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Top 10 Reasons to Remodel Your Kitchen

Article by: Ann Johnson


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For many households the kitchen is the center of the home and the hub of activity. Remodeling the kitchen can be a major undertaking. It is not just the expense, but also the inconvenience to the household that gives many homeowners pause when considering such an undertaking. In spite of this, homeowners continue to find good reasons to proceed with a kitchen remodel. Reasons for remodeling vary, and your neighbor may not share your top reason for the project.

1. Deterioration

The kitchen might simply be falling apart. Cracked tiles, peeling countertops, broken or missing cabinet doors and outdated appliances don’t inspire gourmet cooking or family gatherings. The deteriorated kitchen has simply outlived its usefulness and needs a remodel.

2. Value

Homeowners often remodel their kitchens to increase the value or marketability of a property. A remodeled and attractive kitchen will appeal to prospective home buyers more than a boring and outdated one. The homeowner may or may not recoup the investment of the remodel; this will depend on a variety of factors, such as the degree of the remodel and current market prices.

3. Energy Savings

Energy savings might be the prime motivation for a kitchen remodel. Adding skylights brings in more sunshine, reducing the need for artificial light. Energy-efficient appliances and solar water heaters cut the utility bill and place less stress on the environment.

4. Modernity

The kitchen can be pristine yet outdated. If the kitchen says 1950s, but you want to live in the here and now, it is time to transform your retro kitchen environment into a room for the 21st century.

5. Lifestyle

The kitchen layout may have worked great for the previous homeowner, but not for you. Perhaps it lacks a breakfast bar, and your family wants to gather informally in the kitchen to enjoy coffee or grab a quick meal without going to the dining room table. Whatever the reason, one motivation for a kitchen remodel is to arrange the room to best suit the family’s needs.

6. Special Needs

It is sometimes necessary to remodel the kitchen to better accommodate the needs of disabled family members. For example, if one of the family is in a wheelchair or no longer able to reach high cupboards, a remodel can make the room more usable.

7. Financial Incentives

The prime motivation behind a remodel might simply be financial incentives, such as energy-saving rebates offered by government entities or vendors. Financial incentives include sales at home improvement centers, cash rebates for trading in outdated appliances, remodeling grants and low- or no-interest loans.

8. Change

Some homeowners simply want change. The current kitchen might be functional, updated and attractive, yet no longer appeal to the homeowner.

9. Home Improvement TV

Watching home improvement shows on cable television inspires many homeowners to remodel their kitchens. They may never have considered such a project until a home improvement program showed them the possibilities for their kitchen.

10. Gourmet Kitchen

For a homeowner who enjoys preparing fancy meals and considers himself a gourmet cook, the prime reason for a remodel is the desire to create a dream kitchen. A gourmet kitchen with fancier amenities than most accommodates the cook’s needs.

Homeowner’s Workbook: How to Remodel Your Kitchen

Article By: Rebekah Zaveloff

You’ve decided to remodel your kitchen. Now what? Not knowing where to start, many homeowners fall into two camps. Some start by looking at appliances. Others start by collecting inspiring kitchen photos. Some decide they need more room. Others simply want to upgrade their current kitchen. Homeowners may find themselves in this exploration stage for a year or longer before they start interviewing kitchen designers or general contractors. 

Once you’ve pondered long enough and you’re ready to green-light a kitchen remodeling project, then what? We’ll start with the first 9 steps and we’ll get into the nitty-gritty details under specific steps as we move through the complete workbook. 

Step 1: Think about what you need

This step is all about how you use your kitchen, and finding the layout and features that fit your household’s lifestyle. Get ideas from every resource possible, including Houzz guides and photos, showrooms, books, magazines and blogs. 

Think about your priorities: how many people will be cooking and gathering here, and how they’ll need to move around in it. Do you need an addition? Or can you work with your existing kitchen footprint?

If you haven’t already, start saving photos of kitchens with features that suit your style. Your collection can be organized and beautiful like a scrapbook or it can be filled with random, unorganized images. I actually prefer the latter, because I like to randomly stuff images into my folders and ideabooks and go back to them later on for edits. 

Step 2: Research and plan

Ready to green-light that project and take the plunge? The best place to start is by formulating what’s commonly referred to as a scope of work and figuring out your preliminary budget. 

Both of these may be subject to change, so don’t feel like you have only once chance at this. Budget and scope are intertwined and often change many times during the design process as you become more educated and able to reconcile what you want and what you can afford. As a homeowner, you’re not expected to walk into this knowing what everything should cost. Remember, this is an educational process. 

Step 3: Find the professionals you will need

Even if you’re going the DIY route, unless you’re building your own kitchen cabinets and doing your own electrical and plumbing, you’re going to have to work with a professional at some point. It may be as brief as leaning on your salesperson to help you in selecting and ordering your appliances or cabinets, but it’s something to plan on either way. 

Some people start by visiting big-box stores or cabinet showrooms where they can see everything. Many homeowners get referrals from friends or colleagues and start by hiring an architect or designer. Still others might work on their own with a builder or contractor. Pros are available to help you with everything from contracts and permits to space planning, budgets, choosing finishes and fixtures, shopping, ordering products, helping you set up a temporary kitchen, and managing your project from start to finish.

Step 4: Schematic design

This phase includes sketches, space planning, preliminary floor plans and elevations showing the layout and cabinet sizes. I try to keep my clients focused more on layout and space planning, even though the temptation is to talk about what the kitchen will look like. But I find that getting caught up in the look too early can distract from the space planning phase. 

Plus, you need a plan in order to figure out what materials will go where, and how many square feet you will need, and ultimately how much this will cost. I like to begin the contractor interview process early and give them a preliminary drawing packet and scope of work so we can get some ballpark construction numbers. At the same time you can be sending out drawings for estimates on some top choices of finishes and fixtures.

Step 5: Fixture and finish specification

Throughout this process, and probably long before, you have been saving photos of kitchens you love into your ideabooks and folders. You’ve found your style, whether it’s modern, classic,traditional, cottage or a personal style in between. You probably know if you want a white kitchen, a natural wood kitchen, or some color

Now you need to make your final selection of finishes and fixtures. This usually includes: 

  • Cabinetry construction type, doorstyle, finish and color
  • Countertop material
  • Refrigerators and other appliances
  • Kitchen sink and faucet
  • Light fixtures
  • Flooring 
  • Backsplash
  • Decorative hardware 

Step 6: Work on design development and construction documents

This is the stage when you finalize the design and prepare final floor plans, elevations, details and, if applicable, mechanical and electrical drawings, lighting switch plans, and exterior elevations.

This is where your final permit set or Construction Drawings (CDs) come into play. It’s important to have finishes and fixtures selected at this time, since this is what will be considered in the final pricing from the contractor. 

You’ll submit drawings for permits. These have a lead time, so check the timing with your local village. You’ll need an architect, designer or licensed contractor signed up to finalize the paperwork and pick up your permits, so get ready to hire someone in the next step. I often find that we’re submitting for permits around the same time or a little bit after we’ve placed the cabinet order, due to similar lead times. 

Step 7: Get contractor estimates

If you don’t already have a licensed contractor on your project, your next step is to find one to carry the project through. I always recommend to my clients to get at least 3 different contractor estimates. I like to do preliminary walk-throughs with the contractors once the schematic designs are done so we can get some ballpark estimates and find out if we’re on the right track or need to pull back some to fit the budget.

Step 8: Get ready for demo

The big day is upon us, most likely something like 4-8 weeks from when you submitted for permits. Time to get that schedule firmed up and plan on cleaning out the cabinets, putting what you don’t need in storage and — if you’re living in the house during construction — setting up a temporary kitchen so you don’t lose your mind!

You may be moving out of your house temporarily, but most homeowners white-knuckle it and try to live in the house through construction. Preparation and organization can save your sanity.

Discuss the logistics ahead of time with your contractor. Will you meet once a week for updates? Will you have to be out of the house for certain tasks like demo or flooring? What about debris removal and dust? Are there any family allergy issues? What is a typical work day for the crew? Getting all this on the table beforehand can set expectations and make for a smoother ride. 

Step 9: Surviving the dreaded punch list

Once construction is over, well … almost over … there’s always this annoying little list of items that are missing, wrong, or simply forgotten about. A missing light switch plate, a caulk line that shrank and pulled away from the wall, paint touch ups — small things like this, and sometimes bigger things like the hood doesn’t work, or there’s a big scratch in the newly refinished floor. 

Sometimes the homeowner does the punch list. It can be as informal as an emailed list of items that need to be fixed or finished. I like to use a little form I put together that identifies the item to be fixed or finished, the responsible party and the date of completion. I send it to the client for review, changes and additions, and then off to the contractor. 

It’s inevitable that the contractor may have to make multiple visits back to the house to finish these items; prepare yourself for more than one visit and you’ll be fine.The best way to approach this is with a Zen attitude. Things happen, little things get missed. It’s sort of like making a list for the grocery store and still forgetting some key ingredient. We all do it.

Planning Multicook Kitchens

There Are Ways to Accommodate Multiple Cooks Without Causing Accidents


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Pictured Above: This kitchen has a third prep area visible beyond the island with access to the prep sink, microwave and island.We have been crowding into kitchens to enjoy the camaraderie of friends and family since house parties were invented. Candice Olson, in the the introduction to her book, Candice Olson Kitchens and Baths, puts it this way: “Today’s kitchen is all about a well-planned space that makes cooking a completely interactive experience between family and friends.”

Regardless of a kitchen’s size, there are ways we can modify spaces to encourage socializing and helping.

Average – to smaller – sized kitchens can be enhanced by incorporating a pass-through opening into the kitchen. An extended counter will encourage conversation and can hold hors d’oeuvres. A slight adjustment in the positioning of the available counter space adjacent to the sink or cooking surface could provide enough space to act as a secondary prep area.

Duality or redundancy of appliances can be beneficial in medium to large kitchens by creating additional activity centers. Still, each work center should have its own work triangle if possible. The primary work triangle is defined by the large refrigerator, corner sink/cleanup area and the range top. Microwaves, drawer dishwashers and refrigerators can anchor the work triangle along with a hospitality sink. Sharing a major appliance also works well as long as individual work triangles do not cross paths.

Islands and opposing countertops should be a minimum of 48-inches apart to allow for crossing traffic. The perfectly designed multicook kitchen will have very few occasions when preparers would need to cross paths. However, this minimum spacing will accommodate persons crossing paths while carrying plates or trays. 

Avoid positioning major appliances directly across a walkway from each other. A secondary sink should be far enough from the primary sink so it defines a discrete work center, and the addition of an under-counter refrigerator and the extra countertop space it provides will make an excellent salad or baking prep area. 

Not all multicook kitchens will be this inclusive while some might duplicate each appliance – specifically, an additional cooking surface. Two-burner cooktops, fastcook ovens, steam ovens or another secondary device might be incorporated. 

Getting the Most Out of a Kitchen Remodel


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Hey, have you heard the one about the 36-inch pro-style range that ripped the molding off the back door on its way into the house? Or the poured-on-site concrete countertop that cracked three months after installation? Or maybe it was the contractor who was paid in advance, promptly skipped town, and was never heard from again.

Well, misery may love company, but what we all crave is a happy ending – a smart – looking, functional workspace that is a source of comfort and efficiency. To help you get there, we’ve complied this handy guide to some common kitchen-remodeling disasters and offer expert strategies for steering clear of them. 

For each major phase of the job: – hiring, planning, budgeting, and living through it – we’ve got an easy plan to follow. Take our advice, and your biggest regret when your dream kitchen is complete will be that you didn’t do it sooner. 

Finding the Best Pros

Kitchen remodeling is at the top of homeowner’s wish lists. It is also, according to attorneys general across the country, a leading source of consumer complaints. Recommendations from friends are the best place to start your search for a qualified contractor. But before you make a decision, keep these caveats in mind:

  • They’re only as good as their last job. “General contractors often win jobs based on their good reputations,” explains architect Dennis Wedlick, author of “Good House Hunting: 20 Steps to Your Dream Home.” “But circumstances can change. When the contractor switches subcontractors or laborers, quality can be affected.” Ask your top three candidates to supply references, and follow up with the most recent ones.

  • What you see is what you get. In addition to completed renovations, try to visit a job in progress. You can learn a lot about a contractor’s commitment to quality and safety by seeing for yourself how clean the site is and how carefully the drywall is hung and taped.

  • The best ones are worth waiting for. The best contractors tend to be the busiest ones. Build your schedule around the GC of your dreams, not vice versa. Keep the crew happy by following the three R’s:

    • Refreshments – you don’t have to cater three squares a day, but at least offer a thermos of coffee or a cooler with soft drinks and some snacks. They’ll appreciate it.

    • Responsibility – the crew can’t work efficiently if you’re in the way. Ask questions, but don’t overwhelm them with your TOH-taught (This Old House) smarts. And teach kids and pets the meaning of KEEP OUT.

    • Respect – say good morning, good night, and good job when appropriate. And please: don’t ask if they’ve met any desperate housewives lately. The appliances can be top-of-the-line, the finishes the most expensive around, but if the space doesn’t work, it’s money down the brand-new In-Sink-Erator.

Plan, Plan, Plan the Smartest Layout

An experienced designer can save you time and money by heading off potential problems. Kitchen planners know all the tricks: how to maximize storage, smart substitutions for high-end materials, even the best local contractors for the job. But first, they need a few things from you. Here are a few things that’ll help on your first meeting. 

20/20 Design Proposal Drawing by Designer Ed Sheats

  • An architectural rendering or to-scale drawing of your existing kitchen, showing the location of windows, doors, heating, plumbing lines, and electrical outlets. If you’re not working with an architect, you can do it yourself with 3-D kitchen design software.

  • A detailed wish list indicating your goals for remodeling. Do you want more space? More storage? More style? A built-in dog bed? Organize by priority, from the “must haves” to the “in our dreams.”

  • An idea folder: pictures of rooms, products, materials, and architectural details that appeal to you; notes on what you like about friend’s kitchens (and hate about your own); and general concepts translated from other areas of your life. Are you a neat freak? Glass-front cabinets are sleek, but you may be happier with painted doors that conceal clutter.

Cut Costs Without Cutting Corners

One of the surest ways to shave costs is to do more with what you’ve got. So before taking the sledgehammer to your existing kitchen, try this: empty every drawer and cupboard. Revisit where you’ve been putting things. Is there an organizational scheme that makes more sense? Think in zones, storing items closest to where they are used. 

“In the end,” says architect Dennis Wedlick, “you may like the reconfiguration so well that you’ll decide to just paint and stick with the kitchen you’ve got.” And if you do go forward, you’ll have a clearer sense of how you really use the kitchen, which will help save time and money on the redesign. But if you kind of need to cut corners, here are a few budget-balancing scenarios:

Problem #1: You really need more storage space, but you plan to move in a few years and would rather not invest in custom cabinets. Custom-crafting every nook and cranny for the way you cook may not be the most economical use of your dollars when someone else – with different cooking and lifestyle habits – will be living in your kitchen before the home-equity loan is paid off. 

Affordable alternative: Consider working a walk-in pantry into your plan. It’s a remarkably economical way to upgrade your kitchen – a pantry can supply as much storage as a wall or more of custom built-ins.

Problem #2: You want granite countertops, but they’ll bust the budget. Granite’s resistance to moisture, scratching, and high heat makes it a perennially popular (if pricey) choice.  

Affordable alternative: If you love the look of granite – or soapstone or marble or handcrafted tile for that matter – work it into your plan. But instead of using it for every countertop, try limiting it to a high-visibility island or to the areas flanking the range. Elsewhere, use less expensive options like plastic laminate or ceramic tile. Mixing also adds visual interest. 

Problem #3: You want a lighter, brighter kitchen, but knocking down walls just isn’t an option. The space may be drab and dingy, but it gets the job done, and a major overhaul isn’t in the budget right now. 

Affordable alternative: Sometimes a well-planned lighting scheme is all it takes to brighten a kitchen. Spend the bucks for the services of a professional planner or lighting designer. That plus simple cosmetic upgrades, such as a fresh paint job, new cabinet hardware, upgraded countertops or flooring, and a couple of new appliances can totally transform the space. Save untold thousands by sticking to the original layout. 


BreHomes Kitchen

An Angie’s List Guide: Home Maintenance for Summer

Home Maintenance Service Tips for Summer

Before you spend money on a home remodeling project this summer, check this graphic to see how well your investment is likely to pay off. Some remodeling projects, like updating your kitchen or bathroom, are much more likely to add value to your home than, say, installing a swimming pool. 

Increase Your Home’s Value

Three Remodeling Projects That Will Increase Your Home’s Value

Most people start a remodeling project to improve an area of their home, but they also hope the finished project will add real value.

Remodeling your house can vary from small improvements to the addition of an entirely new room. But not all remodels will create the same amount of value.

For example, the installation of a sauna might improve the quality of life for a homeowner, but it’s not going to have a big effect on the home’s overall value. On the other hand, adding a brand-new kitchen or master bath could increase a home’s value by thousands of dollars. 

If you’re planning a home remodel with the intention of adding value to your home, you should consult with a highly rated remodeling company and talk to local realtors or appraisers to see if your project will meet your perceived goals.

“I like to always say that you want to concentrate on what people like to look for the most,” says Alessandro Ferreguetti, owner of the highly rated United Remodeling in Brighton, Mass. “It’s usually the areas of comfort and areas where people hangout the most.”

Ferreguetti says those areas usually include kitchens and bathrooms because they are the places where people envision they will spend the most time. 

Nick Reynolds, owner of Eye 4 Design and Renovation in Eagle Rock, CA., offers his top three remodeling projects to add value to a home:

  1. The #1 value project is definitely the bathroom. A bathroom can be remodeled for less than a kitchen and give added value to the same extent.

  2. A kitchen is the first place people go when they are looking to buy a house. The trick with the kitchen is to not go overboard because a $20,000 remodel might get you the same value as a $75,000 remodel.

  3. Exterior improvements and landscaping. The exterior of the house is as crucial as the kitchen. A new fence and exterior paint are relatively inexpensive and both and immediate value. Similarly, a well-designed landscape will have the same result.

What Others Are Saying About Natural Stone

Natural stone is a key part of two of the top 10 elements of design in the home that are resonating with today’s buyers: the desire for low-maintenance/no-maintenance materials and the use of natural materials inside and outside the home.

-Builder Magazine

National Association of Home Builders

Homeowners who remodel recover the following percentages of their remodeling costs at resale (note -upscale projects include stone):

  1. Bathroom remodel-upscale: 92.6%

  2. Bathroom addition-upscale: 84.3%

  3. Kitchen remodel-upscale: 79.6%

-Cost vs. Value Report

Remodeling Magazine

In a study of materials for kitchen countertops, granite had the highest number of “excellent” ratings of any surface.

-Consumer Reports

If, like us, you define value as ‘performance over time’, then natural stone should be your material of choice and engineered products will never be ‘just as good’ as natural stone until they pass the same test of time.”

-Ed Walsh, Sturgis Materials, Inc.


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Types of Natural Stone

Granite

An excellent choice for kitchen countertops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces

Granite, quarried from the mountains of Italy, the U.S., India, and dozens of other countries, is one of the most popular natural stones on the market. Available in a striking array of colors; granite’s durability and longevity make it ideal for kitchen countertops and other heavily used surfaces including table tops and floors. 

While some synthetic surfaces scartch easily and melt under hot cookware, granite resists heat. Granite is also one of the most bacteria-resistant kitchen surfaces and it is not affected by citric acid, coffee, tea, alcohol, or wine. It is also nearly impossible to scratch and with proper cleaning will not stain under normal use (ask your professional contractor; like American Cabinet & Flooring, about sealants available to further improve resistance to staining.)

A leading consumer magazine recently compared granite with engineered stone, ceramic tile, laminate, butcher block, and other manufactured surfaces. Granite received the hightest overall performance rating as a kitchen countertop material.

Because of its exceptional strength, granite is well suited for exterior applications such as cladding, paving, and curbing. 

Marble

Ideal for foyers, bathrooms, floors, and hearths

Marble is found in the mountainous regions of Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the U.S., and other countries. Because of its beauty and elegance, marble is a popular choice for countertops, floors, foyers, fireplace facings and hearths, walls, and windowsills.

Marble adds a sophisticated element to your home, and its wonderful appearance, superior engineering characteristics, and ease of maintenance make it a natural choice for floors, wall coverings, table tops, and bathroom walls, floors, vanity tops, tub decks, and showers. 

Marble should be cared for as you would a fine wood finish. Using coasters on table tops and cleaning up spills immediately will preserve marble’s natural beauty.

Another option for marble-loving homeowners is using a serpentine for kitchen counters. Sometimes called the “green” marble, serpentine is not a true marble but offers a marble-like look. And because it is magnesium-silicate based, it is not sensitive to citric acid and other kitchen spills. 

Travertine, Limestone, Soapstone, Sandstone, and Slate

Beautiful enhancements for your home, inside and out

Travertine, limestone, soapstone, sandstone, and slate are other examples of natural stone frequently used in residential applications. 

Travertine is a type of limestone and one of the most popular natural stones for interior and exterior wall cladding, interior and exterior paving, statuary, and curbing.

Limestone is widely used as a building stone because it is readily available and easy to handle. Popular applications include countertops, flooring, interior and exterior wall cladding, and exterior paving. 

Soapstone is growing in popularity. Popular uses include kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, fireplace surrounds, stoves and stair treads. Care and maintenance is easy, but different than other stone types.

Sandstone is frequently used for fireplace facings, chimneys, garden walls, patio benches, and at poolside.

Slate is a popular flooring material and sandstone and slate are often used for exterior paving or pavers. Other slate applications include kitchen countertops, fireplace facings, table tops, and roofing. 


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May 2012 Designer’s Corner

Janae Manion”Summer Inspired Renovation”

It’s been so incredibly beautiful outside recently that looking around can’t help but make you feel inspired. Everything, at least for the moment, is green and plush and everyone seems to be enjoying the new warmth.

I love bringing this freshness and brightness into a home. If you are planning on renovating your home this summer, take cues from the beauty around you. Trends this year in design are really reverting to the organic simplicity. White walls, re-claimed woods with pops of color using plants and personal decor. Bringing this design sense into your home creates a relaxing environment that doesn’t feel contrived. 

Have a great summer and please come visit myself or another designer with any questions for your own summer renovation!