You’ve had it. Your kitchen is ugly, cramped and out of date. It’s time for a change. But how much of a change do you need? More importantly, how much of a change can you afford? What’s out there that will make your kitchen your dream kitchen? Research and preparation are necessary to make any kitchen remodel a success. To help you make good decisions about your remodel, local contractors and home improvement experts offer their professional advice and highlight some of the current kitchen design trends.
Plan ahead and hire the right person for the job. First and foremost, come up with a realistic budget. In order to get the best return on investment (ROI), most sources recommend spending no more than 15% of your home’s total value on a kitchen remodel. So if your home is worth $300K, you should figure a budget of around $45K. When it comes to choosing a design and materials, Tiffany Gomes of Classic Design Floor to Ceiling suggests you focus on your lifestyle. Do you really need a huge gourmet kitchen when you don’t cook that much? Alternately, if you entertain a lot, you should try to incorporate plenty of prep space and extra seating. This is a big investment, so you want to take your time and hire a contractor whom you trust and know will be able to give you what you want. Research a contractor’s credentials and professional affiliations. Check references. Most of all, according to Larry Diggs of Paradise Designs of California, “You don’t want a contractor who is just an order taker. You want someone who knows what they’re doing and can steer you in the right direction.”
Avoid common pitfalls. Don’t go for a bid just because it’s the lowest. Prices for materials tend to be fairly constant in any one market. So any bid that’s very low can only be reflecting inferior materials and potentially shoddy workmanship. One of the more common mistakes Gomes has seen homeowners make is to try to coordinate all the subcontractors on a remodel themselves in the interest of saving money. More often than not, that is a false economy. An expert project coordinator keeps things moving in the right order, thereby saving time and money. Diggs has also seen the complications caused by a lack of communication, between the contractor and the homeowners, as well as between the homeowners themselves. Without discussing things beforehand, a husband tells a contractor to do one thing, and then the wife tells them another. It is important to go into the project as a team to keep things flowing smoothly. Finally, don’t go into a remodel thinking that nothing can go wrong. Basically, for your own peace of mind, hope for the best but expect the worse.
And now, on to the good stuff.
The ideal kitchen layout is open and bright. According to Diggs, knocking out walls and opening up the kitchen space is requested in 95% of his projects. And kitchens are going back to being just kitchens. Rooms that multi-task are great, but sometimes enough is enough. So unattractive work/bill pay areas are being replaced with more kitchen-appropriate wet bars or coffee stations.
When replacing dark wood cabinets from the ‘80s, Scott Monday of KitchenCRATE notes homeowners tend to go the exact opposite direction with off-whites or antique whites. Basically, the look is clean and light-looking but not stark or blazingly white. Using this sort of color palette is also an ideal way to make smaller kitchens feel bigger.
“More storage” is often at the top of the new kitchen wish list. A few ways to get it:
1) Make existing cabinetry more functional. Add lazy susans and pull-out shelves to make items even in the very back easy to reach.
2) Incorporate an island. This adds storage and counter space, and can also be a great focal point. (Diggs notes a recent trend of islands that have a completely different color and counter material from the rest of the kitchen.)
3) Go up. Fill in the wasted empty space above standard cabinets, and install cabinetry that goes all the way up to the ceiling.
4) Go ahead and knock out a wall and add more storage underneath that new
COUNTERTOPS & BACKSPLASHES
While granite remains a perpetual favorite, a manmade alternative is giving it a run for its money. Pretty much everyone we spoke to mentioned quartz countertops. Why is quartz so popular? “Quartz has a consistent look you can’t guarantee with granite,” says Gomes. “But it still has a natural look. Plus, it’s antimicrobial and lasts pretty much forever.” For those who do go with granite, Greg Baroni of Artistic Stoneworks notes some homeowners change the look of it by having it “leathered,” which gives normally glossy granite a softer matte finish. With tile backsplashes, there is a rough 50/50 split with those matching or contrasting with the countertop. And in a continuation of the focus on natural materials, Baroni is seeing more and more natural stone backsplashes, and even entire walls covered in tumbled travertine or brick veneer.
As with countertops, homeowners are choosing kitchen flooring based on relative ease of maintenance and a natural look. According to Jason Kimmel of Floors To Go, that can mean anything from hardwood to ceramic tile designed to stylistically mimic hardwood. (Today’s hardwoods have durable aluminum oxide finishes that give them strength and much better resistance to water.) Sergio Morales of Big Bob’s Flooring has found that luxury vinyl flooring can also achieve much the same look as wood and natural stone. And the material is especially durable, resistant to moisture and easy to keep clean. Plus, vinyl tends to be a bit more cost efficient than regular porcelain or ceramic tiles.
One of the first things to go in any kitchen remodel is that ugly and intrusive fluorescent light box. Replacing it are LEDs, specifically LEDs in recessed can lights and under cabinet lights, which offer more focused and better quality light for kitchen tasks. Lighting is also offering many more decorative possibilities. A row of colorful art glass pendants over a breakfast bar or a single farmhouse pendant over a center island can help to set the tone for the entire kitchen.
Stainless steel is still going strong. But there has been something of resurgence in more classic black and white appliances. They work harmoniously with paler cabinetry, and the surfaces tend to be easier to clean and keep fingerprint-free. The hood is also coming out of the background, becoming a grand and gleaming architectural centerpiece over a gourmet range.
Monday notes that, either to finish off the aforementioned wet bar or all on its own, one of the hot kitchen items these days is integrated wine storage, especially the temperature-controlled wine refrigerator. Meanwhile, Gomes has seen a growing number of people splurging on warming drawers and touch-control faucets. Finally, having someplace to charge and operate smartphones and tablets has become a popular add-on. It is extra bells and whistles like these that truly make a kitchen feel luxurious, up-to-date and, most importantly, yours.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT
ANY OF THE CONTRIBUTING HOME IMPROVEMENT BUSINESSES:
2444 Maggio Cir., Lodi
(209) 369-6449, www.artisticstoneworksinc.net
Big Bob’s Flooring
3713 E. Hammer Lane
Stockton, (209) 951-9400
Classic Design Floor to Ceiling
2303 S. Stockton St., Lodi
(209) 334-4060, www.classicdesignftc.com
Floors To Go
833 E. March Lane
Stockton | (209) 951-5937
1113 Kansas Ave.
Modesto | (888) 995-7996
Paradise Designs of California
858 Begonia Pl.
Manteca, (209) 481-5636