A Planned DIY Kitchen


The end of this year I would like to wrap up with a DIY lesson.

Recently my daughter and her husband did a remodel of their kitchen. Now they have done prior work so they are experienced at construction. As I watched them go through the process I thought of a couple of tips to help you with your own projects.

  • Create a floorplan, measure correctly and then remeasure
  • Get the professional cabinetmaker to remeasure and verify your choices; have them explain what type, quality and function of cabinets that you are getting. Who will do the install?
  • Do your homework! Study dimensions for the layout then research the proper products. Plumbing that can be installed according to your vision. Appliances that fit (always selected before ordering cabinets)
  • Decide on materials for countertop, backsplash and flooring. Bring home 2-3 selections and look at it in your space and light. Make decisions like what type corners and radius you want prior to cutting, otherwise the counter/granite installers will make them for you
  • Do learn and follow the proper order of how things are done and installed so that it goes smoothly
  • Hire professionals for the electrical and plumbing work
  • A good cabinet installer is worth his weight in gold! Don’t try it if you are unskilled
  • Do plan on being onsite for much of the work done by those you hire
  • When someone tells you that “you can’t do that” ask why, what other solutions there might be. It is your vision not theirs and they may not see the same resolution that you can, don’t assume there is only one way to do something
  • Do set up a work/kitchen area ahead of time so that your life is easier, keep it away from the dust, move it a couple of times if you are juggling a larger project
  • Try to get a schedule of times that subs will drop by, be available if there are questions/problems
  • Order as much ahead as you can and store it until install

Trust me- a professional can help you from making mistakes, even if it is just a couple of consults

PS: My daughter did all this and more and her project is as she envisioned and picture perfect. (This photo is not it) She had the usual bumps along the way that comes with construction but she was always available to problem solve and monitor progress. So while they hired much of the work to be done they planned it and managed the project well which is a big part of project success.

Good luck with your planning, if you need help feel free to call for a phone interview to see if I can help.



There are so many choices when remodeling and especially a place that centers around the family and cooking. Before you sign on the dotted line and hire a contractor consider some tips to avoid costly mistakes:

  1. DON’T OVERSPEND: What is your budget? Allow for some overage but you can really get carried away with the choices and it could cost more than you wanted because each item is looked at as just “one” entity and not the overall sum of costs.
  2. What is the value of your remodel in terms of resale, are you keeping in track with what the home will bring or are you so intent on “your style” that you are going to lose money?
  3. What is the architecture of the home? Are you trying to put a modern kitchen in a Tudor? How is that going to transition from the entry and room to room?
  4. Keep the floorplan modifications simple, the more you change walls and move plumbing and electrical the higher the costs
  5. What are the costs of the products that you are replacing? Are they top of the line or are you just as happy with the middle of the road? It is very possible to spend and get good quality on some products but save on others
  6. Do not do DIY’er activities if you have no skills! Leave it to the professionals. You can always do clean up and demo to save on costs
  7. Start with your appliances. Get good advice on their function from a qualified showroom. Make sure they fit the space before ordering cabinets and then DON’T make any changes
  8. Plumbing is important. Buy quality sinks and faucets, don’t scrimp as these are the work horses of the kitchen and will be there a long time. People always underestimate their costs
  9. Jewelry. Hardware- Knobs and Pulls help to define the space and style of the kitchen and express its architectural style. They don’t have to be expensive but they should look and feel like it, as they are the final touch of the “outfit” of the kitchen. Don’t forget to look around at the hinges and doorknobs, do they look dated now?
  10. Paint- it really pulls everything together and makes things look fresh and crisp. Choose a good color to accent the other features in the room
  11. Counter tops and Cabinets- educate yourself on their brand and purchase good quality as they are the bones of the kitchen. Check out how the doors and drawers work; learn what makes a good cabinet. Tops can be granite, quartz or laminate- if you blend it all together it will look well designed and feel cohesive no matter the cost
  12. THE BACKSPLASH. It is the main focal point of the room and attention to detail should be placed here. Spend some money on a full height backsplash and create a mood. It can be a spot behind the range as a focal point or an overall feeling

Lastly, it is worth it to hire a professional to help you design and manage your project and schedules to make sure they are no oversights and change orders. You will want this new space to function, be beautiful and last for a very long time.

KBIS, what’s New

KBIS, what’s New

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              In February I attended the Kitchen and Bath show combined with the International Builder Show and Window Fashions show in Las Vegas. They were combined for the first time making it a very large convention to attend. As I walked the floors I saw great new product designs for storage, cabinetry, plumbing and…….more. Here are just a few Highlights.

Before doing any purchasing it would be a good idea to do some research on the latest designs and solutions as they are not all in the stores as yet.

Wilsonart has added granite looking laminate such as Cosmos Granite and Florence Gold. Consentino introduces Dekton for surfaces, it provides superior strength. Try it in the kitchen. Cambria added new surfaces such as the Coastal Collection, implying salty sea air.

Many lighting companies had added new features in LED strips. Legrand has new switch options.

Cabinets can be fitted with Glideware for access to pots and pans. Rev a Shelf has added a Universal Pul-down shelf for medicines a great storage option, so new the photo isn’t out yet but there is a You Tube video to watch. Ronbow has several new vanity cabinets and medicine shelves that power up and also light with LED.

Plumbing has added even more to their line of touch free kitchen and bath faucets. There is a shower head that plays music, Kohler’s “Moxie.” Tubs not only have air and bubble jets for massage, also lighting for chromatherapy and heat. Plus they can have electronic keypads as a control. Toilets open upon entering the room, have lights and heat. Geberit has an alternative look to toilets for space saving and replaces the traditional tank. Also comes with creative flush pads, one lights up like a rainbow. Luxurious shower systems have been added by all manufacturers, such as Brizo Hydrati 2 in 1 detachable shower head with magnetic locking.

Oceania has added unique styles of shower-tub combinations. Plus more options in their beautiful sink line, either in vessel or undermount.

Elmwood, Hafele, and Richelieu had innovation storage solutions for sliding doors, cabinet storage and lift systems. Ask your cabinet dealer for information on how to add these features.

Grab bars are in many stylish designs and colors. Invisia has discreet bars and shelves for the bathroom. There are also new series of walk-in tubs.

Wellness mats has a new series of anti fatigue mats allowing you to create your own shapes and size.

There are so many resources to list, these are just a few. Have fun searching!

Refreshing Your Home


                                    REFRESHING YOUR HOME FOR 2014


Here we are on the eve of a New Year and I thought it would be good to list the top 5 things I would do and that you can do to “Refresh” your home and make it sparkle or if you are thinking of selling these tips will help too. Most of these tasks are for a DIY’er especially if you are handy with tools, if not try painting and cleaning. Here are the 5 areas to focus on.

  1. Kitchen: If you have a laminate counter use a degreaser to clean the surface, if its granite clean and reseal. Shine the sink with a cleaner approved for the type of surface you have. If it’s not an undermount and it is past its prime consider installing a new sink in the same size so no other changes need to be made. The faucet can be replaced and a nice new higher arched style in chrome will brighten the counter, such as this Kohler-Cruette faucet. Stainless appliances can be polished to remove dull spots. Many appliance stores, such as Albert Lee, carry good products for cleaning. Painting can be done to freshen the walls and hide any grease and grime accumulated.  Product
  2. Bathrooms: Install a new modern light over the vanity and get rid of the outdated light bar. It might require some patching and painting but it is worth the effort. Change the faucet and keep the sink unless you really need a new countertop then an undermount sink can be added. If the room is small and the floor faded and worn it is fairly easy to install a new vinyl floor and is inexpensive, you do have to pull the toilet for this. You can also update the toilet by adding a new seat, some are self closing now. Again painting the walls makes a huge difference.
  3. Storage: Look at all those places in your home that are cluttered and see if there is a simple solution to organize the items. In the closet there are multiple types of closet storage systems. You can purchase through a hardware store or have it installed through a closet company, such as Organized Spaces. There are many metal shelf systems that you can use in the garage, available from Costco, Sam’s or a hardware store. We purchased some tall white cabinets with doors to hide the items from McClendon’s. Check under the stairs too and see what works best for storage there. Clean closets and toy areas to organize your favorite possessions. 
  4. Lighting: Good lighting makes a space really come alive so if you need to add can lighting to a bedroom or family room it can brighten the space. This might require a licensed electrician though. You can change out your lamps, get taller lamps, about 28-33”, and use white shades to allow the light to fan out, these are better for reading by beds and end tables. Also start learning about the types of bulbs available, new law requires the 40 and 60 watt bulbs to stop being produced this year. Now CFL’s, LED’s and Halogen will replace them.
  5. Spruce Up from the Outside in: When weather permits it is time to paint the front door and make it sparkle by adding new door hardware and a kick plate. Clean the entry porch and add colorful pots for future flowers. Add a new doormat. Make your home inviting at the entry. This is especially important if you plan on selling your home.*Just wanted to add that painting is listed more than once as it is the easiest, least expensive thing you can do to change or refresh a room.I hope these suggestions get your mind thinking about what you want to accomplish to “refresh” your home at the start of this year. Keep it simple, plan on one space at a time and don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed.                      You can do it! As always if you need help just give me a call.

Countertop options for your kitchen remodel

Many times when home owners are trying to decide on their choices for a kitchen remodel the countertop comes into play and people ask “what should I use” “what is the difference.” Here is a short description for some of the popular choices. First ask yourself “what is the look I want”, then “what is the durability and care for the material”, finally “what is my budget.” Do some research and enjoy the process.

Granite: This natural quarried stone is composed of quartz, mica, feldspar and other minerals. It is composed of a wide range of colors and veining patterns and will work with any kitchen cabinet, just make sure the cabinet will support its weight. It is a popular elegant and durable surface that conveys a sense of beauty and warmth. It can be polished, honed or textured. It is less prone to stain and scratching than marble but you do have to seal it every year or two as it is porous. Each slab is unique and chosen for its character. They are generally priced in an A-B-C-D category so ask the granite yard how the slabs are priced for your budget, and then allow for install. Granite comes in a slab or in tiles. Choose a qualified company to fabricate and install your counter top. Seams may be visible. Clean up is with mild soap and water. There are different edge profiles to choose from.

Solid surface: The first company to introduce solid surfacing was DuPont in 1967. Solid surfacing materials are matte or glossy and come in solid or granular stone like patterns.  They are made from solid acrylic or plastic material. They are stain resistant because they are non-porous and since the color runs through them are repairable. But do not sit hot a pan on them. Clean up is with a damp cloth and soap and water. You can remove some scratches with a scotch bright pad or sandpaper (get instructions from the manufacturer) or if they are deep have a fabricator repair them. You must have a certified fabricator install this product. The seam is imperceptible when done properly. Some of the manufacturers are Corian, Avonite, Swanstone, LG HI-MACS, Wilsonart and Formica.

Quartz Composite: Quartz is a mineral that is crushed and forms clusters rather than large pieces of stone.  Quartz composite is comprised of 93% quartz, 7% resin/polymers, pigments and binders. It is a man made product so it is also called engineered stone. This product is popular as it looks like granite but is consistent in color and pattern. It is a hard, durable surface. It is non-porous, stain resistant, and does not have to be sealed, it is easy to maintain with soap and water.  Do not place hot a pan on them. Seams will show somewhat like granite. Install should be by a certified installer. Some manufacturers are Zodiaq, Silestone, Cambria, CaesarStone, & Technistone.

Tile: A beautiful natural material tile offers flexibility and is a favorite surface. Tile is composed of clays, shales, porcelain or baked earth. It is pressed or extruded into shapes, fired or baked in an oven and cured. It comes in a variety of sizes. You must check the usage recommendations for wall, counter top or floor use. Then check for availability of trim, does it have bullnose and V-cap edge pieces. Next think about grout application. Sanded grout usually is wider than non-sanded, epoxy can prevent staining. Make sure it is installed by the specified method. There are many decorative (deco’s) which you can use as a backsplash.

Laminates: One of the most frequently used countertop surfaces is plastic laminate. Decorative laminates are plastic laminate bonded with melamine, paper and plastic resin fused under heat and pressure. The finished laminate is then bonded to plywood or particleboard. It can be contoured. It resists water, stains, some abrasion but can chip and cannot be repaired. There are many choices in colors, patterns, textures that resemble stone, wood, metal, & leather. Some manufacturers are Formica, Wilsonart, Nevamar, & Pionite.

Other surfaces are:

  • Stainless Steel– is hard, heatproof, non-staining, non-corosive and looks good with stainless appliances but is does smudge, show water spots and dent and scratch.
  • Butcher Block– This counter top is made from laminated wood products. Type of wood and finish can be specified. It can be factory finished or unfinished and treated with a wood sealer. It can be an entire countertop or placed as an insert into another counter material.
  • Concrete– Molded and seamless, it can be dyed any color, upkeep is minimal but is must be sealed. Check the weight to see if cabinets or overhangs need reinforcing.
  • Soapstone– It has a matte smooth, finish. Is resistant to chemicals, is non-porous so does not need sealing, but you treat it monthly with mineral oil. Slab sizes are slightly smaller.