I just came back from looking at a rental condo. The owner got a pretty good deal. The new renovations done in the condo by the previous owner are inspiring this post. I have to say that the owner was renovating it for his own use, but it’s a good example of spending money in a inappropriate way.
Quality Is Great
Every element of the apartment is renovated with good quality materials. They didn’t go cheap. Each individual item is very nice. It’s the way it all fits together that’s the problem. Kind of like a cow’s head on a horse. For example the kitchen cabinets are very high quality, but they are hunter green colour. The tile back-splash is also nice but it’s a moss green colour. Then there’s a black granite Corian counter-top with an under-mount sink. The walls are painted greeny grey throughout including the bathroom. Floors are light birch laminate, the full length panel doors are black frame dark cherry.
I’m not a designer but it’s hard to imagine that a person exists that thought this was a good idea. Nothing matches and the dark grey paint throughout makes it dim and unappealing.
What do I think?
So then the owner asks me what I think about his new acquisition. I like the size and location but the decor leaves so much to be desired. It tries so hard to be high end, but the devil is in the details. The baseboard’s not upgraded, the electrical sockets are original but the bathrooms have designer toilets and sinks. It’s almost a case study in what not to do. I tell him what I think, I recommend he repaint the place, the tile back-splash and buy some mirrors. He wants me to rent it as is.
Here’s My To Do List When Renovating
Keep it Consistent.
Keep it Neutral
Keep it Under Budget
Keep it Bright and Airy
Consistency is important, there’s no use putting in a $3000 oven and a $2500 fridge in a building where you can’t also put in a dishwasher and en-suite laundry. Finishes should also be consistent. No dark cherry panel doors and birch laminate floors.
You’ll want to keep colours and finishes neutral. White, beige, tan are great! My favourite paint colour for most rental apartments is called Informal Ivory which you can get at Home Depot. It’s boring I know but tenants have their own furniture which they need to move in with and it can’t clash with your apartment. Tenants are not going to buy new furniture that will go well with your designer pink and red polka dot paint job. No overwhelming statements of your personal taste.
Keep it Under Budjet
There’s no point in buying a $5oo designer toilet for most rentals. Potential tenants care if it works, not if the tank lid has an extra little ridge. Most people will be unable to discern if you spent $100 or $1000 on your toilet.
Again keep things consistent, if you have a 4000 square foot luxury home, you have to spend more to keep the look consistent.
Cheap upgrades include new laminate counter-tops, (Scarborough Countertops has good prices and they’ll cut it to size within a day or so), changing the electrical outlets to Decora, painting, baseboards and double sinks.
Keep it Bright and Airy
Went I was renting in the building we had the original dark wood cabinets from the 70’s to contend with. Whenever we could we would get maintenance to paint them white. The owner didn’t like it because it cost more to paint every kitchen. We kept telling him that white kitchens rented better. Finally we convinced him when we managed to rent every single white kitchen apartment and we had 17 of the dark wood ones for rent.
Light kitchen cabinets, walls and floors make small spaces look bigger. You can use dark counter-tops as accents, or install rich dark hardwood floors. Don’t pick dark cabinets, dark counter-tops, dark walls and dark back-splash. No one wants to cook in a dungeon.
If you have Bad Taste!
Not everyone can be as great as me! If you think your green plaid pants go with your blue polka dot tie and red shirt, hire someone or ask a friend or family member to help with your choices. Don’t let them go crazy either. You want to pick finishes that look expensive but are not expensive.
Vacancy is an Opportunity to Upgrade
Most landlords won’t do major renovations with a tenant in the apartment. It’s too hard on the tradespeople and the tenant. When tenants leave it’s a good time to consider a minor improvement. There’s no need to go crazy, but small improvements every time your apartment comes vacant are affordable and manageable. This way your property is always upgraded and command the highest rents.
Don’t forget to subscribe, you’ll have another great article right in your email! Today's subscribers will get a piece of pink bird’s eye maple laminate kitchen whenever the owner gets around to removing it! Your very own evidence of historical decor nightmare. You can show your kids when they grow up. Look kids, millions of years of evolution and we managed to invent pink, plastic, fake, wood to glue to our kitchens. Can anything be so ugly? Yours today only!