Monday, December 15, 2014


The kitchen is the gathering place of the home.  It's used for everything from after-school snacks to special occasion dinners, and you want that space to be both efficient and beautiful.  Over time, the look and set-up of your kitchen may no longer work for you or your lifestyle, but a complete kitchen overhaul may not be in your budget.  From simple touches to more extensive renovations, updating your kitchen does not have to be expensive.  No matter what your financial situation is, there are options to freshen and revamp the look of your existing kitchen without breaking the bank.  If you're unsure of the best way to spend your money, whether the amount is large or small, you might find that consulting a designer is money well spent.  A designer will normally work on an hourly rate for a one- to two-hour consultation and can prioritize your project, select a color scheme and help you focus your project.
When making your renovation decisions, it's important to consider your daily routine, the size of your family and what you typically use your kitchen for (family meals, entertaining, etc.)  Ed Cholfin, President of AK Home Renovations in Atlanta, uses an in-depth Kitchen Planning Questionnaire to design a kitchen best-suited for each individual homeowner.
When you remodel a room, you should focus on the most important aspect of that room, i.e., where you want to devote the bulk of your investment.  If you simply must have stone floors, cherry cabinets or high-end appliances, you will need to pair these with some less expensive items in your kitchen in order to stay within your budget.  This is where the help of a professional designer comes in, pairing high-end items with more affordable items is very doable, but can give a miss-matched look if done improperly.
A few easy and inexpensive options you can tackle yourself include replacing the cabinet hardware, adding decorative lighting or a new light fixture such as a chandelier or track lighting, or adding a fresh coat of paint.  These changes don't require much time or money and can brighten up your space.
Other projects will require the help of a professional, but depending on your skill level, you may be able to get the project started and save on labor costs.  To do so, you should expect to devote a significant amount of your own time.  Typically, homeowners can handle the demolition or tear-out phase at the beginning of a project or the painting at the end of a project.  A designer can also help you save money by scaling back on the complexity of a project and evaluating other options that are less involved or detailed, such as refacing cabinets instead of purchasing new.
A high-end look is always the desired result; however, high-end materials can be pricey and require a lot of upkeep, such as marble countertops or hand-painted ceramic tiles.  Investigating less expensive alternatives will give you the look you want while allowing you to invest your budget in other items.  Granite is a beautiful nature alternative to marble and is quite affordable with many price points based on the thickness, rarity and location of the mined stone.  Alternative to these natural solid materials are man-made composite solid surface material choices such as Corian, Caesarstone or Silestone.  These can be more expensive than granite but often fall into the same price point depending on color selection.  Lesser-priced options are laminates, which can be inexpensive or just as expensive as granite depending on style and color, so be mindful when making selections.
For an alternative to hand-painted tiles, look for screen-printed ceramic tiles, which are very affordable and very good looking.  HudsonTiles offers many of these types of tiles.  Each tile is made with enough variation from the next that you get the look of a hand-painted tile or a nature stone. In today's market, there is a wonderful array of beautiful tiles in a variety of colors, patterns and finishes at very affordable pricing.  Other alternatives to ceramics are porcelain, glass, metals and glazed tiles.  Inexpensive tiles can create a high-end look - especially when using multiple sizes, bullnose or rounded-edge tiles, and laying them out in elegant patterns.  You can also use the same size tile and alter the install pattern to add dimension to your floor or backsplash.
The bulk of your budget will probably be spent replacing appliances.  If your home has old, outdated appliances, it might be a good idea to replace them, even if they're currently working.  Old appliances are inefficient, not to mention unattractive, and adding ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances will save money over time.  Dacor's newest line of appliances, the Distinctive™ Series, which includes a 30" Single Wall Oven, 30" Double Wall Oven, 30" Dual-Fuel Range and 36" and 30" Gas Rangetops, provide affordable luxury and offer the high-end gourmet kitchen look without the expense.  Cholfin even recommends upgrading your water heater while you're remodeling, since it will impact energy usage not only for your kitchen, but also for the entire home.  The kitchen alone is responsible for nearly half of a home's energy consumption - so taking on an extra cost now will be more than worth it in the long run.