Gold Notes
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS
San Diego, CA

About the Blogger


Six Kitchen Remodel FAQs Answered

Six Kitchen Remodel FAQs Answered

9 July 2014 8:40 pm
houzz interior design ideas

Like many of my colleagues, I began my kitchen and bath design career at The Home Depot. We got a lot of folks who were doing their first remodel in our kitchen center, and I always could spot the ‘help, where do I start???’ look from twenty paces!

I enjoyed breaking down the process for THD clients. I still do for my private clientele, seminar attendees and readers.

My brilliant friend, Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS, creator of The Kitchen Designer blog, paid me the ultimate compliment when she said she admired how I make design so simple for people to understand.

So I thought I’d do some more simplifying in this week’s Gold Notes’ Sixth Anniversary Celebration Month post.  Here, then, are the six questions I’m asked most often about kitchen remodels, along with my Sensible Style answers.


Panelist at Dwell on Design 2012 and 2013
(Photo Courtesy:  JG Kitchens)

#1 How much should I spend?

This is the most common question I’m asked, and there isn’t a simple formula. The strategy I recommend is this: Take your home’s value into account. A $100,000 kitchen won’t turn a $200,000 condo into a $300,000 condo. Invest proportionately. Take your neighborhood into account. If you’re in a modest community with modest homes, don’t over-spend on premium upgrades and expect them to return fully on your investment.

The opposite is true, too: If you’re in a luxury community, a non-luxury remodel will also fail you on ROI.

Visit open homes and builder models in your neighborhood and talk to realtors to see what’s hot in your area.

Chez J Rendering

Invest wisely for your home and neighborhood
(Photo Courtesy: Shea Homes)

#2 What countertops are right for me?

When I started designing 10 years ago, almost everyone wanted granite. Gradually, I was able to persuade a number of clients that low-maintenance engineered stone might be easier for them to live with.

Today, the majority of my clients choose that surface for its family-friendly benefits and durability.

Solid surface is an excellent choice for aging-in-place projects, as it’s softer, but it won’t deliver the same resale benefits as stone.

The new porcelain and porcelain blend slabs are definitely worth considering, as they offer the benefits of engineered stone with the ability to extend into your outdoor kitchen, as well.

There are also some great-looking new laminates if you’re on a super-tight budget or updating a vacation or rental home.

Natural stone and wood tops are gorgeous for those wanting maximum elegance, and who don’t mind the upkeep. No one beats Mother Nature for beauty.

Five Questions - Cambria

 Engineered stone offers durability and low maintenance
(Photo Courtesy: Cambria)

#3 Should I reface or replace my cabinets?

Refacing or, more affordably, refinishing your cabinets is definitely an option IF they’re in good condition and you’re happy with your existing layout.

New door and drawer fronts won’t improve poor work flow or increase your interior storage. If you’re on a very limited budget and want to upgrade, you can paint them, add new knobs or pulls, and install interior accessories for better looks and accessibility.

Cover (Low Res)

 Refacing vs. replacing is covered in the Cabinetry chapter
(Photo Courtesy: Taunton Press)

 #4 Can I reuse my appliances?

If your appliances are new and in good condition, yes. If they’re older, you’re likely going to get better performance from updated models with improved energy efficiency and/or water savings.

If you’re reusing a standard refrigerator, it’s great if it can be recessed into a non-exterior wall for a counter-depth look. That’s not always possible, of course, but delivers a much better look than a full-depth model extending far past your cabinets.

This remodel re-used a refrigerator
(Photo Courtesy:  JG Kitchens)

#5 Do I get a range or cooktop and double ovens?

The answer to this depends upon how much space you have, as the ovens and cooktop will require a larger kitchen, and how flexible you are. A range requires a fair amount of bending and upper body strength if you’re regularly cooking large turkeys or roasts.

Ovens, especially installed at an ergonomic height side by side, are more accessible for many to use. A more versatile option could be oven and steam/convection oven or microwave/convection/speedcook combo oven with warming function.

DODP2014 - Truffle Brown Glass - Miele

Side-by-side ovens maximize ergonomics
(Photo Courtesy: Miele)

#6 How long will it take?

There are projects you can accomplish in a weekend on your own or with a pro. Examples include adding knobs or pulls to your cabinets, installing cabinet accessories, adding a backsplash organizer or changing a drop-in sink or kitchen faucet.

Other projects will take a bit longer, but still can be accomplished without a full remodel. These include changing your flooring, (up to a week DIY or with a pro), replacing your countertops with solid surface, porcelain slab, natural or engineered stone, (average two to three weeks with a pro), replacing free-standing appliances or dishwasher (time varies by supplier and any related work that needs to be done).

A full kitchen remodel will depend upon your timeline, your contractor’s availability and the products you select. At a minimum, you’re typically looking at a four to eight week lead time for semi-custom cabinets, two to three for countertop installation and the added time for design, product selection, demolition and installation. Four to six months is not unusual for a full-scale project.

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Six favorite kitchen and bath design trends

1 Comment

  • Jamie, I kept my old refrigerator after the remodel 7 years ago, but I’m planning ahead for the day it dies! I have a 1985ish top-freezer fridge in the 33-inch wide space. I am thinking of getting a bottom freezer or french door model, but they will stick out considerably farther than the old top-freezer. I think there’s only one company that makes a counter-depth for a 33-inch space. Your thoughts?

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