This space saving, classic kitchen, that we completed 2 years ago, is loaded with traditional charm. It has recently captured the attention of Houzz viewers making it the 6th most popular kitchen on Houzz in 2019. This kitchen has now been published four times, twice as a featured project on Houzz, and it has also been featured on Bob Vila.com as part of a recent article, and again yesterday as a featured article. Since this kitchen seems to be a viewer favorite right now, so I thought I might take you behind the scenes a bit to tell you a little more about this project and the design of this kitchen.
This kitchen lives in a beautiful classic 1800’s home. The current owners, my clients, were not in love with the 1980s remodel that was done by the previous owners of this home as it stripped the kitchen of any of its traditional architecture. It really didn’t blend well with the rest of this beautiful home. So after working with them on numerous other projects throughout the home, these long-time clients turned to me to design and build their new kitchen space.
I created a design plan creating a beautiful large kitchen, expanding the space into the adjacent rooms and opening up to the backyard. My clients loved this design plan, but other projects took precedence, so after a few additional years, my clients were now ready to proceed with the kitchen project. Their overall goals for the property did change since we first looked at this project, and my clients decided that they did not want to enlarge or expand the small kitchen by opening it up to the adjacent rooms, as this would mean losing an adjacent study and bathroom. So, I went back to the drawing board to create a kitchen in the existing kitchen space that fulfilled their new goals and created a beautiful functional space within the existing kitchen area.
This kitchen design consisted of additional storage and cabinetry, additional countertop space, and a small space to sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning. We added new cabinetry, which now extends to the ceiling removing the old soffits. We worked around 3 existing doorways which were to remain in place, old radiator piping which remained, and we replaced the 2 existing windows with larger windows which were more proportioned to the space and took full advantage of the natural light. Careful planning allowed for additional cabinetry adjacent to the peninsula, which added more storage. A metal pegboard in cobalt blue created a small pot rack on the side of the refrigerator panel, creating more storage.
This new design, like my former design, honored this home’s traditional architecture but added light, and a fresh feel to the space using updated colors and material selections. A custom mix of glass tile created the backsplash, white quartz with the look of classic marble, created a classic but user-friendly countertop. A white porcelain farmer’s sink is a focal point in this kitchen, custom window treatments, maple flooring, and gleaming hardware added to the milky white cabinetry allowed this kitchen to now blend with the classic architecture in the rest of the home. New stainless steel appliances were also added, and really update the way this kitchen looks and functions.
The adjacent pantry area was also renovated, just off the main kitchen, we removed old dark pine cabinetry, added a doorway to the adjacent dining room which created a better traffic flow through the home. We designed and installed beautiful custom navy blue cabinetry with lots of storage and counter top space, which the owner uses for entertaining.
My clients are now loving this newly renovated kitchen space. This new kitchen contains many of the elements of a much larger kitchen and melds beautifully with the rest of the house which we have also designed renovated over the last few years. Finally, my client’s get to enjoy their new kitchen space as much as they enjoy the rest of this beautiful home.
You’ve spent the last few months searching for a new home. You’ve re-calibrated your wish list several times before finally deciding that in order to get into the neighborhood that you like and stay within your budget, you had better consider a fixer-upper. It looks easy enough, so how hard could it be? Besides, it looks like fun. You know that you would like to add or change some of the features in your new home, so how hard could it be? Well, if you are a first-time homeowner or a first-time renovator, stay tuned, this article is for you!
Fixing up an old or run down home has been a way of life for me and my family for as long as I could remember because I grew up with my parents being fixer-upper renovators. As a child coming home from school and walking through the front door, I was sure of one thing, somewhere in my path, there would be wet paint or freshly poured cement with piles of stone ready for stacking, electrical wires hanging from the ceiling, and of course, the furniture would always be in a different place. The perfect environment for this designer in the making.
Years later, I took it to a whole different level. As my children grew up amidst a full-scale major renovation in what was their childhood home, a 200-year-old historical beauty, and a thriving Interior Design and Renovation business operating at full force by their mother, whose first office was in that home. Now that they are adults, I wonder if this must somehow be in the genes as I see my 3-year-old grandson building “staging” as he climbs carefully with his hammer in hand and my 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter standing in her pink tool belt, smiling as I teach her how to retract her tape measure as they help with the next family project. Future renovators in the making, for sure. Needless to say, after 20 years of renovating clients houses and many more years of living in numerous fixer-upper projects, I do have some advice for anyone who has found themselves head over heels for their vision of what this is going to be like.
1 – Be patient and Listen to the house
I know you want to get into the exciting stuff right away. The kitchen, the bathrooms, taking down walls. But allow yourself a little time to access the property close up. Take your time, go through the details of the house slowly. Allow the house to show you what needs your attention first. Believe me, it will! Sometimes new renovators go right at it tearing into everything on their wish list, only to find, a few days or weeks into the project, that house had other more pressing issues that really should be addressed first. Usually, these are the less exciting projects, like the roof, the furnace, electrical, or plumbing issues. And my personal favorite from past experience in 2 of my own homes, water well or main water line issues. Many issues can be brewing that you are unaware of even when you’ve had a thorough home inspection. So be prepared with your budget to address some of these issues, should they come up sooner than anticipated in your renovation project.
2 – Really access your goals for the house.
Are you hoping to be living in the home for a while? Or are you going to be fixing it up and selling in a few years? Both of these scenarios should be approached very differently with regards to how to approach your plan, renovation, and budget. Be clear on your goals before you start. This will keep you from over-investing in design elements that only you think are great and might hinder the sale of your home if that is your intention. If you are here to stay, then you can create a plan of action based on your goal for you and your family.
3 – Have a detailed plan.
After accessing the house thoroughly addressing any immediate issues, now it’s time to develop a detailed plan. This is a great time to involve a design professional who knows the ins and outs of transforming your home with a renovation. An experienced designer will be able to review your plan and assist with creating a phased plan of action. This is important because you don’t want to find out later when you finally get to do your bathroom renovation, that the adjacent rooms, which you renovated first, will now be affected in order to run plumbing and electrical for your new bathroom project. You certainly don’t want to spend time and money backtracking because you didn’t do things in a logical order.
4 – Life during a renovation.
If you have the opportunity to do some or all of the work on your fixer-upper before you move in, then great. Plan those projects strategically. It’s much easier to address any floor work before you have a house full of furniture unless this doesn’t make sense for your timeline or project goals. If you are going to be living in your home and fixing it up as you go, really think about ways that you can make our life easier by progressing through the house and thinking out the logistics. This is something that I review with every client before a renovation. Even in the best of circumstances, your projects will cause some stress and logistical issues when your lifestyle is disrupted with a renovation.
5 – Don’t try to be your own contractor
Don’t try to be your own contractor unless you have the additional time and money needed to correct expensive errors that you might make by learning as you go. Pick and choose the projects that you know you can compete and that are within your skill set, if you want the hands-on experience. Remember that a poorly done renovation can cost just as much money as a professional renovation, usually takes much more time, and can actually decrease the value of your home if it doesn’t look great in the end. Hiring the pros will ensure you get the desired results without all the stress, guesswork, and endless hours trying to figure it all out.
Everyone loves to watch design projects on television, especially the dramatic home renovation transformations. As a designer and renovator who has been in the business for 20 plus years, I’ve observed these shows from their early inception, to what exists today. Design shows have done a great job demystifying the actual role of an interior designer, revealing the true value of using an Interior designer’s services. An industry that once was confusing and mysterious to the client is now a little more understood. However it’s impossible for a television show, created solely for the entertainment of viewers, to fully explain and reveal the actual design and construction process in its entirety. So viewers don’t really get to see the full scope of how things work. Some viewers understand this limitation, but I want to point out a few misconceptions for viewers that might be considering a renovation and have never renovated before. Here are some of the myths that will easily be shattered when doing a project in reality.
On television shows, homeowners are kicked out of their home during renovations, returning well rested to a completed project, and surprise, your home is also fully furnished.
We sometimes have clients that choose to travel while their project is underway, knowing that a full service company like mine can manage everything from start to finish. But most of the time, unless you plan for, and can afford a hotel for 4-6 weeks, depending on the scope of your project, you will be living in your home during most of the renovations and you should plan accordingly. If a kitchen or bathroom is being renovated, make some plans as these rooms will be unavailable during construction. We usually assist our clients in making any plans for a temporary kitchen set up before we begin a kitchen renovation. We will also recommend a progression process that might lessen the inconvenience. Having a realistic idea of how the project will proceed and how you and your family will adjust during construction will definitely help you deal with any inconveniences. Also, we do have those exciting reveals when a client hires us to completely furnish the home as well as renovate it, but on the larger projects, the client is seeing the project as it progresses, so we actually have numerous exciting days instead of one. When we are just furnishing a home, and not renovating, then you can leave for one day and come home to a big reveal.
Spend entire budget in the beginning.
Have a contingency plan beyond your quoted projected cost. On television you see an unexpected problem come up and then the homeowners are asked what they want to eliminate from the original project, the reality is that materials have already been ordered, things have already been started or purchased, so plans that change drastically from the original plan, once construction begins certainly can happen, but often come with a significant cost. Avoid big design changes once construction starts. This is why having a thorough, well planned design is so important, it is easier and much less expensive to make changes on paper before construction begins. You should have a contingency budget to cover unexpected expenses, like unknown issues that might lie within your existing home and additional small projects that you would like to add to your scope of work during construction.
2 minutes after the project is discussed, your project is instantly rendered with flying objects and furnishings, then immediately we are handing sledge hammers to clients and kicking through walls.
A thorough assessment of existing conditions is done, deep design discussions with clients are scheduled, and a thorough design plan which may include drawings or renderings is prepared. All material selections are carefully and thoughtfully prepared by the designer and reviewed with the homeowner. Once quotes and revisions are approved, all materials are ordered, permits are filed, and your project is scheduled. Demolition is done carefully and methodically to insure the safety of you and your home, and for the ease of debris removal, so don’t be surprised if your contractor doesn’t hand you the sledge hammer, and spends more time unscrewing and carefully removing things than he does smashing things. But, for the record, demo day is still extremely exciting as it’s the beginning of your home’s transformation!
Contractors can start your project immediately.
A successful renovation involves proper planning, which includes contacting reputable tradesmen months before your project starts. This also includes discussing the project in detail, providing them with the proper information and specifications needed, then scheduling work well in advance of when you will need them. If you are managing a project yourself and do not plan properly, don’t be surprised when you cannot get a reputable plumber or electrician to drop everything and tend to your project. Managing a construction project involves a lot of moving pieces, and a thorough knowledge of construction protocols, this is best left to the pros as it is costly to learn by making mistakes on your home. This can also extend the amount of time your project take to complete.
You can make material selection as you move through your renovation, with everything being chosen with just a quick shopping trip.
Sourcing the best materials for your project takes time and involves thorough planning. Material selections with my clients involves several appointments to view samples from vendors, some design discussion and possibly a few trips to look at products. Numerous products have long lead times so choosing items in the middle of your project will limit you to items that you can source and obtain quickly. Some products look similar but vary greatly in quality, so you must know where to compromise and what you are compromising while making these decisions.
Budget talks are short and sweet.
It might take a homeowner some time to decide what their budget is for the project, and their scope of work might have to change based on their budget..Construction projects are costly in real life, and there are no sponsors and special pricing from vendors in reality. We take time with our clients talking about a realistic budget for the project that we are discussing, and we prepare a thorough quote for our clients based on exactly what we are building. This process takes a little time but it allows a client to understand project costs from the beginning. This will help them decide on a scope of work that best fits their budget. These careful decisions will ensure that you are making a great investment in your home.
Researching the cost of materials will give me an idea of what my project will cost.
Designers, architects, structural engineers, electricians, plumbers and contractors all charge fees for their services and must be accounted for in the project budget, along will permit fees and any necessary construction documents. These fees are not often discussed on television and often give a homeowner a distorted view of what project costs really involve.
The priority of this renovation is empowering homeowners, creating sponsor sales and good tv. Viewers forget that professionals are actually doing these projects and that they are not seeing all the steps.
Our priority is always our clients. Time is taken to ensure that our spaces are well designed for the clients and their family. Care is taken to explain the process and construction details with the client. Designers must make decisions based on the best interest of their clients wants, needs, and budget. We want our clients to be happy with the process, happy with results, and happy to refer our company to their friends. I am happy when I am invited back into a client’s home later and I can see the finished design really functioning well for the client, and quality workmanship standing the test of time.
The reality is that seeing a transformation of a space in real life is actually much better than what you can capture on camera, in reality you can see the fine details of construction and product quality, and really feel the transformation, as you walk through a completed space. Seeing the excitement of the homeowner as they settle in to their new space, hearing how the renovation has exceeded their expectations of what could be possible for the home when we first met. Helping clients through this process is a joy, helping them avoid and anticipate common and costly problems and pitfalls, and creating huge renovation transformations is what we do best. If you have never experienced a renovation before, a well planned renovation really can be extremely exciting and gratifying. Just not exactly how it is perceived from watching a very well edited and simplified version on tv.
Have you ever found yourself longing after the newly built, fully renovated home on HGTV?
Do you dream of a home that checks all the boxes, including all of your wants and needs?
What does this home look like?
What feeling comes over you as you picture yourself walking in the front door?
Maybe you are imagining a luxurious master bathroom, an organized and functional closet space, perhaps a state of the art kitchen?
Your dreams may not be as far away as you think.
If you love your current neighborhood or location, but you are frustrated with the limitations of your space, renovating might be a great option for you!
Before you write off your current space, thinking that there could be no way to create the elements that you love in your current home, explore the possibilities.
Let’s break it down:
1- First, make a list.
Do some journaling or simply pull out your phone voice recorder and start talking.
Get out all your thoughts about what you would want to include in your new space.
Think about a realistic budget, how much can you invest in a renovation project? What if you waited 6 months or a year?
2- Don’t limit yourself to only what YOU can imagine.
This is a great time to involve a design professional. A simple meeting with a design professional can open your eyes to new possibilities within your current space.
Can a seldom used bedroom be transformed into a master bathroom? Can a master closet be created with a few changes to existing spaces adjacent to your current closet? Open your mind up to new possibilities when meeting
with your design professional, go over all of your list items and discuss what you would like to include in your home.
Perhaps hire your design professional to create a conceptual design showing in detail, the proposed finished space, so you can really visualize the ideas and estimate costs.
3- Turn this plan into action
Consider the possibilities. Now that you have professional advice, a clear idea as to what could be done with a clear design plan, and an idea of the costs of renovating, it’s time to think about turning your dreams into reality.
What dream home elements would you love to include if you renovated your home?
We created this luxury master bathroom from a seldom used study.
This on-site consultation is the first step in the design process and this is where we start every project.
This appointment takes about an hour or so and has a high value to the planning of any design and renovation project.
First, I walk through the space with the client, then I will discuss the client’s concerns about the space, listen to their thoughts, ideas, and goals, addressing any problem areas that the client wants to discuss. During this appointment we answer specific design questions, make general suggestions, and offer ideas as to the best way a client can reach their goals. A consultation also allows the client to get a general frame of reference for the cost of the projects that they are thinking about so they can prioritize their needs and determine the best use of their funds and the overall project scope.
For the client that wants our full service design and build/implementation, we will discuss design fees and review the next step in the process, which would be creating a conceptual design.
For the homeowner who wants to do the project themselves (DIY), this consultation with a professional can be very valuable, providing information that will help steer them in the right direction and help them to avoid common pitfalls.
During our consultation, you will walk away with ideas and insights that took me 20 years of experience to develop. From the moment this designer enters your home, I look for ways to help my client avoid many of the common and costly mistakes that homeowners make when undertaking an Interior Design or Renovation project.
I cannot wait to transform your home!
1. Is your kitchen short on cabinet space? Do you find yourself storing pots, pans, small appliances, serving platters in other rooms because there is not enough cabinet space in the kitchen. Are your cabinets showing the wear and tear of many years of hard use? New cabinets can be designed to address your actual storage needs. A well designed cabinetry layout can solve these storage needs sometimes without expanding the actual kitchen footprint.
2. Is your kitchen functional? Sometimes a kitchen has adequate space but the design and layout are so poor, that it still does not function well and you are frustrated every time you work in your kitchen. Some kitchen layouts could actually be dangerous when small children are in the space, examples: low mounted microwave. A well planned functional design and layout could solve numerous problems with regards to how your kitchen functions.
3. Are you short on countertop space? Do you find yourself balancing and shuffling things around just to have enough space to prepare a meal, bake or entertain? Is it a nightmare to clean your current countertop? Do you have space to work on projects in your kitchen or are you forced to juggle items to get the space that you need? I remember many years ago designing a kitchen in my own former home. I went from just a few feet of countertop to an enormous amount of countertop space. The first few times I cooked in this new space, I found myself cooking and balancing everything within a 2 foot radius, then I realized how much my former kitchen with it’s lack of space was really impacting the way I did things. I quickly adjusted to the new feeling of freedom that I had with more countertop space, and it felt heavenly!
4. Are your appliances outdated? Chances are old appliances are also running up your electric bill. Sometimes updating built in appliances require changes to your cabinetry, so it’s best to look at the plans for the rest of the kitchen before updating and decide what is best for you, your kitchen, your budget, as a whole.
5. Does your kitchen suit your lifestyle? A small, poor functioning space doesn’t lend itself to entertaining. You might try to entertain but find yourself cut off from guests because of your kitchen layout. Are you unable to cook because everyone is jammed into your kitchen? Or perhaps you would love to have a more open space where you could prepare a meal while watching the kids in the living room or have some space at the kitchen counter to oversee kids doing their homework while you prepare dinner. The kitchen is surely the central hub of the home, and a well designed space could ensure that your kitchen is functioning for your lifestyle.
6. Do you like to be in your kitchen? Does it reflect your tastes? Or does your dark dreary kitchen drive you out of the room as quickly as possible. The kitchen should be the heart of the home. It should look and feel good and well as function well. Materials used should combine together to create a cohesive balanced look. All the the materials in your kitchen, flooring, countertop, backsplash should be durable and easy to maintain.
7. Is your current outdated kitchen de-valuing your home? So often clients come to me ready to finally renovate their kitchen because they are getting ready to sell their home, this is usually after years of thinking about a kitchen renovation. They are now ready to sell and finding that their old kitchen is bringing down the value of their home. Most clients wish that they had done a renovation sooner so they had the opportunity to enjoy the renovated space while they were living in the home.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of designing and renovating kitchens for countless clients. Many times I am invited back to to the home a few months, or even years later, usually for a new project. This presents an opportunity for me to actually get to see how my client and their family is functioning in their redesigned kitchen. I observe how the space is being used now in comparison to what I observed on my first initial visit, remembering how disconnected the kitchen was from the family’s needs. It is always amazing to see how a well designed space can improve the function and lifestyle of my clients.
One of my recent projects.