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Planning a kitchen renovation can be daunting in terms of scope and budget. The good news is that realtors estimate that 80% of the investment you make in your kitchen upgrade will be recouped when you sell your house. Whether you are ready to take the plunge for your own benefit or for resale value, below are some guidelines to help save you time and money with designers, make the process smoother and get you the end results you desire.
Before getting to far along, go through all your kitchen appliances, dishes, tools and cookbooks and give away or toss anything you don’t need. Does your waffle maker just sit there 364 days a year? Do you really need four sets of measuring cups? Do you have mismatched dishes and cups that just sit on the shelf? Once you know exactly what you need to store, finding storage solutions will be more targeted.
The most expensive part of a kitchen upgrade is in appliance reorientation and custom cabinetry. Depending on the extent of your renovation, it can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 (or higher). Consumer Reports offers a monthly membership for $7.95 per month or you can purchase magazines that will get you up to speed on costs.
Form Follows Function
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Do some research. Visit kitchen showrooms and gather materials. Learn what’s possible. Until you do some exploring, you won’t know that you can’t live without that certain something. Even Home Depot and Lowes have great catalogs that help you understand some of the organizational tools available with cabinetry upgrades.
Create a list of “must haves” and “would like to haves.” If you are a couple, try to have individual lists as well as a shared list to help designers hone in on those items that are paramount to your happiness.
Consider amenities such as a wine cooler, a gas fireplace to keep you cozy in the wintertime, and storage solutions that will save you from sitting on the floor and digging through cabinets for that certain appliance. Corner cabinets with lazy susans are wonderful. Maybe you’re an avid baker, and over the fridge vertical storage will make it easy access to large, flat pans. Perhaps having a pull out spice cabinet would make life sunnier. It may be that a pegged dish drawer would make the daily chore of setting the table and putting the dishes away a breeze. Consider your height, back issues, arthritis and any disabilities when putting together your wish list.
- Will the family eat in the kitchen or dining room?
- How often do you entertain?
- How do kids and dogs impact your layout and amenities selection?
- Will there typically one cook or more?
- Where do you prefer to do prep, cooking and clean up? (Your designer will plan your kitchen triangle of refrigerator, sink, and stove and overall layout with these preferences in mind.)
- Do you need extra counter space? A bar counter?
- Do you need a double oven?
- Will one sink suffice?
- Do you have a good-sized pantry? Do you need extra storage for pots, pans, spices, or wine?
- Are you interested in switching from electric to gas? Extending a gas line can be expensive and electric cook tops have improved over time.
- Do you need additional task lighting?
- Do you need a home/office area?
- Do you need a family calendar/scheduling area?
- Would you like more natural light in your space? (skylilghts, additional windows, enlarged windows, sliding doors, etc)
Create a file, notebook (digital or paper) or Pinterest page of kitchen designs that you find appealing. Your designer won’t copy these, but they will provide insight to your taste. Strive for 7 to 10 images that represent your style. Try to understand why the images appeal to you. Isolate the components. Is it the light? Copper bowls? Stone tile? Dark wood floors contrasting with crisp white cabinetry? As a couple, strive for images that reflect a combined style. This may be difficult and could require the assistance of your designer, but the clearer you are on what you want, the less time you will spend with a designer.
Base finishes include flooring, cabinet finish, countertops, backsplash and paint. Appliances should be coordinated as well. They don’t have to all match but they should coordinate (i.e, black stove and dishwasher with stainless refrigerator).
Finish Upgrade versus Remodel
If you are merely changing finishes, you can do this own your own or hire an interior designer. If you are remodeling, be sure to hire a certified NKBA planner. Your kitchen planner might be able to offer you a highly coordinated finish scheme, but different types of designers have different specialties. so be sure to see some of their work. You might want an interior designer to work with your certified kitchen planner, particularly if you are coordinating open floor plans and want coherence between the kitchen and adjacent rooms. Consider, in particular, any flooring material that will be adjacent to the kitchen flooring material.
Kitchen Flooring Choices
Are you keeping your existing flooring? Try to get a sample of it so that this can be viewed in the quartz showroom with your other finishes. You might be able to pull a chip from the corner of a pantry or closet. If you are making a change, you will likely either choose tile or hardwood. Tile is easy to clean but can be hard on your back. If you don’t spend a lot of time cooking, this could be a good choice for you. If you do select tile, ensure you specify narrow grout lines and a medium to dark grout. If you have a light-colored grout, you will spend an enormous amount of time cleaning the grout, even if you seal it. I prefer Carlisle wood flooring for its beauty, but if you are pressed for budget there are many other options.
Don’t purchase budget bamboo — a low price typically indicates bamboo that has not been allowed to harden and it will dent once installed. The article below details more choices and outlines pro’s and con’s.
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Don’t select granite for your countertops. While it’s fine to use a granite offcut for a small vanity, granite can break upon installation for large pieces. Quartz, on the other hand, has binders that offer just enough give that their will not be a break upon instlalation. If you are looking for something subtle in a grey, white, or cream, Corian Quartz® (formerly Zodiaq®) offers regular specials on several colors.
However, if you would like more interest, visual “movement”, and something a bit more lively, Cambria® is your vendor of choice. You can see Cambria® designs on your own countertops and islands, and more with the Augmented Reality (AR) app. How it works it you use your device to scan your counter, then select the design you want, and you will see how it looks in your space.
Visit a quartz showroom to see quartz options in full slab size. Never, ever order your kitchen countertop(s) based on a small sample size. Quartz often has wide variation, visual movement, and multiple colors that will not be evident in a small sample. Consider two coordinating quartz colors if you have two or three countertops. Once measurements are taken for fabrication, have your designer check with the fabricator to see if there are any offcuts that can be made into a desktop, vanity, or occasional table. You will pay for the entire slab, so get your money’s worth.
If you want something custom, visit some local cabinet makers. They should have samples of their work and be able to show you the quality of construction as well as paint and stain choices. If you like more traditional designs, consider Enkebol architectural wood carving designs to enhance your cabinetry with carving, overlays, fluting, and molding. Hoods offer another ornametal option.
Kitchen showrooms will offer you many styles of cabinetry, palettes and details to suit your style. Consider some well-appointed glass cabinet fronts. Antique glass offers sparkle without a stark view into the contents behind them.
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While backsplashes are not required, and you can simply create a backsplash with your chosen quartz, a coordinating tile can add interest to your kitchen design. Don’t limit yourself to Home Depot! There are so many beautiful tile designs available through your designer. Have them take you to a showroom so that you can gather some ideas or ask them to bring you some selections.
While you can purchase refrigerator doors with wood fronts, most of us will select white, black or stainless. The best selection will be based on your other finishes but keep in mind that stainless will show smudges, so if you have little ones under your roof, be prepared to be wiping appliances down often should you choose stainless.
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Plumbing and Cabinet Hardware
Sinks and faucets might be on your renovation list. These should be coordinated with your cabinet hardware. Sherle Wagner and Carpe Diem are worth investigating for outstanding hardware selections.
Lighting and Electrical
In addition to offering a planned and coordinated design, another advantage of hiring an interior designer for your kitchen upgrade is to coordinate lighting that will showcase your new space. Recessed lights in the ceiling, undercabinet lights, lights to showcase displays behind glass, and new fixtures over your kitchen table or island will be important components of a complete and pleasing design.
While this is an easy finish to change, paint color is still one of the items that should be chosen in concert with your other base finishes.
Final Selection of Base Finishes
Before signing on to any of your base finishes, have your designer meet you at the quartz showroom with the following samples: cabinet door, flooring sample, backsplash and paint. Ease of cleaning is of utmost importance in considering all of your finish selections.
Adding In Your Personality
Image by Svetl via Istock
Image by Svetl via Istock
Most of your base finishes will be neutral. If you are selling your home, ensure you select classic, neutral finishes. If this is your forever home, you can suit your own taste. Have you dreamed of having a Mexican kitchen since you were 15? Go for it.
Create another file of images that captures your personality. Do you love Italian ceramics? Mixed colors of dishes? Ceramics can brighten up your space. Think of a kitchen with soft creams, whites, or greys and a bright blue vase with yellow flowers. Or lavender orchids on a black countertop. Kitchen mixers come in fun colors like aqua, red, and copper. You can bring fabric, pattern and color into your space through upholstered seating areas, window treatments, chair covers, table cloths, runners, napkins, placemats, and artwork. These items will add texture, color and personality. The more information you provide to your designer at the outset, the more successful he or she will be at giving you your dream kitchen. Good design has so much to do with planning all the components together.
To recap: visit some kitchen showrooms to think outside the box and see what’s possible, create your wish list of functional and style preferences, create a folder of images for overall kitchen design, base finish ideas, and personality ideas. Hire your NKBA kitchen planner and interior designer. The links below will connect you to organizations that can assist you in finding your designers.
Care and Maintenance
Once your new kitchen is installed, be sur eyou have warranties on hand and understand the care and maintenance of your new finishes so that you can enjoy them for some time to come. In particular, understand proper care of your quartz countertops and islands. Quartz is non-porous and hard to stain but you should avoid abrasive cleansers and cleansers that contain bleach. Although quartz is very scratch resistant, you should always use a cutting board and never put a hot pot or pan direclty on the surface as this can cause discoloration.