Bathrooms Lead Home Renovation Projects

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Bathrooms reign over kitchens as the most popular renovation taking place, according to a new survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Michelle and Nate Able had a few projects on their to-do list for their Riverhead home. For one, they wanted to add a bathroom in a space that was initially an oddly shaped alcove that the former owners had used as a hallway/storage closet. They also wanted to update an existing bathroom to match the modern farmhouse vibe in the rest of their home.

To help eliminate some of the uncertainty and stress that goes along with a home renovation project, the couple didn’t waste any time and contacted Sweeten, a free service that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors and provides support until project completion.

“We like that an actual person is reviewing your job and matching you with contractors, not just an algorithm matching keywords,” says Nate. “It’s also nice to see the contractor’s previous jobs right on the site.”

The Ables, who were out of town a good part of the time during the work, appreciated the fact that they were still able to keep in touch with their contractor and see the photos that were sent showing the progress taking place.

“The pictures helped make sure things came together the way we imagined them,” says Nate.

Sweeten Founder and CEO Jean N. Brownhill, a trained architect who started the company in 2011 after a bad experience with her own renovation, has expanded the service across Long Island. Since launching, the company has grown to nearly $1 billion in construction projects in the pipeline, with the support of venture capital.

Brownhill adds, “One of the things that helped this North Fork renovation go so smoothly was that the homeowners made sure to have all the materials delivered before starting, and set up a regular communication check-in with their general contractor, since they were living in Brooklyn.”


“During the renovation, one bathroom was being built above the other, and the rooms were not perfectly aligned,” says Brownhill. “Their Sweeten contractor had to figure out the best way to run pipes from the downstairs space to the new bathroom upstairs. The solution was to create a tray ceiling to conceal the pipes in the downstairs bathroom…it solved a problem while also adding an architectural element.”

THE RESULT: “The deep blue hue continued the classic look and added a pop of contrast with the warm brass hardware and white subway tile.”58 1


“Michelle and Nate wanted to add an ensuite bath to their guest bedroom,” says Brownhill. “They identified an alcove conveniently located above the downstairs bathroom, which is ideal to easily extend the plumbing. Because the angled room affected one of the walls, they worked with their Sweeten team on a creative layout.”

THE RESULT: “The oddly shaped space became a charming triangular storage nook. For those considering adding a second bathroom, choose a shared wall that already has plumbing running through it, which makes the project significantly easier,” advises Brownhill. “Owners often opt to turn a closet into a bathroom, taking advantage of having the space already carved out.”2