What Is The Right Approach For Your NYC Apartment Renovation?

Ready to renovate? Read as we review different types of apartment renovations in NYC, offering insights into the most effective approaches for each, guiding readers on their choices between design-build firms, architects, contractors, or interior designers based on the project's scope.

January 23, 2024


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What Is The Right Approach For Your NYC Apartment Renovation?

The right renovation partner can make or break your NYC renovation, so choose wisely.


Deciding to renovate your apartment in NYC is a thoughtful process that should take time. Whether you're at the beginning stages of your renovation journey, considering the extent of your project, or nearing a decision and seeking the right partner for the renovation, this review of renovation types along with their most effective approach will help streamline your decision-making process and ensure you’re hiring appropriately for your upcoming New York City apartment renovation. 

Types of Apartment Renovations in NYC

Dining room from full apartment renovation in Manhattan at 130 E 18th. View renovation before and after.

[#Full]Full Apartment Renovations[#Full]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Design-Build Firm or Architect

With real estate at a premium in NYC, full apartment renovations provide the rare opportunity for a comprehensive overhaul, optimizing spatial layout, enhancing storage solutions, and integrating modern design elements, completely reimagining the space to your personal tastes and preferences. To achieve this level of complete revitalization, we recommend a design-build firm or architect. 

Design-build firms are a highly suitable solution for full apartment renovations in NYC due to their integrated approach, offering a single point of responsibility for both the design and construction phases. This comprehensive model promotes efficient communication, cost and time savings, plus a streamlined process as the design and construction teams collaborate seamlessly. As a design-build firm, we address all permits and approvals on behalf of clients. An architect is also a strong option, as their strategic services will guide your full apartment project in full. However, what separates an architect from a design-build firm is that an architect will outsource the construction aspect of your renovation, which typically comes with added costs and coordination from the client. Additionally, architects are typically a more expensive option over design-build forms. For more distinction on the two approaches, read our blog, The Pros And Cons Of Design-build Vs. Architectural Firms.

For examples of Gallery’s full apartment renovations in NYC, view our portfolio of before and after full home renovations. 

Kitchen from Tribeca renovation at 9 Murray Street. View the full renovation before and after.

[#KB]Kitchen & Bathroom Renovations[#KB]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Design-Build Firm

Renovations that typically lend highest ROI are kitchen and bathroom renovations. These essential spaces immediately enhance the overall appeal and functionality of an apartment, making them more attractive on the market and in person. When considering a kitchen and bathroom renovation, the most effective approach is a design-build firm, with their all-inclusive  renovation style. While other methods, such as hiring a contractor, will suffice and possibly offer more cost flexibility, those singular solutions typically require you to coordinate any supporting contractors (electricians, plumbers, etc) and handle board approvals plus permits. 

For examples of Gallery’s kitchen and bathroom renovations in New York City, browse our full portfolio of kitchen renovations or bathroom renovations

Outdoor patio from Manhattan apartment combination at 180 Thompson St. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Combo]Apartment Combinations[#Combo]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Design-Build Firm or Architect 

While this renovation type is not readily available due to building regulations and ownership constraints, combining two apartments in NYC offers the rare opportunity to transcend the spatial limitations prevalent in many of the Big Apple’s iconic abodes. To achieve such a customized and complicated renovation, there are only two routes to go - design-build firm or architect. 

Both solutions offer the strategic overview required to execute apartment combinations in NYC. However, while architects may offer proper guidance, they will likely be outsourcing the construction part of the renovation to a separate contractor. Whereas, a design-build firm has every party involved in your renovation working under one roof, leaving much less room for miscommunication and set-backs - which is essential during such a complex renovation. 

For examples of Gallery’s apartment combination renovations, browse our full portfolio of apartment combinations in NYC

Sunken dining room from gut renovation of Brooklyn brownstone in Carroll Gardens. View full renovation before and after.

[#Gut]Full Gut Renovation[#Gut]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Design-Build Firm or Architect 

Gut renovations offer an unparalleled level of customization and revitalization for residences within the bustling boroughs of New York City. What sets gut renovations apart is their comprehensiveness, as they go beyond the scope of a typical full home renovation, stripping the entire structure down to the bare studs. This means every facet of your home can be reinvented, from electrical and plumbing systems to insulation and layout, allowing you to design a space that caters to your unique needs and aesthetic preferences. 

Since this extremely thorough level of renovation includes reconfiguring the space’s layout, you’ll need either an architect or design-build firm, as both parties are equipped to ensure structural integrity and an enhanced floor plan that maximizes your square footage. However, if your vision isn’t necessarily fully fleshed out and you need design support up front, you may consider a design-build firm, who has interior design expertise built directly into their all-inclusive renovation process

For examples of Gallery’s gut renovations in NYC, view our complete renovation portfolio including various full gut renovations. 

Kitchen from UWS Manhattan condo renovation at 59 W 71st. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Kitchen]Kitchen Only[#Kitchen]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Contractor or Interior Designer 

A general contractor or interior designer are likely preferable for a basic kitchen renovation in an NYC apartment. They possess expertise in optimizing layouts, selecting appropriate materials, and managing construction processes efficiently. In contrast, architects may be more geared towards larger-scale projects that involve structural changes, while design-build firms may bring an integrated approach that might be unnecessary for a straightforward kitchen remodel. 

Kids' bathroom from Manhattan condo renovation at 252 Seventh Ave. View full renovation before and after.

[#Bath]Bathroom Only[#Bath]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Contractor or Interior Designer 

Similar to stand-alone kitchen renovations, a general contractor or interior designer are sufficient for a basic bathroom renovation in an NYC apartment. Unless you’re reconfiguring your layout and creating a totally new bathroom within your home, an architect or design-build firm would likely be unnecessary for a single bathroom renovation. 

Custom millwork in den from UWS Manhattan pre-war co-op renovation at 801 West End Ave. View full renovation before and after.

[#Millwork]Millwork Only[#Millwork]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Carpenter, Contractor or Interior Designer 

Opting for a general contractor, carpenter, or interior designer for custom millwork in an NYC apartment makes most sense. These professional craftsmen can focus on the intricate details of the millwork project, ensuring precision and expertise, while architects or design-build firms may simply offer a broader scope than your singular specification requires. 

Sitting area from pre-war renovation in Manhattan at 255 West 108th. View full renovation before and after.

[#Design]Design Only[#Design]

Most Effective Approach To The Job: Interior Designer or Interior Decorator 

Choosing an interior designer for a design-only job in an NYC apartment is preferable, as their expertise lies exclusively in crafting spaces with purpose. While architects or design-build firms have broader scopes, interior designers excel in curating furnishings, colors, and layouts to create a personalized ambiance. This specialized focus ensures a tailored and detailed design approach, particularly suitable for projects where structural changes are not required. However, depending on the aesthetics that need updating, an interior architect or interior decorator could be required. For further distinction, read our blogs: Interior Design Architect Vs Interior Designer: What's The Difference? and What's The Difference Between An Interior Designer And Interior Decorator? 


Whether undertaking a full apartment overhaul, kitchen or bathroom upgrade, apartment combination, gut renovation, or specific room transformation, the choice between design-build firms, architects, contractors, or interior designers ultimately depends on the project's scope. 

Considering a full apartment renovation in New York City? View our portfolio of apartment renovations in Manhattan or Brooklyn, learn more about Gallery, or contact us today. We are an award-winning design-build firm in New York City with a full-service approach to Big Apple renovations that includes everything from interior design and architecture services to filing permits and construction management. We’re experts in pre-war apartment renovations, apartment combinations, room creations, full gut renovations and all that falls in between. Let us bring your dream home to life.

Chief Revenue Officer

Alex Ushyarovhttps://www.gallerykbny.com/authors/alex-u

Alex Ushyarov is the Chief Revenue Officer of Gallery KBNY, a full service design-build firm specializing in the design and interior renovation of apartments, townhomes, and lofts in NYC. Recognizing the importance of differentiation in a competitive industry, Alex has developed a clear and compelling brand identity for the company. Through meticulous market analysis and a deep understanding of customer needs, he has honed the firm's unique value proposition, highlighting its ability to deliver innovative, sustainable, and high-quality design-build solutions.




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