You say Tomahto, I say Tomayto

Everyone has their own perspective… we see it daily in our showroom. What appears to be a “WOW” factor to one person is standard to another. In my previous posting “Clueless on Cost”, I discussed how different products in the same layout can radically affect the cost. There is nice… and then there is really nice. In some of our serious six figure kitchens what distinguishes an upscale remodel boils down to two factors: project scale and luxury products.

Project Scale

Big doesn’t always mean more expensive, but when projects involve comprehensive designs for Main and Secondary Kitchens or Kitchens with specialized pantries and wet bars, the investment is higher. High/Vaulted ceilings might benefit from cabinetry details (friezes, mouldings, glass fronts, paneling, strategic lighting, etc) to complement the grand scale of a room. Custom made focal points, finishes and designer hardware complete projects beautifully but come at a significant cost.

Luxury Products

Think automobiles. They all serve the same general purpose of getting you from point A to point B. But let’s be honest, some manufacturers’ names roll off the tongue a little sweeter than others. Enjoying the premium feel of grained leather and wood accents or heated steering wheels and seats, are all options for the person willing to make that investment. Appliances are no different. Luxury appliances are a big selling point for performance, for look, and for prestige. Scan through the real estate market listings and when a realtor wants to brag about a property, you’ll find, “State of the art kitchen!” usually means Sub-Zero, Wolf, Viking, Northland, La Cornue, AGA, Bosch…multiple dishwashers, specialty ovens, warming drawers, wine coolers, undercounter fridges, beverage centers- just to name a few. Countertops of exotic natural stones, expensive fixtures, designer lighting and flooring materials tick the meter to Upscale.

Have a project in mind requiring that type of investment? AKB can show you how it’s done.

 

Clueless on Cost

You’ve dreamed of the perfect kitchen for you and your family to enjoy, saving photos and articles on ideas to consider for your new room. You can’t wait to replace your ugly and unneeded soffits with beautiful ceiling height cabinetry! The tipping point comes when you sit down with pen and paper to do your financial due diligence. What exactly does a kitchen remodel cost? This is critical for many potential clients and requires more than just a guesstimate. If you’ve never remodeled before, here are some factors to consider…

There are many variables in remodeling but it mainly boils down to  three typical categories: Minor, Major, and Upscale. I’ll touch on the first two and leave Upscale for another post!

Minor updating usually doesn’t involve replacing the cabinetry.  New knobs and pulls, updating countertops, or maybe staining/painting existing cabinetry fall in the minor category. Major and Upscale remodeling is what AKB specializes in and involves the design and installation of custom cabinetry solutions, selection of countertops, tiles, fixtures, appliances, paint colors and lighting. But, before all these pretty pieces and parts are installed, demolition and room reconstruction are two items on your budget list that require a competitive bid. If you have not already decided on who you want to work with, AKB will help you select the contractor that best suits your needs.

Now for the fun part- deciding on all the pretty pieces and parts! The sky is the limit… and maybe you wish your budget was as well. Not to worry, this stage just may require a little give and take on your wish list. Consider the following example:

Same exact layout… and a $20,000 different price tag. The darker version is approximately $20,270 for Cabinets, Delivery & Installation, Hood, Hardware, Countertops, Appliances, Back splash, Faucet, and Sink.The lighter version is approximately $39,000 with the costlier selection of full inset doors and drawers, glass door cabinets with finished interiors, nicer grade granite and Electrolux Appliance package.

Clearly there is a wide range of costs to consider when budgeting for the look you want. At AKB, helping guide you through those decisions is what we do best.

What Not to Wear- Cabinetry Style

Looking for a new home? Looking to remodel your current one? An important factor in evaluating cost and value of cabinetry cannot be determined by looking at the exterior alone. Using the example of Glass-Front Cabinetry, here’s what you shouldn’t see!

Glass Front Cabinetry is an option that adds texture and interest to kitchen, bath and wet bar spaces and provides opportunity to showcase personal collections. It is visually very appealing in the overall design and look with its myriad of cabinetry styles, details and levels of glass obscurity. Well made products of this option should show that the glass panel is securely in place… held by metal adjustable clips, custom made screwed in frames, or sealed in place with silicone. What shouldn’t you see? Staples. Your hard working cabinets deserve a little more attention that the framed poster on your basement wall! So open up the door, see what you are considering investing in and make sure it is a quality product.

More Than Meets the Eye

Big beautiful kitchen pictures are impressive… but they may not help a client decide who to hire when remodeling.  What should you do when interviewing contractors? Ask who designed it.
The person who knows EXACTLY what went in to that design, how layout problems were solved, what elements and materials were suggested, ideas that were discarded for specific reasons… THAT person can elaborate on every detail of what that beautiful kitchen picture really represents.

If you want that level of attention to your remodeling project, visit us in our showroom. We have a beautiful portfolio of AKB designed projects and can happily explain what went in to each and every one of them.

Collaboration.

The best remodeling projects are the result of a collaborative relationship between a client and a designer. Discussing how you use your current space, why your current space does not work for you, what materials, finishes and features you have always dreamed about- make the perfect conversation points for the experienced designer with knowledge and resources to help you. At AKB, show us a photo saying you want a space just like it …and the first thing we’ll ask is “What do you like about this project?” Our projects are created by bringing all your ideas together to create a plan, a plan that is unique to you.

So Many Options

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We have an attractive showroom where many people drop by to discuss redoing their kitchen or baths. They enjoy looking through our vast array of cabinetry and countertop samples, envisioning multiple possible looks to their new space! A subject that often comes up in this exploratory stage is the “cost”. The abundant remodeling shows on TV continue to mislead clients to a certain degree about the real cost of materials needed for their projects. In an effort to educate people that come in our showroom, we developed two “informational boards” for people to consider when they are in this stage.
The moral to the story: It always comes down to the materials the client selects. The same overall design can result in a multitude of estimates based on the personal preferences of the client. Good Grade Cabinetry to Supreme Furniture-Like Cabinetry, Standard Granite to Exotic Stones… deciding on what you want to invest in requires understanding the options.

Three Stages of Remodeling Kitchens

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There are three main stages of remodeling your kitchen.

  1. Design Process
  2. Obtaining a Contractor
  3. Coordination & Installation Process

The Design Process usually involves an initial appointment with one of AKB’s designers in your home. The opportunity to view your space and ask questions about your needs and desires for your room is critical before pen ever hits paper.

The second appointment is in our showroom where general sketches or computer design drawings will be presented. You will be able to view showroom displays and consider cabinet styles, woods and finishes. You may also view and discuss our substantial collection of countertop surfaces, plumbing, and other finish selections. An estimate will be given based on your general information and feedback. At the end of this appointment, if you feel AKB is on the right path for your cabinetry design, a 10% retainer based on the estimated costs is required. (This amount is applied to the contract.) Once retained, we will continue to refine and modify your design and pricing until you are completely satisfied. When you are ready to begin the ordering process, a 50% deposit on the total contract is required.

Obtaining a Contractor can be a confusing process as there are a lot of options. AKB is happy to refer several qualified contractors that specialize in kitchen and bath remodels for you to consider. We work with both large and small companies and are happy to consult with your contractor to ensure the implementation of the design you want.

Coordination and Installation is where it all comes together and should be a well orchestrated event! Once we have received delivery dates for your cabinets, we coordinate with you and your contractor to set up delivery to your home. When your cabinet order comes in, the next 40% of your contract is due to AKB. Installation by our installer or your contractor will be followed by countertop field measurements. Countertops are generally delivered and installed within 2-3 weeks of the template date. Once your kitchen or bathroom is completely finished, the final 10% of the AKB contract is due. At this point, AKB will thank you for allowing us to be a part of your project and hope you will allow us to take some photographs of your beautiful new space for our portfolio!

MySpace

 

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Think beyond the social networking site and more in line with your own home. Are you Boldly Geometric? Authentically English? A Collector of Provocative Art? Farmhouse Friendly? Unapologetically Vintage? Eclectic or Timeless? Is your spouse very tall?… while the other is very small? Are your pets kept in their place?… or do they rule the roost? Busy active children?… or empty nesters?  Want low maintenance?… or that “look” at all costs?

We have enjoyed creating spaces for every one of the above categories and love being presented with a challenge! Had to have that extra large stainless soaking tub? We found it. Wanted the perfect retro 70’s light fixture for your modern kitchen? Options galore. The exact size of a built in cabinet to display your entire collection of large Venetian glass pieces? Done. By listening to what you want, researching the best options and delivering the product, AKB succeeds time after time. A client whose master bath we remodeled said, “I feel like I’m at a luxury hotel, and I never have to check out.”

A House is a House for Me

“Assisted living is so costly” … “We’d rather make ourselves more comfortable in our own home” … “I don’t want to leave our neighborhood” … “I’m just not ready to downsize” 
We hear these sentiments often and have helped many people remodel to accommodate their changing needs and lifestyles.
Customizing Kitchens where things are easily reached, avoiding hardware that is difficult for arthritic hands, selecting floor materials that offer smooth transitions and researching technological options for Smart Homes are just a few of the details that come into play. We had a client that came to us after an accident that left her feeling fragile. She wanted to start with her bathroom and needed us to come up with a plan that would make her feel more confident living by herself. The son said, “Seriously, she’ll grab anything that is in her path if she feels unstable!” No one would have ever guessed that the tissue holder, three towel bars, tub faucet and soap tray all strategically placed could each hold up to 500lbs. In this day and age, no need to bolt up the industrial grab bars everywhere. ADA compliant products can be “hidden in plain sight” in many rooms of your home to create safe, yet aesthetically beautiful spaces designed specifically for you.

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All Things Natural?

A recent home show episode interviewed the homeowners during their kitchen renovation. Congratulating themselves on selecting the hand-crafted option over the more well known cabinet manufacturer, they proudly led the tour of their installed raw wood kitchen cabinetry, visibly anxious to begin the next phase of painting them. Shaking my head, I had to change the channel.

Hand-crafted is one of those words people feel must be a positive and must mean quality. Not so fast. In our industry, we see hand-crafted projects up close and personal… when we are ripping them out. Give me the furniture grade stuff over the quaint hand-crafted version any day. I want quality hardwood, not even a hint of prefinished foreign plywood. I want hardwood that is dried in a kiln to a one digit percentage moisture content.  I want engineering that shows no short cuts and deficiencies. (Look inside a hand-crafted project and see if all the wood grains are going in the correct direction. Did they short cut any thing else?) A kitchen client complained that her hand-crafted bathroom vanity panels would free float and show areas on the edges that were unfinished during seasonal changes (see image example below). AKB could have offered her an option made by one of those well known cabinet manufacturer‘s (Mouser Cabinetry) that is constructed, primed and finished so that never happens.

Paint? Go ahead, paint the cabinets in your first house, your rental property, paint flowers on your daughter’s vanity in her pink and purple bathroom… paint new cabinetry? There is a reason they don’t paint new cars and boats anymore. Paint is an inferior product. Not sure what warranty you get on the finish of the hand-crafted option, but manufacturers using the lovely Sherwin Williams product can only offer a 2 year warranty on their painted finish. If I am going through the investment of a new kitchen, sign me up for the superman version- a catalyzed conversion process. Chemical Bonding, Catalyzing, Sanding, Sealing, Curing, Finishing in a lovely Dust Proof Room…whatever any of that really means, I’ll forgo being quaint, I just want the guarantee.

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