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Ooops it seems I bought a condo with...

13 years ago

...a very ugly kitchen and brand new appliances (very low end but still new). Yeah so not altogether sure what happened but I was contemplating trying on the gown up thing (wrong side of 40 so better late than never) and looking at buying in the fall and now I close July 17th. I may have been hypnotized.

Here it is (I like that it's a galley - the hideous louver doors open up into the in suite laundry - heaven):

In any case kitchen is very ugly and open to the rest of the unit. When my savings grow back a little I would probably increase the height of the pass through and eliminate the cupboards above (or shorten them anyway) and have a nice breakfast bar at the pass through.

After thinking about it I think I should re-do the kitchen (mostly just the cupboards and counter) on the cheap (3-4 grand, closer to 3) and then redo it for real later when I can afford to get new appliances I want (small apartment sized ones).

We have an Ikea so I am thinking Ikea, maybe custom doors (I know a place that does unpainted MDF and I bought the stuff to edgeband just last week), Ikea butcher block, a 1.5 sink, I have a faucet. It wouldn't look expensive but I think it could look cute. Canadian government is currently offering a 15% tax rebate for home improvement costs. I'm not big on temp fixes but the way it is that kitchen is depressing. Anybody think this sounds like a really bad idea?

Comments (18)

  • sailormann
    13 years ago

    Congratulations on becoming a homeowner! A couple of points...

    Before you do anything other than painting to any room in your new place, live there for six months to a year. Some things that seem important now will be trivial soon and things that you aren't aware of could become major priorities.

    You may find you love the building and want to spend the rest of your life there - or you may decide to move on in a year and then you'll never recoup the money you spent renovating.

    I am a firm believer that you can't plan too much. If I were you I'd invest in some design software and start playing around with ideas for your place - kitchen/laundry/bathroom/living/dining whatever.

    Try as many different scenarios and ideas as you can. You'll find your self coming back to certain things over and over. Those are the things you should implement and forget all the other ideas you had (for now).

    Concurrently, spend time reading your condo regulations so that you know what you can and cannot do. For instance - are you allowed hardwood floor ? What type of cushioning ? Real hardwood or laminate ? Tile ?? Which walls are permanent ? Are you required to have licensed trades perfor, all work ?

    Once you have an idea of what you'd like to do, and are allowed to do, start to cost your ideas out. Be incredibly detailed about this process. The first reason is that you need to know what budget you need, and the second, and equally as important reason, is that you need some idea of what things cost so that you can deal knowledgeably with contractors.

    This process will probably take you the better part of a year, but don't be impatient. The 3 or 4 thousand dollars thatyou are soncidering spending right now will not be enough to finish even the smallest kitchen, and it really is not a good idea to buy things like cabinets with an eye to replacing or modifying them in a couple of years.

    They are too expensive. Far better to develop a great plan and work towards it than to do an incomplete and unsatisfying change for change's sake. Your kitchen is certainly not unworkable or ugly right now. Use it until you have the budget to complete the design that you really want.

    Good Luck !

  • desertsteph
    13 years ago

    no, i think it sounds like a good idea. at least you'll have appliances etc when you move in and can live with them for some time while you figure out the best use of space for you etc. and take your time making your plans and save up money to do it.

    I know I've decided to live in my space for a number of months before I make any major changes. I'm sort of making some plans now (in advance) but giving myself several options in most categories in case what I really think i want now isn't what i want once I move in. my plans say 'if W then X, else Y'...

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  • cotehele
    13 years ago

    Congratulations! You did a fabulous job with your mother's kitchen, and you are very savy about products and design. This is going to be fun!

  • Fori
    13 years ago

    The layout actually looks pretty good. I think you have great potential here!

  • rhome410
    13 years ago


    I have to say that the range next to the wall makes me cringe...Just wouldn't work for me. I don't want to rain on your plan, but I think I agree with Sailormann. I know you are up on a lot of remodel info after doing your mom's kitchen, but I think you should live in the space and get used to it a bit before you'll know exactly how you want it to work. It'll prevent the "I wish I would have"s.

    Maybe it's that we're coming from different lives and situations, but 3 to 4 thousand sounds like a lot to spend for something you plan to rip out in awhile. Some more colorful wall paint and some cool, long contemporary pulls on the cabinets might dress it up?

    Whatever you decide you know we're all behind you here and will be glad to help out if we can! Best wishes!

  • caryscott
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks for the responses.


    I will definitely move my stuff in before making my decision. I'm a nester and\or lazy(I have lived in my current apartment for over 15 years and the one before that for 8 or so I'm not one to chase something better). This unit was a pretty good deal and I consider myself quite lucky to have been able to have remained downtown which at my price range wasn't a lock. It will definitely come down to the pricing (I am pretty pragmatic) but it isn't a lot of cabinets and I am thinking a minimum of 5 years on the use (the new never used appliances are inexpensive but also simple so there is a lot less that can go wrong with them).


    I'm fortunate to be a cultural worker who works for the government but still a cultural worker so not a lot of resources and until closing I won't see all the costs (3-4 thousand is a lot of money to me). The other thing is a couple of the doors are damaged, at least one of the 4 drawers is a bit wonky - while I would keep the footprint I think I could still improve the function a fair bit along with the looks (the other thing that influences me is that the appliances are new - for not a whole lot it could be a new kitchen, not my dream kitchen but something attractive and functional). I have always cooked but I will be eating at home more than ever now. I'm thinking of it as a very aggressive face lift.

    Once I'm in I'll cost it out and check back in on it. Thanks again for the feeback.

  • writersblock (9b/10a)
    13 years ago

    Congratulations, caryscott! Another thing is that once you're in and start meeting neighbors, you'll probably see lots of clever workarounds that didn't occur to you on your own. Give it plenty of time, as sailormann said.

    (BTW, I've seen ikea that looked very cheap and I've seen ikea that looked like a million bucks, even with the stock doors. It depends on the trim work and the rest of it.)

  • lascatx
    13 years ago

    You may have some things that are not in the best condition, but trust me, many if not most of us have lived with those things for a while -- not to mention the camping out you have to do while the reno is in progress.

    Think about it -- that $3-4,000 could buy a couple of those appliances, at least. Maybe all your cabinets and counters if you do an Ikea kitchen or you take the time to plan and search for salvage and reuse option. Make all your dollars count and plan for a one time fixer up. You may be able to do something fabulous and long term for just a little more.

  • bmorepanic
    13 years ago

    What Sailorman said...

    I'm always for waiting after move in. I have every confidence you'll figure out a good plan that will fit your budget when the time comes. We can help!

    And congrats.

  • biochem101
    13 years ago

    OOOOO....How exciting! :) Good for you.

    Me thinks maybe that kitchen called out "Rescue me! I need the caryscott touch!"

    Cary, you did such a nice job on your mother's kitchen, with so much attention to detail, you really deserve a cool kitchen of your own. I see you waiting, saving up, REALLY planning it out, and ending up with a way cool little urban galley. Do it for yourself. ESPECIALLY if you'll be in it 10 years!


  • morton5
    13 years ago

    Congratulations, Caryscott! Please tell me what a cultural worker does-- I don't think we have those in the U.S., but maybe I'm not informed.

  • charlikin
    13 years ago

    Hey, cary, congrats on the new digs!

    That's a great galley kitchen. Better layout than mine - I have the fridge, d/w, sink & stove all lined up on one wall because the kitchen's too narrow to put the fridge on the opposite wall, so you're way ahead of the game as far as I'm concerned.

    And, hey, I *wanted* those cabinets back in the 80's!!! ;-)

    Seriously, take everyone's advice. Live with it for a while. Once you've moved in with all your own stuff there, it won't seem so bad, and then you can save your bucks and do a nicer, more long-lasting reno later on.

    Meanwhile, enjoy it!!!

  • nalcar
    13 years ago

    Wow. Congrats, and what great potential. Charlikin's gorgeous galley gives some idea what can be done. I think your creativity and talent and artistic eye for color will yield a great unique result!

    I'd love to see some 2-sided clear glass door upper cabs with inner display and underlighting for that pass through, or some combo with cabs and a suspended open shelf, etc. to partially define and add interest to the area while preserving openness.
    Sometimes just ripping out uppers over a counter can end up a bit plain.

    Some dramatic decorative lighting to enhance evening/ entertaining mood as well as working functionality is fun too, in a smaller space.

    Spend time with it as is. Make 100 different plans. Draw on grids, try Photoshop, comb through magazines, try everything for a year until there are no more possibilities.

    Just ask if you'd like some photoshop help to visualize any ideas.

  • southernstitcher
    13 years ago

    I just wanted to say congrats, and yes, you did a splendid job at your Mom's. I've looked at her kitchen several times and thought how nice of you to get involved for her.
    I would wait. We changed the floors in our house too soon. Thank goodness when DH told me no reno 3 years ago I bided my time and didn't go ahead and get a new counter top then. I had the sense to know that a new counter would just make the cabinets look worse. So glad I waited, and found GW!

  • charlikin
    13 years ago

    Btw, with regard to enlarging the pass-through... are you sure you would want to lose all that upper cabinet space? A realtor suggested to me I should have done a pass-through in my kitchen - although I would have loved having a breakfast bar, it's a tiny kitchen. Storage space is critical. (Especially upper cabinet space where I don't have to bend.)

  • marybeth1
    13 years ago

    Congrats Caryscott! Sailorman offered great advice. I know what it is to move in to a dated house. Your initial instinct is to rip everything out. But paint is cheap and that and small changes can make a big difference. Save some money to do what you want after you have lived with it awhile and planned what you want. I moved in to my circa 1980's home 8 years ago and I am so glad we waited I hope you don't have to wait as long as I did LOL! Rhome said it perfectly $3000 is still allot of money to rip it out but I know you know that. The biggest thrill is that it's yours and when the time is right you will have a beautiful kitchen. I don't know where you live but when I was shopping for cabinets I found a local cabinet maker was much more cost effective than a boxed cabinet. I got a great quality cabinet and I was able to use every inch of precious space in my small kitchen. Enjoy your new home for now don't rush I'm sure you will put your personal touch on it.

  • caryscott
    Original Author
    13 years ago


    Thanks everybody I appreciate the feedback and encouragement. After years in a 40's era walk-up (my unit is a walk down) with a coved ceiling and arched doorways the change to an 1986 high rise is a big one but I think I can infuse it with some charm.

    My design mind is quite slow (and stubborn I love all those tiny appliances) but I finally have an idea how I can make it work with the full(ish) size appliances provided so I can do the kitchen just the once and just replace the current appliances when they conk out. We have a DIY Cabinets (which is Kitchen Craft sold stock) so you can pop next store to KC if you need a semi-custom piece. Once I am actually in I will post some options. I'm using heritage Collection colours and going for a faux period feel (down the line when I can afford to change the floors and moldings). New downtown condo construction is still booming and I think in this type of unit you could never compete with them while the conversion of old apartment buildings to condo isn't permitted by the provincial government so if you don't like modern you may have to look for a while so that's the niche I'm looking at - I like it anyway and my penchant for modern furniture adds some tension.


    Thanks so much it is exciting and very nerve racking in a good way.


    pretentious term (sorry!) for someone who works in the arts


    some great ideas - my process is usually horrible pencil sketches of the basic shapes until I get a shape I can live with then to the graph paper or a computer program


    I was glad to see your kitchen is going ahead. It wasn't selfless as the practice will help with my own and believe me I am calling it in - I have already requested draperies for both windows


    I have been thinking about your kitchen as I have been doodling. I was also thinking I am as excited by the in suite laundry as you were by your dishwasher. Someone recently posted some more of those oak handled beauties and my first thought was poor soul - and what do I get? I should be more grateful I am sure they helped keep the unit in my price range. While I don't have much cupboard space in my current unit it is all built on site full height so I'm not taking anything away in the new place until I see what fits. Where the laundry is is just dead space on one side so it would make a good pantry.

    Off to the bank (again) and then more packing and cleaning - how did I accumulate so much crap?

  • olga_d
    13 years ago

    I think white Ikea cabs would make the white appliances blend in nicely. Add in a nice grey-blue on the walls and a grey-ish laminate counter and it would look awesome for not too much $$$.

    I'd only take out the hanging uppers if you can add cabinetry elsewhere - function before form IMO (though we got rid of our "pass through" also and are so happy we did). Perhaps double-sided cabs on the bottom could work?

    You did a great job on your mom's kitchen, I'm sure this one will look even better when you're done!