Realistic Guidelines for Budgeting for a New Kitchen

We advise all of our clients in the Upper Valley that home improvement television and websites are excellent sources of inspiration. While many great ideas, concepts and products are available on HGTV, DYI, Angie’s List, Houzz.com and the like, regrettably, those platforms are also the source of misinformation that creates unrealistic expectations when it comes to both timeline and budget.

Home improvement television does not produce documentaries. HGTV and others are in the entertainment business. That’s why there is a familiar pattern for each episode. There are homeowners who want to improve their lives by renovating their entire home or specific rooms. There is no mention of selecting designers and products or reviewing designs. The budgets quoted typically do not account for design services or labor. That’s why many homeowners in the Upper Valley don’t develop realistic budgets or timelines for their projects.

When prospects ask how much a new kitchen or bath in the Upper Valley will cost, our answer is always the same: It depends. The major factors that influence cost include:

Size and scope of the renovation
If the renovation involves reconfiguring infrastructure such as windows, doors, pipes, ductwork, utility lines and other components behind walls
If the renovation requires changes to meet current building codes
If the renovation increases the size of the existing space
Type and quality of materials desired
Cabinets
Countertops
Appliances
Plumbing fixtures
Lighting
Organization accessories
Seating
Backsplash
Floor coverings
Wallcoverings
Technology
Hardware
Because of the unknown variables involving scope and materials, it is nearly impossible to estimate the cost of a renovation without answering several important questions. We need an understanding of the goals of the renovation and the resources that are available for the project. There are calculators and estimators that you can find on websites published by truly credible organizations such as the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Still, those estimates and tools don’t address what is most important to you and how meeting your goals will affect the cost of a remodel.

The October issue of House Beautiful offered the following percentage breakdown for the cost of a kitchen remodel:

30%: construction and labor
25%: design and architecture
20%: cabinetry
15%: appliances
10%: countertops/surfaces/tile
Please recognize that these are estimates that will be affected by scope and material choices. That’s why it is vitally important to work with an experienced professional whose career is dedicated to making dreams come true based on available resources. If you would like guidance for developing a realistic budget for your new kitchen or bath, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Establishing Realistic Timelines for Your Kitchen Renovation

HGTV, DIY and other home improvement television shows, social media sites and the Internet are a great source of inspiration. Unfortunately, they also are a greater source of misinformation. Timelines and budgets are entirely unrealistic and often lead to frustration and disappointment among our clients in the Upper Valley. Viewers see the entire home renovated in seven weeks, and seven weeks is not a realistic time frame to completely gut and rebuild a kitchen, yet alone re-do a whole house. The processes omitted on home improvement television are the time to select a designer, the design process itself, the development process and decision making. The October 2019 issue of House Beautiful, the magazine’s first-ever kitchen issue, offers a more realistic time frame.

Step 1: Research (3 to 18 months+)

Most of our clients in the Upper Valley spend months researching different styles, products and design concepts. We encourage this research because it helps to save time once moving forward with a renovation. Create design boards on Pinterest, Houzz.com or your platform of choice, that identify the types of kitchens, layouts and products that you prefer.

Step 2: Select a Showroom and a Designer (1 to 2 months)

An essential service that you should expect from your showroom and designer is to make order out of chaos by discussing your wants, needs, expectations and budget. Expect your showroom and designer to narrow your product choices based on your needs, preferences and budget. This process takes time because there are lots of questions that need to be answered to help your designer better envision what you want and develop the perfect solutions for your project.

Step 3: Develop the Design (5 to 6 weeks)

Based on your input, a designer takes your ideas and expectations and uses them to develop drawings, plans, specifications, perspectives and elevations.

Step 4: Product Selection (4 to 5 weeks)

You should expect your showroom professional to develop a realistic budget and to direct you to products and techniques that represent the best value for your available funds. During this phase of the project, your designer does a deep dive into the details that make all the difference, finalizing material choices and sources and finalizing organization and storage plans.

Step 4: Fabrication and Delivery (2 to 5 months)

The time frame to source and obtain products depends on the design and product selection. Custom-made cabinets take longer to fabricate and deliver than stock cabinets. You should expect your designer and showroom to provide a detailed time frame for sourcing and obtaining products. Product sourcing should begin before demolition.

Step 5: Demolition and Installation (1 to 9 months)

The timeline depends on the scope of the project. If the design calls for moving electrical, plumbing, duct work, structural systems, adding additional space, installing new windows and/or doors, the time frame will take longer than simply replacing what currently exists. You should expect your designer to not only provide a realistic timeline but also offer guidance for creating a make-shift kitchen during the renovation process. The design and product selection should be finalized before demolition begins. Making changes mid-course not only will expand the time necessary to complete the renovation, but changes will also adversely affect your budget.

Step 6: Adding the Finishing Touches (1 week)

This step involves installing window coverings, hanging art on the wall, placing your favorite keepsakes on open shelving and smiling every time you cross the threshold of your brand new dream kitchen.

If you would like to discuss a realistic time frame for your new kitchen renovation, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Elements of a Well-Designed Kitchen

When you finally decide to create the kitchen of your dreams, your adrenaline surges. You are excited by the opportunity to select the perfect cabinets, all the right appliances and the finishes that enable you to make a personal design statement. You smile envisioning the wonderful and lasting memories that you will be able to create in your new space.

While product selection is fun, there are other aspects of a kitchen remodel in the Upper Valley to consider. Your new kitchen should not only look spectacular, but it also should function spectacularly as well. The following are attributes of what you should expect from a qualified kitchen designer.

A well-designed kitchen provides adequate space for you, your guests, family members and others to maneuver without running into one another or bumping into things. You should be able to open the refrigerator and dishwasher completely without hitting anything or anybody. One way to ensure adequate maneuverability in a space is to allow for at least 48 inches between counter tops or a counter top and the island. The amount of space dedicated to maneuverability is often dictated by how you use your kitchen, for what purposes and how frequently. A well-designed kitchen is an organized kitchen. Avid or frequent cooks typically enjoy having spices, bottles of vinegar and oils and other frequently-used products near the cook top or in the area where most meal preparation takes place. Cabinets for dishes and glassware are typically best near the dishwasher.

A well-designed kitchen accounts for appliance dimensions, both big and small. A good rule of thumb is to select appliances before cabinetry to help ensure that the dimensions are appropriately configured into the design and avoid the potential of creating obstacles.

Lighting can make or break a kitchen, and there are three types of lights to consider. A well-designed kitchen specifies task lights that shine brightly on surfaces that will be used most often to prepare and cook meals. Ambient lighting provides general illumination, and accent lighting is used to highlight focal points such as keepsakes on open shelves. An effective layered lighting design incorporates different shades, shadows and colors to accentuate the best features of a new kitchen.

A well-designed kitchen provides adequate storage based on the available space and anticipated kitchen use. We recommend that homeowners in the Upper Valley inventory their existing kitchen and identify the pots, pans, utensils, glassware, plates and small appliances that are used most frequently, intermittently or rarely. This process helps to prioritize storage options and maximize the functionality of the space.

Specifying cabinetry that leverages the utility of wall space helps maximize storage space in smaller kitchens. Depending on the look and feel our clients in (insert name of service territory) want to achieve, we will often recommend placing cabinets to the ceiling.

Islands are one of the most requested features of homeowners in (insert name of service territory). Islands are often not only a focal point of a new kitchen but serve multiple purposes, from meal preparation and entertaining to a place to complete homework. Islands are only practical if there is sufficient space for them. In selecting an island, determine the functions you expect your island to perform and the items you plan to store in it. Some islands can work more efficiently and effectively if you don’t put sinks or appliances in them.

If you would like to know how you can maximize the functionality and beauty of your kitchen space, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH. Click here for additional guidance on what you should expect from a kitchen showroom.

What Color Countertop Is Best For Your New Kitchen

 

Selecting the color of countertops for a new kitchen needs to account for how you want the space to look and feel. The options are unlimited, but our experience indicates that homeowners in the Upper Valley typically gravitate to:

White Quartz, Corian or laminate
Speckled or flecked white, cream and lighter colored Quartz, Corian or laminate
Black or darker Quartz, Corian or laminate
Gray or other mid-tone Quartz, Corian or laminate
Slightly veined Quartz or stone
Heavily veined Quartz or stone
Light and dark stained wood
White countertops work well for homeowners in (insert name of service territory) who want a contemporary look and feel to their new kitchen. White also works exceedingly well in smaller kitchens when paired with flat front cabinetry because they help to make space look larger than it actually is. In transitional or traditional designed kitchens, white countertops can serve as a dramatic contrast to heavily grained wood cabinets, larger butcher blocks and other more dramatic surface materials.

Speckled or flecked white, cream and other lighter-toned countertops serve to soften a space and work well in transitional and traditional design motifs. These countertops also don’t show as much dust or dirt as white counterparts.

Black, dark grey and other dark-toned countertops work well in kitchens with other dark surfaces provided there is an abundance of both natural, in-ceiling, pendants, track or other light. Dark surfaces absorb light; white lighter surfaces reflect light. Dark countertops help to complement painted cabinets that are so on trend today in blue and green tones. Dark countertops are a perfect complement to white cabinets to achieve a classic look.

Gray, cream and other mid-tone colors are extremely popular because of their neutrality. Gray contrasts ever so nicely with colored cabinetry and kitchens with a variety of finishes. Gray can also soften the starkness of white cabinetry.

Marble countertops with their rich and deep veins can serve as a dramatic focal point. Other richly veined stone countertops scream, ‘look at me,’ and for good reason. Statement-making stone tends to work more effectively in larger kitchen spaces especially when it is contrasted with darker cabinets.

Wood adds warmth to kitchen space and often specified for homeowners attracted to a transitional motif. Wood also serves nicely as a cutting block insert in an island or other countertops to help provide a contrasting accent to space. Lighter wood stains work better in more casual settings while darker stains help to achieve a more formal look and feel.

What color countertops would work best in your new kitchen? Please give us a call at 603-251-7322 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon and let us help you to make a perfect choice.

Kitchens and Cooking Continue to Get Smarter

The 5th Annual Smart Kitchen Summit was held earlier this month in Seattle, attracting leaders throughout the kitchen design, food and cooking worlds to explore new technologies and provide the latest on the intersection of technology, food and kitchen design. Here are several of the major trends identified at the Summit.

Sustainability was one of the hot Summit topics. The Impossible Burger, made from plants, is not a fad and food made from plants is not limited to burgers. Plant-based foodstuffs continue to evolve and gain in popularity. Manufacturers are responding to this trend by creating appliances, applications and information resources that make plant-based eating easier and more readily available.

Healthier cooking and eating was another significant trend. We have found that homeowners the are interested in healthier the Upper Valley cooking for themselves and their families but find changing long-standing habits difficult, simply because most homeowners the Upper Valley do not have a lot of free time. According to Nancy Roman, CEO of the Partnership for Healthier America, the average time for preparing meals and cleaning up has dropped from 60 minutes in 2006 to 36 minutes in 2016.

The desire and demand for healthier foods and lifestyles are also expected to alter kitchen design. Anticipated trends include increased specification of glass cabinets that showcase fresh ingredients and hydroponic cabinets where consumers can grow their own vegetables, herbs and other items. Specification of cabinets, counter tops, tile, paint and other materials used to create new kitchens with low Volatile Organic Compounds that produce fewer hazardous gasses and byproducts and promote improved air quality will continue to gain in popularity as will the use of lighting that promotes more healthy lifestyles.

Efforts continue to expand to help reduce food waste. The FDA estimates 30-40% of the food supply is wasted annually or the equivalent of $161 billion of food every year. New natural coatings are being attached to fruit that can extend freshness by up to two weeks and other technological advances are being explored to help preserve food for longer time periods.

There were several cool products on display. FET featured a backsplash that doubles as a digital screen that consumers can use to watch on-demand and live cooking classes. The backsplash is voice activated, giving users an option to select classes based on cuisine, calories, diet, duration and a host of other options.

Another head-turning product was the HotSpot CookTop that can recognize pots, pans or food placed on the surface. If the food item does not have a uniform thickness, think of a salmon fillet, the HotSpot automatically applies more heat to the center than to the ends so that the item cooks evenly.

There was even a device that allows you to take cocoa beans and make your own chocolate in approximately two hours.

If you would like to know more about smart kitchen options, new technologies, ways to cook and eat healthier, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Keys to Selecting the Perfect Vanity

A well-sized and properly positioned vanity can make or break a bath’s look, feel and functionality. The key factors to consider when selecting a vanity include:

  • style and aesthetic preferences
  • the materials used to make the vanity
  • counter top material
  • desired number of sinks/bowls
  • placement
  • storage space required
  • existing infrastructure and available space

When selecting a bath vanity for the master bath, powder room or any other bathroom in the Upper Valley, the pieces should complement the home’s existing décor. While there is a benefit to adding an occasional piece or accent that contrasts stylistically, putting a modern European vanity in the powder room of a Victorian home would seem awfully out of place.

Vanities made specifically for bathrooms account for fixtures and plumbing, and they are crafted with moist environments in mind. The height of the vanity influences plumbing fixtures needed to meet your goals. For example, vanities that are less than 34 inches tall are best suited for a vessel-style sink.

Another critical factor in selecting a vanity is the finish used to seal and decorate the cabinet. Finish refers both to the process used to seal the wood and the materials used to change the appearance of the wood. Finishes used to seal bath vanities can withstand moist and humid environments.

The counter top selected for the bath needs to account for functional and practical considerations. Bathroom counter tops come into contact with nail polish remover, cosmetics,

toothpaste, shaving cream, hygiene products, hairdryers, curling irons and more! Many bath products can damage a counter top that is not appropriately sealed or not made to withstand abuses that occur in the daily use of the bathroom.

Aesthetically, we advise our clients in the Upper Valley to pick a counter top before selecting tile or other floor and wall covering materials. It’s generally easier to match surfacing materials, e.g., tile, stone, wood, to a unique counter top material or design than the other way around. The goal is to select materials that compliment, as opposed to compete, with one another.

Most of our clients the Upper Valley select a vanity that features two bowls. With two bowls, those using the bath have their own space.  Separate grooming stations make it easy for multiple people to prepare for the day at the same time. However, in bathrooms where space is at a premium, a double bowl vanity might not be possible. The size of the vanity should work in the area. You don’t want to order a vanity that blocks doors or limits movement if the cabinet drawers and doors are open.

A well-designed bathroom is an organized bathroom. To maximize the efficiency of a bath, homeowners in the Upper Valley should identify the products and accessories that they use daily, e.g., curling iron, hairdryer and cosmetics. This exercise helps you determine what needs to be stored and identify possible storage locations inside and outside of the vanity cabinet.

The existing infrastructure also can influence the type of vanity you select and its placement. If you want to replace what exists in the same location, selecting a vanity of similar size should not create issues. However, if you need to reconfigure plumbing, electrical and ventilation, that could add to construction costs if not accounted for in the initial planning phases.

If you would like additional information on how to select the perfect vanity for your bath, please call our showroom at 603-448-9700 or visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Maintaining Your Kitchen

Maintaining Your Kitchen

Regular maintenance of your new kitchen will increase the useful life of cabinets, appliances, faucets, back splashes and hardware and also enhance your enjoyment of the space. We always ask clients in the Upper Valley how often they plan to cook, entertain and eat in their new kitchen. We also ask what other activities regularly take place in the kitchen. Other variables to consider include who will clean the kitchen and how much time and effort you want to keep your kitchen spotless. We consider all of this information to develop a road map for specifying the right flooring, counter tops, back splashes, walls, appliances, plumbing and fixtures for you.

Cabinets attract grease, spills, and fingerprints and require regular care to maintain their look and feel. Inset doors require more care, maintenance and effort to clean than their flat panel counterparts. Inset doors feature recesses and grooves where dirt, grease and dust can more easily accumulate.

White kitchens remain the most popular according to a recent Houzz study. White offers an unlimited palette to add pops of color, incorporate metallic tones and make unique design statements with textures, materials and contrasts. White cabinets are also easier to maintain than those with dark paints or stains because darker colors show dust and fingerprints. Scratches and nicks in stained cabinets are easier to fix than those on painted cabinets.

The type of wood finish also affects maintenance requirements. Oak, hickory, beech and other species where the grain shines through are less likely to show stains and scratches.

Ceramic and porcelain tile are easier to maintain than wood or stone floor coverings. Ceramic and porcelain floor coverings are moisture-, stain- and scratch-resistant. You never need to seal ceramic or porcelain, but hat’s not the case with stone.

Due to its durability and aesthetic, stainless steel has become a kitchen staple for appliances, counter tops, sinks and range hoods. But, as much as we’d like it to be true, it turns out stainless steel is a misnomer.

Stainless steel is highly susceptible to water stains and fingerprints. Additionally, dirt, grease, grime and dust can cause your stainless steel surfaces to rust if they regularly cleaned. It’s not difficult to keep your stainless-steel sinks and surfaces in top-notch condition with daily maintenance and proper cleaning agents.

Quartz is a virtually maintenance-free counter top material, and that is one of the reasons more homeowners in the Upper Valley are making quartz the number one counter top material for their new kitchens. Quartz is scratch- and stain-resistant and can be cleaned easily with soap and water.

Are you leaning toward painted cabinets and walls? A popular and easy to maintain choice is a satin finish due to its durability and ability to absorb light. Semi-gloss paint is a smart choice for baseboards and trim due to its ability to resist moisture damage, stains and scratches better than other paint finishes.

Brushed finishes for cabinet hardware, faucets and other components are popular because they hide fingerprints and water spots much more effectively than polished finishes or chrome.

What finishes will work best in your new dream kitchen? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH and let us help you spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your home.