NYC Rental Kitchen Remodel - Part 1

When you live in New York City (especially as a broke twenty-something), you have to give up a lot of modern convinces that come standard in most other American kitchens.

My first NYC apartment. This kitchen was considered "spacious" by some.

My first NYC apartment. This kitchen was considered "spacious" by some.

You quickly relinquish any hope of ever possessing seemingly basic amenities like dishwashers, closets, electrical outlets, windows...

Things I learned from my second NYC kitchen: Vent fans are a necessity. There's no point in fixing that broken cabinet door, it's just going to fall off again. Keurigs are nothing but expensive roach condos.

Things I learned from my second NYC kitchen: Vent fans are a necessity. There's no point in fixing that broken cabinet door, it's just going to fall off again. Keurigs are nothing but expensive roach condos.

From a tiny micro-kitchen with zero counter space to a nasty bug infestation, we've had our fair share of nightmare kitchens. So when Andrew and I moved into our third apartment β€” as much-less-broke almost-thirty-somethings β€” we were ready to put a little more of our resources behind a nicer place and a proper space to cook.

I have abundant natural light, spacious counters, and coveted stainless steel appliances (including a dishwasher!) but there is still one pain point to my current kitchen β€” the decor.

Butters loves the kitchen, but cats don't know anything about interior design.

Butters loves the kitchen, but cats don't know anything about interior design.

My criticism of this space is entirely subjective. I know there are plenty of people who would love this kitchen exactly the way it is! It's just not my taste at all and as a food photographer, I need a neutral space to shoot in to keep my work looking modern and on-trend.

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I'm longing for the day I can design my dream kitchen, with crisp white cabinets, open shelving, and rich butcher block countertops. But that day is not today. In fact, I can't do anything to this kitchen that is not entirely reversible. Reversible as in not even a nail hole to be seen. I've scoured the internet for ideas on how to give my kitchen a non-destructive makeover, but everything I found will not work for the following reasons:

1. TIME & MONEY. According to the internet, my only option for covering my orange-brown, outdated tile backsplash is to cover them in tile stickers. But those things quickly add up to hundreds of dollars, and there is no reality in which I have the patience to meticulously cover β€” and worse, remove β€” each of these 2-inch squares individually.

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2. EQUIPMENT NEEDS. Oh hey there Interior Design Blogger, you made yourself a DIY countertop with a table saw and power sander in your garage? Congratulations. I live in a 600 square foot apartment above a bodega and a gas station so no, I do not own any power tools. If it can't come together with scissors and some duct tape, it's not happening.

Power tool storage is not really a priority.

Power tool storage is not really a priority.

3. PAINT. While I would love to repaint every inch of this apartment over the manila folder color my super chose, I have neither the time nor the energy (see #1). Painting the cabinets is 100% off the table.

But I'm never one to back away from a challenge, so I'll be updating this space with a completely reversible makeover. The most complicated tool I'll be using will be an Exacto knife, and I'm attempting to complete the project in under $200.

Using a neutral palette of blues, dark grays, and white will hopefully neutralize the orange tones, bringing out the richness of the wood cabinets and the black and gray speckles in the granite countertops. I'm going to de-clutter the space as much as possible and create unity by selecting accessories more intentionally.

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Besides the blue/dark gray/white color palette, I'm also adding in touches of metallics for a fun, modern vibe. I've got an idea for a completely removable backsplash that I hope doesn't fail miserably. Plus, lots of plants!

Next week, I'll share an update on the progress, as well as some of the fun (and inexpensive!) items I've added to the space that have already made a huge difference. Stay tuned as well for a step-by-step on the removable backsplash and the big before/after reveal!

Katie + Greg | Tarrytown, NY Wedding

I'm building out my portfolio of wedding photography a little at a time, jumping in as a second shooter here and there whenever I can. I feel like each wedding is a total crash course, and I've been lucky to work some really amazing photographers who've taught me so much! This wedding was photographed for Jessica Mae Cortes β€” I joined her as her second shooter on an absolutely perfect day in Tarrytown, NY. Jessica's work is so incredibly lovely and she primarily shoots on film! I was completely floored by her skill at switching between THREE different cameras, and she expertly captured the most crucial moments like it was NBD. Jessica is also a completely lovely person, and I had a blast learning from her and working with this beautiful couple!

The bride and groom, Katie + Greg, are a wonderful pair and they spent the day making each other laugh. Their wedding day was filled with so many special touches (those Kate Spade shoes! the dahlias + eucalyptus! the signature cocktails!), and you could feel the energy and joy from everyone there. Thank you so much for having me, Jessica, Katie + Greg!

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Kate + George | DUMBO Engagement Session

I'm so excited to share this engagement session from earlier this summer β€” Kate + George are such a lovely couple! Having just moved to NYC from South Africa, we decided to capture some classic New York sites in our shoot so they could celebrate not only their engagement, but also their new home! We started with a few shots at a historic downtown subway station before heading across the river into DUMBO. Between the cobblestone streets, gorgeous architecture, and skyline views, DUMBO is easily one of my favorite places to shoot. Kate's sister and brother-in-law gifted them this shoot, and they were there to get in on the fun!

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Sarah + Chris | Long Island City Maternity

Sarah and Chris are our closest couple friends (and I've known Sarah since my freshman year of college) so it's been a pretty exciting few months as they've been expecting their first baby! Baby Ittner-Triebel should make his appearance next month (and I can't wait to take all the photos) but until that time, we've been documenting Sarah's pregnancy with a little bit of whimsy and a whole lot of humor. Today, I'm sharing a quick shoot we did earlier this summer at Gantry Plaza State Park to announce their new addition to the world!

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Farm Visit with Local Roots | Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook, NY

A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to visit Roxbury Farm along with Local Roots, an awesome CSA company bringing locally-sourced food to community pick up sites around NYC. It's always a joy to get to meet the people who grow our food, and supporting farmers through CSAs has been a passion of mine, even before I worked in the local food movement. Our experience with food is typically so isolated, it can be hard to remember the labor and love that goes into growing it. I've been lucky enough to visit a few farms in the area, to witness that dedication first hand. Farmers are a truly incredible group of people so if you don't know yours, try to meet them!

Along with the folks at Local Roots and a few other lovely local foodies, we explored the beautiful fields, stood in a room with 15,000 lbs of onions, picked peppers and tomatoes from the vine, ate corn on the cob right off the stalk, and then took our harvest back to make the freshest lunch you can imagine!

Thank you Local Roots and the crew at Roxbury Farm for having me!

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Emily + Justin | Central Park Engagement


When we first planned their photo shoot, Justin and Emily were just looking for a few photos to commemorate their vacation to NYC. However, a week or so before the shoot, Justin reached out to me to let me know some exciting news β€” he was going to propose to Emily! We hatched a plan to surprise her while grabbing a cup of coffee at the UES Irving Farm Coffee Roasters (much like Andrew and me, they're pretty serious about their love of coffee!). After the big surprise, we made our way over to Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, and caught some lovely engagement shots on the way. Enjoy!

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Whitney + Justin | Jeresy City Pizza Party Wedding Reception

It's been over a year since the last time I blogged, and it's about time I start updating with all of the exciting things I've been up to! I recently took the leap to make my photography business my full-time gig, and I've had a wonderful summer full of fun projects, amazing trips, and delicious food! So to kick things off, I'm sharing one of my favorite shoots β€” a fabulous rooftop pizza party to celebrate the wedding of two good friends.

Whitney and I met on the marketing team at Farmigo and we bonded quickly over our shared vegetarianism and love of cats and baby farm animals. Now we share an anniversary! She and Justin had their legal wedding on June 16, the same day as mine. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate 5 years of marriage than to party with such a fun, loving, and inviting couple! As the photos prove, this reception was full of so much joy β€” every single person is grinning ear to ear (plus, Whitney's smile is downright infectious). Their wedding party was not just a celebration of love, but also of their wonderful community in their home 'hood of Jersey City. The event took place on the rooftop of Porta Pizza, a super-delicious (and photogenic!) restaurant overlooking Grove Street in downtown JC. Thanks for including me, Whit + Justin!

We started off the evening with a crucial photo op with the Cat of Honor, Winston, who got dressed up for the occasion. He wasn't exactly thrilled about it, though.

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