230 E. 72nd St.: A Tiny Kitchen with Not-So-Tiny Challenges
As contractors, we’re asked all the time to do “small jobs” that initially seem like they will be quick and easy. However, we’ve been doing this long enough to know that what seems like a simple kitchen renovation often turns into a much larger undertaking. Whether underlying problems are discovered once the walls are opened up or the homeowners decide that they want to make more changes, it’s common for the scope to change during the course of a project.
In this case, the client thought their tiny kitchen just needed a quick overhaul to fix a plumbing issue and make the space more functional. Four months later, we’re wrapping up the final details.
Patching Up Prewar Plumbing
Interior designer Hannah Blumenthal was asked by a personal friend to redesign their kitchen in Lenox Hill. It’s a small space, so it would be a simple job, right? She had a connection with Waterfront Kitchens, and they recommended us for the project. Fortunately, everybody on the team excels at attention to detail, because this kitchen renovation was full of details.
The existing plumbing for the laundry facilities was creating a drainage issue with the nearby sink, so step one was figuring out how to fix that problem. We had to channel new plumbing lines throughout the space to solve it. We also had to replace all of the electrical wiring and place new lines throughout the walls and ceiling. This allowed us to redo all of the lighting in the kitchen to create a space that was both more functional and more inviting.
Designing with No Space to Spare
In many kitchen remodels, every inch matters. In this tiny kitchen, we had to pay attention to every quarter-inch. The cabinetry had been preordered from Italy, so every step we took along the way had to ensure that the cabinetry would fit seamlessly when it arrived. The footprint of the kitchen was limited, and there were only so many places to channel the new plumbing lines—so some creativity was required to ensure that there was enough space to get it all in.
Although the client was initially reluctant to do it, we recommended opening up the door frame to add just a few more inches and create enough space for the plumbing and wiring without impacting the space required for the cabinetry. It took some convincing, but the end result was even more space than any of us had envisioned and a more open feel throughout the kitchen.
Managing Scope Changes
Over the course of this project, a few unexpected changes were required. When we opened up the walls, we uncovered more plumbing and electrical issues than we had anticipated, which is common in older buildings. The client also asked us to do some additional painting and wallpapering in other areas of the home while we were there.
We’re always happy to take on more work, especially when our team is already on-site, but scope changes require a lot of communication. With this client, we had in-person meetings and video chats to constantly communicate about what was happening behind the scenes, explain the work that would be required to fix the problems we encountered, and discuss the recommended design changes.
With this great communication between the client and the rest of the project team, we were able to fix all of the plumbing issues, open up the kitchen, and get the Italian cabinets in with exactly the right fit. All that’s left is to install the countertops and do a little painting. Stay tuned for images of this tiny kitchen remodel when it’s complete.