Before and After: An Outdated, Builder-Grade Rental Kitchen Gets a Major Revamp

published Dec 29, 2022
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Kitchen before with butcher block counters and dated cabinets
Credit: Brigette Muller

When Brooklyn renter and Instagrammer Brigette Muller moved into her Greenpoint, Brooklyn, apartment in June 2021, she knew right away that she wanted to majorly upgrade her kitchen sink area.

What little cabinetry the kitchen had was old and in disrepair, with the lowers peeling and the drawers not quite fitting flush after years of use. The uppers weren’t much better, and the counter was dated laminate that just missed the mark. So off to work Muller went.

Credit: Brigette Muller

First, she said goodbye to her standard stainless sink and faucet and introduced a white porcelain sink and elegant brass gooseneck faucet to the mix. Next, she installed a zellige tile backsplash, but that wasn’t all. “I changed out all the cabinet doors, re-painted [them], and added new knobs,” Muller explains. “It looked great, but I still wasn’t fully happy.” In particular, she was bothered by that faux wooden countertop in her space and decided it had to go — marble was calling her name! “As soon as I had made up my mind, there was no going back,” she says. “I had no idea how much this would cost or what it would entail, but I knew I needed to do it.”

Mueller had to secure her dream materials before she could make her next move. “After perusing a ton of stone yards for the perfect marble slab, I finally found one that felt right — and it was right in my neighborhood,” she shares. She located a gorgeous slab of honed Carrara marble — “simple, classic, beautiful,” in her own words — and then worked with a fabricator to hone (no pun intended!) her vision. “Altogether, the marble slab, fabrication, and installation ended up being about $6,000 in total — which was three times more than what I imagined I’d be paying — but it’s honestly totally worth it,” Muller shares.

Credit: Brigette Muller

Muller notes that working with the fabrication company was a lengthy process. “The process required a lot of back-and-forth email correspondence,” she shares. “One day, I finally decided to just waltz into the fabrication yard to go over everything in person. That ended up being the best thing I could’ve done — it gave me the reassurance that I was getting exactly what I wanted.” From there, the process moved swiftly. “A week or so later, a team of two came to my apartment, swiftly ripped out my old countertop (for an additional fee!), and beautifully installed each piece in its rightful new home,” Muller shares. “The installation team doesn’t deal with plumbing, so I had to coordinate with my plumber to come over the night before to remove my sink, and then come back after the countertop installation to put it back in.”

Given that Muller is a renter, she also had to loop her landlord into her grand plan. “I had a phone conversation with my landlord soon after moving into this apartment where I asked him about a couple changes I wanted to make — specifically, installing a new shower system and sink,” she comments. “He told me that any upgrades I wanted to make were fine by him — and [we have] the mutual understanding is that if it’s not a necessary upgrade, I’d just have to fund it myself.”

Credit: Brigette Muller

To get the most out of her money and marble investment, Muller used a few other pieces of marble to spruce up additional areas within her apartment. “I decided to have four additional pieces cut to make the most of my purchase: two pieces to go on top of my radiators (to essentially turn them into console tables), one to go on top of the vanity in my dressing room, and one for the top of the sideboard in my kitchen,” she shares. “The sideboard is actually right beside my kitchen counter, so topping it with a matching marble piece makes it feel like a continuation of the new countertop. It’s super-cool, and I love how it looks. Honestly, it takes my breath away.”

Muller couldn’t be more pleased with the look of her vanity either. “The marble totally changed the feel,” she comments. “It’s piece of furniture I bought from Lowe’s. Lowe’s! I swapped out the original knobs for some pretty brass ones, added the marble top, and voila: a custom piece you won’t find anywhere else!”

She’s also greatly enjoyed the new and improved radiator situation. “Of course, I have to be careful with what I place atop these shelves during the winter months when the heat is on, but they look pretty even with nothing on them.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Brooklyn Renter Revamps Her Outdated, Builder Grade Kitchen With Marble