My kitchen doesn’t “WOW” me.

Kitchen Weekend Warriors



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You’ve bought a new home in the neighborhood you want to be in.  The kitchen has a pretty good layout, lots of storage and you were sure the stainless appliances and granite counter tops you added were going to make you happy.  You’ve spent a tidy sum of money.

Why is your kitchen still “ugly”?

Here is what we suspect happened.

  • You had lots of Pinterest photos of your dream kitchen.  You decided by yourself, or were advised by a contractor, that this kitchen  was out of your budget.
  • You really did not have a clear cut budget or a plan on how to get the most value for the money you did end up spending.
  • You then spent a lot of money on appliances and counter tops ($10-15K) depending on your choices.

Sound Familiar?

Well your kitchen is not really “ugly”.  It functions, but it also does not look much more inspiring to you than it did before you started and spent a nice chunk of change.  It might even look something like the one below. Cleaner and crisper yes, but you are still looking longingly at Pinterest.

Part of the reason is that it is Saturday morning and you actually have 5 minutes to really look at your kitchen.  This doesn’t happen through the week when you depend on this puppy to get your family out the door.  Maybe you are thinking you could “do something” more.




What to do first when considering a kitchen renovation.

Even if you have watched every episode of all the fixer upper HGTV shows and are the queen/king of DIY, spend an hour or two with a designer, not a kitchen planner or contractor whose goals are to sell you products and services.  Hire an independent designer.  You will pay by them by hour,  which will allow you to spend quality time talking about all the “what ifs”, the “how about”  and “how do I”  ideas you have.   This can even be done remotely with digital design services like ours here.

How to Update Kitchens without Total Renovations

Let’s take a look at several examples and the many options to consider.

Wood Stained Cabinets.jpgSometimes the stained cabinets are really nice.  A timeless door style, upscale wood species with an extremely user friendly factory finish.  At times a member of the house is apprehensive about “painting” wood. There is good wood and bad wood.  Lighting, both natural and from fixtures, can have a huge impact in a good way with stained cabinets.

In the example above, using a lighter counter top, painting the stained window casing and using a contrasting splash gives more “wow” to  the decor with  updates of counters and appliances…yet leaving the cabinets stained.



The Impact of Painted Cabinets

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Next scenario could be that you have decided you want to paint your cabinets as part of your updating.  You’ve got your Pinterest photos ready and we are standing in your wood stained kitchen BEFORE you purchase new appliances and counter tops.  Below is how we’d chat with you about how to achieve both of these attractive kitchens if we are the designers you are spending an hour with.

Good Morning. Thanks for the opportunity to show you how to update your kitchen and achieve the concept of your photos.

  • If you could write one check, close your eyes and open them to your perfect kitchen, what is this amount? -Be real about this number and please do not be ashamed of whatever this amount is.  We will show you how to use your budget and end up with the results you envisioned.  If you do not know your budget, you still have some homework to do before you start.  This is where we can help you plan the work so you can work the plan.  If your budget is not large enough for what you want to do, our philosophy is to wait.  What…you can’t live in this “ugly” kitchen a minute longer?  Yes you can.  You may not want to but you will be much happier if you save for a few months, or a few years, instead of looking at the half done, uninspiring kitchen for what will seem like eternity.
  • Tell us about how you use your kitchen, a little about your family, your pets.  Tell us about your families schedules. Tell us how you entertain. –What?  Are we not supposed to be talking about the new appliances, counter tops I have to buy?  Yes, we will get to these things.  However, the more information you can share about how your space is going to be used allows us to make recommendations that will work for you and your life.
  • Are you open to painting the cabinets?  Of course you are.  These are the cabinets in the photo you are coveting.  Cabinets with a square door style are worth painting.  Painting door styles with arch type designs will not give you the look you imagine.  If you have these kinds of doors, chances are they are only on the upper cabinets.  Doors can be replaced.  Yes, it is a little more money but it is easy to do and moves you closer to your dream kitchen. Painting cabinets can be a great DIY project if you have the patience and will follow the advice of how to paint them properly.  You can practice on a bath vanity to gain confidence.  This job can also be contracted out by a professional when allowed for in the budget. Be real with your limitations of skill and more importantly time.  Don’t forget to ask us about the timeline of when the cabinets should be painted. What order in the project.
  •  Are the counter tops something we can work with?-What?!  Before you say no, let’s really look at all the components of the project.  Or,  what if we use counter top materials that cost less?  Replacing counter tops requires sinks and dishwashers to be disconnected and reconnected.  Splashes to be repaired or replaced.  (see further down in points) If we can use existing counter tops, or some of the existing counter tops, this frees up a good amount of money to use. You could upgrade the appliances with the savings.  Go back and look at the photos in this post.  Just because an appliance is stainless (or mimic of) does not make it the ultimate one for the project.  For example, trading dollars around and planning for a range without a back goes a long way in updating your look.  Ranges are the one thing that you can be passionate about with a good plan.
  • Speaking of appliances, do you have to use stainless? Or do all the appliances have to be stainless?  – Of course…it’s what everyone says is a must! Right?  No, we are here to tell you (and have in this past post What if there were no StSt Appliances ) that stainless, especially the mimics, is not always the best design.  We have all been brainwashed by too much HGTV and the marketing by big box stores  who market an all stainless package for the low price of X amount of dollars.  There are options!  We are not saying an absolute no to stainless.  We just want to talk it thru and guide you into using/buying the best choices for your plan without making you feel bad that you could not spend $20K, or feeling bad that you spent any money on something that didn’t give you want you thought it would.
  • What about the floor, the lighting ?Yes, you were going to change out lighting.  You can pickup a $100 fixture and think it will make a difference.  It might not be the best choice. Lighting is like jewelry and needs to be part of the plan. Buy the best you can afford and plan accordingly for installation.  Don’t settle and stick up the “temporary” one.  It will linger.  Again, plan and wait if you need to. Next, you don’t think you have enough budget for the floor if you are getting the appliances and counter tops.  Right? If you have an ugly, worn out of date floor and your designer says there’s no way to work with it…then please stop.  The floor is the most important piece of this puzzle. DO NOT fall under the spell that you will change out the flooring later.  Changing flooring is disrupting and messy.  It is costly to move appliances to do flooring after a renovation and if you did not plan accordingly the height of a new floor could throw off other things.  Please take care of making sure your new design works with your existing floor, or that the plan/budget you have allows for a new floor.  Lastly, plan the installation of a new floor when it suits your schedule. Like not 3 days before a major holiday or a critical school/work week.
  • What about the splash?– Oh, can’t we keep what we have?  If we have to change it, can we just use the white subway tile?  Ladies and Gentlemen…this is the one area you can really make a difference with a relatively small about of money.  Yes, you can use subway tile.  We can show ways to make it unique to your project and offer other options.  The impact of the right wall splash can be grand.  Let’s not wait till the end of a project when funds are low (or gone) or when you are standing there trying to figure out what to do. Let’s take full advantage of such a focal point with a plan in mind.  Regardless if you are changing counter tops, or if you have the pleasure of using the existing tops…the humble splash is where to put your time, energy and money.

Plan the work and work the plan. The result will be WOW!

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Kitchen Weekend Warrior Project

Planning a renovation, especially a kitchen project, can be fun and exciting.  Or it can be a traumatic mess.  There are endless choices for finishes and materials.  Cost can range from a few dollars to many thousands.  Your architecture and lighting is unique to your home.  All these things are like puzzle pieces in a box.  Designers love a good puzzle and can be the best money you will spend.  It does not cost much to chat a bit and could save you a lot of time, money and get you started on the track to a wonderful renovation experience!

In closing, you’ve listened to all the tips we have just given you about kitchen planning.  BUT you still want to do something NOW…this weekend. Did you notice all our examples, and the ones below, of cabinet hardware?  If you must start today, go look or surf online at the many options of cabinet hardware available to you.  Grab your screwdriver and change out your hardware.  Buy several and try them out on your existing cabinets.  This can apply with bathroom vanities too.  It’s a fun way to start playing while you plan the rest of the project…and sometimes it is all you need to make your kitchen the perfect LBD for you!

Bon Weekend!

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