Kitchens may be the heart of the home, but in terms of remodeling, they're hard on the pocketbook. Matthew Gunn is vice president of business development for Classic Kitchens of Virginia. With nine years' experience and more than 200 kitchens that he has designed and installed, he's here to provide specifics to anyone considering a kitchen remodel.
Q: When does a kitchen begin to look dated?
A: It depends on the design, of course, but often after about 15 years. That's when appliances start to malfunction or break. Broken appliances are frequently the reason that homeowners start to explore the possibility of a kitchen remodel.
Q: A complete redo or a cosmetic fix? How do I decide which my kitchen needs?
A: Complete remodel. Too many people make the mistake of placing expensive "band-aids" in their kitchen. I talk to people all the time who decide they want new cabinets/kitchens after recently installing a new tile backsplash or granite tops atop their old ones. Those materials can seldom be re-used in their new space. Moreover, what they've got is a dated or cheap looking kitchen with nice stone tops. My advice is to save your money and completely remodel.
Q: How much can I expect to pay for a complete kitchen remodel?
A: According to Remodeling Magazine, the average kitchen-remodeling project in the U.S. is $56,611. At our firm, we design and install complete kitchen remodeling projects that start at $40,000, but we have also installed kitchens that have been in excess of $450,000. The average price of our kitchen remodel is $109,500.
Q: What if I rarely cook? Does that affect my kitchen design?
A: The needs of the client who seldom cooks are not much different from the one who does. When you do use the kitchen, you want it to function well. You may not want to invest as much in appliances, though, because you don't need their increased performance.
Q: Is there any preparatory work I need to do before contacting a designer/contractor about a remodel?
A: You should be prepared to verbalize the reasons why you want to remodel and describe the overall look and feel you want to achieve. The more clearly a designer can understand your vision and needs, the more equipped he or she can provide solutions. Pictures of kitchens you like are always helpful.
Q: How about survival tips for during the construction phase?
A: To begin, you might want to cook in quantity prior to the remodel and freeze meals that can be reheated. Consider moving the old refrigerator into another room (usually the dining room). Set up a table for the microwave, toaster and coffee maker and any other small appliance that you frequently use.
Q: What are the up-and-coming looks in kitchen design?
A: We are seeing more of a trend toward rustic finishes, and there are varying degrees of that. Materials can be heavily distressed to look worn or old. For the most part, homeowners are beginning to gravitate toward low-sheen finishes and honed stone tops.
Q: What about new products?
A: Microwave drawers have been out for a couple of years but are really starting to catch on. They allow homeowners to have the microwave installed beneath the counter, but with more sensible access.
Q: How about your own kitchen? Is it top-of-the-line, or is it like the shoemaker who needs new shoes?
A: I have recently moved, so it is not remodeled yet, but I have designed it. We plan to use inset doors with concealed hinges, integrated and professional appliances, and soapstone and wood countertops. The kitchen will be designed for two cooks and have an unfitted furniture look when it is completed. It will also be accessible to an outdoor space and will be great for parties.