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Replace, Reface and Renovate:
Homeowners Tips to a Better Kitchen

The days where grandmothers locked themselves inside the kitchen slaving away over a small stove and smaller counter have long since past. Today’s kitchen owners still want to produce the amazing meals that grandma use to, but not at the expense of isolating themselves from their guests. Bigger spaces, large islands, an area where you can cook with others and still talk to your guests are what are on the hotplate today.

Besides the desire to have an amazing kitchen space, there are other good reasons to consider renovating your kitchen. When it comes time to sell your home, kitchens and bathrooms are often what seal the deal in people’s minds. So quit thinking about it, and get that kitchen you’ve always wanted!

Hire a Professional

If you’re not too handy around the house then you’ll probably be looking for companies to help build your new kitchen. The all-in-one approach is usually best, have someone come in, tear it out, and do the install. It’s usually the easiest way.

Taking the time to coordinate or hire a company to do it for you can save you lots of time, leaving the headaches out of the kitchen remodel, lessening the burden for you and getting the look that you intended.

When looking for a contractor, make sure that he or she is a professional.
Always get references, and get a detailed contract that spells out every detail and step of the remodeling job.

Kitchen remodels can vary greatly in price, depending on what you replace, such as the cabinets, handles, floor, and appliances. Also, the not-so-average requests for deep freezers and other unique items can drive the price up significantly.

Whether you’re doing most of the work or a company is, don’t let them start to tear apart the kitchen until everything is ready to be installed.

Before you consider making any changes to your kitchen, it’s usually best to talk to your real estate professional. If you’re in a hot seller’s market, you may not need to do much to sell quickly and receive top dollar for your home. On the other hand, if houses are selling more slowly in your area, you’ll want to do everything you can, including sprucing up your kitchen, to garner offers.

Create the Kitchen

There’s lots of time, work and planning that goes into renovating your kitchen. The last thing you want to do is spend heaps of cash and find out that something isn’t what you wanted. Make sure to take your time, do lots of research when it comes to planning your kitchen. Here are some helpful pointers and tips that will guide you to the kitchen you’ve always wanted:
Be sure to check the calendar before you start your kitchen upgrade. Don’t start a remodel just before the holidays. If Thanksgiving Dinner is going to be at your house, it could be a disaster.

Add an instant center work island. If you’re striving for a custom look, connect two or three stock base cabinets and overlay it with a new countertop — and leave room for bar stools on one side. Make sure there’s enough space between the island and other work areas. You need to be able to open cabinet and appliance doors. You probably also want to plan for enough room for two people to work in the kitchen. The island can be located so it functions as an integral part of the work area or you may want it to divide the kitchen and the family room.
Remember that the island is an ideal place to relocate the cook top or the main sink, or add a second sink. It permits a reconfiguration of the classic “work triangle” of refrigerator, cook top and sink.

If the cook top will be located in the island, with a wall oven elsewhere, consider pull-out trays or drawers below the cook top to store pots and pans. It will make food preparation and cooking much easier. If the island will be a second work station with a prep sink for cleaning veggies and the like include a pull-out wastebasket in the cabinet below.

Be sure to plan for the mechanical necessities for locating the cook top or sink in the center of the room. For the sink you’ll need supply and drain lines, and for the cook top, a ventilation system-either an overhead unit or a downdraft model. Both the plumbing and downdraft unit will require breaking through the floor. That could present problems if the room is on a slab.

Let molding add some flair. If your cabinets look too ordinary, spice them up with molding. Panel or picture molding redefines the flat doors and drawers while elaborate crown molding, placed where cabinets meet the ceiling, creates a classic look, sure to draw attention. If you have a few extra dollars and are feeling adventurous, add new doors with beveled glass inserts.

Color it up. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for cabinetry, walls and ceilings. Just keep the colors neutral.

Make a splash with a new backsplash. You can use glass mosaics, porcelain tile, natural slate, or a faux paint finish for a unique backsplash.

Light up. Adding lighting to a kitchen can have dramatic results — and it can be added virtually everywhere, including under and above cabinets, and from the ceiling. If you have an island, you can spotlight it with smaller pendant lights.

Replace your old sink and faucet. If your sink is dingy-looking, try replacing it with a stainless model and a pullout faucet. Today’s faucets come in a range of materials and colors.
Get rid of the old appliances.

If you’re selling in a buyer’s market, you’ll want to do everything you can to make your house — and especially your kitchen — more attractive. That can include replacing your appliances with updated, energy efficient models. Stainless steel appliances continue to be popular and white or bisque finishes make a kitchen appear bigger and brighter.

Freshen up your countertop. If your countertop tile is old, grungy or outdated, think about some new tile. This can be done pretty inexpensively, especially if you don’t have a lot of counter space. Again, try to keep it neutral. Although it may be tempting, now is not the time to try out the cobalt blue.

Display function. If your kitchen includes a desk space where you house a computer, pay all your bills and answer your e-mails, don’t feel the need to move the computer to make the area more clean and attractive. Buyers need to see how rooms can function.

Appliance check. Make sure all your appliances have been maintained and are working properly.

Get More with Less
Whether you believe it or not most experts say that it’s the kitchen (or the bathrooms) that traditionally sell houses. Among real estate agents the consensus is that a fully remodeled kitchen is a big selling point. Still, it’s not always cost-efficient to remodel a kitchen in the anticipation of selling. Be careful what you get into; once you start enhancing the kitchen you may find your eyes are bigger than your wallet, or at least bigger than what you planned on taking out of your wallet. Still, even if you can’t afford a big remodel, more often than not you’ll benefit in the long run if you spend time on even minor improvements and general sprucing up. Like everything else there are ways to keep spending to a minimum.

Some really basic things you can do are:
Repair leaky faucets and remove stains from the kitchen counter and sink.

Clean the interior of your oven and dishwasher, as dirty appliances convey an impression that will extend to the rest of the house.

Get rid of the clutter. You don’t want bare counters, but try to leave the counters as open as possible. Hide away all the extra appliances, cookbooks, and paperwork that may normally consume your counter space.

Rejuvenate with paint. Changing the color of a room is one of the most dramatic – and cost-efficient – ways to change your room’s appearance. Remember that it’s best to stick to neutral colors — you never know what the preferences of potential homebuyers will be.

Accessorize. Replace your cabinet hardware. New hardware can pull a room together and give it a polished, clean look.

Dress up your windows. Consider wood blinds or Roman shades to add style.

Let there be light. Make sure blinds are pulled and that plenty of light is shining in the room. If your kitchen or informal dining area is next to a patio or courtyard area, make sure that view isn’t hidden behind the blinds.

Also, take the time to tidy up the outdoor area and perhaps add some potted plants or flowers that can be seen from the kitchen. If your kitchen is naturally dark, or you’re selling during the wintertime, be sure you leave the kitchen lights on when agents show your home.

If budget is a major concern but you still want to do more than just a cosmetic change, keep these in mind:
Try to keep windows in place. Moving windows gets expensive.

Try to stick with your existing appliances. This can save up to $5,000. If you do opt for new appliances, choose ones that are energy-efficient: this will save you money on your utility bills, and will be an asset when it comes time to sell your home.

Keep fixtures, appliances, and utilities in place so you don’t have to change plumbing, gas, and electrical outlets.
If possible, use your existing floor. If you need new flooring, vinyl and laminate are less expensive than wood and tile. Choose a color that ties the kitchen to the adjoining rooms.

Carefully study your cabinet options, because this will play a big role in the cost. You can delay some options to help reduce the initial costs. If you do decide to wait, make sure the option you want will be available and can be added after your new cabinets are in place.

Consider resurfacing existing cabinets. This will save money and you won’t need to install a new floor, countertops, and appliances.
Use standard cabinetry instead of custom.

Choose cabinets that are finger-pulled and don’t need additional hardware.

Think about laminate countertops. They are less expensive than tile and granite. You can accent it with wood or tile trim.

Choosing less costly products will help bring the total cost down, so compare prices carefully. You’ll also need to find out how much labor is involved in some of the features you are seeking, like tile countertops.

The most important thing you can do to extend your budget is to plan ahead. Go through the design process with a fine-tooth comb and select all your new countertops, flooring, appliances, and fixtures. This will help keep you from making impulsive decisions down the road.

Hot Trends & Cool Style

No matter what you are rejuvenating, replacing or remodeling, if you’re like most people you’ll want to do it with style. Cooking areas that once might not have been much more than a stove and exhaust hood with a microwave above them, are today designed with more detail to enhance the area, making it one of the main focal points of the kitchen. What’s hot in the kitchens of today?

The hood as a status symbol. Interest in sleek or custom hoods is still on the rise.
Attention to detail — backsplashes in interesting tile or mosaics, and lighting.
Black is back, as are reds, blues and celery greens.
Outdoors materials, including stucco, are being used indoors.
Desks are appearing in kitchens at counter height.
Sinks are getting bigger, deeper and more plentiful. Two separate sinks are replacing the double bowl model.
The sinks are becoming an opportunity for art, a statement of personalization.
Although stainless steel is by far the number-one material used, designers are working with quite a few others. One of the beauties of working with solid-surface materials for a sink — including stone, which can be finished and sealed so it will not stain — is that you can fabricate and shape it, creating an interesting drain board as part of the piece.
Sinks can be art, but they also have a function, and that observation applies to faucets, as well. Several major manufacturers this year have introduced a rubbed bronze look that is almost black but has more depth than wrought iron.
Satin nickel is another popular finish.
Faucets include the pot-filler, which is put in a wall near the stove and allows you to fill large, deep pots without having to lift them. It may or may not be near the sink.
For appliances, stainless steel remains number one.
People are going for a range and separate wall oven, with the oven at a convenient height.
In refrigeration, the watchword is flexibility, with new models from manufacturers either very small (drawer-size) or very large, with beautiful designs and finishes, and available from several sources instead of just one.
Appliances also seem to be about the small details. Storage is being made convenient and flexible, including split drawers on a bottom freezer.
More and more, microwaves are combination appliances that also feature toasters and coffeemakers. Dishwashers have become oversize — or smaller, depending on your preference.
Granite is the number-one choice for countertops. Alternatives include metal (if the appliances are not metal) and concrete.
The trend in cabinets is warmer, darker, richer, and oak is coming back.

The kitchens of today are larger, allowing enough room for people to entertain and for guests to mingle. There’s enough space to keep tabs on what the family is doing, and enough space for more than one cook. In today’s kitchen the experience has shifted from separation to social. So, jump on the bandwagon and quit sitting inside that small kitchen all by your lonesome. Whether you are building or remodeling, it seems there is no better place to spend money than on the kitchen.

This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF

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