The number one room homeowners choose to remodel is the kitchen. That’s because it’s more that a just food prep area, it’s often a family gathering place and social spot to chat while entertaining or preparing a meal. If you’ve decided your kitchen needs updating because it’s poorly designed or just needs a facelift, here are some guidelines and suggestions I’ve accumulated over many years of kitchen remodeling.
Boy, those glossy granite countertops sure do look sexy in the home center or kitchen showroom, don’t they? Unfortunately, what you won’t realize until you’ve had one installed in a kitchen and lived with it is what a challenge they are to keep clean. Every fingerprint shows, every food spill – and they’re surprisingly easy to scratch. Most have to be cleaned with glass and tile cleaner: anything else leaves streaks. That’s why I recommend a low-luster matte finish for a countertop. Most of the solid surface countertop materials (like Corian) offer their product in a matte finish. Unless you have a full-time maid on staff, you’ll really appreciate these easier- to-clean surfaces.
If kids are in the home, consider going with a time-tested, combat-proven surface – plastic laminate. In my opinion, it’s still the toughest countertop material out there – it’s stain-resistant, spill-proof and holds up well to abuse. It’s inexpensive and comes in a dizzying array of textures and colors. All of the other countertop materials (including sealed granite and concrete) can still stain. The same goes for tiled countertops – although the tile won’t stain, the grout will. There’s not a grout sealer out there that can stand up to grape juice. Most home centers can have a laminate countertop made to your specs in no time. Don’t like the look of the rolled edges? Have them install wood edging – they can even inlay matching laminate in the face of the wood edging for a nice accent. cabinet refacing near me
Cabinets: Replace or Reface?
The single most expensive item in a kitchen remodel is new cabinetry. If your cabinets are functional, but you don’t like the way they look, don’t replace them. Instead, reface them or paint them – change the hardware and add some molding for a completely different look – and save tens of thousands of dollars!
If your cabinets are made of real wood, they can be painted or antiqued for a fresh look. (Note: if they’re covered with plastic laminate or plastic foil, they can’t be painted.) To paint cabinets, remove the doors and drawers and all hardware. Clean thoroughly and let dry. Apply a coat of primer and then paint. When dry, reinstall the doors, drawers and new hardware.
Another option is refacing. This entails covering the existing cabinet framing with real wood veneer and replacing the door and drawer fronts. Most home centers offer this service through an outside vendor like Quality Doors (www.qualitydoors.com). You can reface a kitchen in a weekend and the results are stunning.
If those old cabinets just have to go, I suggest you work with a kitchen designer, preferably one certified by the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association . A certified designer works with guidelines published by the NKBA and will create a kitchen for you that’s both attractive and functional. Non-certified designers often don’t know these guidelines and can inadvertently place a dishwasher in a corner, blocking access to adjacent cabinets. A certified designer can also think “out-of-the-box” for you. They can look at your home plans and suggest moving a wall or relocating a door or window to greatly enhance your kitchen area.