Reno Ready

How to revamp an Upper East Side one bedroom that needs a new kitchen and bath

By Leah Hochbaum Rosner  | May 22, 2019 - 10:00AM

Minor cosmetic changes are in order for the rest of the apartment. 


A large landscaped roof deck with a garden that can be enjoyed when the weather gets warm is the best thing about this Upper East Side one bedroom, 305 East 72nd St., #11C, says architect Ritu Saheb of Saheb Architecture.

As for the apartment itself, which is listed for $640,000, the only thing she really likes about it is how big the living room is. She detests the layout of the kitchen and the state of the bath, and suggests starting from scratch with both of them.

In this week’s Reno Ready, Saheb explains what else she’d do to spruce up this unit, and where she’d advise spending most of the client’s renovation budget.

“If someone buys this place for $640,000, they would probably realistically spend around $100,000 to update the apartment,” she says—especially because the unit already requires a 25 percent down payment, which is higher than the 20 percent that’s usually asked for.

And since the kitchen and bath will both need to be gutted completely, she feels that the rest of the apartment will have to suffice with a handful of more affordable cosmetic changes that will enhance things visually, but won’t break the bank.



Moldings will add character to the living room 

Trim: Saheb would add moldings around the doorways to the bedroom and bath in order to add a little character to the space. These should cost around $800.

Radiator covers: Saheb dislikes the messy look of the radiators in the living room, kitchen, and bedroom, so she’d have custom covers built to hide them all. “They’ll give you a windowsill to put things on, as well as look neat and tidy,” she says. Radiator covers for all three rooms will cost around $6,000.

Floors: “I actually love the color of the floor, so I’d leave it as is,” she says.

Paint: She’s also a fan of the white on the walls, and doesn’t think the room needs repainting.

Lighting: There aren’t any ceiling fixtures, so Saheb assumes that it’s made of concrete and can’t be drilled into. She’d therefore go with a series of lamps to light up this living room. This Pleat Drum floor lamp is $495 at Design Within Reach.

Window treatments: “I’m not a big fan of window treatments because they block out a lot of light,” but in this case she thinks it’s necessary to hang something up for privacy’s sake. Prices for these light-filtering roller shades start at $255 at The Shade Store.


Think unique for bedroom lighting 

Just like in the living room, Saheb would hang on to the flooring and the paint on the walls, and get a new radiator cover in the bedroom. 

Lighting: She’d swap out the “very generic light fixture” for something a bit more unique. “I like the antique-y furniture in here, so I’d go with something like that.” This Grant pendant light is $231 at House of Antiques Hardware.

Window treatments: She still doesn’t love the look of window treatments, but thinks they’ll be needed to block out light in a bedroom. Prices for these blackout roller shades start at $255 at The Shade Store.


A complete makeover in the bath

“Everything has to be changed here,” Saheb says.

Update the plumbing: She feels that the most important thing to do in here is to update the piping, which she believes was probably last done a long, long time ago. She thinks it’d cost around $5,000 per point to update the plumbing work for the tub, toilet, and sink.

Tub/shower door/shower head: She’d replace the tub with a new one, get new hardware, including a rain shower head, and new doors. “I like the frameless look,” she says. This American Standard tub is $336 at The Home Depot. This chrome shower system with rain shower head and hand shower is $429 at The Bath Outlet. These hinged frameless shower doors are $580 at Wayfair.

Vanity/faucet: Saheb would lose the pedestal sink in favor of a vanity with some storage. This Knighten 24-inch vanity is $327 at Wayfair. This Delta Everly widespread two-handle bathroom faucet is $159 at The Home Depot.

Toilet: A new toilet will definitely be in order. This one-piece Toto Eco Ultramax toilet is $457 at The Home Depot

Medicine cabinet: She’d get a new recessed medicine cabinet to store her client’s things away from prying eyes. That way, it won’t feel like it’s taking up too much space in this already small room. This vintage medicine cabinet is $279 at Pottery Barn.

Tile: Saheb would tile all the walls with light-gray tiles to keep things feeling nice and warm in here. She’d also add some glass tiles for contrast. These tiles should cost around $5.50 per square foot.

Lighting: “I actually like the location of the lighting,” she says, noting that it gives you “even light on your face.” But she would change out the fixture. This Possini Euro Collection Midtown LED bath light is $216 at Lamps Plus.


Brighten up the kitchen

Door/wall: To make things feel more open, the first thing Saheb would do in here is remove the entry door to the kitchen, as well as the wall that it’s connected to. This demo work should be a fraction of the contractor’s overall demolition price.

Cabinets: She recommends all new wood cabinets that she feels will go well with the antique theme that she envisions for this unit. “This space doesn’t get any sun, so I’d put in a light wood, maybe a maple finish,” she says. She’d also take out the closet just inside the kitchen door and put in a pantry that will match this new cabinetry instead. These new cabinets, including the new pantry, should cost around $15,000 to $20,000.

Countertops: She’d get new white marble countertops with gray veining on both sides of this kitchen. She’d also wrap them around underneath the window to create a small ledge there. This should cost around $8,000. 

Backsplash: “I like glass tiles because they’re very neutral,” Saheb says, so they’ll match anything. They cost around $7 per square foot.

Flooring: She’d match the flooring to the countertops—some kind of white tile with gray streaks. These should cost around $15 per square foot.

Sink/faucet: Saheb would have a new sink and faucet installed. This Elkay classic stainless steel under-mount sink is $461 at This Delta Everly single-handle pull-down sprayer kitchen faucet is $257 at The Home Depot.

Appliances: “I’m a big fan of stainless steel,” she says. As such, she’d replace the current pieces with stainless ones. She’d also add in a microwave. This 30-inch GE slide-in gas range is $1,092 at This 24-inch GE dishwasher is $821, also at This GE 28-inch top-freezer fridge is $767, also at This GE Profile microwave 25-inch built-in microwave is $479, also at

Lighting: Saheb would go with an overhead pendant with a number of lamps in it so that it “provides light for every nook and cranny when you’re cooking,” she says. She’d add under-cabinet lights as well. This should cost around $800 or so, depending on what fixture the client chooses. These GE Enbrighten 24-inch LED under-cabinet lights are $60 each at The Home Depot.

Window treatments: “You should probably put one up here in case you’re up early in the morning and in your robe,” she says. Prices for these light-filtering roller shades start at $255 at The Shade Store.


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