Penthouse Plunge: Picking Leicht German Custom Kitchen Cabinetry For a Flip

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kitchen cabinetry for a flip
Preliminary Leicht kitchen cabinet design for penthouse A.

I’ve renovated every home I’ve ever owned, but I’ve never done a flip like I’m doing for the Penthouse Plunge series. Sure, there are different economic elements to consider when you’re flipping, which often shake out of tastes (my specific versus the great unwashed public’s). Armed with my budget and thoughts on what everyone wants versus what I’d want, I went shopping.

For those wondering what I’m talking about, I purchased a double penthouse at The Claridge last September that I’m splitting back in two. I’m flipping the larger, swankier corner unit while I keep and live in the smaller side (that’s still pretty darn big). The framing has gotten to the stage where kitchens can be measured with accuracy.

When renovating, cabinets have possibly the longest lead time (depending on your selection). Sure, I would whirl over to Home Depot and have a kitchen installed in a few days with off-the-rack cabinets. But this is a penthouse, and so the buyer expects more.

More than I’d ever done before. So I had to do my own research.

Source: Leicht

What I found was that if I wanted the luxe-est names in German cabinets – Bulthaup, SieMatic, Poggenpohl, or Allmilmo – I had to be prepared to wait up to four months or longer. I came to realize it’s one of the reasons you don’t really see German cabinets in flips – the whole time = money thing. A flip needs its project back on the market ASAP.

Source: Leicht

German cabinets are also a lot more expensive. And if you want all the fussy drawer inserts for celery canoodlers and raspberry wheezers, the sky could be the limit.

I also looked at American-made cabinets.  Specifically, Plato Woodwork represented in Dallas by Factory Builder Stores (who also have a wonderous appliance back room). It’s a family-owned operation out of Plato, Minnesota – since 1893.

Source: Leicht

I’d worked with Factory Builder Stores on the Athena renovation, purchasing some appliances and my cabinets from another of their lines, Starmark. Plato was a step-up. As the patter goes, they do it all, from very sleek modern to traditional and rustic.

I began my thoughts with a cabinet style more transitional, but then I saw the Hall Arts kitchen and was hooked. I liked the modernity and tidiness. Plato had those sleek finishes too. It was almost a done deal.

Bulthaup display kitchen — still for sale.

Then I was wandering around the internet one Sunday night and came across a showroom kitchen at Bulthaup that was listed for $40,000 including all cabinets, Gaggenau appliances, and countertops. I about peed myself. Then I noticed their “next” event was (and remains) listed as March 22, 2018 – so I stopped peeing and figured it was long gone.

But I had time, so I whirled over to the showroom the next morning. YES! It was still available. NO. It didn’t have nearly the right amount or type of cabinets for me.  DANG! But dear readers, if you’re in the market, get yourself to Bulthaup. Tell Gopi Thakker I sent you.

That’s when I learned about showroom kitchens and the deals that could be had. I visited Proggenpohl only to see the outlines of two recently sold showroom kitchens. My luck was stinking. But for those with time and wanting a super-bargain, become friends with the kitchen showrooms. They all periodically change their displays and the savings are huge –if your needs match fairly well with the display (unless discontinued, you can fill in missing things, you’ll just have to wait for those to be delivered as normal and pay full price). Poggenpohl even lists their displays worldwide.

I then remembered a former neighbor who had a great kitchen from another German brand called Leicht. As you can see in the highly fragmented, premium German cabinetry market, Leicht sells a lot more kitchens than anyone else. I headed over to German Kitchen Center in the Design District for a look.

Very nice stuff.

Source: Leicht

So that Bulthaup kitchen Hall Arts is achieving I could get from Leicht – for a good deal less money. But what really sold me was the time. Because they’re CandysDirt.com readers and have been following the Penthouse Plunge series, they worked with me to expedite the order and cut four months roughly in half.

Since I’m selling a penthouse, I needed bells and whistles – and with Leicht, I would get quicker bells and whistles.

These days, what was once luxury is now standard – think soft-close drawers. Leicht got me bells like glass drawer sides, under-countertop accent lighting, and lighted drawers. I also ordered double-decker upper cabinets to reach to the 10-foot ceilings in the kitchen.

I liked the cleanliness of the design so much, I also used them for the bathroom vanities (in varying shades). Between the compressed timetable and the pricing, I’m able to offer my buyer a level of quality not typically seen in a flip. All it took was some extra legwork.

Oh, you know you’re getting high-end cabinetry when they don’t trust your measurements and come out and measure twice just to be sure.

Oh, oh — and I think all of the German manufacturers will give you a discount if you can pronounce their name properly on the first try. I’m buying Leicht and I still can’t get it right.


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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  1. Dr. Timothy B. Jones says

    That’s awesome Jon, congratulations. I have a dear friend that’s a local designer/artist who bought one of the shell penthouses in the south building at the W. He did the same thing….bought a showroom kitchen from Cantoni for under $50k and designed the penthouse around it. I can’t remember the retail price but I’m thinking it was about $150k. It looked stunning and he ended up selling the unit to the CEO of Fredericks of Hollywood when her daughter was at SMU. You are smart and resourceful! I’m guessing when you are all done the money you make on A will about pay for B! That too is awesome! This project is such a treat for your readers!

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