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Friday, March 18, 2011

Tips When Remodeling a Kitchen

A few years ago we completely gutted our kitchen....here is the after picture.

It all started with the dishwasher breaking.  It was going to cost more to repair it than to replace it.  Here is the before picture.
We had  all white appliances at the time, but now that the dishwasher was broken, I wasn't going to buy another white appliance.  I decided I would buy a stainless steel dishwasher - one that could accept a custom panel if we decided to go that route at some point (because I knew if I re-did the kitchen I would either go with stainless or the cabinet look).  Before making the ultimate decision to gut the kitchen we considered all of our options.  We considered just changing out all the appliances and doing a mini-makeover to the kitchen.  We also considered adding granite countertops only -  keeping the basic kitchen.  Ultimately we decided that the original layout wasn't really working for us.  The peninsula was dividing the kitchen in two, making two small spaces with no continuity.  In addition, I really hated the tile.  We were going to have to gut the kitchen.  If you've ever been through a kitchen renovation you know that you learn so much during the process and become a pseudo-expert of sorts in kitchen renovation.  I wanted to share some tips with you that we learned along the way as well as a little advice I wish someone had given to me.
1. To Gut or Not to Gut -  In deciding whether you are going to gut your kitchen or just do a facelift, the first thing you should consider is whether the layout is working for you.  If your layout is working, a mini-makeover may be all you need.  Are your floors in good shape?  Do you like the material that is on your floor (tile, hardwood, laminate etc.).  Are your cabinets in good shape?  In my case, our cabinets were not made of real wood. We looked into having them painted, but were told at the time that since they had a white washed/pickled finish, they would not accept the paint well.  I do believe there are now products on the market that will work on laminate cabinets, but a few years ago, they did not.  If you decide to gut, it is important to not go too trendy.  Otherwise you will find yourself in the same position sooner than later.  Classic design never goes out of style.

2.  Budget - This is probably the most important factor.  A mini-facelift costs significantly less than an entire gut job.  However, if a mini-facelift will not make you happy, then it will be a waste of money.  I knew in my case that just painting and adding granite was not going to achieve what I wanted, and therefore would not be a good use of our money.  You are better off saving up for your dream kitchen rather than throwing money away on a cosmetic change.  Appliances will eat up a large portion of your budget.  There are many different price points for appliances...you can spend $500 or $5,000 on a range.  In general, you want to buy the highest quality you can afford...going cheap will cost you more in the end.  Making a larger initial investment in quality will pay off in the long term.  When making up your budget, I would suggest adding 20% on to account for all of the things you hadn't thought of previously in a project of this caliber.  It's a good rule of thumb so that you don't find yourself out of money by the time you get to the final touches.



3.  What other functions to you want from your kitchen? We also had this desk area which always seemed to look a mess.  It became a dumping ground for everything...and again seemed to have no connection to the rest of the kitchen.  Do you want a desk area in your kitchen?  For us, we didn't really need this desk area.  The only thing being used in the kitchen was a laptop.  We didn't need an actual desk area in order to use the laptop.  We also used the desk more as a bar when we entertained.  So, I started looking through magazines and saw a picture of something that would work.  I tweaked what I saw in the magazine and this is how we changed that area in the renovation:
This works so much better and it makes the two sides of the kitchen come together.  That leads me to my next tip
4.  Research - Look through as many magazines, photos, websites (e.g. houzz.com), home improvement channels (HGTV)...whatever you can to find out what your style is and what you want.  It's very difficult to go to a kitchen design store and have them design something for you if you don't know what you want.  I designed this kitchen the way I do all the spaces in my home...I started with a floor plan and knew exactly what I wanted.  I cut out pictures of all the kitchens I was attracted to.  It became pretty clear that I was drawn to the English Country look for a kitchen.  It was a classic design, not likely to go out of style anytime soon.  Now the next step was to find the right person to execute my plan.

5.  Finding the right contractor - Some of you are talented enough to do the kitchen remodel on your own.  But for those of you who don't believe you are up for the challenge (like us), I will share our story.  Well, this is where our dream kitchen became our living nightmare.  We used a contractor who my neighbor recommended (she was having her kitchen done at the exact same time as ours).  It turned out this contractor was the same person that had designed and built my childhood bedroom set as well as a few custom pieces in my parent's home.  So, we trusted him, and I didn't check his current references.  He was very convincing.  We paid him 50% up front.  Looking back, I cringe that we blindly trusted him like that.  Make sure you get a list of references from your contractor and call at least five of those references.  We did not.  Major mistake on our part.

6.  Deposit and Final Payment - This leads me to my next tip - Do not give any contractor more than 20% before the project begins.  20% is more than enough for a contractor to start to order supplies.  Also, don't be bullied into making the final payment until all punchlist items are addressed and you are 100% satisfied with the results.  If you make the final payment, the contractor has no incentive to finish the work.

7.  Do not let anyone gut your kitchen until your kitchen cabinets have been delivered and you have inspected them.  I was adamant about this with our contractor.   He was making custom boxes (the inside of the cabinet) and was getting the door fronts from Conastoga (a cabinet door company).  He called me and told me my cabinets were in and that he was ready to gut the kitchen.  I said I wanted to see the cabinets.  I asked again the next day and the day after that.  The day he came to gut the kitchen I insisted on seeing the cabinets.  He told me that he only had the crew for that day and he couldn't take me right now but he promised he would by the next day.  Now my kitchen was gutted and a whole week passed with more excuses and still no visual on the cabinets.   After doing some investigative work, I found the factory where our cabinet boxes were being made (remember my parents had used him several times so I was able to track where the factory was from the old address).  When I walked into the factory and asked to see my cabinets the person told me he had heard of me, but they hadn't even started our cabinets.  The factory had not been paid...as you can imagine I was in shock.  I literally started crying in the middle of this factory.  Long story short - it turns out this contractor had a ponzi scheme going on.  He used our money to finish someone else's kitchen and had to wait to sell more business before he could do ours.  He gutted the kitchen because then he had us.  We ultimately got our kitchen and once our contractor had supplied us with enough merchandise to cover the 50% we had given him he walked off the job and we had to get the person from the factory (the one I cried in front of) to finish the project.  We were without a kitchen for 8 months.



8. Electrical Outlets - Consider having your outlets put under your upper cabinets.  This way you will not have unsightly outlets all over your backsplash.  It makes for a happy tile installer as well.  Our installer was thrilled when he realized he would not have to make any cuts in the backsplash.
I always unplug my appliances when not in use, but this is what it looks like when they are plugged in.  It makes for a really nice appearance in the backsplash.
9.  It's all in the details.  In any space it's the details that make a kitchen unique and beautiful.  My corbel choice, my knobs, my backsplash tile...it's all what helped achieve the English Country kitchen look I was after.
Cabinets to the ceiling topped off with a large dentil crown moulding helps achieve a grand look.  Our ceilings are 9' tall in the kitchen.
To break up the large expanse of wood cabinets, we added a few with glass doors (these and the ones in the bar area).  We also added a few drawers under this cabinet, but on top of the countertop, to add interest to the kitchen.
Rather than stainless appliances, we chose to go with appliances covered in the same cabinetry for a more fluid look.  We also ripped up the ugly tile floor all the way to the front door and replaced it with wide wood floors stained in a dark color.  If you look under the pantry and throughout the kitchen, we added a wood detail to make it look like free standing furniture (it looks like little furniture legs).

10.  Lighting - It is so important to choose lighting that not only illuminates your space well, but that fits the look you are going for.  When I saw this chandelier from ABC Crystal I knew I had found the perfect island light.
I had the same feeling about the lighting fixture over my kitchen table.  I loved the look.  I will say it was significantly less money than the ABC Crystal chandelier...and unfortunately it kind of shows.  It has never hung straight.  The store actually replaced it and we still had the same problem.

In addition to the recessed lighting around the kitchen, we also did under-cabinet lighting as well as above cabinet lighting.  It's one of those things you might not think of...but the impact is great...especially at night.

I hope this post has been informative and helpful to anyone considering renovating their kitchen.
Don't forget my Swing into Spring party is still open until tonight at midnight.  You can click here to join the fun.

Hope you have a great weekend.

-Judy

46 comments:

FiliGrace said...

Congratulation! Looks great. :)

Cindy said...

Your kitchen is beautiful. What size is your kitchen "work" area, not the dining part? With your new island, how much room between your wall cabinets and the center island? We are making the early plans for our remodel and I'm having a hard time designing the island. Thanks so much for your post...you've done a wonderful job!

Kim said...

Such a beautiful kitchen Judy. Those are all great tips.
xoxo,
Kim

CalypsoInTheCountry said...

Great tips! I absolutely LOVE your kitchen. It is so classy and timeless. I wish I could convince my husband to re-do ours!

Colleen said...

Judy this is such a lovely kitchen!! I love all the details. what a huge transformation!

Jenny said...

Gorgeous kitchen, and I love the island chandelier! I can't imagine the stress the contractor must have caused you! I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor after reading you were without a kitchen for eight months! I'm sure you appreciate the finished project that much more, now that it's done.

Shelley said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! Now THIS is a kitchen!!! Holy cow this is gorgeous. Talk about a happy ending for an appliance breaking down :D

I'm now your newest follower too! I can't wait to check out the rest of your blog :)

Shelley

mybelleepoque said...

Love the kitchen redo! Following you back!

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

Oh my! It's beautiful! Great tips!

Teresa@oursoutherncountryhomeandfarm said...

Your kitchen is beautiful! Your nightmare dealings with the contractor sounds like our dealings with our cabinet company, only we were building. It took them 11 months, us threatening to get a lawyer, calling and reporting them to the better business bureau, and several other "tactics". We had paid them 50% up front to get started.....11 months before! The business owner went to federal prison shortly after we finally got our cabinets, which is where he needed to be. Great tips you gave out.

~K @ VintageSkye said...

Wow! What a wonderful place to wake up to in the morning! Thanks for the invite to follow, I am now a new follower!

Lori said...

JUDY! Your kitchen is GORGEOUS! sorry I'm shouting I just love love love it! the cabinets, the glazing, everything. And thank you for the invaluable tips. We are thinking of updating our kitchen and this info is invaluable. Thanks for checking out my little headboard post. So is Conastoga the name of the company that makes those cabinet fronts? I am keeping your pictures in my inspiration file for my future kitchen. Am joining as a follower too

Remodelaholic said...

Amazing! This kitchen is GORGEOUS!

I was wondering if you would be willing to come do a special guest post about this for Remodelaholic? Let me know and I will send you the details!

Cassity

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

Your kitchen is so beautiful! Love the glazed cabinetry.

Emily@LovelyBeasts said...

Judy - Thanks so much for stopping my blog and leaving such a sweet note. I'm your newest follower now! I love your kitchen. And even though furniture is my thing, can I say my favorite part about your kitchen is then stove/oven? A 6-burner is definitely in my dream kitchen.

Also, I just realized I missed the link party this week. I'll be participating in the next one!

Emily
http://lovelybeasts.blogspot.com

Jodie said...

Judy, Your kitchen looks fabulous, you did a great job on the remodel. Thank you for visiting my blog and for following, I'm following you back!

The Yellow Cape Cod said...

Judy, hang on, I need to pick up my jaw, ok, that's better, this kitchen is gorgeous. I love your cabinets. Wow.

Sonshine In My Soul said...

Yeah,I know how one project starts out small & then somehow it grows into this HUGE thing! Eeshh!But,it looks really wonderful!Best to u!

Toqua's Crafts said...

I was at Vintage Skye and saw your comment... I came to look. Fantabulous kitchen! WOW!

At The Picket Fence said...

Hi Judy! I'm pretty sure your kitchen was the very first thing I saw when I came over to "meet" you for the first time and I knew you were my kind of gal! :-) Everything about it is perfect and it was such a treat to get to see it again. I dream of redoing my cabinets in the same color as yours...someday! Thank you so much for linking up all of this gorgeousness to Inspiration Friday this week!
Vanessa

Jodie said...

Judy,

I love your kitchen, everything is so perfect!

Warm Weekend Wishes,
Jodie

Emily said...

I LOVE your kitchen! You have such an eye for detail. Everything came together perfectly!
-emily
nestnestingnested.blogspot

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

Absolutely gorgeous kitchen Judy! Love all the attention to detail and choices you made- it is stunning! Thanks for sharing at Feathered Nest Friday! :)

CAS said...

Your kitchen is so beautiful, and it looks like you planned it out perfectly.
CAS

Butterscotch Caramel said...

Judy: I love this. We are tossing back and forth changing our kitchen. We got all new stainless appliances and flooring and island, but thought we would keep the cabinets. Now I for sure want to change mine after seeing yours. Just simple COOL!!

Pondside said...

Your kitchen is beautiful - and your tips are 100% accurate. We gutted our last kitchen, and although the experience was ultimately a good one, it was trying. I'd like to change the ceramic tile in our kitchen, but when I think of the upheaval I shudder!

Shannon said...

One of the most beautiful kitchen makeovers I have seen in a while. So pretty! I love the cabinets. We have debated updating our kitchen, but its so small it would involve removing a wall. Thanks for sharing all the tips.

Mariaelena said...

Your kitchen could not be any more beautiful...I hope you enjoy many years of happiness in there....Happy Monday...
Mariaelena

Gold Shoe Girl said...

Love your tips - especially about the outlets. I will have to save this for when we are finally ready to remodel. Thanks.

Renee @ where the grass is greener said...

What a gorgeous transformation!!!

Rachelle @ Adventures in Creating said...

Looks fabulous! Thanks for the tips!

Chandra Chinnis said...

Your kitchen is beautiful!!!!!!! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Laura said...

Thanks so much for following my blog...your kitchen is AMAZING! I am so jealous and inspired right now! Thanks for sharing!

Traci said...

Thanks for all of the tips. I hope to do a kitchen remodel sometime in the near future. Your new kitchen has been one of my inspiration pictures since I first saw it!

April @ Chronicles of a Compulsive Decorator said...

Your kitchen in gorgeous! Great tips and great style! :)

Orange it Lovely said...

I love this post!Your kitchen is stunning and I love the tips!!
Thanks for following me! I'm your newest follower :)
Tana

Sonia said...

Your kitchen is fabulous..I can't believe the before picture...you did a wonderful job! Love the style of cabinets and colors you selected!

Miss Bloomers

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Fabulous tips and your kitchen is perfect. I love everything about it. So pretty. Thanks so much for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

Becca said...

What a gorgeous transformation! This does NOT even remotely resemble your former space. The granite is beautiful and the glaze on your cabinets is fantastic! Thanks for sharing your amazing space! *Becca*

All That Glitters said...

just gorgeous!!! I'm in love!

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Hi Judy~ ~Great new kitchen, Love It! You know womans intuition. .it's right on. What a great lesson. Thanks for sharing and it's nice to meet you.
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

RFA52P said...

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RFA52P said...

I just couldn’t leave your website before telling you that we really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new posts.

Jim Goerge said...

I like all the pictures which are shown in this blog. Kitchen Renovation can be an exciting, creative project, and you can create your dream kitchen.
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Poulin Home Design said...

Thanks for sharing the useful information. It was really amazing and very informative. Keep sharing
Design For Kitchen Cabinet
Remodeling Ideas For Kitchens
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Jade Graham said...

The construction dust has finally settled, the room's gotten a thorough cleaning, & I finally got the last details to fall into place. It's a small windowless bathroom, so we did our best to keep it light, simple, & budget-friendly.steam sauna shower generator kit

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