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.

(more…)

The framing is almost complete in the A-unit of this Penthouse Plunge renovation project. For the newbies, this is the latest installment of a series chronicling the absurdity of my purchasing a double penthouse at The Claridge on Turtle Creek. I’m separating it back into two units and gutting and renovating the corner A-unit and will live in the other myself (eventually renovating it too, in time).

Framing is a big deal in the process. It’s when you can measure for cabinets (which have a HUGE lead-time – typically between two and four months). I’ve been scampering around town in between the holidays looking at cabinets, configurations and comparing prices (more on that coming up).

And what goes with cabinets?  Countertops.

Last Friday was the last “slow day” in the holiday season whereby things were open but traffic hadn’t returned to its natural levels. So I decided to visit stone yards furthest away from home and checked their hours Thursday night.  And to my wondering eyes did appear … a closing down sale – at one of the largest stone yards in Dallas!

(more…)

Green from Turtle Creek to The Katy Trail

When I first started visiting Dallas for work, the paint was still wet on The Claridge (1984) and The Centrum (1985). I recall being annoyed when The Mansion Residences were built in 1992 because they ruined the views of downtown Dallas from both The Mansion on Turtle Creek and The Melrose hotels.

But through my decades of visiting, I thought/learned that Turtle Creek was the glam place to live in Oak Lawn.  After failed attempts spanning two decades, here I am. Was it all worth it? Especially being at The Claridge, a building I never thought I’d like – or be able to afford. My Penthouse Plunge is my fourth home in Dallas in 11 years.

Happiness rests on two components. What’s it like to live inside The Claridge and what’s it like to live in the neighborhood. Or in Realtor-speak, the two dimensions of location, location, location.

(more…)

Building permit (finally) in hand, demolition of the A-unit began on overdrive to make up for lost time. The main concentration was to gut the kitchen and bathrooms on the A-side.  Unless this is your first time reading about the Penthouse Plunge, you know that I purchased a 5,311-square-foot double penthouse at the Claridge on Turtle Creek. My plan is to re-divide the units, renovate and sell the A-unit while I happily live in the B-side.

As you know from my recent donation to Habitat for Humanity, the A-side kitchen had already been disassembled and donated. But there’s more to kitchen demolition than the cabinets and fridge.

In this case, opening the walls revealed their quirks – as they always do.

(more…)

Jon Anderson donated his kitchen to Habitat for Humanity as part of his Penthouse Plunge project.

Habitat for Humanity took my kitchen. There, I said it. And I couldn’t be happier.

Hopefully, the pristine, heavily lacquered maple cabinets manufactured by Germany’s Siematic fetch a good price at one of the organizations’ ReStore shops. In turn, those monies will be used for Habitat’s main job – giving former president Jimmy Carter something to do (kidding).

I have to say that of all the former presidents of my generation, Carter certainly gave back the most to his country and the world. Democrat or Republican, you have to admit his work with Habitat, which helps the less fortunate build their own homes, is nothing less than heroic. His public support is probably the only reason I’ve heard of them.  And Habitat for Humanity has grown. It supports 1,400 communities in the U.S. as well as more than 70 countries globally.

(more…)

In 2013, when I secured the building permits required to renovate my Athena condo, I was on the permitting office’s doorstep New Year’s morning and within a couple of hours, I left, permits in hand. When I returned a year later to get new permits to renovate the master bathroom, a similar timeline played out.

In the ensuing years since that simple, efficient timeline for simple renovation projects, the permitting office has vanished into bureaucracy, poor staffing and civil servitude. Instead of hours or even days, my permit took a full two-months to be issued – and it wasn’t because of me.

For those just joining the Penthouse Plunge series, on September 3, I purchased a 5,311-square-foot double penthouse at The Claridge on Turtle Creek. It had been on the market for four years with over $1 million in price reductions – and hadn’t been touched in 25 years. The combined floor plan didn’t work and so the only solution is to separate the units back into their original, as-built sizes and original-ish configurations.  And that’s just what I’m doing, with an endgame of selling the 2,770-square-foot corner A-unit (two bedrooms with study) and living in the B-unit forevermore. Penthouse Plunge follows the ups and downs of the renovation process and eventual sale.

Back to permitting (and its interminable waiting) which is part of the city department of Sustainable Development and Construction.

(more…)

I’ve never used the same general contractor twice. That says something right there. So every time I do a renovation, I have to start from scratch. The usual reason I don’t repeat contractors comes down to communication. I say things that don’t happen. They do things without asking that aren’t on the blueprints. They ignore installation instructions so an item won’t install properly (so I get the right part and do it myself over the weekend only to be met with wide-eyed stares). They try to install a shower drain a foot off the ground (literally) because they don’t have the right drain – which I source and have FedEx-ed.  They cut an active water line that floods the place and send me a Jimmy John’s sandwich as a “sorry.” And once they just ghosted for a month and I had to sue to recoup my deposit.

Those who read this column know that clarity isn’t typically one of my faults nor is suffering fools.

So given my track record, how do I find a contractor?

(more…)

One of four NOT Chihuly chandeliers for sale

Once you’ve checked out the Elite Auctions preview of 11322 E. Ricks Circle on Sept. 14, join me from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Claridge (3510 Turtle Creek Blvd., Units 18 A and B) for your chance to tour my Penthouse Plunge before demolition as I revive and return two Turtle Creek penthouses to their glory, and one to the market. 

Renovate: Reuse and Recycle

Every renovation has items from the existing home that no longer work with the new design. For my Athena renovation, I donated appliances, built-in cabinetry, lighting, doors and frames plus bathroom fixtures. The Claridge penthouses are no different. In and amongst the wine and nibbles, you’ll see what doesn’t fit with my plans and so is being donated, bartered, and frankly, for sale to anyone interested.

Respectful renovation isn’t the HGTV spectacle of sledgehammer-wielding destruction. It’s about taking a few minutes and finding a new home for eminently usable items that just aren’t “you.”

For example, kitchen and bathroom cabinets would be welcomed by housing charities. Ditto doors, windows, faucets, etc. You’re doing good and getting a tax write-off.

So far, in the “for sale” bin are four NOT-Chihuly chandeliers – one in each entry and two in the office (and my future bedroom). The clear/white one seen above is in the B-unit entry.

(more…)