Planning a Kitchen Remodel

Planning a Kitchen Remodel
Planning a Kitchen Remodel

Monday, August 31, 2015

Planning Your Kitchen - Part 2

I have decided I have to deal with budget for your kitchen remodel before I deal with anything else.  So what can you expect from a budget $20,000 to $100,000 or more?  Potential client’s first question is often “What’s this going to cost me?”  My answer is usually that it’s like asking me ‘How much is a new car going to cost me?’  It totally depends on what quality, what characteristics you’re looking for, and what your budget is for this project.  It’s also because you may be thinking, “She’s a designer and I’m not spending money for a designer. I’ve got a small kitchen and $15,000 max to spend on this remodel.  I think I can do this for my kitchen and be happy.”  That might be true, but I would encourage you to think about your needs when it comes to your kitchen and not over-spend your budget.  Don’t go looking for a Mercedes Benz if your budget is for an economy car, or you’ll be disappointed.

There are a lot of elements that influence a kitchen remodel’s cost.  You may need to repair some problems that you’re currently facing or are unaware of in your home’s construction that affects your kitchen, like plumbing or electrical issues.  Moving the dishwasher, cooktop, or frig can add costs to the project, as well as adding space into your kitchen. Then there’s the selections you make for flooring, cabinets, countertops, appliances, backsplashes, lighting and so forth.

Let’s think about three kitchens, all remodels.  First we’ll look at a Cosmetic Kitchen Facelift which can cost between $20-39,000.  Then we’ll consider a Mid to Upper Range Kitchen Remodel which can cost between $40-99,000.  Lastly, we’ll look at a Custom Kitchen Remodel, which can cost $100,000 plus.
photo credit: white black kitchen via photopin (license)

Cosmetic Kitchen Facelift: Cost $20-39,000 done by a designer and construction workers typically includes:
  • Same basic footprint, or structure as the original kitchen.  By keeping the appliances and fixtures in the exact same locations, there’s no need to add costs to plumbing and electrical work.
  • Refinished flooring / new linoleum or vinyl flooring;
  • Basic appliances usually in black or white.  No built-in appliances, microwave drawers, warming drawers, or wine coolers.
  • Refinished cabinetry.  If you have real wood cabinets, then an easy way to keep costs down is to refinish them, perhaps adding new doors, or perhaps adding a few new cabinets to fulfill your space requirements.  Of course, if your cabinets are damaged beyond repair then you’re better off spending the money for good quality cabinets.
  • Laminate countertops.  These have gotten much better in the last few years, both in terms of options for looks as well as edges on the countertops.  You could also utilize ceramic tile, but then you have to deal with grouting and the subsequent cleaning and such.  If this seems like a better option, doing installation yourself will help with the costs.
  • Ceramic tile backsplash.  Using inexpensive white ceramic tile works well for the clean contemporary as well as classic & traditional look you’re after.
  • Keep lighting simple, as it can be inexpensive if you shop carefully.  Lighting is important in a kitchen, as you need to see what you’re doing, but it can include ambient, task lighting, perhaps some wall lighting or accent lighting on the most beautiful feature in your kitchen.
  • Stylish details that utilize the same color that repeats throughout the kitchen, or with shape or texture accents or glass front cabinet doors can incorporate a higher end look to this kitchen. 
photo credit: white black kitchen via photopin (license)

Mid to Upper Range Kitchen Remodel: Cost $40-99,000 done by a designer and construction workers typically includes:
  • There is a changing of the locations of all or some of the appliances, as well as electrical and plumbing and such.
  • Flooring: Wood/engineered wood, or a stone floor.
  • Professional-style appliances, whether it’s a 48” cooktop to a built-in 48” counter depth refrigerator to a convection oven.
  • One or some built-in small appliances such as microwave drawers, warming drawers, or a wine cooler.
  • Custom cabinetry. Beaded, plain, or classic with a custom stain/glaze in custom sizes with accessories.
  • Stone or quartz countertops.  The plus regarding these more expensive options is that they look and feel great for decades to come after their installation.
  • Backsplash:  glass tile, porcelain, or stone with a special unique design created just for you.  Want to see something unique above your cooktop?  This is the best choice for you.
  • Custom Island: If you need extra storage space, extra countertop for a second cook, a place for kids to sit and do their homework, or a spot for you to sit and check your email or watch TV, this is your best choice.
  • Custom storage.  If you want a station for your coffee addiction, a wine storage area, or space for your pastry baking, this is the custom layout you really want.
  • Designer Hardware.  You can find the special and unique options for pulls and handles that will not only meet your practical needs, but speak to your interests and taste.
photo credit: white black kitchen via photopin (license)

A Custom Kitchen Remodel Cost $100,000- plus done by a designer and construction workers typically includes:

If custom cabinetry, built-in refrigeration and a La Cornue range are all must-haves, you're talking high style and the price tag that goes with it. This kitchen is for real cooks. It would be a shame to be surrounded by all this gorgeous stuff and not use it.
A total rework of the space. Just as with the mid- to upper-range kitchen, don't be surprised if everything, including the kitchen sink, gets moved, which means new plumbing, electrical, air ducts and so on. Often, you are gutting the space and starting from scratch.  Prior features and enhancements are included in this option.
  • This kitchen is for serious cooks!  A total rework of the space can be a part of the design, including moving plumbing, electrical, air ducts, and so forth. This might include taking walls down to include more space.
  • Scraped popcorn ceilings could be a part of this option.
  • Flooring will be of extraordinary quality and be practical as well.
  • A cooktop and hood upon which a fabulous chef would love to cook, whether it’s Bertazzoni, Broan, or even La Cornue. A built-in huge refrigeration counter depth unit that will not only keep your food fresh and delicious for longer. 
  • Custom cabinetry throughout.  Incredibly well-made cabinets in custom sizes and finishes.
  • Furniture embellishment options are available , whether it’s corbels, cabinet legs (like the ones in the picture above on either side of the sink), cabinet feet, or crown molding.  They help to make the exterior of the cabinets look more like furniture and less like kitchen cabinets.
  • Countertops can include high-end glass, stone, or combinations that give a uniquely you design.   It’s easy care- just seal it once a year.
  • A backsplash that features that beautiful cooktop by creating a picture frame of anything you want behind it, as well as climbing to the ceiling behind the top-of-the-line hood.
  • Dimmable LED lighting for under cabinets, recessed lighting around the perimeter of the kitchen and fabulous pendants or even a chandelier.
  • Consistency with the architectural integrity of the entire home, whether it’s a century or a year old. Authentic baseboard and casings can be matched to the rest of the house.  It will correlate with the remainder of the house’s character.
  • Materials and artistic touches will be the feature in your home, whether it’s a chandelier, a traditional rug made in your color scheme, or a bookshelf to house your favorite cookbooks.
photo credit: white black kitchen via photopin (license)

Can you combine some of these options?  Of course you can.  Spending here and saving there is often the task of an interior designer.  I try to tell my clients to expect to spend 2-3 times as much on installation as you do on product.  Let me know if you have questions, and if you want to send your before, middle or after project, I’d love to see them!

Overwhelmed at the thought of budgeting for this?  Contact me through my website: and we can set up a meeting, which through the month of September 2015 will cost $200, rather than the regular rate of $300 (for a two hour consultation.)  
Happy Kitchen Remodeling!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Planning Your Kitchen- Part 1

You’re considering remodeling your kitchen.  Maybe you’ve looked a little online or in design magazines for ideas.  Your concern might be costs or the length of construction, or a combination of the two, both of which need to be considered.  What if you end up with a nightmare instead of the kitchen you’ve dreamt of using and you’ve spent $25,000 already?  In honor of two readers who asked for further information about remodeling a kitchen, I’ve decided to do a series of entries on various aspects of kitchen remodels. Here are some ideas to help you keep your remodel project on time and on budget.
All pictures in this blog are from

You can start by making a notebook for your project.  I like to have an actual  physical notebook for my clients, although you could do one digitally.  Get pocket dividers for the notebook and name them the numbered bold face selections below:

  1. Project Information
Why are you undergoing this remodel- What are your goals?
What do you like about the current space?
What do you dislike about the space?
How long do you plan to live in the home? (If you’re thinking of selling your home in 5 years, then your goals will probably be different than if you’re planning to pass the house down to your son or daughter.)
Do you have specific design requirements? Examples include green/sustainable design, ADA compliant, Aging in Place, Universal Design, etc.

  2. Function
Is the kitchen only for cooking? Would you like it to include an eating area and/or entertaining areas?

  3. Tasks and Activities
Make a list of tasks and activities that happen on a regular basis, occasional basis and rare occasions. How often do you cook? How often do you bake? 
Regular: Occasional: Rare:

Entertaining: what kind and how often?
What major and countertop appliances do you use on a regular basis?  Add inspirations & your Wish List:

4. Search the internet for ideas:
Now that you have a clear picture of what you need, look for kitchen photos on there are over a million photos available from design and architectural firms all over the country. , › Kitchens, and all have pictures as well.  Collect these ideas in your notebook to share with your spouse/significant other, family, designer, architect, contractor, builder, etc.

Depending on size, style and product types, full kitchen remodels roughly start at $20,000-$25,000 and can run into the six digits.  I will deal with budget in an upcoming entry in the series so that you have some idea of costs, and try to be as specific as I can be.

In general:
Don’t think you can decide upon a kitchen in 3 easy steps.  It’s really far more complicated than that.  Look closely at you and your family/household use the kitchen.  Note traffic patterns.  How accessible are the important features in your kitchen to everyone who uses them?

I would encourage you to look back at some of my previous blog entries including:
In conclusion:

There are a lot of space savers and conveniences you can have installed, but where do you go for that?  Kitchens get a work out every day, even if you’re grabbing your coffee and muffin while you pull something from the freezer for tonight’s meal. Kitchens are complicated- no doubt about it: electrical, venting, plumbing, appliances, cabinets, flooring, countertops… the list goes on and on.  If you need help to keep your remodel project on time and on budget, give me a call.  Contact me through my website  If you have a question or would like to share pictures of your dilemma, I always make time for my readers.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Space for the Guys: Creating A Refuge - Part 2

The dictionary defines a man cave as a place of privacy for a man, including his decorations and the things needed for his hobbies and interests.  To me, the term sounds sort of prehistoric, like the cave where men went to be safe from attack. I prefer the terms Man’s Refuge, Den, or Sanctuary, rather than Man Cave, but you can call it whatever you want!  Here are more of my suggestions on aspects to consider when designing your space.

Layout and Features
If you are working with an existing layout, select the main features you’d like to include in your space and assign space for each of them.  If you are remodeling or doing a custom design, then design the space around the pieces that you’d most like to include.  Again to get you creating a space that you’ll enjoy, here are some items to consider:

  • TV viewing area - generally a flat screen mounted on the wall saves space for other activities & furniture.  Keep in mind that the size of your space should partially determine the size of your TV- bigger isn't always better. 
  • Flooring - Carpet improves sound quality on your sound system.  If you want hardwood, then consider an area rug for visual warmth and sound quality.  If you’re working in a basement, then consider engineered wood flooring or laminate instead of hardwood, since concrete can require special treatment to prevent moisture from seeping in and damaging your floor.
  • Lighting:  This is often the most forgotten element within a new design.  Good lighting can make your whole space appear larger, so utilize this information.  Combining ambient, task and accent lighting will give you the best and most spacious feel in your room. You definitely want a dimming feature in the TV area.
  • Seating options - If you have space you might want to consider a sectional, or comfy recliners (or even a row of theatre seating) for movie viewing.
  • Furniture Options - You will need someplace to set drinks & snacks that are easily reachable when watching TV.  Comfort is vital in my option, but try to avoid selecting all black leather.  It's too predictable for words.

  • Beverage Area - Whether you want to include a small beverage cooler or a complete wet bar, remember you’ll want barware to complete the look.

  • Games area - If poker’s your game, (or dominoes, or Monopoly) then consider a table and chairs; a pool table takes some space, but is great to include if that’s your game; a classic pinball machine is a fun addition.

  • Sports area - Whether it’s a 3 hole putting green, a single basketball court, foosball table, pingpong table, or a workout space… add some fun into your space!
  • Reading Area - Make sure you have great reading lighting, as well as bookshelves floor to ceiling utilize your space well.
  • Relaxation Area - A sauna, hot tub, steam room, music listening space, meditation space or massage table are all great additions for those who need to unwind.
  • Hobby display space - Display shelves or cases are a must for this type of interest.  Read my blogs on displaying your collections on 5/4/15 and 5/11/15 for more suggestions.
  • Wine tasting/beer tasting/bar - It’s awesome to have space for your wine collection, including a wine cooler, or beer or keg cooler, or ice maker for specialty drinks.  Remember to feature storage for glassware as needed, which can really sparkle with great lighting.

  • Spa area - If you see a massage therapist/masseuse weekly, why not have your therapist come to your home?

Open Concept Space:
With the present trend to have “open concept” spaces, it can save a space from feeling cramped if you assign different areas within a room.

In conclusion:
If having a Man’s Refuge appeals to you (or your significant other,) but you're still not certain where or how to start, give me a call/contact me through my website,   I alway make time for my readers.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Space for the Guys: Creating A Refuge - Part 1

When a man and a woman co-habitate, there is usually lots of shared space: the entry, living room, family room, kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, right down to the laundry room.  Although both parties are responsible for furnishing and decorating these rooms, it has been my experience that often the two parties don’t agree on style. One person usually ends up making the vast majority of choices, which may or may not match with the non-voting party’s preferences.  Whenever space permits, it’s great for both parties to have a space of their own. To that end, I have written some considerations for creating a “man cave,” although I admittedly prefer to call them refuges or sanctuaries.


First of all, consider your hobbies and interests.  Then decide upon a theme.  Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
  • Sports- could be pro football that you watch on TV, college basketball that you watch at your alma mater, or slow pitch softball that you enjoy playing with your buddies.

    Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at
  • Boating/Yachting
  • Rock & Roll
    Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at
  • Reading
  • Models/Collectibles/Hobbies
    Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at

Your Favorite Look or Style

This space/room should be where your style preferences are featured. If the rest of your home is Mediterranean and you want a clean and contemporary space that might be a pretty big leap because the two styles are so divergent.  Consider utilizing a similar color scheme to unite the spaces.  Again, listed below are some styles that might help to get the ball rolling in the right direction:
  • Rustic (Think open beam ceilings, leather, antlers, and woodsy)

  • Mid Century Modern (Think Mad Men)

  • Modern/Contemporary (Think open spaces w/straight-lined pieces)
  • Asian Modern (Think open spaces w/bamboo & Buddha)
  • Southwestern (Think adobe, native prints, turquoise accents)
  • Craftsman/Bungalow (Think simple, linear wood throughout- lots of wood)
  • Formal/Informal Traditional (Think House of Cards)
  • Transitional (Think Good Wife)
  • Formal Renaissance (Think Downton Abbey)
  • Mediterranean (Think curves, deep colors, wrought iron, quarry tile floors)
  • Spanish Revival (Similar to Mediterranean)
  • Coastal (Think wood floors, blue & white casual furniture)
  • Scandinavian (Think clean, minimalist using neutral colors)
You can always look up many of these styles on my blog if you want to see pictures and get more detailed descriptions.  Comment below if you want to know styles and I’ll send you a link.

In conclusion:

Next week I will discuss layout and features to consider when designing your male sanctuary, so hold off making any final decisions until then. If having a man’s refuge appeals to you, but you're still not certain where or how to start, give me a call/contact me through my website,   I alway make time for my readers.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Using Feng Shui to Buy Your Next Home- Part 2

Today, we’ll discuss the interior of the home you’re searching for in terms of feng shui. Remember that feng shui has to do with the feeling or vibe that we get being in a place, being in another person's presence, or moving from one space to another.  I think people often agree that our pets can sense things that we don't. Even the most primitive organisms on earth must deal with reading the environment and making decisions that move it toward survival and sustaining its life.  How does a primitive organism do this? They have all learned by instinctively reading the environment.  If the energy is positive and providing them with the vitality they need, they move toward it.  If the energy is not in harmony with their needs, and they are weaker as they move toward an environment or object, then they instinctively move away from it.  Westerners call that “bad vibes.”  So, let's talk about the good vibes: the goal in Feng Shui.

Laying the Ba-gua
Let's first look at the Feng Shui map, called a Ba-gua, (Ba means eight and gua is area.)  The eight areas/guas include: 1) Career, 2) Fame/Reputation, 3) Family/Elders, 4) Wealth, 5) Helpful People/Travel, 6) Children, 7) Knowledge and 8) Partnership.  A ninth area is created in the center, which is Health. We lay the Ba-gua over the floorplan of the house, dividing it both horizontally and vertically into 3 equal parts so it looks like a tic-tac-toe board.  

In BTB Feng Shui, which I practice, you enter the home in Knowledge, Career, or the Helpful People/Travel gua.  You need to have an entry space, even if it’s small.  Homes built in the 1950s often didn’t put this into a home unless it was high end and large.  If the home was built mid century and it doesn’t have a foyer/entry area, then you need to think about ways in which you can make an entry. (This can be done using furniture placement or actual building a partial or full wall.  Other options are available as well.) If space provides, this is a good place to put a water fountain or beautiful piece of art.  

Master Bedroom
The master bedroom should really be at the back of the home (ideally in the back right corner) as you stand in the main entrance to the home.  It’s better to have a single entry door, rather than double doors into your bedroom.  You should have a door at the entrance to the master bath, even if it's a pocket door. You should be able to place your bed so that when lying in it, you are facing the door. You shouldn't be in direct line with that doorway, as it's the first of three important furnishings in the home.  Select a home with a flat ceiling in the bedroom, rather than a sloping one, or one with beams.  

It’s ideal to have your Office/Den/Study sit in the Knowledge or Wealth gua/ area of the Ba-gua.  The desk is the second of three important furnishings in a home.  Within the room, you should to be able to place your desk so that you are facing the door without being in direct line with the door.  
Oops- this desk faces the view and not the entryway.

Children’s Bedrooms
Children’s bedrooms should in the middle or the front of the house.  Having a child’s bedroom placed behind the parents’ bedroom can cause challenges in authority.

Bathrooms in the Relationship (Partnership) and/or Family guas are best. A bathroom near the front door drains the energy entering the home.  A bathroom off the kitchen can cause confrontations and aren't the best location. 

The Kitchen
Having a kitchen in the front of the house isn’t ideal, and you shouldn’t be able to see the kitchen from the front door.  The cooktop/stovetop is the last of the three important furnishings in one’s home.  You should be able to stand at the stove and cook while facing the entrance to the kitchen, without being in direct line with the doorway.
Used with permission from Microsoft
The best gua to have a fireplace is fame/reputation, but two other acceptable places is Family and Partnership guas.  Again, there are cures with which a feng shui consultant can provide you.


Assuming that the house has two or more floors, a stairway's base should be located someplace other than close to the main entrance, so that you'd run down the stairs and directly out the door.  Stairways in the center of the house are not ideal, either, however. 

In Conclusion:

Questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear from you.  Some of this might seem like basic good sense, and it is, but it’s a little more complex that it appears in this entry.  Thanks to Misa Bowman for the inspiration to write the past two entries.  If you think you’ve found the right house and want me to come see it to give you opinion from a feng shui perspective, contact me via my website, and we can set up an appointment.

Happy House Hunting!