RE­MOD­EL­ING TIPS FOR A DU­PLEX

NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - BY MAR­CIA LYON

Du­plexes are an ex­cel­lent starter-home in­vest­ment con­cept. For po­ten­tial home­own­ers on a bud­get, buy­ing two houses may sound out of the ques­tion. How­ever, with enough money down, and a con­sis­tent renter, mort­gage pay­ments may be quite rea­son­able.

With all that said, the pos­si­bil­ity ex­ists to im­prove your side of the home (or both). Then, when you move on to a sin­gle-fam­ily dwelling, rent in­come should in­crease as a re­sult of the im­prove­ments, given the neigh­bour­hood and other fac­tors and gen­eral in­fla­tion.

PROB­LEM

The space in this unit was min­i­mal and or­di­nary. Built in the early 50s, this brick build­ing was well built but ba­sic, and lacked ar­chi­tec­tural char­ac­ter. At least both units had full base­ments, which al­lowed for over­flow stor­age.

Be­cause the owner was sin­gle with a room­mate, he felt sat­is­fied with the small bed­rooms, but other fac­tors both­ered him, such as the kitchen and bath and the fact that it felt too closed-in for en­ter­tain­ing. The only place to eat was in the cor­ner of the kitchen, which was less than min­i­mal.

Ac­tu­ally, the ma­jor com­plaint was about sound trans­fer be­tween the bath­rooms from unit to unit.

SO­LU­TION

Be­gin­ning with the front, we ex­tended the min­i­mal con­crete stoop to cre­ate a cov­ered porch (A), adding some style and distinc­tion to his unit.

The closet (B) in the living room made fur­ni­ture ar­range­ment dif­fi­cult, leav­ing an un­de­fined en­try. By ro­tat­ing the closet (C) and chang­ing the floor­ing, the sem­blance of a foyer de­vel­oped.

The living room (D), al­ready small, needed some help. The owner’s unit was on the cor­ner with a bit of yard, so we bumped out a wide box bay, ex­tend­ing about 3-by-10 feet – just enough to re­cess some fur­ni­ture. The tele­vi­sion, lo­cated be­hind the ro­tated closet, was vis­i­ble from the opened-up kitchen and dining as well.

We con­verted a space-con­sum­ing kitchen stor­age closet (E) into a dining area (F), en­larg­ing the kitchen by ex­tend­ing it slightly into the living room. The third wall (G) cor­ralling the dining area is only a half wall, topped with at­trac­tive ce­ramic tile and ter­mi­nat­ing with a col­umn.

We placed an­other col­umn (H) at the en­trance to the kitchen to cre­ate a por­tal. The kitchen wall ad­ja­cent to the sec­ond col­umn was opened as well, with an eat-on counter (I). Granted, it’s not very big, but it opens the en­tire unit up front to back, and acts as a pass-through for food to the living room.

In the kitchen (J) we placed the re­frig­er­a­tor at the far end of the counter, leav­ing just enough room for a slid­ing glass door (K) lead­ing to a new deck. We in­stalled the mi­crowave in the cab­i­nets at eye level, with the dish­washer be­neath. Next is the sink, which re­mained in its orig­i­nal po­si­tion, with the range next to it. Un­for­tu­nately, the kitchen space was not wide enough for an is­land, which would have en­hanced the counter and prepa­ra­tion space.

An eigh­teen inch deep, floor to ceil­ing pantry (L) stores all the food and ex­tra serv­ing dishes, tak­ing the load off the wall cab­i­nets.

In the bath­room (M) we started by build­ing a nar­row wall filled with in­su­la­tion onto the shared wall. Yes, we lost some space, but solved the sound pri­vacy prob­lem. The owner wanted a shower any­way, so the bath­room lay­out was up for grabs. The toi­let re­mained in place, but we reversed the door swing and built a shal­low cabi­net (N) for stor­age. On the op­po­site side we have a 3by-4-foot shower unit and a longer van­ity. You’ll no­tice that we stole some space from the linen closet (O) for the longer van­ity. The space above the van­ity is a towel cabi­net, and be­low it is a small stor­age space (P) ac­cessed from the bed­room. Th­ese mod­i­fi­ca­tions could be done bit by bit, ei­ther by the owner or con­tracted out. Each lit­tle change can help to trans­form a ho-hum unit into some­thing more de­sir­able for to­day’s mar­ket.

MAR­CIA LYON is a pro­fes­sional re­mod­el­ing designer and free­lance writer, pro­duc­ing projects in Toronto and sev­eral ar­eas across the U.S. Reach her at 416.201.8867, or e-mail mar­cia@cre­at­ingspaces.net Web Site www.cre­at­ingspaces.net

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