10 Apartment Renovation Tips

by | Jan 11, 2018 | Apartment Renovations, Renovations

This post will focus on some tips for apartment renovation design and the process of completing a renovation.


Knock Down Some Walls 

Don’t be scared to knock down a few walls. This can be a great way to open up a space and enlarge a room. Sometimes you can keep most or all of your walls and the apartment works great. Sometimes you need to knock them all down to get a layout that works for you. Removing a wall is serious business make sure your architect and contractor are in agreement on this being okay.

Architect Jorge Fontan at renovation job site

Architect Jorge Fontan at renovation job site


Open The Kitchen

Many old buildings have small kitchens and almost always they are enclosed with walls on all four sides. Today people like opening the kitchen and often the kitchen becomes the centerpiece of the apartment. I think today people are spending a much larger percentage of the total renovation budget on the kitchen renovation then people did historically. Kitchens have much nicer designs now and are far more important to the average apartment owner.

Opening the kitchen will help make the space feel bigger. If you have nice appliances and cabinets it will also enhance the aesthetic of the space.

Open Kitchen Design

Open Kitchen Design in a Tribeca Loft 

Open Kitchen Renovation NYC

Open Kitchen Renovation NYC


Showers Vs Tubs In Your Bathrooms

One of the biggest apartment renovation trends we have noticed is people removing tubs and putting in showers. Although I personally prefer a shower to a tub I do not always recommend this. I think it is good to at least have one tub in an apartment. Bathroom renovations need careful thought about what types of fixtures you want. Please make sure to think this through and see what works for you. Of course remember small children need bathtubs.

Below is an apartment renovation in Manhattan where they had 2 bathrooms with tubs. The client decided to remove one tub and replace it with a shower and keep a tub in the other bathroom remodel.

Modern Bathroom UWS NYC

Modern Bathroom UWS NYC


Concrete Bathroom Renovation

Concrete Bathroom Renovation


Closet Design Is Important

Closets are important so make sure when planning the apartment you have enough closets. You may want to look into built ins. closets can be custom designed and built or you can work with closet manufacturers.

Modern Closet Design

Modern Closet Design


Go To Showrooms

Our architecture firm is located in NYC. There is no shortage of showrooms to visit here where you can get ideas and see examples of different apartment design features. Take a day and go to showrooms with your architect or interior designer. you may also want to go alone. Talk to the people there in most cases they are very knowledgeable. See what suggestions they have for you.

Architect Jorge Fontan and client at a showroom

Architect Jorge Fontan and client at a showroom


Understand Your design Services

Wen you hire an architect or contractor make sure to understand the services included. My favorite question to ask is not only what is included but what is not included. See what services your apartment renovation architect is and is not including.

Is your architect including finish drawings specifying all materials and products? Are electrical and lighting plans included? You also want to make sure if the architect will perform site visits and how many. Architectural renovation services are complicated and not everyone includes the same things in their prices.

High end apartment architect NYC

Apartment architectural details for a kitchen in SoHo, NYC


Communication and Coordination Is Key

If the architect and contractor do not meet before the renovation begins this is a really bad sign. Everyone should be on the same page. The renovation should proceed with transparency and coordination. Make sure everyone on the team is in communication and agreement. Issues will arise and problems may happen. these are no reason to panic and nobody should go around playing the blame game. The team needs to work together to sort out any issues in a manner that is best for the apartment and for you.

Ask your team how often they will be on the job site. Your architect and contractor cannot be there all day everyday, but they will need to visit often enough as is needed to complete the project on time and with the highest level of quality possible.

Architect Jorge Fontan at a renovation jobsite meeting

Architect Jorge Fontan at a renovation jobsite meeting


Plan Your Furniture

You need to think about your furniture. With our clients we often get the exact dimensions of the furniture they want and block it out on the plans. This will help you figure out how much space you will have. You can also use tape to layout the furniture on the floor before you purchase it. Make sure to use tape that doesn’t stick too much so you do not damage the floor finish.


Apartment Renovation NYC

Furnished Apartment Renovation NYC


Read Your Alteration Agreement

Your Co-Op Or Condo will have a contract know as an alteration agreement. Make sure you and everyone on your team reads the alteration agreement. this will instruct you on your obligations and on miscellaneous building rules and regulations. there may be technical aspects to the alteration agreement that you do not understand. Your architect or contractor should be happy to help explain these to you. You may want to have a sit down with the architect to review it together.


Its your Apartment

Everyone you know is going to have an opinion on your apartment renovation. People are going to tell you what you should do. Your friends, family, architect, interior designer, and contractor will all tell you what to do. Remember its your apartment. You have the final say on everything. Design your apartment to make you and your family happy.

Professionals are here to give you help don’t let anyone push you into a design that you don’t like. Speak up and make sure your opinions are taken seriously and your concerns are addressed. you are the most important force in your apartment design.


Thank you for reading our apartment renovation tips blog post.

We wish you the best of luck with your apartment renovation. Please feel free to leave questions or comments below. If you want to discuss your renovation with an architect you can contact us directly.


Contact Fontan Architecture


Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.