REMODELING TIPS FOR A DUPLEX
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.
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.
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 mar[email protected]atingspaces.net Web Site www.creatingspaces.net