All new condo construction in Hoboken is billed as “luxury” – it’s interesting to take a closer look what “luxury” means. A quick look at the kitchens and bathrooms in the model units of these new condos show that luxury means different things to different people. What is considered luxury in new Manhattan condos is not the same as in Hoboken condos.
I love to cook but have a tiny kitchen in my home. So storage and multiple use cabinets are of major importance to me. Cabinet makers today offer an amazing array of special purpose cabinetry. You can choose from pot draws, cutlery trays, pull-out pantries, spice storage, lazy susans, wine storage and more. These special features are essential in small kitchens and helpful in larger ones too.
Then there are the draws themselves. If they are truly high-end, they should be fully extendable draws (so you can get at what is in the very back) and some have soft closing mechanisms so they don’t slam shut. Under-counter lighting is essential. They should be xenon lights – not the cheap hockey-pucks. If you have high ceilings you should have extra-tall cabinets or double rows of cabinets. I can’t tell you how many new condo units I see in Hoboken where the builder slapped some cabinets onto the walls leaving a useless gap between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling.
Almost none one of the “luxury” projects, not Maxwell Place or Harborside Lofts, not the Upper Grand or the Skyclub offer truly upscale features in their kitchens. There’s not a fully-inlaid door in sight. No special purpose inserts either. Very little under-cabinet lighting. One or two developments have Viking, Miele or Bosch appliances. Most offer GE Profile which is fine but nothing special any more. Appliances, unlike cabinetry, are easy to upgrade should a buyer so choose. To install better cabinets after the kitchen has been built usually requires a full demolition since they are attached to the wall, each other, and the countertops.
Of course, when a buyer walks in and sees the stainless steel appliances and granite counters they are “wowed” by the surface appearance of the kitchen. Once they move in and start unpacking or acquiring all those Williams & Sonoma and Sur La Table must-haves they will soon realize what is lacking in their new kitchens. Even if the doors have brushed chrome handles and maybe, maybe, maybe there is a pull-down faucet for the undermount sink so many other features are missing. It only takes one or two nights of trying to wash a pot or two in those little undermount sinks before you will start yearning for a nice, big farmhouse style sink.
While there was a time when a homeowner would have to purchase custom cabinets from a company like Smallbone or Rutt to get these great design features, now even Ikea includes them in practically every cabinet line. Why don’t the developers include any of these very standard amenities in their kitchens? That’s easy – they cost more than a plain vanilla box. If the buyers of these units don’t start demanding more, the builders will not provide more. So speak up, buyers, while the market is working in your favor. Here is a list of some of the features you should ask for:
- under cabinet lighting – xenon, not the cheap halogen hockey-pucks
- lazy susans in those impossible to reach into corner cabinets
- a cutlery/knife drawer
- pull-out pot drawers
- a pull-out pantry tall or half height
- full extension drawers (so you can get to what’s in the back)
- cabinet heights that reach the ceiling or double layers of cabinets
- pull-out garbage/recycling bins
- built-in wine fridge
- stainless steel dishwasher interiors
Then, of course, there is the bathroom.
Does a brushed stainless faucet and Home Depot tumbled marble really make for a luxurious bathroom? Some fussy buyers would have a list that includes many of the following:
- a steam shower
- frameless glass shower doors
- a rain shower head and multiple body shower jets
- radiant heat – of course, a marble or tile floor
- towel warmers
- a built in medicine cabinet
- a linen closet in the bathroom or nearby – (you’d be surprised how many bathrooms have absolutely no storage space!)
- a jacuzzi tub
- maybe even a bidet . . .
There is one new project, the Garden Street Lofts, that is getting it right. They’re offering Valcucine Italian Kitchens and some other nice features. At an appropriate price, of course.