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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about buying a not-yet-built condo from plans, which you can find here. Today, I’m going to show you a condo kitchen in an existing building that I re-designed and remodeled recently as part of a larger project.
Watch for the tips that I’ll drop like bread crumbs along the path…
When you start with a great building in a location close to major access points and a view like this one, it’s worth spending the money to do a renovation to get it how you want it. But like everything, the renovation investment needs to be in proportion to the cost of the unit. Don’t necessarily be swayed by the quality of materials that were used originally….
WHAT A DEVELOPER PAYS FOR THE KITCHEN
While discussing a new building with units priced at $1 million plus with a well-known developer in Toronto, I was told he wanted to keep the kitchen cost under $4,000 per unit. Even at a wholesale price that’s like putting a Hyundai engine in a Mercedes body. His view was that it was his obligation was limited to putting in a kitchen, period.
So if you’re looking at buying a unit in an existing building that has its original kitchen, which you intend to live in as your primary residence, you may have to factor in a renovation into your purchase price budget.
THIS CONDO KITCHEN GAVE ME INDIGESTION
Kitchens are one of the most frequently renovated spaces regardless of whether they’re in free-standing homes, town homes or condominiums.
This kitchen didn’t have much going for it and it was downright FUGLY.
The building was less than 10 years old so the fact that it was out of style before it was even built was most unfortunate. The kitchen’s transgressions were:
- Cabinet style stuck in the 1980’s
- Only one bank of 4 drawers
- All base cabinets had one half shelf — hard to reach and bad use of space
- Hardware store quality, ceiling fluorescent light fixture with no under cabinet lighting
- Huge soffit above the wall cabinets so cheaper, shorter cabinets could be used with no finishing touches like crown molding.
- Shallow cabinet over a deep fridge making it impossible to reach, therefore useless
- No side panel to enclose the fridge so the crevice between fridge and counter gets gungy and gucky
- A bland floor tile with no style (also repeated at the front door. yuck.)
- Breakfast nook that was too small to allow a free-standing table without blocking the entrance to the dining room or the sliding door to the terrace.
- A stub wall separating kitchen from eating area which made the kitchen dark and limited counter space.
THE CURE WAS SURGERY
When renovating a kitchen in a condo building (multi-unit, multi-storey), there are a few obstacles you have to work around:
- The sink has to stay within inches of its existing location since the units above and below all share the plumbing route
- Similarly, the range can only move along the line of the existing exhaust vent
- Unless the building is outfitted with gas for existing ranges, hot water heaters or dryers, you won’t be able to bring in a new gas line so will need an electric or induction cooktop.
- If you want to remove walls or parts of walls, have a professional look at the building’s plans to ensure the wall is not structural. If it is structural, you can not move or remove it.
- Depending on your particular building, you may have to get permission from the condo corporation/board to do a renovation and your agreement may stipulate that they have the right to approve the materials before you proceed.
In this case, the renovation was fairly simple. It was a case of stripping everything out, including cabinets, counters, plumbing, appliances and flooring as well as that nasty soffit. We were lucky, as the duct for the extraction fan was running through the ceiling, meaning it wasn’t hiding in the soffit as many do, so we could get rid of it.
The key in any renovation is to upgrade the room without overspending. So the trick is when you find something fantastic, but wildly expensive like the carved porcelain floor tile below, you incorporate it sparingly.
In this case I used the tile only down the center of the floor, surrounded by a more neutral, less expensive porcelain.
Once the floor was in, we could start adding back the new elements: cabinets, quartz counter top, new appliances.
The cabinets had been waiting in the dining area ready for installation:
Then the installation was truly underway, with white painted Shaker cabinets which are a transitional style choice…
To combat the lack of space for an eating area, I built the eating counter into the rest of the top….
….adding extra work surface, more base storage and a sweet table for two with an interesting pedestal.
With the addition of a blue glass tile backsplash which adds a touch of sparkle, some under cabinet lighting and a valance the condo kitchen gets some style and heaps more storage and counter space. Perfect for a romantic dinner for two!
If you liked this post and would like to receive my weekly updates in your inbox without knocking out walls to get it, just sign up here and as a thank you, receive a free copy of my digital kitchen planner. I never sell, trade, or otherwise pimp-out your e-mail address!
If you’re contemplating a kitchen renovation, you won’t want to be without the ultimate hand-book:
Renovation Bootcamp®: Kitchen — Design and Remodel Your Kitchen Without Losing Your Wallet, Your Mind or Your Spouse
Find the digital version of the book and workbook here. Otherwise, find the paper version at Amazon.com and dot ca.
If you need help planning your renovation, whether in a home or condo, you might qualify for my online design services. You can see how they work and find them here.
In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or need some advice in the comments below. I really do Love to give advice — it’s so much easier than taking it! And feel free to share the love with your friends on social media or by pasting a link to this post in an e-mail. They’ll thank you for it!