20th century apartment block
Transforming a property that has been let out and uncared for is not a particularly big ask. Working to a tight timescale and budget, however, can present an enormous challenge. This was the task I was presented with when I took on a two bedroom flat on the South Coast which had recently been vacated and was in need of a quick turnaround so that it could be put back on the market.
When first viewed, apart from a whole lot of clutter, there didn’t appear to be too much damage. Unfortunately, prior to handing back the keys, the tenants were required to redecorate. To do this they chose to use a rather hideous battleship grey paint. Add to that the stained, and ruined, light coloured carpet which was revealed once the furniture was removed, plus the build up of grease in the kitchen which the “professional” clean had not touched, I soon realised the task in hand was greater than first imagined. The final blow was when I realised that the dark wood framed, double-glazed windows were completely rotten.
Hideous grey lounge
The property, circa 1980, looked as though it still had its original gloss paint which had turned from white to yellow with age. It also had an inherently old fashioned kitchen and bathroom.
Yellowing paintwork and stained carpet
Keen to get to work I quickly drew up an action plan and prioritised the list. Taking into account the budget constraints I decided that the kitchen and bathroom could be made good with a really good clean and a few minor tweaks. The windows, carpet and décor, however, would need more serious attention.
Dark wood window frames in dingy single bedroom
Having local contacts is always a bonus and I soon had a decorator, carpet fitter and window company on-board. Add to that the recommendation of a rubbish removal company and a trusted electrician and a schedule was soon worked up.
As the flat was to be re-let it was important to make it look as clean, spacious and neutral as possible. The only items dictating the final scheme were the pale blue ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen, the blue/grey detailing on the kitchen units, and the black and gold tiles in the bathroom. The medium dark wood internal doors with stainless furniture would, to a certain degree, dictate the style.
It struck me that the layout of the flat was not dissimilar to those that are being built at the present time in as much as there was an element of open plan living. The galley-style kitchen is open to the lounge at either end, whilst the other rooms are accessed from a good size landing. I felt that it had potential as, in my mind, once refurbished it would become an ideal backdrop for a mid-century/’70’s revival vibe. Mindful of this, and wishing to create a feeling of a light and airy space, I chose a white paint finish throughout that would tie in with the existing finishes .
The last design decision to be made was with regards to the new flooring. I opted for carpeting rather than hard flooring to provide some isolation between the other flats. I took advice with regards to the quality of the composition and underlay, and learnt that modern day carpets can even be cleaned with bleach! An absolute must for a rental property. The average lead time for the works to be commenced was three to four weeks which meant that the project could be turned around within the month.
Freshly painted stairs and newly carpeted landing
Looking to the kitchen I decided the most cost effective way to modernise it would be to change the white ceramic drawer pulls and door handles for stainless-steel. Ikea’s ORRNÄS range of brushed stainless-steel knobs and handles provided the solution. The more challenging task of installing a stainless-steel extractor hood would not only drag the room into the twenty-first century, but also deal with the odours and moisture generated whilst cooking.
My one serious aesthetic concern was that the wall-mounted microwave oven was on full display to the lounge. The logic for its position was obvious, in as much as it was to save space on what is a limited amount of worktop area. My solution was to move the microwave to a more discreet location and to make up for the now lost worktop area with three LIMHAMN stainless-steel wall shelves mounted in its place. Here would be an opportunity for the eventual inhabitant to create a “picture” that they would wish to view from their sofa whilst not losing any storage space.
New streamlined kitchen with stainless door furniture and cooker hood
Given my background I just couldn’t resist a little stylisation. My one indulgence was the acquisition of three Ikea KRUSNING pendant lamp shades; one for each of the bedrooms, and one for the lounge. I couldn’t resist their cloud like structures which were constructed from seven flat squares of stiffened flexible paper crumbled into shape. They come with a choice of cord set and oversized NITTIO LED bulb light bulb with silver- or copper-colour globe.
Crumbled paper lamp shades
This was my wow factor…..
Newly painted lounge with white window frames and KRUSNING lamp shade
Once the work was complete I played around with some ideas to demonstrate how a style could be created according to the accessories added to this blank canvas. Using the shelves in the kitchen, now clearly visible from the lounge, I created three different themes and called them 1970’s Revival, Traditional and Modern Country.
I will of course remove my personal effects before the arrival of new tenants but by leaving them on display for the time being I hope I’ve added a touch of homeliness to this little flat that is now looking for a new occupant to love and cherish it as I have over these past few weeks…