Planning for Your Dream Kitchen Remodel

Before you get caught up looking at designer websites and magazines, risking confusion by different design styles, colors and options, there are some practical and preliminary considerations that you should be focusing on when planning for your dream kitchen:

First: realistically evaluate how you and your family use your existing kitchen. What do you think needs to change? In particular, consider what does and does not work about your CURRENT kitchen.

1.  How does the layout work?

2.  How is the current storage capacity?

3.  How appropriate is the current space – can you comfortably accommodate your usual group of diners?

4.  Are you planning to add or increase activities in your kitchen area such as more entertaining, food preserving, pastry production, recycling, etc. that change how you will use your space?

5.  What is your realistic cooking style and frequency?

Next: realistically consider how you and your family PLAN to live in the remodeled kitchen.

1.  Will you use the space primarily for cooking and dining?

2.  Do you need a work or computer area? 

3.  Were you anticipating a family hang out space? 

4.  Homework space?

5.  Do you foresee needing multiple eating spaces (breakfast bar, nook, island)?

6.  Will your new kitchen open onto other rooms?

7.  Have a pass through or breakfast bar or half wall? 

8.  Do you want an open plan kitchen that opens on a family or great room?

9.  Do you prefer a traditional format eat in kitchen?

10. Do you have and use your formal dining room?

Evaluate your current kitchen floor plan and cabinet / appliance layout.

1.  Are you hoping to maintain your existing kitchen parameters or make structural changes?

2.  What rooms / space borders your kitchen that can offer additional kitchen space?

3.  Are your current appliances located optimally for convenience and function?

4.  Will you be buying new appliances?

5.  Are you planning to change from electric to gas stove or vice versa?

6.  What additional appliances or fixtures are you hoping to include?

7.  Does the current height of your cabinets make the best use of space?

8.  How’s the current flooring?  Can it be maintained? Refinished? Replace it?

Discover your style - focus search to ideas & rooms that realistically fit your established needs and wants.

1.  Buy at least one design magazine that you feel reflects your style – there are literally dozens of magazines out there that cater to all design styles from country to traditional to modern with sub design categories like French country, casual traditional, NY modern, Florida Coastal etc. 

2.  Peruse design sites such as Pinterest and Houzz (there are many!  Every magazine has a corresponding website of pictures).

3.  Cut out or save (in a hard copy or computer file) all pictures that “speak to you”.  Of course, you are thinking kitchen, but it certain colors, rooms or objects really appeal to you, include them.

4.  Take a good look at friend's and family’s kitchens- what do you like? Dislike? Ask them what they like or would’ve done differently.

5.  Once you have found several pictures of kitchens you like, make a list of what it is that appeals to you in each and attach it to the picture: 

  • Wall and accent colors
  • Cabinet colors / styles
  • Layout
  • Appliances
  • Counter tops / backsplashes
  • Cabinet hardware
  • Amenities
  • Accessories
  • Overall feel
  • Specific items pictured
  • Other things not listed

6.  Look at the lists you made and compare: what things that appealed to you keep coming up on your lists? These are the things that most appeal to you and inform your style. Focus your search when seeking fixtures, items and décor for your new kitchen on these things!

7.  Initially you may think that the pictures you chose are dissimilar but keep looking – there are likely simple things like colors or feel that are similar and can help begin to define your style and needs.  If the pictures are not similar, then you have not yet discovered our style.  Keep going until

8.  You do not want to start the process of designing or changing your existing kitchen without at least a fairly clear idea of where you want to go!

What does all this tell you - Defining your kitchen style and desires tells you a lot:

1.  If you found that most of the pics that appealed to you have the same or similar layout as your existing kitchen, you may want to concentrate on updating cabinetry, appliances and fixtures.

2.  If you find that your existing cabinetry still appeals to you or is really similar to what is in pictures you chose,  you may just need a décor change – wall and accent color, décor items, window treatments, etc. 

3.  If you keep being drawn primarily toward kitchen islands, you may be able to simply add one to your existing kitchen in a contracting style / color – you will need a minimum of three feet of walkway space all around your new island – do you have space? Even a small island 3 or 4 feet square or a long and at least 2 feet wide can add charm and much needed storage, prep or eating space to your kitchen.

4.  Perhaps you discovered that your style has changed dramatically!  There are still lots of things you can do to redesign your kitchen affordably.

5.  Changing kitchen size and layout is usually more expensive than maintaining existing layout and space.

6.  Refinishing, repainting or refacing your cabinetry is usually only a  good idea from financial and time standpoint if it is in good shape and was of good quality to begin with.

7.  It is a dicey proposition to “refinish or repaint” countertops, but it can be done.  However, go for this only if you desire a truly faux finish; it is very hard to get a real granite or marble look on a work surface.

8.  Sometimes changing the cabinet hardware and sink faucet makes an amazing difference!

9.  If you decide to alter your room or configuration, have your cabinets painted or refinished or refinish your floors, find at least three contractors that you trust and get written estimates (these should be free) that include detailed information about schedules, budgets, materials, and guarantees. It's important that the contractors are bidding on the same specs for the project so you can compare apples to apples. Trust personal references only if you can see the work done yourself.  Sites like Angie’s List are an excellent place to find realistic, unbiased references and opinions.

10.  Once you have chosen your contractors, get his / her input on your desires from the start – consider them a partner!

11.  When the time comes to buy cabinetry, take the time to educate yourself on how cabinets can be made, finished and installed.  There are several types of carpentry joinery that truly affect how well cabinetry holds up, looks and lasts that affect price. 

12.  Working with stock or semi-custom cabinet lines is tremendously more cost effective that going with full custom cabinet lines.  Whether a line is fully custom or not does not dictate quality.  Stock cabinets are simply made in a defined range of sizes, shapes and configurations.  A good, experienced kitchen designer can make stock cabinetry look custom!

13.  Shop several kitchen retailers both online and in person.  Consider what kitchen retailers offer over big box stores and see if that matters to you.

14.  A quality cabinet retailer can offer education and guidance from design installation, customization and maintenance.

15.  It is possible to buy mid-quality cabinets at a big box store, however, they offer only limited design assistance and will either sub-out your installation to a roster of people they recommend or expect you to find your own installer.

16.  A designer can help you prioritize your wish list and determine what's feasible for your budget. A designer is creative and can often come up money or space saving ideas and options you may not think of!

17.  Kitchen designers know how to place cabinets and appliances to maximize space and create an efficient floor plan. They are also aware of the latest innovations in efficiency, ergonomics, storage, and design.

18.  With nearly endless choices for kitchen products and materials, a designer can help you weed through the trends to find the cabinets, counters, floors, appliances, and accessories that best suit your lifestyle and budget.

19.  Perhaps most importantly, ensure a professional accurately measures for any new kitchen construction or cabinetry! DIYers can learn the hard way that being off by even a fraction of an inch on a cabinet order can be a pricey mistake.

Get started now by calling 845.216.4196, email us at

Using Color in an Open Floor Plan

Open floor plan living has been very popular for a decade and will probably continue to be so for the foreseeable future!  Open plan living presents a variety of advantages as well as challenges.  One of the challenges I am consulted about most often is choosing the color scheme for an open floor plan.

Choosing the right color scheme is a powerful tool for transforming an open, cavernous space into a sensational environment, and creating the feeling of cohesiveness in a disjointed space.

Let Architecture be your Guide

You don’t need to limit a contiguous space to one paint color. Even open spaces have angles and corners where you can naturally start and stop different colors, so be creative. Bold hues and patterns used judiciously will make your large room feel more comfortable.  Look for corners and transition areas at these points for a natural stop and start place to add or change wall color or treatments, such as wallpaper.

Choose One Wall

Pick a self-contained wall to paint and accent color; walls that sit between two corners or areas that change depth such as niches, are a natural place for adding accents – especially bolder colors.

Use a Monochromatic Scheme

No one wants a boring room, but too much color in a contiguous space can be confusing and stressful.  Using a monochromatic scheme is an ideal choice.  But don’t think that a monochromatic scheme means using only light neutrals.  Any color can work successfully in a monochromatic, contiguous space if you stick to some basic guidelines:

·         Pick a color that a has several shades you like

·         Use lighter shades on the largest areas and gradually darken shades to smaller, more contained areas (like niches or smaller accent walls). 

·         AS the purpose of the spaces transitions, so should the color.  You accomplish this by changing the value of the color (the amount of white or black in the color) from space to space. 

Use a Three-color Scheme

At the most basic, using one shade of a color on all the walls, one shade on all the trim and a third shade on the ceilings will pull a large open space together without limiting you.

Keep Accents All in the Family

In a large open area where the walls are neutral or white, color is essential to help ground the space and keep it from feeling too sterile. Add color with accessories.

Keeping your accents colors and accessories all in the same color family will create a feeling of cohesiveness.  Create a professional, sophisticated look by mixing accent tones (deeper or brighter shades) and lots of texture, but keep everything related by staying within the same color family!

Add Molding and Detail

Delineate your space with molding, chair rail, wainscoting, crown and other architectural details to add punch and emphasis.  Keep it coordinated by using the same paint color on all moldings and architectural details.  Bump up the emphasis by using glossier finishes for the molding and detail paint.

If your space has a bulkhead or soffit, treat this portion differently than the rest of the ceiling and walls, and continue this treatment throughout. Use paint or wallpaper, or be innovative. In this home, the designer used stained bamboo plywood on the bulkhead and wrapped it around the entire space like a ribbon.


Break Up Endless Walls

Separate a long wall with bookcases, shelving, or large format artwork.  If ceilings are especially tall, be sure to pick bookcase, shelving and artwork that is sufficiently proportioned to fill the space.  If bookcase or case goods are solid wood, cover the back with colorful paper or a coordinating paint color to add oomph!

Use Rugs to Define Space

Area rugs of all kinds ground a space and can add amazing texture even in neutral colors.  Patterned rugs can be very successful in a large, contiguous space.  Be sure not to overwhelm a space with too much pattern, however.  Consider the pattern size and colors of your accents and upholstery when choosing a rug and vice versa.

Use Furnishings to Define Space

 Resist the urge to stand furniture up against the walls!  An open plan room cries out for floating furniture.  Use furniture pieces to create “invisible” walls and boundaries that define spaces by purpose.  If you are using pale shades on the walls, consider deeper tones on the largest pieces of furniture.  Treat your furnishings like all other surfaces in the room when choosing shades and values of color. 

Home - Haven - Heaven!

Your home should be the ultimate place of restoration.  Creating a stress-free home is not about spending money or living with someone else’s idea of design.  A home that is a haven makes you feel good about yourself and comfortable in your space.  It is important to listen to your feelings and consider what soothes you - whether that is retreating to a sunroom for tea, keeping your kitchen counter clutter-free or surrounding yourself with favorite colors, textures or artwork.  Once you can identify what makes you feel good, surround yourself with it.

There are simple ways to boost good vibrations in yourself and your home in less time than you think.

Create a personal happy zone.

Where are you happiest?  It can be a reading nook, or a backyard retreat;  perhaps a really comfortable, well appointed bathroom is what makes you feel pampered.  Not everyone has a room or space of ones own, but it is possible to identify and personalize a space where you can go to unwind, think and relax.

Start the day off right.

Make your bed when you get up.  Take the few minutes to smooth the covers and plump the pillows before greeting the day.  If you consciously start your day with a sense of order, you have already accomplished something and can set the tone for the rest of the day.  If possible, wake up to natural light.  Natural light is gentler to wake up to than the jolting sound of an alarm clock.  Even if you must wake up to an alarm clock or before the day is fully light, you can wake up to a composed and tranquil bedroom.  Though you may use your bedroom for many things out of necessity, be sure to clear the clutter each night before bed.  It is an extra step that pays off with less stress and a a clean slate at the beginning of the next day.  Keep only those things close to your bed that please you.  Books, pictures, flowers…whatever makes you feel good, but in moderation.  Too much of even your favorite things can feel overwhelming and chaotic.

Declutter your home using emotion as your guide. 

Consider how each possession or item in a room makes you feel.  Don’t keep things around you that give off negative energy: gifts from people whom you no longer care for; photos and mementos from an unhappy time; books or magazines that no longer interest you.  Like ditching clothes that no longer fit your body or your lifestyle, and tossing expired medicines, purging ANYTHING from your environment that doesn’t bring you happiness is key.  If something you have around doesn’t make you feel good then it really should not stay in your “haven."  It seems counterintuitive, but living without a given chair, table, vase or lamp is BETTER for your peace of mind than living with any one of those items that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable. 

Decluttering can be a very generous gesture.

Ridding yourself of items that no longer fit you, your lifestyle or your state of mind does not necessarily mean adding to the worlds refuse problem.  Almost anything you no longer want can be happily used by someone else, so feel GOOD about decluttering!  Lots of people are just starting out or starting over and appreciate used furniture and household items.  Resale charities such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill resell items to fund positive community programs. Habitat for Humanity often takes lighting and household fixtures to use in projects or to resell at their non-profit stores.  Second hand and consignment shops also take items of all description for resale.  Just because your taste or regard for an item has changed does not diminish the items intrinsic value.  I have a friend who lived with a hated 1970’s hand-me-down chandelier for years until I took it off her grateful hands and refurbished it with a bit of elbow grease and paint.  Now it is a fabulous modernist statement piece!

Establish one habit at a time.

Start with one easy and satisfying change to get you started.  You might try the ritual of keeping a clean and shiny kitchen sink.  Not waking up to mystery water and dirty dishes gives you positive feelings and motivates you. Wiping down the bathroom sink and vanity, and putting everything away as soon as you are finished in the morning means you come back into a clean and orderly bathroom every night.  Or dedicate 15 minutes a day to straightening and decluttering one room.  I find that keeping baskets or covered hampers in rooms where clutter gathers is ideal for hiding, storing and carrying stuff away.  Such small changes to improve your environment become a domino effect.  When you are happy with the “feel” and mood of your home, the rest of the house will begin to fall into line.

Enjoy plants. 

You do not have to have to be a gardener to keep some nature around the house.  Green plants of every kind improve the air quality and the aura of a room.  Even the smallest living plant: a dish garden on a windowsill, a practically fool-proof snake plant , or my own personal favorite that even I haven’t killed: a cactus planted in a deep, clear glass vessel, does the trick. 

Display things that make you happy.

Sea shells?  Tea pots? Blue and white ceramics?  Books? Photos?  Kids drawings?  Anything that makes you happy is a good thing to display.  Grouping similar items together makes them seem important.  Framing postcards or kids drawings gives each image gravity.  Does a particular color make you happy?  A group of disparate items in the same or similar colors grouped together is a tremendous statement.

Use a timer to tackle tasks.

You will make a dent in your chore list and you will be surprised at what can be done in 15, 10 or even 5 minutes.  If you have a time limit, you are going to work as fast as you can because the timer keeps you focused.  The idea is not to crash and burn.  Don't try to work for too long or tackle a too-big project.  Small steps and steady progress will ensure your ongoing motivation and a healthy new habit.

Unplug electronics when they are not in use.

All the little lights on the many electronic devices we all use transform your home into a hub of wired stimulation. The heat and static electricity generated can have adverse effects as well.  And, many plugged in items also consume energy even when not in use. So, Do yourself a favor - unplug.

Surround yourself with calming colors.

Light blues and earthy greens are typically soothing, calming colors.  Some people long to be surrounded in soothing, rich creams.  Even if you prefer bright hues, if these are your "happy colors",  they will likely keep you feeling Zen.  Most importantly, be aware of how the colors surrounding you make you feel, and use that as your guide.  Painting a room is usually the least expensive and highest-return DIY project you can invest in.

Your home is your haven.  Makes sure it is an environment that helps you to feel comfortable, good about yourself and ready to take on whatever the world sends your way!