This Kitchen Remodel, from Demo to Installation, Was Just 15 Days Long

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This Kitchen Remodel, from Demo to Installation, Was Just 15 Days Long

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Spencer Bailey thinks a lot about time. The New York-based writer, editor and journalist – who served as editor-in-chief of Surface Magazine for five years and is about to publish his second book with Phaidon, Alchemy: The Material World of David Adjaye, this July—is so fascinated by it that in 2019 he and filmmaker and creative director Andrew Zuckerman co-founded a media company called The Slowdown and debuted their hero podcast, Time Sensitive. Each week, the duo releases an interview with leaders in business, the arts and beyond, who discuss time on a philosophical level, but also how they make use of the real thing every day. Bailey has forged a career centered around taking breaks — and yet he literally renovated his Brooklyn Heights kitchen last year in no time

After living with the same builder-grade space for nearly 10 years, the flaws were really starting to show: the push-to-open drawers were demagnetizing, the medium-density fiberboard cabinets were noticeably flimsy, the improperly sealed marble counters were stained. “I really liked the idea of ​​a modular kitchen; something that can be put in like furniture,” he says. Vipp, a manufacturer from Denmark, is known for its building block-like designs – but Bailey and his partner, Emma Bowen, weren’t just attracted to the brand’s “fewer, better things” ethos. Once the components were delivered — appliances, floating shelves, and all — they could be installed in just two days. “It’s like someone parked a sexy matte black Mercedes in your apartment,” says Bailey with a laugh.

The concept

brown kitchen

The kitchen, in front.

After Bailey and Bowen carefully measured their space, they took to the brand’s online configurator to begin mapping out the new plan. They landed on Vipp’s V1 kitchen: a pre-set design that comes with four optional modules that you can pick and choose as you like. Their final assortment? An island with integrated seating, a tall wall unit that doubles as a dry goods pantry, and a tall version that boasts deep drawers and an integrated hob. Because Vipp has a partnership with Miele, Bailey was also able to have a double-door refrigerator (one of his top must-haves) manufactured with a door panel that matches the rest of the powder-coated black cabinets. The same goes for the Miele oven and Fisher & Paykel dishwasher.

The Custom Tweak

While Bailey was drawn to the fact that all of Vipp’s pieces were raised on legs, making them look a little more furniture-like, an even bigger plus was that the couple could adjust the height. “My previous kitchen was a 36-inch counter height, but I’m 6-foot-3. My shoulders would hurt after cutting vegetables for 40 minutes,” Bailey recalls. Vipp was able to adjust the units to 38 inches—a small change that made a world of difference.The planning phase complete, Bailey placed his order and patiently waited the five months it would take to have the parts made and shipped.

The debt free demo

Not wanting the old space to go to waste, Bailey contacted Renovation Angel, an organization that recycles and reuses kitchens, appliances and furniture. After someone from the nonprofit came to look at his existing kitchen, a third-party appraiser stopped by to provide Bailey with an estimate for a tax deduction. “It was nice to know that these parts would go to another home, used in a productive way instead of destructively,” he shares. When Bailey learned that his Vipp kitchen had arrived in the U.S. and was going through customs, he had the organization carefully deconstruct the space—a process that took all of four hours.

The Super to the Rescue

refrigerator with black panel

After Renovation Angel left, Bailey noticed a big problem: the previous developer hadn’t continued the white oak flooring under the original island. There was now a massive concrete gap in the middle of the room. Fortunately, Bailey’s handy superintendent, Fernando, stepped in to move electrical outlets around and add 16 new boards before the Vipp team arrived two weeks later. “He’s giving Superman another name,” Bailey says.

The fresh cabinets and fixtures arrived on a Tuesday and by the end of the workday on Thursday the crew was gone. All that was left to do was fill the cupboards with all the ceramics he sourced from Japan, Greece and Sicily (there’s even a limited edition Noguchi teacup in the mix) as well as more practical tools, such as his sleek Alessi espresso maker and the Top Chef knives his father bought him on Groupon many years ago. “I’ll admit, I’ve probably had them since I moved into my first apartment, and they still work,” he laughs. Now everything is made differently to also stand the test of time.

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