Reno Ready

Square off the archways, replace the parquet, and other updates for a dated Prospect Park South prewar

Architect Carlos M. Rodríguez Infanzón would replace the outdated parquet with a more current wide-plank wood floor. StreetEasy

Share this Article

This Prospect Park South one bedroom, 1701 Albemarle Rd., #F1, is “spacious, has nice light, and is in generally good shape,” says architect Carlos M. Rodríguez Infanzón of Manhattan’s Rodríguez Studio Architecture. But the unit could definitely use some updating. “The fixtures in the bathroom and the kitchen are very dated,” he says. The co-op is on the market for $549,000.

In this week’s Reno Ready, Rodríguez Infanzón explains how he’d modernize this apartment, including opening up the kitchen and squaring off the rounded archways, to modernize this prewar style.

Square the arches in the living room

Archways: There are a few arched openings throughout this apartment—one just inside the front door, one leading to the bedroom/bathroom area, and one leading to the living room itself—but Rodríguez Infanzón isn’t a fan. He’d square them off to essentially “get rid of them” and make them more open to the ceiling. This should cost a few thousand dollars.

Floors: Rodríguez Infanzón would replace the outdated parquet with a more current wide-plank wood floor. He would choose a light shade for brightness, he says. These should cost between $15 and $17 per square foot.

Baseboards: The baseboards in the apartment are “old and have tons of layers of paint,” he says. He’d swap them out for new ones that’ll modernize things throughout the unit. New baseboards for the whole apartment should cost between $4,000 and $5,000.

Window treatments: If the apartment’s new occupant would like to put something up—not everyone feels that it’s necessary in a living area—Rodríguez Infanzón feels that curtains could work for a more traditional look. Roller shades could be a modern solution. Prices for Ripple Fold Drapery start at $486 at The Shade Store. Prices for basic solar shades start at $230, also at The Shade Store.

Walls: “I hate it,” he says of the yellow-ish hue on the wall. He’d repaint most of the walls with a bright white, but would designate one of the long walls—either the one to the right or left of the window—as an accent wall and paint it with a bold, eye-catching color. A gallon of Benjamin Moore’s Simply White is $80. 

Lighting: There aren’t a lot of options for overhead lighting unless you want to drop the ceiling, but Rodríguez Infanzón thinks that’s the wrong way to go. He recommends a variety of contemporary floor lamps, instead. This Lady7 floor lamp is $392 at YLighting.com.

Built-in shelves: He also suggests getting rid of the built-ins by the archway. “It’s hard to tell what they do,” he says, noting that they seem too small to really be useful.

Radiator cover: He’d have a custom cover with shelving and a countertop built to cover up the radiator. This should cost $6,000 to $7,000.

Turn the entryway into a dining area

“There’s lots of wasted space here,” Rodríguez Infanzón says. “I’d take this room and turn it into an eat-in dining area.

Built-in shelves: He’d remove the built-ins in here, too as they don’t appear to be deep enough as to actually be useful. He’d then install newer, deeper ones with a nicer finish that’ll be more functional. These should cost between $6,000 and $8,000.

Lighting: There is a ceiling light in here at the moment, but Rodríguez Infanzón would replace it with a pendant that could hang atop the new dining area. Prices for this Stix LED pendant light start at $1,330 at YLighting.com.

Expand the kitchen and take down the partial walls

On the floor plan, there’s a designated dining area to the right of the kitchen, but Rodríguez Infanzón thinks that it would be better to expand the kitchen into this space. 

Walls: The kitchen is a little closed-off for modern living, so he advises taking down the two partial walls at the entrance of the kitchen, as well as the ones between the stove and the fridge (which aren’t depicted in the floor plan for some reason). This demo work will be a portion of the contractor’s overall bill.

Appliances: He’d switch out the old white refrigerator and stove for more of-the-moment pieces—either stainless steel or panel-ready. He might be able to move the fridge into the “dining area,” but the stove will more than likely need to stay where it is because the piping probably won’t reach. This Whirlpool bottom-freezer refrigerator is $1,100 at Best Buy. This LG slide-in gas convection range is $1,620, also at Best Buy.

Cabinets: He’d get new, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry in the kitchen, as well as the new extension, preferably something “with a nice wood grain, like an oak or a walnut,” Rodríguez Infanzón says. Custom cabinets will be pricey, though, possibly reaching $60,000.

Floors: If the new occupant wants it, he’d extend the new wood flooring in here. But some folks don’t want wood in the kitchen. If that’s the case here, he’d replace the white tile with a darker, more contemporary-looking tile. “Slate-colored tiles won’t show every single thing,” he says. These should cost around $20 per square foot.

Sink/faucet: “The sink looks quite old, so it’s probably not in great shape,” Rodríguez Infanzón says. He’d instead install a more modern stainless steel under-mount sink, such as this Kraus Standart Pro sink, $300 at The Home Depot.

As for a faucet, he’d go with a pull-out sprayer with a lever rather than a handle, such as this one from Kohler, $223 at Build.com. “It makes temperature control more straight-forward,” he says.

Countertops: “The color depends on what palette you’re putting together,” Rodríguez Infanzón says. But he’d go for a durable material like stone or quartz. This should cost between $4,000 and $7,000, depending on what the occupant chooses.

Backsplash: “There’s an opportunity to do something colorful or with a texture,” he says, so he’d choose ceramic tiles. These should cost between $15 and $20 per square foot.

Lighting: He’d trade the two overhead lights for new flush-mounted fixtures. He’d also get under-cabinet lights. Prices for this Cirque light start at $108 at Lumens. These SlimEdge LED under-cabinet lights are $52 at Lamps Plus.

Get rid of the molding and paint the walls in the bedroom

Floors: He’d run the new wider-plank wood flooring in here, too, to keep things consistent throughout the unit.

Walls: He’d paint most of the walls white, but would paint either the wall behind the bed (“because the light will fall on it”) or the one across from the bed (“because you’ll see it from the bed”) with a darker shade “to make things more engaging” in here. He’d also get rid of the “weird molding” at the top of the walls since it isn’t found anywhere else in the apartment and stands out like a sore thumb.

Rug: He’d add a rug in here so that you don’t have to put your feet on the cold wood floor first thing in the morning. This hand-tufted modern area rug is $110 at AllModern.com.

Radiator: Rodríguez Infanzón wouldn’t put a cover on the heater in here as it would take up too much room. Instead, he’d have the radiator stripped down and repainted “so that it’s less lumpy.” This should cost a few hundred dollars.

Window treatments: There are windows on two walls here, which means that the room probably gets pretty good light. As such, room-darkening shades will be necessary. Prices for these blackout roller shades start at $230 at The Shade Store.

Lighting: “There’s enough ceiling height for a ceiling fan with a light,” he says. This MinkaAire fan with a light is $280 at Build.com.

Bathroom needs new tiles and a toilet

Tiles: He’d get new tiles on both the floors and walls—and go all the way up the walls, especially in the shower. These should be around $15 per square foot depending on what patterns are chosen.

Toilet: This Flushometer toilet is an antique. He’d prefer something that looks a little more polished, so he’d get a new one, such as this one-piece Toto, $564 at The Home Depot.

Tub: It’s sometimes hard to reconfigure the plumbing on old bathtubs like this, but Rodríguez Infanzón really isn’t a fan of this peach number, so he recommends doing whatever it takes to replace it. He also advises tiling the tub in so that it all feels more “seamless.” This American Standard tub is $278 at The Home Depot.

Fixtures: He’d get new fixtures for the tub, including a hand-held shower head that can be useful when it comes to bathing kids or pets. This chrome set from Delta is $573 at Build.com.

Curtain/rod: He’d also install a new rod and curtain to add some privacy. This stainless steel Kohler rod is $50 at Build.com. You can show your personality through the curtain. This Vintage Palm shower curtain is $26 at Hayneedle.com.

Vanity/sink: A pedestal sink definitely doesn’t offer enough in the way of storage, so Rodríguez Infanzón suggests getting a vanity, instead. This Wynkoop 24-inch vanity set is $302 at Wayfair.

Lighting: “There isn’t a lot of width in here, but you still want something bright,” Rodríguez Infanzón says. So he’d get a sconce, like this Young House Love Bubble Vanity Light, $162 at Shades of Light.

Shower door: There aren’t any photos of it, but according to the floor plan, there’s a shower stall in here, as well. Rodríguez Infanzón would get a new door for it. “Something clean,” he says. This Kohler Revel shower door is $372 at Supply.com.