Just ask Chicago-based residential architect and designer Kristin Fogarty-Yi (@objektarch_kristinfogartyyi). She found herself “frustrated with the layout and finishes” in her 1910s condo after living there for 12 years. “I wanted the space to feel like a grown-up’s home,” she says, “not like a starter condo anymore.”
Her primary focus? The condo’s nonfunctional kitchen. Its original layout featured a double sink that “took up too much space,” leaving Kristin with hardly any counter space for prepping and cooking. The refrigerator jutted out awkwardly, blocking light from the kitchen windows and getting in the way of her dining table. “I hated the layout,” she says.
To make matters worse, her washer-dryer was located in the kitchen, which made doing laundry incredibly inconvenient. Inspired, Kristin put her design expertise to work, reconfiguring the kitchen’s layout and sourcing new finishes over the course of three months. She lives near the beach, so she opted for a “light-filled, contemporary beach condo look.”
Kristin was able to save money by assembling and installing IKEA kitchen cabinets on her own. She also designed a long, open shelf for her daily dishes above the sink.
Kristin did hire a general contractor to do the bulk of the construction, which included removing the laundry closet from the kitchen and putting the fridge in its place. “I love that the laundry is now on the second floor near my closets,” she says. “It just makes life so much easier.”
Additionally, she replaced all of the condo’s 21 windows, including panels in the kitchen, with newer vinyl windows. This brightened the space immensely.
Kristin swapped the existing sink out for a large single sink with an offset drain, effectively doubling her counter space. The updated layout allows for “two people to be cooking at the same time,” a functionality Kristin does not take for granted.
Given her professional background, Kristin has completed other renovations in her home totaling about $50,000, but she is most proud of this kitchen makeover.
“I was able to give it a custom feel with the use of standard and inexpensive products,” she says. It’s the perfect marriage of beauty and utility, two qualities Kristin values as an architect and designer. If you’re embarking on your first home renovation project, she strongly advises hiring a designer for guidance. “We can help you avoid mistakes and guide you through the process so you get the perfect space that works for you.”