Lifestyle Living - Kitchens and Holidays

Dated: January 2 2020

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Kitchens and Holidays

This holiday season made it very obvious our kitchen needs some updating.  Thanksgiving went well, only because I accidentally made a lucky oven choice.  The neighborhood Christmas party went well.  Christmas Eve however was a different story.  Dinner was delayed about an hour because of a poor oven choice.  I found out that day that one of the double ovens has lost its ever-loving mind and forgot how to regulate the temperature.  And sadly, now the day after the New Year, the faucet has decided to join the oven.

We have a nicely appointed kitchen that has had just minimal updates since the house was built.  The style is a classic white with an unfortunate choice of tile for the counters and backsplash.  When we purchased the home 3 years ago, we knew the kitchen needed some updates and have done a couple of things like replace the inoperable ice machines and add a splash of color here and there.

This holiday season has however made me step up my plans for a remodel. The double ovens need to either be recalibrated or replaced, I seriously cannot wait to get a gas stovetop to replace the worn glass cooktop, I’m tired of scrubbing the tile counters and the white porcelain sink has got to go.

I probably fall into a category that many of you can relate to.  I’ve been mentally remodeling my kitchen since before we purchased the house!  This is my moment!  Finally!

To prepare, I have read all kinds of articles about kitchen remodeling and have come to the conclusion that much depends on your experience and knowledge.  I got the impression that many of these articles were written as rebuttals to the thousands of home improvement shows. Many caution people to assess their own skills first, which is probably a great idea.  Plus they state that time is a huge factor.  One article stated that people take well over a year to mentally design this space!

"people take well over a year to mentally design this space"

Sounds reasonable considering the importance of the kitchen in a home but also lends itself to producing just a bit of anxiety.  I don’t want to make a bad decision or waste time and money so I thought about the process and here are 5 things I am doing that have proven to be worthwhile so far:

  1. Pinterest has been an exceptional tool for me.  Over the past 3 years I have saved images of beautiful kitchens, exceptional design ideas and even retailers connected to some of the items I knew I wanted.  I would add a bunch of pins and then get busy and neglect the process for a month or two.  When I returned, I could look at what I had posted and see if my tastes had changed. Over time I was able to weed out what was a momentary like and what would be “timeless” in my perspective. Now that it is “go-time” I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what styles I like over time and I am not fretting about my style choices.
  2. Quote it out! Wow! This has already saved us tons of money. A prime example is countertops.  I started this adventure seeking quartz countertops but was open to granite as well.  When I found out that the manufactured quartz was susceptible to damage because of temperature, I decided to go with granite. The quote process not only got us a great price and a great product, but also weeded out companies that weren’t responsive. In our case, a big box home improvement store was not only one of the highest priced places, it was also not as responsive as one of our local suppliers. And we are the kind of people that will pay a little extra for the right company versus saving a few dollars and experiencing the frustration of poor customer service.
  3. Determine the appropriate level of improvement for your specific home.  Don’t over or under improve your home. The best way to start this is by getting a home valuation and then looking on line at homes in your area and price range. (And please…call me for the valuation.  On-line tools just aren’t as accurate. It is one of the things I do for free because it is important.)  Because while it is true that money spent improving a kitchen or bathroom will increase the value of your home, it is very possible to over-improve and waste your time and money. A great example is a home I showed once with a fabulous high-end gas range top.  It alone cost more than every other appliance in the kitchen together.  They may have spent $10k on the range, but because the valuation of the home considers much more than just one appliance in the kitchen, the owners mistakenly believed they could ask $10k more for their home. The fact was that the one exceptional appliance made the other appliances look much worse resulting in prospective buyers assuming they would need to immediately replace all the other appliances. Sadly for the sellers, the gas range top improvement actually added nothing to the ultimate sale price of their home. Each home is different though.  Get an outside, professional opinion on how to best spend your time and money. And please do not forego necessary repairs in other areas to accomplish any remodel.
  4. Write down a solid plan that doesn’t include specifics, but does include expectations.  For example, I wanted a durable, non-porous, beautiful counter top that I could put chafing dishes on without worry. Quartz seemed to be the answer until I read that it was susceptible to heat.  Because my “expectation” was clear, it was simple to switch quickly without getting stalled. I found that a sealed granite was better for us because of the chafing dishes.  I also had expectations of my future gas range top and was able to find a clear choice very quickly. Balancing my expectations versus the appropriate level of improvement for our kitchen was a challenge in some regards though. I really had minimal expectations regarding a range hood, but discovered that my choice in range tops required more than my minimal expectations in hoods so I had to adjust up on that item.
  5. Our Excel spreadsheet is a very handy way of organizing, but my little purse-sized spiral notepad has saved the day more than once!  I have important pages dog eared.  There's one page that is a sketch of the room, another with dimensions and yet another with model numbers of appliances and prices from the various suppliers. It may be “old-school” but it works. Between my spiral notebook and the million photos of appliances and tiles on my phone, I have nearly everything I need at my fingertips.

I’ll be posting as the project continues but wanted to share these things now as I’m confident that we are not the only ones that are starting the year with home-improvement as well as self-improvement goals for the New Year!   Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year and remember…

It’s a Waterfall Life!  Get out there and live it!

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Jean Durham

My simple business goal is to provide exceptional service to all of my clients. Service that is so remarkable that clients refer to me as their personal real estate resource. As a professional with an....

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