Posts Tagged ‘kitchen renovation’

Kitchen Remodel: Where to Begin

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

When someone comes to me and tells me they want to remodel their kitchen my heart skips a beat. Whether it’s a friend or another blogger or an email from a reader, all of a sudden I’m engrossed in their story and want to know about their plans because I just LOVE a great kitchen remodel story!

This year we completed two kitchen remodels (this one and this one) and I’m about to begin a third! My younger brother and my sister-in-law have requested my help in remodeling a kitchen in a home they just purchased here in the Bay Area. I’m thrilled for them and can’t wait to get started! The question from my SIL who is a busy nurse with two small children (a toddler and newborn, I remember those days!) asked me (insert sigh) “Where do we begin?”

Here is one angle of the kitchen in the house they just purchased, it’s neither large nor functional, and with two small children and two working parents, it needs to work with their lifestyle, so I’m excited to guide them along in their remodeling journey.

nate 1

Sooooo… what’s my best advice on how to begin? These answers are more generic but relevant to anyone who is pondering a kitchen remodel:

Reface or Remodel? Are we looking at a kitchen that’s functional but just not your style? Are the existing cabinets quality? Does the layout make sense? In that case you’re probably in a situation where it’s best to reface or repaint cabinets and perhaps upgrade appliances and the backsplash. New doors, countertops, and tile can go a long way to transforming a kitchen with a layout that makes sense but just needs a refresh. Cosmetic remodels are far easier to tackle than a completely renovated space.

Architectural or Structural Issues. If you’re in a situation where the layout doesn’t make sense or the cabinets are really old and you want to start fresh with new everything then the first thing to consider is architectural or structural changes. Is it feasible to take down walls or move appliances around? Both issues should be addressed with a general contractor because they can impact the cost significantly and may require permits.

Hire the Right Professionals. I have some friends in my hometown who are about to begin their kitchen remodel, yet another project I hope to blog about! Their first question to me was “Do you know a good contractor?” which is a very important step! The best way to go about hiring a contractor to do any structural changes or installation is word of mouth by talking to people in your area, also through websites like Angie’s List, or look at portfolios on websites like Houzz. Interview 3-5 and work with someone who gets you, who understand what you want, and who you establish a good rapport with.

Flow. Before meeting with a contractor and even coming up with a cabinet plan, always consider flow. A good kitchen cabinet designer can help you with this process. In a kitchen with an island there must be proper spacing around it: 42” at a minimum preferably 48”. The cabinet and appliance plan must make sense! For maximum efficiency, keep in mind the work triangle – that connection between the sink, refrigerator, and range. Think about where you want to be when you prep your food, cook your food, and then serve your food.

wood lower cabinet white upper cabinets

Cabinet Design. This is where you get to pick what suits your style, choose kitchen cabinets with a wood or painted surface and also consider functional upgrades, smooth glide drawers or pull out recycling. If you plan to sell the home in less than a few years, it’s best to make choices that will appeal to a wider market.

Storage. One modern kitchen trend that is gaining in popularity is to remove upper cabinets and replace them with pretty tile to make the space feel less cramped or to add open shelves, but this can limit your storage options. There are so many different ways to approach storage and other considerations like where to place a microwave, so it’s good to work with an experienced kitchen cabinet designer.

I find it most helpful to make a list of everything you use on a daily basis that you will store from dishes to cookware to small appliances and identify the cabinet where it will go. It doesn’t all have to be stored in the kitchen, dishes can go into the dining room, seasonal or infrequently used items can go in the garage, attic, or basement.

Orono residence CliqStudios Cabinetry, ©Karen Melvin Photogrpahy

Be Realistic. Budgeting for a kitchen remodel needs to include all the expenses from cabinets to countertops, appliances and fixtures, labor, and all the tiny details in between. Cliq Studios offers a quick quote to give you a ballpark idea what a cabinets will cost. As I mentioned in this article on lessons learned from our most recent remodel, building in a 15-20% “unexpected expenses” cushion is wise. Also it’s my experience kitchen remodels always take twice as long as planned, so if you think it will be done in four months, plan for eight!

During a full kitchen remodel, the process generally goes in this order: 1) demolition, 2)  architectural changes and new drywall, 3) prep electrical in preparation for appliances/light fixtures (also gas line if moving gas appliances), 4) install flooring.

Once the scene is set then 4) install cabinets (I recommend professionally), 5) fabricator creates countertop template 6) connect plumbing 7) install countertops, 8) install sinks and appliances (again I recommend professionals), 9) trim cabinets, 10) install tile backsplash and hang open shelves (if any), 11) attach hardware.

_ _ _

For those of you who have gone through a kitchen remodel, tell me what you wish you knew in the beginning that affected your renovation? What advice can you share based on your experience on where to begin when considering a kitchen remodel?

*This post is sponsored by Cliq Studios, all opinions are my own, see the kitchen designed with Cliq Studios cabinets here.

Disappearing Microwaves

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Lately, I’ve been spending my hours just thinking about microwaves. Yes, I do that, I sit down in a chair, cup my chin in my hand, look up to the ceiling, and think about microwave ovens. About their placement in kitchens and *gasp* even their necessity.

The microwave oven as we all know has become a staple in the American home in the last 40 years, they are the most convenient appliance for a quick reheat and in my experience, they make a great baked potato. I’ve asked friends this question, "How often do you use your microwave?" For some the answer is "several times a day" for others "not much at all".

The reason I’ve been thinking so much about them is that I’m getting rid of the micro hood in our Nevada house we’re remodeling, at least temporarily, and for two reasons. First, it’s black, and I’ve decided to use all white appliances in this kitchen.

nevada house oak kitchen cabinets

While I endorse the two tone cabinetry look, I do prefer that the finishes on appliances are the same, so the range is getting replaced with a white slide in to complement the existing dishwasher and refrigerator (not shown) and the black microwave is leaving. Both the range and microwave hood will be sold on Craigslist or donated to Habitat, and the cabinets will eventually be replaced, but not until winter. 

Second, I’m not a huge fan of the micro hood. I do see its purpose in a smaller kitchen, it makes sense, but I do prefer the look of just a hood by itself above a range or cooktop and so I’m seeking ways to include a microwave in the kitchen’s new design but I want to make it disappear, at least from prominent view.

In my search of inspiring ideas I found many clever ways to hide the microwave so that it is available when needed but also hidden from sight. 

white kitchen wood flooring

hidden microwave in cabinet


A special appliance pantry is the most appealing idea, with doors that retract into the cabinet so they can sit inside while the appliance is in use.

hidden microwave behind cabinet

better homes & gardens    

Read the rest of this entry »