Our condo kitchen is the heart of our small space. The kitchen is where we eat family meals, kids do homework, and we sit with friends. We chose to live in a small, downtown condo that keeps us close to work, in a walkable neighborhood with restaurants and shopping. Our location makes life simpler. But, small space living puts big demands on kitchen design.
Our life happens in the kitchen, so it must be multi-functional. And, because the kitchen occupies a lot of our condo square footage, it’s the most important design element in our home. A condo kitchen remodel can solve both these issues, but the process can be challenging.
A condo kitchen remodel is messy, disruptive, and can be expensive. But planning for the chaos will make a huge difference in getting your family through the process. On the other side, you’ll have a simpler space designed for how you live. Expect big effort, but big results.
Jump into the kitchen design and remodel process with these ideas.
High-End Materials Fit the Budget in a Small Space
Sometimes a small space can become a big advantage. High-end finishes are affordable for small condo kitchens because the amount of material for the project is limited. And, condo kitchens are usually the primary feature of a small space and each design element can be viewed from throughout of the space. Here are some high-impact ways to take advantage of a kitchen’s small size with luxury finishes.
- Waterfall countertops. Granite or quartz countertops can be the focal point of a small kitchen and the waterfall version (that falls over the sides of the cabinets) creates a special detail. Because so many activities take place at the kitchen counter, investing in a visually interesting countertop is a great place to spend your budget.
- Unique faucets and taps. You only need one in a condo kitchen, so make it special. Here’s a round-up of kitchen faucet ideas and choices.
- Backsplash tile accents. Tile is a big-result upgrade, and a tile backsplash in a trendy color or pattern provides visual punch without much cost. Lots of cool backspace ideas here.
- Dramatic color. White can be the perfect color choice for a condo kitchen, but don’t overlook the impact of a dramatic color. And, when you’re ready to make a change, a quick coat of paint updates the space.
- High end appliances, but on a smaller scale. There’s probably not room for a six-burner Viking range in your small space or even access to gas in some buildings, but smaller scaled appliances make daily cooking a little simpler. Here’s a list of several ranges designed for small spaces.
A Simple Living Kitchen is Multi-functional
We eat all our family meals at the kitchen bar, even though we carved out a dining room in our small space. For us, the casual comfort of sitting on barstools around the kitchen island feels more comfortable than sitting at a dining room table. Generally, we save the dining room table for work and school projects that need space that won’t be disrupted by day-to-day meal prep, etc.
Here’s some other ways to bring multiple functions to a condo kitchen:
- Home office in the kitchen. Wire a base cabinet for electricity, and it can house a printer and scanner. With the addition of an ergonomic barstool and a laptop, your kitchen serves double duty as a home office.
- Open shelving. While open shelving in a condo kitchen seems counterintuitive, it brings light and color to a space. If you’e already done some ruthless decluttering, simple everyday dishes can double as decorative elements, provide color and texture to your small space.
- Homework station. A slightly different version of a home office, the homework station can be as simple as a drawer full of art supplies, pencils, erasers, and glue. Having all the materials for getting started make the homework routine just a little simpler.
- Go vertical. Storing kitchen utensils on the backsplash can be decorative and practical.
- Over the sink cutting board. A cutting board over the sink is neat trick when counter space is at a premium.
The Condo Kitchen Design Process
The kitchen remodel process starts with a plan. Whether you are obsessed with home décor and design or are new to the topic, the design process is about finding your style. When you are looking for condo kitchen ideas, think about sites you already visit for infomation.
Check for appealing Pinterest idea boards about simple living or minimalism in style, or look at kitchen pages on Instagram to find a look that matches your style and kitchen use needs. Still not sure which way to go? Consult a designer for insight into new trends or design inspiration. While most of us know what we like when we see it, but we may need to consult with a designer to help us make these longer-term decisions like appliances or cabinet style.
Online DIY kitchen design programs are a great place to start. Big box stores also have in-person and online services to help you decide how to make a change in your kitchen. Play around with keeping the bones of the kitchen the same, changing a few things around, and also starting from scratch. Once you have found the look and finishes you love, it’s time to get to work.
Choosing a Contractor vs. Contracting the Project Yourself
Completing a kitchen remodel can be pricey, so you will have to decide if you will save some money by being your own contractor or if hiring a professional is the best choice.
Hiring a contractor means you will have someone to act as a coordinator for the whole condo kitchen remodeling job. But before you roll up your sleeves, consider what a contractor can bring to the table versus what you will feel confident tackling. Hiring a Contractor means that someone will order products, organize all labor and timelines, and watch for permits needed. Your contractor may be on the job site occasionally but will manage all sub-contractor work to complete the job from start to finish. If you have no DIY or remodel experience, hiring out can be a great move. Finding a good contractor is key, so be sure to find a reputable one.
Acting as your Own Contractor is an option for an organized person who is willing to devote extra time and knowledge into this relatively new experience. The benefit of saving the contractor fee for the remodel is attractive and allows for you to put money toward higher end appliances and that snazzy countertop you’ve been eyeing. However, coordination of product ordering, managing on-site work, checking for permits, and making sure timelines are met are all part of the job of a contractor. A big job will give you a big payoff in the end, if you are up to it.
Remodeling a Condo Kitchen
Living in a condo means living with neighbors. The noise and disruption of your condo kitchen remodel will impact the people in your building, so plan ahead and know the rules. If your condo has a property manager, your first stop should be to ask for the property association’s rules regarding remodeling in your building.
If the building doesn’t have a property manager, your property owners association should be able to give you the details. You’ll need to know what type of property insurance is required for your contractor or trades people to work in the building, what safety rules are in place, and the hours in which construction is allowed.
Happy neighbors make for a happy life, so learn the remodeling rules before you start the process and do your best to comply.
Timeline of a Standard Kitchen Remodel
Whether you or your contractor is completing the work, most remodels follow a standard order of work. Of course, before demo day you will need to pack up any kitchen items that will be affected by the remodel as well as make a plan for meals while the kitchen is out of commission. The length of the expected timeline should be your guide here. For a full demo and remodel, pack away extra kitchen items into moving boxes. Shorter remodels lend themselves to picking up convenient take-out meals, but a longer timeline might mean planning for alternatives to eating out every meal.
Now that you are ready, let’s walk through what you can expect as you complete the remodeling process.
Demolition is the removal of any parts of your kitchen that you are replacing or upgrading. This process can be as simple as pulling up a countertop or removing flooring, or as complex as tearing back the room to the wall studs to create a clean starting slate.
Plumbing Installation comes next. If you are moving the sink or adding in a water-fill spout over your stove, this is when your plumbing contractor will install the necessary rerouted lines.
Cabinet Installation is when the magic happens! As the big boxes of cabinetry arrive, it might be hard to imagine how they all fit together to make your dream condo kitchen a reality. While the process may seem simple, cabinetry installation is key to pulling together the rest of the kitchen. If the cabinets are unevenly attached or are not connected well, your kitchen won’t be a dream for long. Cabinetry professionals will fit them together, level them appropriately, and secure them to the walls as well as each other now. Pulls and hardware might be attached, but if a cabinet is to be stained or painted, these will be removed at that point and reattached.
Countertop Installation is the next step in the process, but how long this takes depends on the materials chosen. Heavier types of countertops like quartz or granite usually arrive as large slabs and can be attached directly on top of the cabinetry with adhesives or other materials to secure them. Laminate or tile tops typically need an under layer, so a thin wood base layer may be put down prior to the chosen material application. More complicated is the concrete countertop, which will require a wood framing to be constructed before the concrete can be poured into place. Backsplashes may be installed at this time as well, if used.
Flooring is installed next, and the timeline here depends upon the floor choice. Tiles and wood are cut and then laid around the cabinetry, while polished concrete is a refinishing process for all exposed floor areas involving no adhesives or cutting of materials.
Electrical installations, if needed, are completed now. If the kitchen layout has changed, new plugs might be required to be installed to meet local codes, and fixtures can be hung or attached at this point.
Paint is one of the final transformations to make your dream condo kitchen ideas come to life! The kitchen is freshened up with a coat or two of paint at this stage, and cabinetry may now be painted or stained as well.
Appliance Installation is the last but most important part of your kitchen remodel. Whether you are reinstalling an appliance you already had or putting in a top-of-the-line model you’ve always wanted, your appliances are now moved into place and connected to the electrical, gas, or water lines.
From the start of your condo kitchen design to the final installation day, understanding the process of renovation is important to a successful transformation of your space. Knowing what to expect can lower stress and help you to enjoy the simple living of condo life.