What to do with this small Galley Kitchen?

angel9894November 14, 2011

I recently got back possession of my family's 2 bed/2.5 bath condo in NYC from our 13 year tenant. My dad made an arrangement with her years ago allowing her to update the kitchen for a reduction in rent. He had a heart attack shortly after and never followed up on the changes she made, so once we got the apartment back, we were extremely surprised with her "updates". She said she would be putting somewhere bt 30-50k into the kitchen but instead, I'm virtually positive she put around 15k max into it. I pretty much loathe everything about it, but because I put in new wood flooring throughout (ouch $$$$) and am re-doing the bathrooms, I can't justify ripping out the kitchen altogether since the cabinets are in virtually new condition.

Please take a look and tell me what you would do to improve/update the look of the kitchen. It's in Manhattan (in a highrise Condo). I've had the sink removed and will be installing a new undermount with a Kohler Simplice faucet. The space allows only for a Fisher and Paykal Fridge, so I'm going to change the fridge out for one of those. But what counters to replace the hideous Formica? I am leaning toward a white granite like Colonial Creme or River White. What flooring to replace the tacky vinyl? I wish the cabinets were either lighter or darker.... grrrrrrr help!


Thanks ladies!

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so sorry but that link doesn't work for my computer.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 6:25AM
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Live link.

Here is a link that might be useful: pics

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 7:10AM
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How much ($$$) of an intervention do you want to make? How long will you be living with it? If it is going to be 5 or more years I would make a larger intervention. It isn't terrible but it's not very interesting either.


the finish of the cabinets with the floor

light fixture

stove in the corner

counter and back splash - too much of one product - they don't really seem to go with the cabinets




cabinetry - wish the boxes were edge banded to match the door finish but it still looks nice and the slab doors offer a clean look - how are the drawers constructed? Hardware is just track and roller but that will work for a long time and is easy to repair.

Layout except the stove seems fine

More than 5 years I might get rid of the counters (or at least the back splash). I would just live with the layout and try to add some style to it.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 7:53AM
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It's not nearly as bad as you made it sound. Certainly it wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but I've seen worse! My first thought is a black (or very dark) quartz countertop. Does the refrigerator have to be replaced now? I've read some negative reviews concerning the reliability of Fisher and Paykal refrigerators. I know Samsung makes a reasonably priced counter-depth that is only 32 inches wide so you might look around. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 7:59AM
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If you want the cabs darker, cross post on the decorating forum. A number of people have gel stained their cabs darker.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 8:04AM
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I am 100% removing the counters. I hate formica and green formica even more so. I am reluctant to go with dark counters as the space is already small, and I would rather go light to brighten it up.

I agree with all the dislikes, but the question is what to replace with?

I have to go with the F+P fridge because the space is a MAX of 32" wide, so the fridge needs to be under 32" and the Samsung is exactly 32". That was my first choice but alas, I'm stuck.

The floor is awful and makes no sense. It's vinyl and doesn't match anything. But what to replace it with? Needs to be something that will be modern, clean, no too "homey" looking.

As far as an intervention, I will not be living in it for at least 2-4 years, we are putting it back on the market to be rented for a few years until we move back to the city, but the rental market right now is competetive in our area so I need to do the best I can to update the look. Changing the layout is not within budget as we have had to replace flooring in the whole apartment and renovate 2.5 bathrooms. In NYC those things are just insanely expensive for no good reason.

So the kitchen while "decent" is not great, and thus the need to make lemonade out of lemons with minimal changes. I thought the appliances were ok with the exception of the fridge? You guys disagree?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 12:14PM
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If renting for a while, I'd choose materials for the counter and floor that renters are looking for and colors/values that are visual extensions of those in the rest of the condo. I'd avoid strongly contrasting/defining colors (like black since it doesn't suit a lot of schemes people bring with them), yada-yada, the usual decorating to suit the typical rental. Maybe put a little extra investment in the counter material (there's not that much of it) to dress it up a bit and make it inviting to run a hand along, and definitely in higher-end knobs/pulls for a little bling. I agree the doors don't look bad.

The floor--extending the wood you installed elsewhere to the kitchen would work; but given it's a rental and the kitchen is fairly separate, maybe something more durable? High-quality sheet vinyl can be very cushy and luxurious feeling--and sophisticated. I don't know how your market feels about it, but since very little would be needed (and I love a cushy glossy floor) I'd want to at least look at what's being offered at the top of the market right now.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 1:02PM
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I was just visiting a house with similar kitchen cabinets yesterday. Not my personal choice of finish, either, but they had a dark black/green/gray granite countertop that really looked good. I think you could go dark on the counter but not the backsplash, and not get an oppressively dark feel in there.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 1:03PM
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We installed vertical bamboo in the rest of the apartment, and I have been considering continuing it to the kitchen, just worried about spills as it doesn't do well with water. But then it wouldn't be that hard to replace since it's such a small area. My other choice was a light beige/cream glossy tile. So Rosie you and I are definitely on the same track.

What kind of knobs/pulls would you suggest? Any links to suggestions would be hugely appreciated.

Is everyone against going light on the counters?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 1:18PM
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I think the cabs look like they are in really good shape and a change of hardware could make them look great and could come up with a really pleasing color scheme. It's the hardware that makes it look cheap, I think.

I prefer lighter colored countertops, but I agree that more contrast is called for - somewhere!! Since there isn't much counterspace, and since it runs into the black cooktop, a dark color might look very nice. I like the idea of investing in something that feels "good to touch" as suggested above. I prefer a honed contertop to the shiny ones. Soapstone would require too much care for a rental, but there are some beautiful manmade quartz that look ~like soapstone (esp Caesarstone). Concrete would be neat too and it can take most any color dye in it through and through.

I'd add a backsplash to create a richer look.

And an undermount sink would help too.

Are you sure that is the only frig? Check AJ Madison website and enter in your dimensional restrictions - there is more out there (including a nice all-refrigerator).

Looks like a neat place!!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 1:37PM
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I have some pretty random ideas. Gray countertops like these would give you contrast without going too dark. You may even be able to get Ikea butcherblock and stain it to a color like that, which would be a lot less expensive than Caesarstone Raven, Concrete, or Pebble.

You could possibly do something interesting with the floor like Carrie_Eileen did with marmoleum:

I'll link her kitchen below. They have dark stained countertops, which would also be a possibility for you.

The pulls aren't exciting, but they aren't your biggest problem. You can experiment with them when the rest is done.

The Bosch appliances look good.

Here is a link that might be useful: Carrie_Eileen's kitchen

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 1:59PM
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I think the worst offenders here are #1....counters and BS.....very blah! Changing those out alone and you will see a major improvement. Next....match the fridge to the other appliances. Lastly, paint walls. Floor not great but ok....you could tile....fortunately for such a small place, changes won't be a huge expense...fridge probably the priciest update....

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 10:28PM
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OK, so the Fridge is like a *MUST* right? Because certain people are fighting me on it and I've been putting my foot down about it! I just think it will be an immediate turn off to potential renters. Would it be crazy to put River White Granite in there? That's what I'm itching for. And paint has been re-done, these photo's were taken right after our tenant moved out. She painted the apartment, Pink, Orange, Blue, Green.... NOT kidding. Even the interiors of closets. My poor dad is so trusting it never occurred to him to check what she was doing. Lesson Learned!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 3:16AM
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The range up against the left wall is a building code violation. There must be at least 4" on the side so spatter or the pans themselves can't touch the wall and start a fire.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 4:16AM
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From my understanding (will double check) the new range was installed in the exact same place as the original building installed range. The rental tenant is the one who put the new kitchen in so I could be wrong and she could have changed some things, but I'm 99% positive she stuck to the exact original layout.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 6:36AM
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In my area the range isn't against code.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:14AM
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Another question.... What lighting to put in there? Any ideas?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 10:44AM
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    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 10:59AM
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I love my Home Depot version Cree LED recessed lights. I think they are now down to $25 each (I paid $40 in August). You use them in regular ED cans, like Halos. They are dimmable, cool, efficient, and have a very pleasing color. I found out about them on the Lighting Forum. The Lighting Forum is wonderful.

If you love River white, you should have it. One of the very true things I learned on this forum is that you should choose a granite that "makes your heart sing." Something like Colonial Cream, however, has some more golden tones in it that might go well with the color of the cabs. How about Yellow River? Can you bring samples in and live with them with the cabs? My ideas changed when I did that. Be careful that you don't get competing undertones in your neutrals. The cabs look like yellow undertones. Try to avoid anything that reads with a pink undertone.

I do like the cab style for a small space.

If it were me, I'd choose the counter first, then a BS, then a floor. In my small galley, I took the granite up the full backsplash, but you may not want to invest that if you aren't staying long.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 11:31AM
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Thank you for this! Totally agree with you that River white doesn't have enough golden tones. Yellow River would be a better choice or Colonial Cream. And yes, agreed, counters, then B.S., then floor. Going to look at the Cree lights now!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 11:41AM
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