We Spent $50,000 Renovating Our Three-Bedroom Apartment In Dumbo

In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial women. Today, 33-year-old Christine shows off her $50,000 renovation in Brooklyn.
When Christine Han, now 33, and her husband Ben moved into their three-bedroom apartment, they were in the midst of a major renovation and Christine was in her first trimester. Now, they live in a two-bedroom home with a huge common area and two bathrooms, along with their baby boy Kai and their dog Epic.
Christine took lead on the renovation. She works as an experiential event designer, so she drew up the floor plans and made the renderings herself. They tore down a wall and merged the third room with the living and dining rooms to get a huge common space. “We had to relocate the sprinklers,” Christine explained. They moved the doorway to Kai’s bedroom to face the main hall and the added a bookcase to the master room.
The master bedroom’s ensuite bathroom looks like it belongs in a fancy hotel, but Christine's favorite part of the room is the gallery wall: “It has all the photos from our trip that I took. Some of the photos of us were taken by the local photographers that we hire when we travel." While hiring a local photographer for traveling seems luxurious, Christine adds, " It's a really great way to meet the locals, but also see the local spots." In the end, the renovation cost $50,000, which includes the contractor, architect, sprinkler engineer, and additional items they used to turn their space into a home.
Read more about the renovation process from Christine herself, below.
How did you find this apartment?
We actually had a real estate agent who fell through. He was terrible. He kept showing me stuff that was on Streeteasy that I’ve already seen like two days before. So we were like, okay we’re going to keep him, but we’re also going to look on our own. Nine months in, one day this one just popped up on Streeteasy and we lived across the street so we stopped by. And we knew this was it.
What was it like before the renovation?
The apartment was in a really good condition. It had an awesome kitchen and bathrooms. It had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We were looking for a true two-bedroom apartment with a large living room in Dumbo, it was very hard to find exactly that. So when we found this apartment, we removed the third bedroom to make our common space larger.
How long did this renovation take and how much did it cost?
It took about three months and it cost around $50,000. $32,000 includes hiring a contractor, an architect and a sprinkler engineer and materials. Approximately $18,000 was spent for furnishing and decorating
What was a must-have when moving into this apartment?
Large common space, because we like to host people. We also spend the most time in the kitchen and the living room. We also wanted true two bedrooms since we knew we wanted to have a baby in the near future.  We wanted nice bathrooms and a kitchen so we can reduce the cost of the renovation.
What was the hardest part of the renovation process?
Besides getting a building permit, it’s keeping everything within budget. Also making sure things look good and are functional.

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