For part four of this series, look here: https://www.doityourself.com/stry/my-flipping-condo-part-four-demolition
Last week we had cottage cheese ceilings, stained carpet, a damaged shower and tub, old light fixtures, and peeling linoleum flooring. Today, we have a blank slate. A blank slate is the best part of a remodels, but it's also the most daunting. The demo is brainless, Neanderthal, and exhilarating. But the blank slate means you have to put something new down. This requires thinking and planning, and you have to use imagination and taste—assuming you have those tools and a good sense of what will appeal to most renters or buyers.
(If you watch enough HGTV, you pretty much know that an open concept, hardwood floors, bright walls, and new light fixtures are the key components of any remodel.) But knowing this and making the right choices are two different things, particularly since the choices are virtually endless.
Ever go to Home Depot and look at the paint color options provided not just by Behr, but by Glidden, Colorhouse, and Jeff Lewis Design? The options are no less paralyzing at Ace Hardware, which offers Benjamin Moore, Clark+Kensington, and Krylon, to name a few! If you're planning to match colors with furniture and other furnishings, you're in for multiple trips back to the store for color swatches and $5 paint samples, and your wall is bound to look like a mosaic art installation (which actually is an interesting design option).
But unless you're Vincent van Gogh meets Laura Ashley with a highly sophisticated sense of how to pair colors and tints of colors, the byproduct of your creative genius is likely to look more like paint class at nursery school. In the case of this condo, I’m planning to rent it out for the top dollar. I don’t want to alienate prospective renters with Kokopelli Teal or Exotic Fuchsia. I want the walls to look inviting, workable with multiple furnishings, and bright. With this in mind, there is only one color choice: white.
It’s simple, modern, and clean. It reflects light and goes with anything. But contrary to popular opinion, white is not a color. If you look at Benjamin Moore alone, you will find that their paint gallery offers 177 options for white. Yes, you read that correctly. And each one has its own unique hue of personality. Don’t be rash in making a choice, but don’t overthink it, either.
This is where other factors come into play. First, what is your flooring going to look like? What about your carpet? Are there any finishings already in place that will dictate whether the white should be a cool or warm? What kind of lighting are you using? Soft white or bright white? Halogen or LED? Are your doorknobs silver or gold? Is your banister black iron or brown? There are hues of white to compliment every circumstance. However, if you are starting with that blank slate, you get to choose anything you want (as long as it matches your other new finishes).
To help me with my paint decisions, I jumped over to the other new finishes—mainly the flooring. I already knew I was going with laminate flooring. My contractor has a good relationship with a particular company (which means cost savings for me) so I didn’t have to worry about multiple flooring samples from multiple companies. He showed me a cable loop of seven flooring samples, ranging from light pecan to dark hickory, and several brownish hues in-between. But there was one sample that immediately stood out. In fact, it was the same one I had used in my home office: Granite Ridge Oak. There was no question; gray was the color. There was also the matter of what to do with the stairs: we could go with laminate or carpet. I decided to go with a charcoal gray carpet that will serve as a nice contrast to the lighter gray flooring.
Once the flooring was decided, the paint choice fell into place. I knew that I want a clean, bright white, modern look. It took all of three minutes to reduce my white choices down to three and from there I chose the color that went the best with my gray hardwood floor: Polar Bear White.
Jumping into the kitchen, a decision needed to be made about the cabinets and countertops. The countertops are not attractive by any stretch of the imagination. They are old and stained, but they're also undamaged and neutral in color. In fact, when I held up the flooring sample I selected, the yellow in the counters could be found in the flooring. It just might work. The sorry-looking cabinets, however, wouldn’t. They were unpainted, discolored, and some of the wood was water damaged and splintered. We decided we would sand them down, replace the damaged panels, and paint the cabinets glossy white. Since the appliances are stainless steel and the floor gray laminate, the white walls and cabinets will give the kitchen a very modern facelift—and hopefully, the counters won't stick out like a sore thumb.
Upstairs in the bathroom, we faced bigger issues. As mentioned in Part Four, the shower and bathtub, flooring, and sinks all have to be replaced. For the shower, we had the option of dropping in a new pan and tiling the wall or installing a whole unit. Since tiling can be expensive and time-consuming and this is not a condo I will be living in, I went with the shower unit. For the tub, I went with a sleek, angular style over the more traditional, rounded look. I selected off-white Travertine tiles for the floor and bright white subway tiles to set behind the tub. The enamel coating in the two bathroom sinks had worn down to the cast iron, so there was a question about either replacing the sinks or repairing them with some sort of enamel refinishing paint. I decided to wait for the other work and decide later.
The last decision that needed to be made at this stage involved the lighting. The existing hanging fixtures are about 30 years old and old fashioned. They needed to go. I decided to replace the living room fixtures with LED track lighting that will light the entire space from one end to the other. I also decided to replace bedroom hanging fixtures with recessed lights. The hanging fixture in the downstairs powder room will be replaced with a new stainless steel fixture. The recessed cans in the entry and hallways will be replaced with newer, more energy-efficient styles.
With these decisions made, it was time for my contractor Haimi and his crew to transform this worn out condo into a new modern space. I was looking forward to seeing the transformation and you will see it, too, in the next installation of My Flipping Condo.
Next Up: Part Six - The Transformation