While I can’t possibly cover every scenario, I’ll share with you kitchen remodeling questions and situations that we have encountered over the years.
Why remodel your kitchen?
Here are some of the reasons why you might be thinking of remodeling your kitchen. The reasons break down into several common areas. Cosmetic, Mechanical and Architectural. For a combination of cosmetic and mechanical here are a few situations.
- The cabinets are old and showing signs of wear and that may involve the hinges, pulls, finish around the edges, damage from wear and tear over the years. They may actually be physically damaged in some areas or you may just be sick of looking at an outdated design, color, door style or some other element.
- The cabinets and the layout are not functional for you anymore. They don’t give you enough storage. You can’t reach the cabinet over the fridge. You’re tired of having to get down on the floor and reach into back corners. This is annoying if you’re young and really irritating if you are ageing in place and your back and knees aren’t what they were 30 years ago. This falls under design and mechanical. Unless you purchased a custom home designed specifically for you with everything exactly where you wanted it, you ended up with a new “custom” home that had several floor plans and you had no input into it other than deciding on the floor plan with possibly a few “options”. As odd as this may sound, we have had clients who were working with large “custom home” builders spec out the smallest kitchen option possible and then hired us to demo it out and install what they really wanted. The point being that the large home builder was typically triple the cost to get what they wanted. Large, formulaic builders are not cost effective at redesigning their spaces. We have on many occasion been handed the keys to the home the day the owner passed papers and then we went in and re-did bathrooms, baseboard, added closets, removed the flooring and installed what the homeowner actually wanted but was unable or unwilling to pay the price the builder quoted. In those instances we would have them spec the least expensive flooring available and then remove and donate to a church or organization that could put it to good use.
- The home is older and older homes tend to have more walls and rooms. You’ve looked at the magazines that now incorporate the kitchen and great room together in a massive open floor plan. Members of the family can read, watch television, be on the laptop or I pad and engage in a variety of activities and still have eye to eye communication with whoever is preparing the meal. This area has been redesigned to be a “communal” family area to gather in. I have seen some floor plans and architecturals designate this new area as a “gathering space”. The emphasis is on family and social gathering. Coming from New York originally and then living in Massachusetts for 34 years I am all for knocking out walls and opening the place up. This is primarily an Architectural reason. The floor plan simply restricts your activities, your togetherness and keeps segmenting people into different areas because the rooms divide you instead of welcoming you together.
- Another reason is you’re getting ready to change out the appliances. Whether it was due to aging and eventual failure of the appliance that called for it to be replaced or you just had a burn for that new oven (no pun intended) or fridge you realized that you are now faced with another decision. One is that you can’t picture your brand new amazing appliance sitting in an outdated kitchen or you realized (sometimes too late) that the new appliances don’t fit in the old spaces and the cabinets need to be reworked (this becomes like running down hill and you’re trying to figure a stopping point) or the electrical /plumbing has to be reconfigured to make this work. Usually it’s the cabinets don’t fit the appliances. For example the wall ovens in a lot of older homes were at 27” and the cabinet sized appropriately. The new appliances and wall units are typically 30” or 33” and you have to be aware of this before you go and purchase the new unit and then realize it won’t fit in the kitchen. This can also be an issue with a lot of the new larger refrigerators.
So, now let’s look at some solutions that are available for each of the reasons we just described.
- The cabinets are old and worn and need to be updated. The options you will hear about are re-painting or staining, re-facing or replacement. Here are some items for you to consider. If you have issues with the layout or quality of the cabinets or any damages then re-facing or refinishing including painting or staining will probably not be the solution you’re looking for because you still end up with the same cabinets. Reface or refinish changes the appearance of the cabinets and can be quite effective in making over a whole new look.
In re-facing you will replace all the doors, drawer fronts, hinges, pulls and knobs and apply a veneer of some type which may be applied directly to the cabinet. The cabinets might also be covered with a ¼” plywood and then a veneer applied to that. This option has never appealed to me as a good remedy personally because it’s more expensive than painting or refinishing and you still end up with the same original cabinets.
With refinishing (either paint or stain), the doors and drawer fronts are removed, sanded, primed and finish coated and re-applied. With both re-facing and refinishing the cabinet bodies are untouched. The inside of the cabinet is not refinished or painted. The new paint or stain stops at the interior face frame. Also, be aware of the different frame and door styles. You will find the Euro-look and full overlay as opposed to the older style cabinetry. Basically the euro style or full overlay will have the doors butt right next to each other and there will not be a center style. The drawers are closer to the top of the doors and much closer to the bottom of the countertop. You can leave the existing countertops and backsplashes in place when you refinish. Door and drawer replacement is an option. Hinges and pulls probably a definite replacement item.
In either case this can be a less expensive alternative to replacing the cabinetry assuming that you are ok with the style and layout of the cabinets. Be aware of this item though. There is an issue with Oak cabinets. Oak has a tremendously strong grain that is virtually impossible to disguise. If you chose to paint or stain the cabinets you will still see the underlying grain, it will just be a different color. We are experimenting with a project right now where we are changing all the doors and drawer fronts and investigating an epoxy coat to cover over the oak face frame.
- If the cabinets aren’t working for you then replacement may be the solution. If this is an architectural “makeover” then you probably want to replace the cabinets too. If you are trying to create a new space for your family that may involve relocating appliances or removing walls. Now we could be looking at electrical revamping, possibly running new power, relocating gas or plumbing and possibly structural engineering if we want to reconfigure a weight bearing wall.
The Professional Approach:
When we are called to look at a kitchen remodel we pose all of these issues to our clients to get the best results for them. We’re going to ask a lot of questions so we can hone in on the best solution to your needs. We guide you through each process and based on the initial layout of the kitchen and your home we’re normally able to give you a “ballpark” estimate as to where each of the potential solutions might place you financially long before you start the project.