Another 90's oak kitchen with a mix of appliances

new.beeFebruary 3, 2013

I just bought a 1 BR rental with one of the infamous oak kitchens, laminate counter tops, which are still in good shape, and an odd mix of appliances.
I'd appreciate some suggestions for a quick and relatively inexpensive update.
The cabinets are in reasonable shape, except some spots where the varnish is a little off and some slight discoloration.
The plan is to just clean and 'revitalize' them a bit. I may gel stain them dark at a later point or maybe paint, but probably not now.
The appliances are brand new, but oddly enough a mix of black, white, and black-and-white.
I'd consider putting in new counter tops, but quotes for laminate are not much less than for granite.
So, if I go for granite, what color would you suggest, especially keeping in mind the colors of the appliances and the fact that I may gel stain the cabinets at one point.

Any suggestions for backsplash, or just leave as is?
The rental is at the lower end of the market, geared at young professionals.

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I think any dark color granite would work with the cabinets. We have 90's oak cabinets and had considered putting in Uba tuba. It had the gold flecks that would work with the warmth of the oak. We ultimately ended up with Black canyon quartz and that has warm colors in it that compliment the oak.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:03PM
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Well, when I was a young professional, my apartments and later my first house had kitchens like that one and I never noticed. (In fact my husband had to remind me, when we did our kitchen reno, what kind of countertop my first house's kitchen had, because I had no idea). Now I was a young professional in the mid-90's so maybe that is no good for you, but as long as your kitchen is clean and everything works, I doubt your renters will care. Unless, that is, all the competing rental properties have granite.

I see no problem with the appliance colors as they are since they all do go together. I don't care for the OTR MW but that's because I like having more head room over the stove, not to mention outside venting; but your renters probably will not mind and your counter space is limited so I doubt it's worth changing. I would suggest perhaps a new (high-arched) faucet, a new ceiling fixture, and (this is not inexpensive) rewiring so that the large appliances are plugged in behind themselves and not using up the backsplash outlets.

I like your cabinet/countertop/wall color combo; it's a little basic but it is easy on the eyes and definitely not objectionable. I think if you wanted to make it look more 2010-ish, just replacing the laminate with granite would not do it. You'd also need to change to stainless or black appliances and put in a full-height backsplash and possibly darken the cabinets. Otherwise I don't think just granite alone would be much of an improvement over what you have now. Disclaimer: I think laminate countertops are underrated so I don't see much need to change them just because they're laminate. Again, this might be different if your local rental market demands granite. With a rental it's a matter of return on investment, so you'd have to figure out whether you would recoup the cost of a countertop change -- or anything you do, really -- in higher rents.

If you do decide to replace the countertops, you might consider a larger sink since it looks as though there's room for one in the sink cabinet.

Good luck! I really do think it is a nice serviceable kitchen, not high end but as I mentioned, I never cared about that when I was younger. (Still don't.)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:17PM
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if this is to be rented out, I'd get the outlet for the fridge reassigned[usually behind the fridge] I'd make sure the fridge door when opened all the way won't be dented or bang the drywall or leave the user unable to pull out the bins. I'd put under cabinet task lighting and a sprayer at the sink[I don't see one-maybe a whole new faucet] I'd get some roll out chrome add ons for lower cabinets since there is no pantry. Other than that probably not do anything[I think that fridge with clearance issue might be your biggest problem].

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:21PM
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For a rental, it looks good as is. You're probably not going to realize any gain from the upgrades your referring to. I agree though about the fridge outlet, needs to be behind the fridge. We're in a temp rental while our home is being built (on land we've owned for 15 years but we tore down the old home), the fridge outlet is as that one and doesn't leave many options for counter top plug ins. Appears you've got the same deal w/the range too.......

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:52PM
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I think the kitchen looks nice, huge for a 1 BR!! Remember that if you put granite in, they will find a way to crack it......I would have those plugs added, so the appliances had their own.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Thank you so much for the feedback. I hadn't even noticed the plug ins until I posted the pictures. Need to check that out IRL. Also the fridge door, although I didn't notice any problem when I opened that.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:34PM
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As a former renter, this doesn't look too bad. I echo the "more electrical plugs!" sentiment. And more light in general. Consider putting in paint that's easy to clean. I was in a rental awhile ago where if I accidentally splashed something on the wall, I cleaned off paint with the spill.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:50PM
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Here's what other unit owners have done:

I really need to address the outlets. I don't even know if that's still up to code.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:15PM
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It strikes me as so odd that they put the outlets for the appliances not actually near the appliances... were they afterthoughts?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Those outlets would really bother me. Make you wonder if there are other odd things going on.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:41PM
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Will have an inspection in a few days and find out what the scoop is.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:51PM
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Got to say, I like your floor much better than those other units. You really would not need much counter material. I would see if there is any place around that sells remnants at a good price. A good size remnant or even two from a common, consistent looking stone would work well. Bring a scale drawing with you so the shop can point you to pieces that would work. One place I went thought I could get by with a half slab remnant, but I was a little over, and your counter space looks a little less than mine.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Beyond the appliance plugs, make sure that the outlets above the counter are GFCI (same with the bathroom). As a rental, I think it looks fine. It's not as appealing as the other units, but unless someone is choosing between them or you want to charge more rent, I suspect your unit won't suffer for it. I feel like paint? might make help the space be less stark.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:10PM
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I would add the first granite , looks like Santa Cecelia or new Venetian Gold, it will work well with the oak or if you gel stain. Both are very common so you should be ale to find remnants. As far as the appliances go, move the outlet, and leave them. If you feel strongly watch Craigslist for black ones.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:07AM
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Is that even up to code with respect to dedicated circuits for the range and outlets per x feet of counter? The problem is that correcting the plug will likely entail adding a circuit and addressing the other code issues.

The prefab laminates and prefab granites, especially if you are handy, could actually work here. There is just the one cutout, a miter in the corner, and three flat edges. After that, a backsplash will save you damage.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:31AM
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It looks great to me. I would not spend any money on a rental that is not necessary for safety or resale, unless you cannot find tenants.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:51AM
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I don't know if this is everywhere but by me (Chicago Suburbs) those outlets are not code. Each appliance had to have their own outlet and they had to be singles so that we couldn't plug anything else in with the appliance. As for the aesthetics of the kitchen I would try renting it out first before changing anything. Renting is a business and you shouldn't spend more money than necessary. If you can't find a renter, than it becomes necessary to update the kitchen and I would start with changing the counters and the sink.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:31PM
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My son is a young professional who rents an apartment in Queens. If he had a kitchen that looked like that he'd be in hog heaven.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:29PM
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beachlily z9a

Personally, I would not go with granite. I'd do a quartz countertop that won't stain or have some of the problems that people on this site describe. The cheapest quartz you can find should be close to the cost of granite and would relieve you of some of the stresses that landlords experience.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:30PM
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I think that's a bright, large kitchen and I wouldn't mess with it... much.

I'd definitely check out the outlet, of course.
I don't think I'd do a think with the cabinets if they're in good shape. It's clean and open.

really nice. My tenants would be glad to have it. They have the ultra modern white melamine. I gotta save some $$ and found out if they'd prefer a w/d or new kitchen. When I start playing and hit the lottery.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Thanks for all the feedback. I'll add the GFCI switches/outlets and some outlets for the major appliances, although it's not that easy apparently. Other than that, I'll leave it for now. Perhaps add a fixture over the sink.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:24PM
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