On the eve of the Lumen auction I received some photos for a reader who lives at Lumen showing their before and after that are a great inspiration to anyone bidding tomorrow.
A couple things about what we did that are of note:
1) We donated the original Lumen kitchen to charity and recieved a nice deduction on our taxes. A working kitchen had to be in place in order to take ownership, so donation was a nice alternative from financial & environmental perspectives.
2) To save some money, we kept nearly all original appliances and fixtures, except for the dishwasher, which we also donated to charity.
3) Lumen units were pretty much sold as a ‘blank slate’ upon which you could purchase upgrades and different finishes. Of course most new construction condos are like this, but many of Lumen’s units had floor layouts that make them GREAT starting points for someone with ideas & inspiration (the down side was that it also made it challenging for some buyers to envision the possibilities). Some of what we did to our all-white, base model unit:
- Got rid of all the white – we painted everything! We felt color had more ‘soul’ than the white. And believe it or not, the bathroom is painted. It took a fair amount tape and patience, but we got something that many mistake for wallpaper at a fraction of the cost.
- Incorporated rail-lighting in the main room to extend the lighting across a greater area without doing any rewiring; The rail has long-term usability because we can swap out lights with different styles down the road.
- Used some fun, innovative design elements that a Lumen-style space is prime for: high ceilings were a great fit for Blik wall decals (www.whatisblik.com) (wall behind dining area) and the linoleum floors made a great base for FLOR (www.flor.com) application (bedroom).
- Because it’s a small space, we opted for cabinetry with a very high gloss – it’s almost reflective. This helps reflect light through the unit a little more and even had some interesting benefits, like being in the bathroom and seeing around the corner to what’s in the living room or standing by the kitchen and being able to see the reflection out the bedroom window.
- We did our research and found that we could go through some relatively easy hurdles to approve construction and do our own upgrades. We ended up saving $20K over what it would have cost to purchase comparable upgrades through the sales center.
Some tips I would share with others:
1) Do your research (& mitigate surprises) – know what kind of constraints you might be under to remodel on your own. Find out what city/local obligations you may need to meet, any restrictions your HOA may have, and how involved the developer might need to be in approving your activity (if buying into new construction, they may play a larger role than you expect).
2) Build a portfolio of ideas – We spent years ripping examples out of magazines of interior designs that we loved. Keeping a file of this stuff was immensely useful for helping hone the final design and for working through contractors to bring the ideas to life.
3) Know your budget (& have a plan for where you’re comfortable splurging & going cheap) – we saved money by doing all the painting ourselves, doing decals instead of wallpaper, and prioritizing what should come first & what could wait. We were lucky to have the abundance to do this after we bought, but we did have a budget and were cautious to not over-extend it.