Nothing keeps K. David Meit, executive vice president of DARO Realty Inc., from his appointed mission. After six months of searching for the perfect kitchen cabinet, he emerged victoriously from an office stacked high with options. The winner: a white thermofoil cabinet with traditional detail and a raised panel. Meit was well on his way to a successful rehab.
"My entire office was full of cabinets because we didn't want to buy a standard builder-grade, stapled, and glued product," Meit says. "We wanted something that was more of a dowel product or dovetailed together, something that is going to be a little longer-lasting than what you get at the supply house."
Meit is just one of many owners searching for creative ways to make older properties stand out from the competition. After all, kitchens are one of the first rooms prospective renters check out.
"When they walk into the unit, they're going to go and open the refrigerator door and open the kitchen cabinet," says Dan Doyle, assistant vice president of development at Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Village Green Cos. "They're going to spend more time there than they probably would elsewhere in the units as they're making their decision on whether or not they want to lease the apartment."
But rehabbing a kitchen is no piece of cake. Owners and managers must sift through endless types of cabinets, countertops, and flooring, not to mention appliance and lighting options. And if money allows, there's also the possibility of enlarging and reconfiguring rooms.
Properties typically upgrade when units need a little refreshing or when the rent's going up. But today, tough leasing months often dictate when it's time for a change.
The following examples show how kitchens can go from bottom of the barrel to top-notch, whether in a high-end condo or an affordable rental.
Transformations The Look of Luxury When you're updating a property to a luxury community or high-end condo, certain products are a must. Residents expect stainless steel or even commercial-grade appliances, granite or quartz-based countertops, and wood cabinetry, says Neena Jud, project architect at Cole + Russell Architects, a Cincinnati-based firm. Ultra-luxury properties may offer a main sink plus a smaller vegetable sink and glass-front cabinets in which to display fine china.
Nirvana, a 374-unit Miami property developed by Miami-based Midtown Group LLC, is shooting for a contemporary look as it transforms from a low- to middle-income rental to a hip, edgy condo for young professionals.