Condo Kitchen Renovation, Before & After

Hi, Liz here from the DIY & decorating blog For the detailed source information for this project, see the link for the 'Modern Swedish Farmhouse Style Condo Renovation' at the end of this post.

I recently was involved in helping with a condo renovation that I’m so excited to share with you. There is a lot to show, so I’m breaking it down in several posts, but this first one is an overview of the condo kitchen renovation. So without further ado, here are the before and after pics introducing you to how this went from quite a dull, closed-in 1980’s condo to an open concept space with timeless classic styling accented with a touch of ‘Modern Swedish Farmhouse’. (I think I just made up that term)
But before I show you the ‘Modern Swedish Farmhouse’ style, here are the before pics:
This single level, 2 bedroom condo was built in the late 70’s or early 80’s and had the walls and styling to prove it. There was a wall separating the kitchen from the dining space, and a wall separating the kitchen from the entry hall. For the pic above, I was standing in the dining area and shooting a pic past the wall into the North end of the kitchen towards the entry.

In the picture below,
I was standing by the front entry and shooting past a small doorway entrance to the kitchen. You can see the dated cabinets, countertops, and vinyl flooring.
In this shot below, you see the classic 1980’s stainless steel sink over the laminate flooring.
Oh, and that soffit above the upper cabinets sporting that busy wallpaper only encourages the walls to feel like they’re closing in.

So our plan?

This was a whole house renovation, but so that I don’t overload you with too much information, here’s what our plan for just the kitchen was:

1. Remove the interior walls of the kitchen that were dividing it from the main living areas and create an open concept great room incorporating the kitchen, hall, dining and living area into one space.

2. Replace the flooring in the kitchen as well as the entire condo, to all be the same. (Excluding the bathroom flooring, but I’ll get to that in a different post)
3. Completely gut and renovate the kitchen with new appliances and cabinets, lighting, backsplash… the works!

So, let me take a second out here and explain a little about this design job… well explain my ‘clients’…

This condo was the newly acquired home of my friends. (during the renovation process they obviously had to move out) Point is, the previous decorating wasn’t theirs…

They are long time friend of ours. The wife has been a mentor to me for over 30 years, being the 1st gal that embraced me after we moved to a new town. We, being complete outsiders in a small town, with a new marriage and a couple of babies, didn’t have a clue… about much of anything! But she was so encouraging and a living example of christian love. I am forever grateful to her mentor-ship and the impact she’s had on my life.

Her husband is a very talented guy with loads of energy. Among other career and businesses he was involved with, he was a carpenter. He and I worked on several projects together in years past. We both think rather pragmatically so can get the job done efficiently. Because of that, when I did voice design concerns, he would totally listen and help to achieve that part of the project as well.

That is a brief bit of history of my friends… but here are a couple of other things to fit into this ‘design job’ that made it very unique, if not challenging.

The husband, quite suddenly, lost nearly all his sight a couple years ago. He can still see a little, if the conditions are right, so showing him floor plans etc. was challenging but we found a way around it. He is very interested in and certainly has the knowledge and skill to do this renovation, but because of some recent physical drawbacks, eyesight being a key one, he wasn’t able to do a whole lot of the actual work. (I will say though, he did do a fair amount. How he can work around his loss of vision is a testament to ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’!) He was however, very involved in the communication and the job foreman of the entire project!

And the wife, I love her so much, but she can have a hard time making the final decision about stuff. That can be a good thing, but can also lead to a slothful project schedule to the point of it just hanging in an unfinished state forever. Sometimes you just need to be pragmatic and decide, that’s where I come in.

They had great ideas for how they wanted the condo to function and feel. My job was to be able to hear their ideas and function needs and help them bring it to fruition in a timely manner.

Along with the overall floor plan I drew up for the entire condo space, I also created this oversized color coordinated kitchen cabinet placement plan that the carpenter tacked up for quick reference:
(To see the links for the cabinets, pop over to my site, see link at end of this post) A color coordinated plan like this helps to easily place cabinets, including proper door swings, as most cabinets can swing either way, depending on which way you hang it. This way the carpenter can efficiently follow the enlarged sketch.

This is what the kitchen looked like once the dividing walls were taken down and the cabinets and soffits were removed:
Before the new sheetrock was put back, an ‘electric plan’ for the ceiling lights, wall outlets on backsplash walls, as well as the pendant lights over what would be the new island, and outlets in the island all had to be figured out and installed.

Here is all that done, plus the new sheetrock over it:
See that short wall on the far left, above? Previously that wall extended across the entire width of the kitchen, with a doorway and sort of window opening between it and the dining room. (You can see that in the 2nd ‘before pic’ at the top of this post.) Most of that wall was removed. We only left this 3′ wall to act as half of the fridge surround. Besides that little 3′ wall, all the rest of those dividing walls were totally removed.

The ceilings in the old condo were popcorn finished, once they were wetted and scraped, the carpenter put on a knock down finish. (more details about that in a future post too)

After the sheetrock walls were taped and mudded, the floor was installed so that the cabinets could sit on it.

Here is a picture pretty far in the progression of the project. The floor is done, the cabinets all installed, (including the new pantry cabinet on the hall wall…

more details about that in a future post) the farmhouse sink done, (farmhouse sink ordered online for sources, see the link at end of this post) the counters done, the island done.
The wood walls, (yup, details in another post) are still going in and the front entry is still getting a lot of work done to it. But you can see the space now all opened up.

A lot of details happened between the picture above and below this sentence!

Here is the finished kitchen now:
See what I mean about ‘Modern Swedish Farmhouse’? My friend just happens to be Swedish, and has some wonderful family mementos from her mom and family, which with their bright reds and clear colors look great against an all white background.

Track lighting in the kitchen, (one of my favorites) is such a versatile type of lighting. For this kitchen we chose these dim-able LED fixtures, (see sources on my site, link at end of this post) It offers you the ability to move and point lights exactly where you need them or want to highlight an object. Plus you can add additional lights if you need.

Above the farmhouse sink, we installed floating shelves made of thick rustic boards with a grey stained finish. It hard to see in this picture, but there is actually a mirror in between the top shelves. This mirror serves and a visual extender to the kitchen and bounces more light around.

Below the 2nd shelf and all along the backsplash is white penny tile with a light grey grout. (more details about that in a future post)
I love my cabinets and farmhouse sink, we installed in our 100 year old house, so that was exactly what I recommended for this project too. These cabinets are great quality, classic styling and work in our old house just as well as this house with a modern flair.

The island:
So many details to share about...

I'd love to have you stop by! Liz from
Liz at Simple Decorating Tips
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Wendyjwinkelman1970 Wendyjwinkelman1970 on Apr 21, 2017
    I just bought a 1890 farm house i need a pantry an the only place i think would be ok is a closet door under the u have any suggestions how i can actually turn it into a functional pantry??

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