Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kitchens on a Budget???

OK, so I was tasked recently with a story for The Commercial Appeal on kitchen design, and in these days of economic hardship, people don't want to read about jillion-dollar fancy cabinets, higher than high-end natural stone countertops, etc., etc. So the story subject was "5 Things You Can Do to Update Your Kitchen Without Breaking the Bank."

Not an easy topic, for sure. Even INexpensive kitchen renovations are expensive, and the best way to update your kitchen on a budget is to PLAN properly. If you have an outdated kitchen (like mine), the worst thing you can do is take a piecemeal approach. The article digs into this by way of my fantastic, expert sources (thanks Karen Kassen, Mike Donovan, Leah Fors) who pointed out things the rest of us aren't likely to think of. A few bits of their insight:

  • Cabinet refacing seems like a great idea on the surface because it's cheaper than replacing. BUT it's still expensive, and if you aren't 100% happy with the configuration and storage space of your current cabinets, you will spend a lot of money to STILL not be 100% happy.

  • Newer appliances don't necessarily fit into spaces left by older cabinetry, and retrofitting can be expensive and a real pain.

  • Seemingly small, innocent projects like replacing flooring can be troublesome later on if you "tile in" your old appliances or cabinetry - you'll just have to rip that new floor right out to make way for the other new stuff. Same goes with replacing countertops. If you later decide to replace cabinetry, sink or appliances, you'll be ripping those new counterops back out. Basically, starting a kitchen renovation is like opening Pandora's Box. Better to go into it with a plan and save up to do everything at once.

  • Working with a professional can save you money, not necessarily cost you more. When you hire a pro, check her credentials. Look for certifications (i.e., NKBA) and ask to see references or a portfolio. And remember: It's easy to screw up a kitchen renovation on your own. Seriously.

And on the topic of refinishing. I didn't delve into this in the story because opinions are so widely diverse. Some people say you should never refinish or paint an existing set of cabinets. Others say as long as you take the right approach (which generally means hiring a pro), you can get a good look. Personally, I think it depends on your house and your needs whether refinishing will work for you. Again, refinishing isn't a good option if you're not happy with the layout or storage space of your cabinetry. And DIY refinishing isn't a good option unless you're willing to put in the research, time and effort to do it right. It's a LONG, COMPLICATED process to do it right, meaning to get a professional-quality finish that looks good and wears well. If you don't know what you're doing - trust me - it will show. Don't mean to be rude, but it's true.

OK, 'nuff said. Here's a link to the full story: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/nov/13/kitchen-do-over/

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