Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Most old condos show their age and when purchasing an old condo there are few advantages- one would be the size of the rooms which in some cases are larger than in newer condos and the location- some of the older condos are in great locations in the city.

However, there are many factors to consider when buying or selling an old condo, and one I came across very often lately is the renovation aspect. There are mostly two categories:

1. People want to move in and renovate their condo so it looks like new or so it sells better in few years, however when they get down to making the list and getting quotes from contractors they end up with five or six digit numbers!

2. People want to move out and renovate it for a better selling price.

Before you buy an old condo make sure you obtain all available documentation from the Condo Board (your real estate agent will know exactly what documents are required). You need to know the history of that condo suite. Many times condo owners take on their own renovation projects without letting the condo board know and this affects you if you move into a unit that’s doesn’t look like on the floor plan. You should also provide the condo board with all paperwork required before you start a renovation so the next owner will know what changes have been made.

Let’s start with the 2nd category: of condo owners renovating for a better selling price. Depending on the timing you may actually consider to drop the price and let the future owner renovate according to their own taste.

At the end of the day it may cost you about the same amount unless your condo is in a really bad shape. Renovations don’t only cost money; it takes time and patience of living in an “under construction” space and it will definitely affect your lifestyle during the renovation.

Bathroom renovations would be the first area to tackle where new plumbing fixtures alone may help. Next in line would be tiles upgrade- you can read more about bathroom renovations in two previous blog posts here and here.

Flooring throughout is the next item I would consider. It is a larger investment but done properly it could create the look of a brand new space! If your current floors are carpet- definitely upgrade to engineered or laminate flooring. If your floors are the old type of 6”x6” parquet, you can just consider re-staining the entire floor in a darker color which will give a more up to date look.

One item that is often forgotten is the baseboard. Most old condos come with a 3” baseboard or even a 2 ½”. Many retail stores carry inexpensive paint grade mdf or wood baseboards and depending on your ceiling height you can consider at least a 4” if not a 5” baseboard.

Next- I would consider renovating the kitchen. Upgrading the appliances would be a must and with all great discounts offered by most retails stores, it may be an easy upgrade to consider.

Most old condos kitchens do not have an open space layout. Is this a reason to knock down walls and reconfigure the space in order to create an open concept? Maybe…maybe not!

If the living/dining area is large enough you don’t necessarily need to change the layout. Having a closed in kitchen offers a different type of lifestyle- it may not be large enough for entertaining guests while you prepare or just organize meals during a party.

The new open concept kitchens are designed for a different lifestyle, one that incorporates meals preparation and spending time with family and friends. However, if you absolutely detest having the smell of cooked food going into the living area (I have met people who never wanted the smell of cooked food in any room!), you may consider keeping kitchen as a separate room.

For the 1st category my advice is: renovate for yourself first and then think of resale. If you just moved in, change the items that you absolutely must! If you haven’t moved in, perhaps talk to a contractor and get an idea of how much you would need to invest to create the condo of your dreams, you may end up knowing exactly how much you will end up spending and you may choose a new condo.

So…is it worth to move in an old condo and renovate? It may be! If you like the location, the neighbours, the common areas look, the monthly condo fees, the size, design and functionality of the amenity spaces, the size of your condo, the ceiling height, the size of the windows (sometimes smaller in older condos vs floor to ceiling, wall to wall in new condos) the view and the price (after you considered how much you would need to invest in renovating it)… then it looks like a great find! If not, there are plenty of new condos to choose from, the number of New Developments are constantly increasing, click here to find out details.

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  1. You describe very well for kitchen design. I think you are right.The best way of arrangement a new kitchen Designs is to draw up a scale plan of the layout on graph paper.
    Kitchen Renovations

  2. Thank you!
    Good to see you here Kitchen Renovations...any expert quick tips for kitchen renos for our readers?

  3. There is a lot of effort to do when you are renovating a condo and your blog is very inspiring. A lot of informations and ideas we could get here. Thanks for sharing this.:)

  4. We have a plan to renovate our house and those information can be help. I am agree with Nehv that you need a lot of effort to renovate condo or any properties. We should need also to consider a lot of things because renovating something is needing of time and money. Anyway, thanks for sharing it with us. Keep it up.

    1. Gaile, renovating takes time and money but when it's done right it could be fun and very rewarding in the end :)

  5. I am also thinking to renovate my condo for 2-3 months but never find any proper guidance of decorating and rearranging things in the rooms.This blog really help me to sort out this problem and boost up my confidence level. I always appreciate these kind of Great posts which comes at right time. I like your suggestions and hopefully try to do that to get good value of condo in future.

    1. there is a lot do talk about when it comes to old condos that need a facelift or some serious renovation, I am working on creating more posts to help many condo owners out there :) stay tuned!
      I love your work btw!!!

  6. If ever you plan to sell your condo, kitchen and bathroom renovations greatly increase the value of the property. It is also necessary to hire professional team and with proven history of building excellent projects.


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