Downsizing and Living Large
Designing and remodeling a luxury apartment
For many years, companies that design and renovate home interiors have mainly served clients who live in single-family homes. That’s still the case, but they are also seeing an increase in another area: luxury apartments and condominiums.
The rapid construction and reconfiguration of these types of dwellings have not only opened up another avenue of clientele to serve, but the uptick in designing and renovating these homes also comes with different kinds of considerations and regulations. The new normal for designers and builders has meant climbing more stairs, learning new landlord-tenant rules and adjusting to more fixed structures and often smaller rooms. And none of them are complaining.
Dream House Dream Kitchens Madison
Anyone who lives and works in Dane County and is thinking about living in a condominium or luxury apartment has a lot of options. There has been a high volume of new construction in recent years, and the structures that went up during previous building booms —10, 20 or 30 years ago — are still going strong.
As Dream House Dream Kitchens Madison’s director of sales, Jerry Schmidt is in a position to see the whole landscape, and he encourages homebuyers to take the plunge.
“Stop thinking about it and get out there,” Schmidt says. “Hire a realtor you enjoy working with and start touring some units. Madison offers a vast assortment of condo units that have all sorts of wonderful appeals.”
Madison’s luxury apartments and condominiums have what Schmidt calls elevated value: a great view of a remarkably beautiful city.
“Here in Madison most of the condos that Dream House Dream Kitchens works on have a spectacular city skyline view,” Schmidt says. “We always try to design the unit with the best views in mind. Imagine cooking in your Dream Kitchen from the 10th floor, looking over the city skyline as the sun goes down or viewing the skyline of lights. Keeping concepts open so you have multiple views is a key design element.”
Many units that are not brand-new were built with builder-grade materials and can be made over simply by being updated with current products. Others have designs that were popular when they were built but are not in step with current design trends. For Schmidt, these are opportunities, not problems.
“There are so many wonderful materials to work with now,” Schmidt says. “Gorgeous high-gloss doors and large spanning solid surface tops are popular. Wood countertops to break up the surfaces are a wonderful element to incorporate. Dated bathrooms are being upgraded with large walk-in showers to bring a spa-like feel to the space.”
Many high-end apartment and condominium buildings require an extra-strong sound barrier underneath every apartment’s flooring so that the residents of one unit do not disturb their neighbors when walking or running on their own floor. Most houses have a foam barrier underneath the tile, carpet or other flooring, but luxury apartments and condominiums typically require cork or rubber. Using the wrong barrier could mean dealing with the trouble and expense of removing and reinstalling the flooring and raising the ire of a tenant association.
“FLOOR360 project managers know the specifications and compliance requirements before meeting with the client and can explain all of that as soon as they meet,” says Jen Fickling, FLOOR360’s director of sales. “It can vary widely from one building to the next, so there is no shortcut. As the buyer of the unit, you need to work with a company whose employees and managers are on top of things.”
In recent years, a higher percentage of the company’s business in Dane and Milwaukee counties has come from the commercial contractors of luxury apartments and condominiums because of the increased construction of this kind of housing. Fickling has seen new buildings with common areas that include hot tubs, saunas, golf simulators and even rooftop bocce ball. Buyers have access to these amenities throughout the building while also having the latitude to individualize their units to suit their life and sense of style — like adding a customized wood accent wall to create depth, texture and warmth in a great room.
While the environment and the rules are different, FLOOR360’s approach to the work is the same. Fickling and her colleagues listen carefully to the clients and communicate openly, honestly and often. The fewer surprises the better.
“The nice thing with a lot of the new buildings is that each unit is built out by the owners, so you have a lot of options and control when you meet with designers and people like us to lay out the space,” Fickling says.
Kitchen Tune-Up Madison
Forward-thinking design and renovation companies have kept pace with the increasing construction and availability of condominiums and luxury apartments in Madison, expanding their inventories and applying new techniques to suit the changing environments.
“If you look around the Madison area, you will see lots of new multi-residential buildings, and older ones that are being reconstructed into condos and apartments,” says Tracey Conner, owner of Kitchen Tune-Up Madison. “There are a lot of amenities that can come with these units: a pool, workout facility, security, maintenance and prime locations. But when you move in after living in a house, you might be downsizing and losing the unique interior and exterior character of your home.”
Often, condos and apartments have generic layouts and finishes, making opportunities for structural changes limited. However, through the magic of design, there is always a way to make your new place feel more like “home.”
Let’s focus on your new kitchen,” Conner says. “Generally, your options for updating are limited to making your kitchen more functional and personalized. Everyone has a unique style that they enjoy, whether it is contemporary and minimalist or traditional and decorative. Perhaps your new kitchen is modern with white cabinets and brushed nickel hardware, but you want the popular look of faux wood in gray. This is an easy update through refacing. You simply choose a new door style and finish and add black hardware. It will take less than a week, and you have the look that makes you feel comfortable and happy. If you have an island in your kitchen, you may want to choose a complementary finish, such as a solid dark gray.”
Conner can also help with the selection of furnishings and other amenities that help create more space and facilitate an expansion of your cooking and food preparation possibilities.
“For functionality, you have lots of options,” Conner says. “You may need your island reconfigured for seating, or you can add a coffee or bar area, if space allows. You can add rollout trays, a trash or recycling center and a pullout spice cabinet, too.” •
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