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Update kitchen or rip out powder room and create open floor plan?

Amy L
2 years ago
last modified: 2 years ago

We just bought a new house - a 1998 townhome with a spectacular view. The kitchen is small but functional, then next to the kitchen is a giant powder room, then a moderate sized dining/living room open space that opens onto patio with the view.

Dilemma - I can't decide if I just spruce up the existing kitchen (paint or replace cabinet doors, add a breakfast bar and a coffee corner) or go for full renovation to include ripping out the powder room to create an open floor plan and a larger kitchen (new tiny powder room will fit in huge closet under the stairs). I know literally nothing about kitchens, renovations, value-add, or interior design, which is why I'm struggling with what makes the most sense.

Some extra info on where we are:

* The house is not our primary home. It's a vacation home that we'll use a few weeks of the year to be near the grandparents and it will be a higher-end (for the area) short-term rental the rest of the time. And it's an investment, as it will pass down to the kids or perhaps be sold to pay for their university or whatever.

* This new house is on a mortgage, but rent will mostly cover that. To pay for a kitchen renovation, we'd be re-financing the equity in our primary home as we don't have nearly enough $ (but can manage the increase in our own payment). We're likely going to refinance anyway this year, to furnish this place for short-term rental and do other smaller cosmetic things that need done (there are a lot, house has not been touched since it was built) and for other reasons.

* Leaving the kitchen for now and thinking about renovation in the future isn't an option. That was the way I was going to go, but then we discovered that in our city property tax value is only assessed at home sale or when a permit is pulled for renovation. Our property taxes will never go up from where they are now, UNLESS we renovate and pull a permit to do so.

What would you do? I'm told to expect easily $120k to remove powder room and renovate kitchen, possibly more (?!?!!!). Then likely >$15k to tuck a new powder room under the stairs (plumbing needs to be run about 8-9feet, there's a garage directly underneath so not likely a terrible problem in terms of access to do this). That's 30% of what we paid for the entire house!! While I think open floor plan and new kitchen would be spectacular, I have a hard time thinking that it's even remotely worth it? Need help from you pros, if you'd be so kind!

(I put listing photos of kitchen here, each picture shows nearly entirety of length of kitchen. Also some poorly done floor plans I tried to figure out on some free floorplan designer - yes, I have zero talent in this but it has helped me to see a little of what might be possible).

novice sketch of current floor-plan, with a breakfast bar and coffee corner added:

Novice sketch of possible new open floor plan, powder room now in closet under stairs. Hard to see, but idea is that's a counter and not a wall between dining room and kitchen. I haven't a clue how to design a kitchen so I just stuck things around...

Here's living room/dining room listing photo (so open floor plan would remove that far wall past dining table and would instead be open island/breakfast bar looking into the kitchen - as a note we'll be adding an electric fireplace where TV currently is and sprucing up lighting/ stair banisters so hopefully this space will look better regardless):

Last photo, just to show the view and balcony outside the living room. We intend to make the space a bit more luxurious and on the higher end of per night costs in this area (which are still not all that high)...

(as a note, these are listing photos from sale. I would never decorate my space this way - and that clock touching the ceiling drives me batty... but this space is empty and waiting on us to refinish floors, hopefully build in an electric fireplace where TV is, and improve lighting and decor... ideas on that area also welcome!)

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