8 Tips for a Better Cabinet Project

From the designer’s desk:

Most people aren’t used to tackling a major remodel or new construction project.  It’s one of those things that might crop up only a few times in the average lifespan.  We understand that completely!  That’s why I wanted to present a few tips that can make such a complex process go more smoothly.

1 – Do Your Homework:  I’ve seen people freeze when confronted by the sheer number of options in the cabinet world.  Take a little time to think over the basic look and feel that you want from your cabinets.  Contemporary or traditional?  Dark or light?  Paint or stain?  You’ll still have tons of options, but this will help me to narrow things down a bit for you.

2 – Get Your Team Involved:  Are you planning to work with an interior designer or architect?  If so, you need to get them involved from day one.  If they are choosing colors and door styles, they need to be with you at the showroom.  If they are doing the cabinet layouts, I need to know that before I spend time on unnecessary design work.  Also, establish a chain of command.  Does the designer have control of the color choices?  Is the builder in charge of giving the final go-ahead?  That will help me know who to ask when I have a specific question.

3 – Be Honest About Your Budget:  Money is a touchy subject, but it’s a major component in any building project.  How much can/will you spend on your cabinetry?  Whether your budget is $10,000 or $100,000, that gives me parameters in which to work, and I won’t end up suggesting something you can’t afford.  My job isn’t to squeeze every last penny out of your cabinet budget.  My job is to work within your budget to create the kitchen or bathroom you desire, so please be honest.

4 – Be Upfront About Your Timeline:  While we’re being honest, please let me know if you have a specific timeline.  Are you planning a holiday feast for your entire family?  Are you sharing a bathroom with your teenager while yours is remodeled?  Or are you building a vacation home that you won’t need for another 6 months?  If we know your expectations ahead of time, we can do our best to have your project completed when you need it.

5- Plan Ahead:  We’ll do our part to stick to your schedule, but this requires some planning on your part.  Most cabinets take at least 6-8 weeks to arrive from the time they are ordered.  This doesn’t include design time or installation.  Also, remember that most countertops will take at least an additional week or two after that.  If you’re ordering factory cabinets, you will need to make sure all of your necessary decisions have been made before the order goes in.  This includes appliances and sinks.  Custom-built cabinets may be a little more flexible, but timely decisions are still essential to keep your project on schedule.

6 – Be Specific…:  What is on your wish list?  Be specific about your desires for the project.  Do you have a certain type of spice storage that you absolutely can’t live without?  Do you need storage for multiple curling irons?  If you’re trying to recreate something from your current kitchen, let me know specifically how it looks/functions.  Pictures are great!

7 – …But Be Flexible:  I’ll do my best to fit everything on your wish list, but sometimes I encounter spatial or budgetary issues.  You may have pull-outs under your current bathroom sink, but a plumbing quirk may not let me do that in the new one.  Your sister-in-law might have a wine cooler in her kitchen, but it might eat up too much space in yours.  Decide what is a priority and what you can live without.

8 – Refine Your Internet Searches:  Sites like Houzz and Pinterest offer a wealth of ideas for home projects.  These are great places to get started, but you’ll need to start refining those searches as the project progresses.  Look at the pictures you saved.  What is drawing you to each one?  Color?  Style?  Design details?  Definitely send me pictures that you like, but let me know what it is about each room that you want to capture in yours.  Sending me a dozen dissimilar pictures of kitchens will only create confusion.  I agree that they’re all beautiful, but what elements are really getting your attention?

It mostly boils down to a lot of planning and good communication.  Be honest about your expectations and desires, and we’ll do our best to make your project go smoothly.  Because, in the end, we just want you to be happy with your gorgeous new cabinets!


Danger in the Kitchen!

From the designer’s desk:

In April, a Canadian publication came out with an article titled, “Is your sleek new kitchen making you fat?  Modern spaces are not doing your waistline any favours.”  It’s an interesting article, and I would encourage you to read it for yourself.  (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/design/is-your-sleek-new-kitchen-making-you-fat/article23837950/)  

As a kitchen designer, the idea that my creations could be adding to the obesity epidemic instantly struck a nerve.  But I do like to keep an open mind.  The article cited several health experts, and I discovered an overarching theme to their argument.  In short, our modern kitchens are just too darn comfortable and convenient.  While I can’t argue with that sentiment, especially given current design trends, I do wonder how much this convenience contributes to our ever-growing waistlines.  Let’s think about that for a minute.

The kitchen has made a steady progression over the centuries from a separate building to the heart of the home.  Everything happens in the kitchen these days, and in response, we’ve begun to create our kitchens as extended living spaces.  TV’s, charging stations, and homework areas are all commonly found in a modern kitchen.  Families and friends gather here, and so we make it a comfortable space to linger.  According to the experts in the article, this is a major part of the problem.

They assert that lingering leads to snacking and grazing.  This is where convenience becomes a problem.   Our giant refrigerators keep an abundance of food within our reach.  Our microwaves encourage us to gorge on processed, convenience products.  It’s easy for us to mindlessly munch when so much food is so readily available.  I can understand the logic here, but isn’t it just as easy to devour a bag of potato chips while sitting on the couch?

The experts in the article would have us shrink our refrigerators and store food in pantries that are separated from the kitchen.  They would also have us exile our microwaves, keeping them from being so close to the main action of the kitchen.  In other words, we need to make our kitchens less convenient.  I can almost understand this reaction, but is it really the answer?  To somewhat confuse matters, the article goes on to encourage home cooking, especially structured family meals.  So, don’t spend too much time in the kitchen, and make sure the food isn’t too convenient, but you should be cooking every day.  I agree that cooking at home is generally better for you than running through a drive-through.  (Although, being from the south, I know some excellent home cooks whose cuisine is not what you would call friendly to the waistline.)  However, this causes us to walk a fine line between kitchens that are comfortable and convenient places to cook and kitchens that don’t encourage lingering and snacking.  I think this over-complicates the matter.

I feel that the biggest issue here is barely addressed by the article.  No matter the size of your refrigerator or whether your microwave is easily accessible, the key is the type of food you’re storing.  You may have a pantry full of wheat germ and brown rice located down the hall from your kitchen, but the box of cookies at arm’s reach is going to win out every time.  The experts in the article do suggest keeping healthier foods in plain sight, which really does make a difference, but those healthy foods must be present in the house first.

In short, before you start accusing your kitchen designer of sabotaging your diet, ask yourself a few questions.  Do you shop often and store little?  By all means, go for that smaller fridge and less storage space.  Do you prefer to stock up and take fewer shopping trips?  Don’t shy away from a larger fridge and pantry, preferably one that’s convenient to the kitchen.  Is your microwave a vital cooking tool?  Make sure it’s within the main flow of your kitchen.  It can be used for more than just heating frozen burritos.  Above all, ask yourself what kind of food you’re bringing home, because, in the end, I feel that is what makes all the difference.

What do you think?


Spring Cleaning Tips

With the weather finally warming up and the air feeling fresher, many of us are turning our attention toward freshening up our homes.  Yes, it’s spring cleaning time again!  Those long winter months indoors have taken their toll, and we’re all ready for a clean slate.  While you’re riding the wave of spring fever, now is a great time to harness some of that energy and focus it toward reorganizing your kitchen.

Many of us fall into a routine of just making do with the current organization of our kitchen.  But you may be surprised at how just a few tweaks can really change the feel of the room.  Here are a few tips to try while you’re doing your spring cleaning:

1 – Look at the big picture:  Does the kitchen flow well for the way you cook?  Are the appliances, utensils, etc., you use the most often within easy reach?  If not, see if you can make some adjustments.  Change the location of some countertop appliances for better work flow.  Switch the contents of drawers or shelves to give you quicker access to everyday items.  A simple change can make your kitchen feel like a new space.

2 – Narrow your focus:  Once you’ve addressed major workflow issues, start looking at each cabinet shelf or drawer individually.  Empty the contents and take inventory.  You may be surprised at the things you find!  Is there anything in there that you never or rarely use?  Could some items be better accessed in another location?  Really focus on what you’re storing in each section of the kitchen, and make sure the organization enhances the overall flow.

3 – Optimize your storage space:  Could your cabinets use a little extra organization?  There are quite a few after-market accessories that can help.  Simple plastic dividers can tame an unruly utensil drawer.  Wire roll-outs or baskets can give you better access to items in the back of base cabinets or pantries.  Small lazy susans can make finding spices so much easier in crowded wall cabinets.  These things don’t have to break the bank, and many can be found at your local home improvement store.

With just a little time and effort, you can have your kitchen functioning like new!  Have any spring cleaning tips you’d like to share?  Leave a note in the comments below.


Baby, it’s cold outside!

It’s downright frigid today!  Living in the mountains, we get used to a certain degree of winter weather.  It’s not uncommon to dig out immediately after a snowstorm and return to business-as-usual.  That being said, though, we aren’t exactly accustomed to this kind of face-freezing, rip right through your winter coat cold.  I mean, this is still the South!

On a day like today, you take precautions to keep yourself safe and warm.  You probably left the house, (if you left home at all), with every inch of skin wrapped up against the sub-zero windchill.  You made sure the car warmed up before trying to drive it.  If you have pets, you made sure they were somewhere snug for the day.  But have you ever considered what weather like this can do to your home, particularly your cabinets?

We all know that freezing pipes can wreak havoc on a house, and most people take steps to prevent such an occurrence.  But wood products, such as flooring and cabinets, can also be extremely vulnerable to changes in weather.  In many cases, this won’t be a major issue.  Most homes are kept at a constant temperature, but quite a few homes in our area are seasonal or vacation properties.  This is where problems can arise, particularly in homes where the heat is left off for the winter.

Wood moves.  It’s as simple as that.  Whether or not you notice it, wood responds to environmental changes by swelling or shrinking.  Cold, dry air causes wood to contract, something that is especially noticeable on painted cabinet doors.  Door panels can shrink, sometimes enough to show raw wood around the edges.  The cold can also be harmful to the paint finish itself.  Warm, moist air causes wood to expand, with certain species growing more than others.  In this case, door panels can swell enough to create cracks at joint lines or cause adjacent cabinet doors to rub against each other.  In some extreme cases, high humidity can actually cause a cabinet door to come apart due to the wood swelling.

So, keep in mind, whether the forecast is for an arctic blast or a heat wave, your wood floors, trims, and cabinets need a consistently comfortable environment just as much as you do.  And, as for today, try to stay warm out there, High Country!