CONDO COMBO CREATES GREAT SPACE
BBlending two adjacent condo units isn’t as simple as you might think. Unlike a house, where plumbing and electrical walls can be relocated, chases (enclosures for plumbing, electrical wires and sometimes heating ducts) in multi-level buildings extend through all the floors and are immovable on a single floor. The vertical structural elements are also immovable. These are made of concrete or steel and extend from floor to floor, supporting the entire building. Individual heating and cooling units can be moved, but then the ducts that deliver the air will also have to be moved, incurring even more expense. Leaving these units in place will save remodelling dollars. It takes an expert eye plus architectural construction drawings to accomplish the physical feat of condo-combining. Condominium bylaws will influence the design. And don’t forget that you’ll probably have to pay both monthly assessments for your double unit. While resale might not be as easy for a bigger unit, most units being built now are so small that your resale possibilities may in fact be enhanced. Research your market before you start construction. If the modifications will result in your perfect palace and you plan to stay long enough to make it worthwhile, or if you just love the location, explore all the possibilities and make it happen.
This client moved into a two-bedroom unit (A), making compromises. It was smaller than she’d wanted, there was no laundry room, and her home office would have to be condensed into what was intended as the dining area (B). The balcony space (C) would barely accommodate a table for two and a bench. Instead of windows, the kitchen (D) had a view of the balcony doors, utilizing borrowed light. The condo was in a new building in an ideal location, with incredible views. This made it worth the initial investment, and the plan was to wait for the adjacent onebedroom unit (E) to become available. The owner works out of her home fulltime and wanted a fully functioning office, ideally with a view. Occasionally, she receives business visitors, so the space had to be professional and separate from the living space. Having a dedicated space for an office makes it clearly deductible.
The owner of the adjacent one-bedroom (E) was contacted and a “first right of refusal” agreement was signed, meaning
that if they put the unit up for sale, the owner of the two-bedroom unit would be offered the apartment first. Once the new unit was obtained, most of the homework had been done to combine the two units. The architect produced a drawing showing the space as if all unnecessary walls had been removed, revealing the structural and mechanical bones. Constant reference was made to the “before” drawing in order to keep the elements that worked. The bedroom at the end (G), along with the two bathrooms (H&I), remained unchanged. The second bedroom (J) was oddly shaped and small, so it was expanded and a second closet added (K). Since a laundry room was planned (L), the washer/dryer closet (M) became a luggage storage spot. The half bath (N) in the one-bedroom unit was preserved to be used for guests and the office. The kitchen was pulled toward the view by eliminating the bathroom and closet (O) in the one-bedroom unit. The working part of the new kitchen (P) takes up the back part of the new space, complete with a corner pantry. The sink and work counter (Q) extend out as a peninsula, with visual connections to the dining (R) and living rooms (S) and to the windows offering the view. The higher portion of this counter (T) acts as a visual barrier from the new dining room, and as a serving counter and an area to park visitors. A custom-designed buffet (U) defines the dining room, adding beauty and function. A traditional double-swing glass door (V) is sandwiched between two chases for direct access from the kitchen. The dining room (R) occupies prime view space and is open to the living room (S) but not in it. The two balconies are combined into one sweeping space. (C). The new laundry room (L) is located in the former kitchen space (D) of the two-bedroom unit, along with a recessed coat closet by the main door. The office (W) occupies the former living/ dining area (X) of the one-bedroom unit. This space has stunning views, direct access to the balcony, and glass French doors (Y) that can create privacy when needed. There is enough space for all the equipment needed, plus a conference table and chairs. The door to the one-bedroom unit is now a separate entrance to the office, bypassing the residence. A strategically placed “to go” shelf (Z) functions for both residence and office.
MARCIA LYON is a professional remodelling designer and freelance writer. E-mail: Marcia@creatingspaces.net, visit www.creatingspaces.net or call 515-991-8880.