeowners are now free to dream.

To start your major home renovation project visit

The Bolster Promise video

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