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Layout puzzle: please poke holes in our condo reno plans!

mac cadam
last year


(Sorry this post is so long! I’m just trying to ge clear and thorough with our intentions and constraints)

We are planning our condo renovation and would love your help with our layout ideas. Broadly, we want to open-up and improve the kitchen, redo the floors throughout (currently carpet, mismatched cheap laminate, and ancient linoleum) and add some storage. We don’t have an unlimited budget, so we’re trying to identify the most bang for our buck by identifying low hanging fruit with big returns, so to speak. We also plan to live here for somewhere between 2 to 7 years (but potentially longer if upsizing is impossible), so we have a dual purpose of improving quality of life for a family of 4 in a 2 bedroom, as well as maximising the eventual resale value of the condo.

Here is the existing condition, along with a few constraints highlighted:

We’ve spoken to a few structural engineers, and are preparing to finalise their scope of work and select a quote. The consensus seems to be that the electrical panel will be a costly endeavour to relocate, and that the galley wall, if removed, would require a post beneath the flush beam in the ceiling which extends from the bedroom wall. But the galley wall can be removed up until the flush beam without need for reinforcement. Given that, it seems the little corner may as well stay in place…but on its own, it’s an awkward relic. So my layout options so far surround with either counters or cabinetry. Engineers have also confirmed the small bedroom could get a new door off the living room, but it’s a load bearing wall so we definitely need to balance the cost/benefit of what would be additional costs of engineering, contractors and permitting.

Some other notes, thoughts, constraints, questions :

-Top priority is to open up and expand the kitchen;

-Secondary objective is to improve the resale value, keep costs low, improve the dining space;

-Tertiary goals are to improve the foyer (which currently had no place for shoes or coats) and add some storage (pantry, off-season closets, stroller parking, etc.) these would be nice to have, but we may have to make compromises.

-We strongly prefer not to have a hood in the middle of the room (ie. over an island/peninsula). The existing hood fan is ductless, and ducting is not an option, so the eventual cooktop or range can go anywhere.

-We are shopping around for 2nd hand appliances, and lean towards having a bigger fridge, but also counter depth, so we probably need to stick with 36” wide. Cooktop and oven can be on the smaller side (Is 24” too small for resale?)

-An appliance garage for blender, mixer and pressure cooker would be nice if we can find a way to make it work.

-We prefer little to no above-counter cabinetry, but can live with some if we can’t create enough storage elsewhere

-In each layout where there is a peninsula, I’m showing 36”between peninsula and the opposite counter. Is that sufficient, given there’s no sink or stove on the peninsula?

-We are committed to keeping a dedicated dining table. And we think we’re okay with an L-kitchen that has a dining/kitchen table in the centre instead of an island… but we also recognize that islands/peninsulas are popular and could be a worthwhile investment with regards to resale value. Thoughts?

-We have a piano, and a record collection, which both take up wall space in the livingroom. Putting a bedroom door off the bedroom does constrain our living room furnishing options.

Okay, finally, here are a few layouts we like or that test out a different design solutions (there are over 20 permutations, so if you want to see more, let me know!):

1 - Kitchen peninsula, new BR door, new closets and cabinetry in old hallway.

I think I like this most… but it entails more buildling. And there’s a bottleneck between the entry and the kitchen… the small bedroom’s path to the bathroom is a bit long… but it yields so much storage space! And the kitchen layout? Okay but the sink and stove are slightly squished? Not ideal for two people to work at once. This layout also works without the change at the bedroom door, and the wall of cabinets facing the hall instead of the dining room.

2- Kitchen Peninsula, with an entry closet in the old kitchen door.

I really like the entry closet this creates, without requiring more changes to the walls. I’m imagining a built-in storage bench at the base (for sitting/perching while taking shoes on/off). Then coat hooks at your back while seated, and shoe/umbrella/hat/mitten cubbies to your right. It’s all forced to stay shallow because the fridge needs space for the door to swing open. The path to the bathroom is improved, but the kitchen gets less storage and it’s a longer walk into the kitchen from the entry.

3 - Same as above, but with fridge/pantry on the left, and swapped bedroom door.

I like aspects of this, but is it terrible having the fridge tucked behind the peninsula, and harder to access? And you have to pass by the cooktop from the fridge to the sink. How bad is that? I do kind of like the half-deep counter to the left of the sink. Is it better to have a counter directly facing the peninsula? Or is it good to have them staggered like this? This way two people can work in the kitchen back to back and not bump into one another. Here, the new bedroom door doesn’t create as much storage space, so we would probably not bother with it.

4 - same as above but with fridge up on the right.

In this case I’m showing a 30” fridge, because there isn’t enough with for more and have an entry closet on the other side. And I’m showing standard depth to maintain fridge volume. Consequently the corner of wall needs to be left a bit deeper, which encroaches on the kitchen space, especially between the fridge and the peninsula. Nevertheless, I like how moving the fridge up on the right gives a lot more space to the stove and sink. Although overall kitchen storage is reduced compared to some other plans. Just one wide but shallow pantry next to the fridge. If I can find a left-handed microwave, it could go in the hard to use corner to the right of the pantry. I like that we get a spacious kitchen AND entry closet, without a lot of changing walls.

5 - Island, with “L” opposite.

Another layput with staggered (not back to back) work spaces. A challenging dead corner. I don’t know about the kitchen counter just dying out on the left wall. I guess I could cap it off with a bookshelf? Or perhaps a built-in storage bench? Also the kitchen sink ends up for from it’s current location…a plumber will have to confirm if this is possible. And while it seems counter intuitive, even though you get two paths from the entry hall into the living and kitchen space, I feel like the island creates more of barrier to flow than the layouts with the peninsula and just one entrance from the hallway. Once again, I’m showing the bedroom door change, but for just a small gain, we may delete this part.

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