Remodeling A Kitchen
It’ unanimous. The National Kitchen & Bath Association, The National Association of the Remodeling Industry, The National Association of Home Builders and The National Association of Realtors all agree. The kitchen is one of the top three spaces in the home that will offer the greatest bang for your home improvement buck.
Why? Simple, kitchens sell homes. Now more than ever, the kitchen is not only meal preparation central, it is the entertainment hub of the home. Remote, walled-off kitchens are out. Bright, open and airy spaces are in.
Today’s kitchen is open to the eating area which is open to the family room or great room. It is in these spaces that the majority of family activity occurs.
Appearance aside, there are other important reasons for a more spacious kitchen. One such reason is the amount of activity in the kitchen. During the “Ozzie and Harriet” days, the kitchen was just large enough for one person to work within. Today, Ozzie would most likely be in the kitchen working beside Harriet who, herself, had a stressful day at the office. By the way, what was it that Ozzie did for a living? Does anyone know?
The proliferation of multi income-earning households has resulted in the sharing of meal preparation duties and, hence the demand for larger, safer, more convenient kitchens.
Consequently, for some families, this means a major kitchen remodel. What we like to refer to in our remodeling business as a “complete gut”. In this situation, all of the existing elements, (cabinets, counters, appliances, flooring, etc.) are removed to make way for a new design with fresh finishes. It’s the best of all worlds, with one exception, budget. Albeit, a kitchen remodel may be a better investment than the best blue chip stock and greatly improve the quality of life within the home, it’s got to fit the budget.
Therefore, a kitchen remodel can range from a complex gut and redesign to a less ominous undertaking such as new flooring, new countertops, cabinet refinishing, new appliances or a combination of elements. The key is to do things that will improve the quality of your life and the value of your home without putting you in the poor house.
It would be safe to say that there are more design and construction elements in a kitchen than any other single space in the home. Furthermore, while there are basic design criteria for a safe and convenient kitchen, no two families have the same needs or budget. For example, with the kids grown and out of the house, a couple of empty-nesters, may want to trade in their tired, old vinyl for a handsome hardwood floor. Or, a family tired or cleaning tile grout may opt for a new, more easy to maintain, solid surface counter top. Both of these projects can be accomplished without significant disruption or cost.
There are other important elements when considering updating a kitchen. Among them are lighting, storage options, electrical safety and plumbing fixtures and fittings, to name a few.
Lighting is one of the most understated elements in kitchens–both natural and artificial. There should always be at least one window in a kitchen and preferably a second. Where this is not possible a skylight is an excellent method of adding natural light and balancing the light which is cast by a window.
In addition to improving the safety of the space, artificial lighting can make working in the kitchen a lot easier on the eyes. What’s more, lighting can set the tone for entertaining. A smattering of strategically located recess down lights on a dimmer will do just the trick. Also, consider adding fluorescent or halogen task lighting surface mounted on the underside of upper cabinets.
Whether replacing or reusing cabinets, interior storage devices can significantly improve storage space and convenience. Pull out shelves, vertical tray dividers, spice racks, lazy susans, recycling bins and tilt out panels at the sink and cooktop can be incorporated into new cabinetry or retrofit into existing casework. Most of the retrofit systems can be found at home improvement centers and are designed for do-it-yourself installation.
One important element of a kitchen remodel which frequently takes back seat to appearance issues is the electrical system. It shouldn’t! No other space in most homes places as much demand on the home’s electrical system as does the kitchen. Furthermore, with the plethora of modern appliances such as the microwave, trash compactor, and myriad of small appliances, most pre 1970 wiring will likely need updating. Dimming lights, burned fuses and popped breakers are sure signs of a stressed electrical system which can lead to a house fire.
The kitchen sink should get a purple heart based on the amount of abuse to which it is subject. It must be functional as well as attractive. There are as many sink styles and colors as there are dishes to wash in it. This is one area where you don’t want to be cheap. The inexpensive stainless steel and enameled steel sinks are a waste of hard-earned money. They dent and chip easily and will shake, rattle and roll when the garbage disposer is run. If stainless steel is your choice, look for one which is 18 to 20 gauge, (the lower the number, the thicker the sink). If, on the other hand, an enameled finish is what you want, cast iron is the only way to go. The finish holds up infinitely longer and is far less likely to chip. There are various other types of materials and finishes that deserve consideration as well.
For some, a new faucet is all that it takes to make a kitchen feel brand new. There is no shortage of styles and finishes when it comes to faucets. Single lever mixing faucets are by far the most popular. Spray spout models, wherein the spout can be removed from the faucet body via a flexible hose, are the rage. Like the sink, the faucet is not the place to cut costs. The inexpensive models don’t have the lasting quality of the finer products. Plan to spend at least a couple of hundred dollars on the faucet. You’ll be guaranteed good lasting quality on operation as well as finish.
Remember, it is always easier to move a cabinet or a wall on paper with an eraser. Enough can’t be said about the importance of planning. When it comes to remodeling, the Carey Brothers’ credo is plan, plan, plan. Gather ideas from magazines, attend local home improvement expos, visit a kitchen dealer or retailer in your area and consider enlisting the services or a qualified design professional or contractor. You’ll be dollars ahead in the long run. Enjoy your new kitchen!