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Design Tips for a Successful Kitchen Renovation

1.Set your budget and know what you are getting in to.

Like most renovations, kitchens can get out of hand if you don’t do your homework up front. Make sure you have a solid understanding of costs related to the tear out and removal of your existing kitchen, plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting, flooring, lighting, appliances, new cabinets, countertops, backsplash and installation. It sounds like a lot, but if you plan properly and budget accordingly, these things can all come in on time and on budget.

2.Determine your style

Most people who want to renovate their kitchen have seen something they like, either in person, online, on TV or in a magazine. The best way to settle on a style is to share images of these kitchens with your designer and find something within your budget that achieves the look you desire. If you plan to sell your home and are hoping to add value by renovating the kitchen you will want to make sure you select a style that is current, but wont quickly go out of style.

3.Design for Utility

Your kitchen is the working part of your home and like most homeowners you probably spend a lot of time in it. When designing your new kitchen it is important to make decisions that will contribute to the utility of the space you have available. Islands and peninsulas can add great functional counter space as well as integrated seating areas where you can talk comfortably to your family and guests as you prepare meals.

4.Don’t over do it.

Sometimes less is more in a kitchen. Try to limit the number of design features that you use in your layout and make the ones that you do choose special. By highlighting one or two areas of the kitchen, you can create interesting and elegant spaces without looking too busy or overdone. With the popularity of Commercial Grade appliances, many homeowners choose to feature a stove wall or a build-out around a large refrigerator as the focal point of their kitchen.

Remember that if part of your plan, in renovating your kitchen, is to sell your home, the design choices you make need to be timeless and elegant.

Common Kitchen Work-arounds

Sometimes you run into issues with your kitchen design that require a little bit of thinking to get around. Whether it is an exposed appliance end, a drain pipe that you didn’t anticipate or a beam that is running right through where you wanted to put cabinets. kitchen renovations can be frustrating at the best of times, however an experienced kitchen designer who knows how to work with cabinetry can usually come up with a solid workaround that saves the integrity of the kitchen design without breaking the bank. In Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Dundas and Ancaster, many homeowners are choosing to turn traditional centre hall plan homes into open concept spaces with large kitchens featuring islands and custom kitchen cabinetry. These type of renos often present the types of design challenges I am speaking of. Here are a few examples of kitchen design issues and how they can be handled.

In smaller spaces where walls are not able to be moved or in areas where the location of the appliances has to stay the same, taking out a wall can expose more than a few problems…it can expose the side of an appliance that looks awkward and disjointed. In a recent kitchen renovation project we did, this was the case and the client was adamant that they not see the side of the stove, but also determined to not disturb or extend the existing bulkhead (and there wasn’t room for a cabinet). Shelli, The kitchen designer working on the project came up with a simple, yet elegant way of concealing the side of the stove, while maintaining the integrity of the kitchen design and keeping the project on budget. The client was thrilled and the designer added a new solution to her idea bank. (see pictures below)

Another common kitchen design challenge is when you open up a wall only to find that the builder had buried a drain pipe inside it and the pipe cannot be moved. Depending on the layout of the proposed kitchen renovation, there are a few ways to handle this. If the pipe is running floor to ceiling where you had planned to put a pantry, you can simply cut back the pantry to a depth that will keep the facade of the kitchen the same, but reduce the storage capacity of the pantry – you would never know that the pipe was there, unless you opened the pantry door. If the pipe is running vertically from floor to ceiling where uppers and lowers were meant to be, you can always cut back both the upper and the lower and find creative ways to use shallow kitchen cabinets, like for spices or storage of a small appliance (see pictures). In this case, the kitchen designer will need to have this pipe drywalled and plan for the backsplash to be wrapped around this column. If this drain pipe is beside the stove, your kitchen designer can get creative with the cabinetry and or create a second column on the other side of the stove that is also back-splashed, to make it look intentional and not draw your eye to the obvious obstruction. Your kitchen designer may also choose to have the upper kitchen cabinets extend down and sit on the countertop in front of the pipe to hide it altogether.

The best way to deal with any such design dilemma in your kitchen renovation is to have your designer work with the layout and design to create an opportunity to solve the problem. Kitchen cabinetry can be customized to accommodate many obstructions and design challenges that would otherwise cost homeowners a lot of money, or deprive them of the kitchen design they really wanted. An experienced kitchen designer and a skilled installer are the key to a successful kitchen renovation!

Everyone deserves their own kitchen island…if you have the space!

One of the biggest renovation trends in the Oakville, Burlington, Ancaster and greater Hamilton market is the “main floor reno”. Real estate prices are high, interest rates are low, moving is expensive and you love your location. Problem is, your house and kitchen are outdated and you have rooms you don’t use. Ah the centre hall plan home…they are everywhere! What we are seeing a lot of is the complete main floor reno, where dining room and living room walls come down, ceilings and floors get replaced, new pot lights, plumbing and electrical get installed, and new kitchens get designed to make the best use of this new space. Kitchen cabinetry has come a long way and kitchens are now considered part of the living area of the home. Younger families with busy lifestyles don’t want separate formal living and eating areas…they want big brand new kitchens with islands and pantry’s and cool storage solutions. What starts as a kitchen renovation, turns into a lifestyle renovation.
So when you tear down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and open up the living room wall…you have a lot of space to fill. The first thought is to put in a giant island with lots of seats and lots of storage. Then the question becomes…is the island too big? Do I really want to walk around this giant kitchen island every time I need to get to the other side of the room? In these newly created “long kitchens” you might want to consider 2 islands!…one for the work and one to enjoy the fruits of your labour. If you are doing a main floor renovation that includes a kitchen and taking down walls creates a large long space to plan, ask your kitchen designer to consider 2 islands. After all, everyone deserves an island of their own.

Say goodbye to uppers and get down to entertaining!

So you are about to rip apart your home and renovate your kitchen. You want to make this space fresh, exciting and inviting. You start thinking of a new layout, taking out walls, changing the flooring and lighting and maybe putting in a big island where your friends can gather. What can you do that will be different from every other kitchen and make your space special. Here’s an idea…get rid of your upper cabinets all together! And don’t let them back in your house.
Removing upper cabinets in your kitchen can be like a cleanse, a breath of fresh air, a new start without any old baggage. The truth is, upper cabinets are overrated. They are intrusive, hard to reach, they can block sight lines and make your space feel smaller. With quantum leap advancements in drawer boxes, drawer glides and storage systems, upper cabinets are a thing of the past. Emptying the dishwasher has never been easier…no more deadlifts with the plates, glasses and platters that you used to store way up by your ceiling. Integrate more useful storage below the counter and your space will open up, breathe better and create a more natural flow with the surrounding rooms, making entertaining and living in your kitchen more pleasurable.

Painted Cabinets. Wood Vs. MDF

So you have decided to get that beautiful classic painted white kitchen of your dreams? Now for the next challenge/question…should I buy wood or MDF? Many people cringe when they hear the wood MDF. The initial thoughts are that “it is not real wood so it must be cheap”, “its going to fall apart in a few years”. Well, rest assured that cabinet makers and manufacturing standards have evolved over the years and MDF is still used in kitchen cabinetry of all quality and price levels. In fact, most high quality custom cabinetry shops will recommend MDF over wood when going with a painted finish. Wood is a natural product, and by virtue of that reacts to humidity levels. When paint is applied to wood, you run the risk of “cracking” or “joint separation” in the joints of the doors when humidity levels are not controlled. With MDF the product is man made (of wood fibres) and isn’t subject to expansion and contraction to the extent that solid wood is. For that reason, MDF is usually recommended over wood when painting – and if customers choose wood they are asked to sign off on a document that warns them of joint separation. The industry has seen improvements in the MDF product and has also seen the introduction of HDF, which is a higher density fibreboard – giving you a heavier stronger door that is less likely to chip. Higher end cabinet makers will also offer a one piece routered HDF door that has no joints whatsoever…
Now, that is not to say that you shouldn’t buy painted wood cabinets. If you do, you should pay close attention to the type of joint that is used in the door construction and the quality of the finish applied to the door. Mitred doors (joint is a 45 degree angle) have a greater possibility to separate than Mortise and Tenon joints (90 degree angle). while the mitred joint is more elegant and visually attractive to some, the strong simple nature of a mortise and tenon joint will reduce the likelihood of joint separation with a painted wood door. So make sure you have these discussions with your cabinet supplier when buying a painted kitchen and ensure you are aware of the various properties and options with both wood and MDF/HDF.

The ins and outs of kitchen islands.

So you are renovating your kitchen and you are determined to have an island. Now comes the hard part. How big should it be? Should it have seating? How much overhang is enough? Do I want counter height or bar height? Will I be using the island for food prep or instead of a kitchen table? Should I put appliances in the island or perhaps the sink? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself when deciding how to configure your island…or when determining if an island is right for you.
If you are looking to replace your kitchen table with an island then the primary focus should be on seating and comfort. In general, you will want to allow for a minimum of 10″-12″ of counter top overhand so that you can sit comfortably while eating. You should also allow for a minimum of 24″-30″ for each person to sit without feeling cramped by the person next to them. Other considerations should include arrangement of seating. With everyone sitting in a row at a long island it is more difficult to have productive conversations and/or see each other. For that reason, you may want to consider having seating on more than one side of the island. Depending on the size, layout ceiling height of your kitchen a good designer will be able to give you a few different seating options suited for your family.
If the purpose of the island is more for food preparation then your considerations will be a little different. You may want to consider putting your cook top or sink in the island and perhaps having any seating raised to bar height so that the people seated at the island are at a different level than your work area. Size, shape and location of the island will be determined by the size of the room and the location of other appliances and work surfaces in the room. Regardless of how you want to use the new island in your new kitchen, it is best to have a detailed discussion with your kitchen designer about what is important to you. Your kitchen island should help create the perfect work and/or entertaining space and make your kitchen work for you!

Make that Mud Room/Laundry Room Work!

For families with young kids that have to bundle up and unbundle from the winter weather, storage and access to everything they need can be tricky…and messy. If your mud/laundry room isn’t working for you, there are a number of relatively inexpensive options that can help turn that space into a neat, clean, functional and organized storage centre.  By combining the following storage solutions into the design of your mud/laundry room your kids will more organized and your room will function much better:

  1. Cabinets – There are some things in a mud/laundry room that just need to be behind a door. Cleaning products, shoe care products, rags, light bulbs etc…are not pretty to look at and belong  behind a door where they are out of sight and out of reach for young children.
  2. Open Shelving and Baskets – The best place for hats and mitts, when they are not on your hands and head are in a basket on a shelf, where they won’t get lost and the dog won’t eat them. There are a number of basket styles and and materials to choose from – cloth, metal, weaved, plastic or wooden – depending on personal preference and style. Shelving and baskets can be placed at heights that are appropriate for the age of your family and the type of stuff you are storing in the baskets.
  3. Hooks for Coats – No matter how many times you tell your (my) kids to hang up their coats, they end up on the floor or thrown over a chair. Coat hangers can be cumbersome for younger kids even if they manage to get their coat onto a hanger – they usually fall off. Open Hooks are easy, functional and practical for kids to use. There are also a number of choices for hooks that look very cool. Even if your child does throw their coat, there is a chance the hook will catch it!
  4. Seating – Without a place to sit and put on/take off boots and shoes, they too usually end up being flung into a corner or the back of a closet…never to be reintroduced to their mate again. With a comfy place to sit, kids won’t be tempted to kick their boots/shoes off and will likely be able to get ready quicker!
  5. Drawers – Every mudroom should have drawers (under the seating) for a quick and easy place to put shoes and boots and anything else that you want out of sight, but easily accessed. Drawers are also great tools for teaching responsibility and accountability. You can give each child their own drawer and make them in charge of what goes in and out of it…you may also need a little patience.

By integrating these types of storage solutions into one well planned laundry/mud room, your life will become more organized and your space will function the way you do!

What to do with that corner cabinet in your kitchen?

When planning your kitchen renovation, the question about what to do with the corners is usually a contentious one. Shelves? Lazy Susan? Lemans?  or just kill it? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each:

1. Shelves can be a cost effective and simple solution to corner storage and can be integrated into a true corner cabinet or a blind cabinet. Some people choose to use the cabinet floor for the majority of their storage and use a half shelf to make access easier. Shelves are solid, stable and can hold kitchen items of just about any size, shape or weight. The downside to shelves is that once yoimagesu fill them, the stuff at the back, under the hals shelf, is almost impossible to get at without removing items from the front (it can also be taxing on your knees and back when trying to get at things). Corner cabinets with shelves can quickly become graveyards for items that don’t get used very often or that should be thrown out. If you are going to use shelves in your corner cabinet, you will need to put some thought into how you organize the contents.

 

 

2. Lazy Susan’s have been around for years and are available in a number of different materials and configurations. You can get plastic shelves, wood shelves or metal shelves. You can get a pac-man style Lazy Susan for piano door cabinets or you can get full circles for angled corner cabinets. Some Lazy Susan inserts have posts that run from top to bottom through the shelves, while others have a hidden half shelf and use a ball bearing system to rotate. Regardless of which style or configuration you choose, a Lazy Susan is a good way to organize a decent amount of kitchen storage so that it can be accessed as required. The biggesUnknownt complaint about the Lazy Susan is that they often lose items in the back corner that fall of the shelves when rotating. It is always best to use a Lazy Susan for items that are lower in height and that carry a bit of weight. I would caution you against using a Lazy Susan for cereal as there is nothing worse than trying to clean up a spill at the back of the cabinet!

 

3. The Lemans Corner is a relatively newcomer on the kitchen scene. It is a peanut shaped double shelving unit that seamlessly glides in and out of a blind base cabinet to bring the contents out for access. Lemans corners are very convenient and save you the hassle of bending down and reaching in to find what you are looking for. Because the entire unit pulls completely outside of the cabinet, they are also very easy to clean and items that fall off the back are easier to retrieve (easier thaimages-1n a Lazy Susan). The peanut shape does limit the storage somewhat because the shelf is narrow in the middle, but there is still a decent amount of space if you manage it properly. Lemans corners are a little bit more money than shelving or a Lazy Susan, but they do allow you to use a blind base which gives you more room for functional cabinets in your kitchen.

 

4. If you have a large kitchen with plenty of room for storage, you may want to consider killing the corners so that they are not accessible at all. It may sound strange to do this, but because corner cabinets are usually the most expensive and difficult to use cabinets in your kitchen, it can be quite liberating to say goodbye to them! Killing the corners also gives you an opportunity for larger cabinets and the straight runs so that the amount of functional space that you loose is minimal.

Regardless of which solution you choose for the corners in your kitchen, there are a number of important factors to consider.

Kitchen Trend Predictions for 2016

Nothing quite transforms the look of a home like a kitchen renovation. Over the years, we have seen many trends come and go and we are very excited about some of the new design ideas that are on the horizon. The following are some of our top kitchen predictions for 2016.

Trendy Kitchen

  1. Semi-Custom Cabinets

These are the ideal mix of personalization and affordability! Modern cabinet companies are now providing a wide range of styles, colours and functions to suit any home décor. This allows for personalization without the high cost of custom cabinetry.

  1. Open Plan

If you have one of those homes where the party always ends up in the kitchen, then consider bringing in the New Year with an open plan kitchen. Features such as islands and breakfast bars give you space to prepare food while you are laughing and talking with your guests at the same time.

  1. High gloss

Super glossy walls, cabinets and countertops not only provide a futuristic look but they make for easy cleaning from spills and sticky fingerprints. There is no limit when it comes to palette either. Choose bright whites, earthy neutrals or vibrant shades of reds, teals, limes and yellows.

  1. Brushed steel

Stainless steel appliances and fixtures have long been a favourite of homeowners and the demand for them are showing no signs of slowing down. Trends have shifted however from shiny to brushed steel. Pair this with dark or matte colours to really accentuate them.

  1. Warmer metals

While stainless steel will remain popular, there will also be more of a shift toward the warmer hue metals. Shades of gold, brass and copper will be seen in cabinet hardware, light fixtures and faucets. Consider a copper range hood or a gold-flecked glass backsplash.

  1. Porcelain surfaces

Porcelain for sintered compact surfaces will see a surge in popularity in 2016. While it shares some of the qualities of quartz or engineered stone, porcelain is the clear winner when it comes to heat and stain resistance. Because it is available in so many thicknesses, porcelain can be used on everything from countertops to vertical surfaces like backsplashes and cabinet doors.

  1. Comfort is in

Expect to find more comfort in kitchen furniture trends in 2016. Kitchen chairs and stools will take on more organic shapes and make use of fabrics such as cotton and wool linens.

  1. Contemporary country

Contrast the charm of traditional soft pastels of a country kitchen with contemporary dark wood cabinets made from mahogany or walnut. This trending look for 2016 will delight both lovers of traditional and vintage kitchens.

  1. Texture

While modern, minimalist white kitchens will remain a popular choice, you can also expect to see more homeowners choosing a texture. Textured laminate on cabinet fronts and textured glass or stone on backsplashes will add visual interest.

  1. More storage

Storage will be a key feature of kitchen design in 2016. Many new appliances now come with added storage drawers. Easy to use cabinet doors that open with a touch as well as hidden cupboards will make it easier than ever to tuck away dishes, utensils and small appliances.

So if you’re considering a kitchen makeover for the new year, contact us and we will help you determine if any of these up and coming trends are right for you.

Electric Stove Vs. Gas Stove

Cooking is one of those wonderful things we do on a regular basis. It brings us together as a family. Nothing beats the smell of a home cooked meal. That’s why it’s so important to have a stove that is reliable and efficient. These days there are so many choices of stoves, from contemporary finish to a rustic appeal. But the most important decision is to decide if your stove will be electric or gas. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages to each.

Gas and Electric Stove Burners

Cooking

When it comes to getting the job done, the gas stove will give you an advantage since the heat it provides is almost instant and remains at a steady temperature throughout the cooking time.  The flame of a natural gas stove cooks food more quickly and evenly. On the other hand, the electric stove elements take longer to heat up to your desired temperature; however with most modern electric stovetops being a solid glass surface with a sleek appearance, the heat is distributed evenly to the pot or pan.

Electric stoves are easy to use; you simply turn the knob to the desired setting. Gas stoves require you to light the element. You need to be careful about making sure the element isn’t left on when the flame is out as this will allow gas to enter your home.

Cleaning

Not our favourite part of cooking, but cleaning your stove is a necessary task. When you have an electric stove, cleaning your stove can be accomplished very simply, especially if it has the smooth glass surface. Spills and splashes can be easily wiped away.

With a gas stove, cleaning is a bit more difficult because you need to move the heavy cast iron grates from the burners. Each of these burners have various parts which can be accidentally moved out of alignment possibly resulting in an uneven flame the next time you use the stove.

Power Source

Your electric stove runs on normal household electricity. However, electricity utility costs can be higher than if you used a gas stove. Gas stoves tend to be cheaper to run but require specialty hook-ups to your kitchen which can be costly, especially if you don’t already have a gas line to your home. Overall, the operating and energy costs of your stove will be lower if you use a gas stove.

During a power outage your electric stove will not work, however, your gas stove will continue to work so you can still cook a meal for your family.

The Cost

Another thing to consider is the purchase price. Overall, the cost of a gas stove can be considerably higher than an electric stove.  However, as previously mentioned, the operating cost of a gas stove is lower than the operating cost of an electric stove.

When deciding on which to purchase; gas or electric, consider your needs and your lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to check with friends and family and see what they use and how they feel about their choice. In the end as long as your stove is reliable and efficient it will be a trusted appliance in your home.

You also want to make sure that the stove fits into your kitchen design and space. Our experienced team at Wright Kitchen would be happy to meet with you and come up with a design plan that would suit your kitchen’s needs best. Contact us and we can book you a free consultation today.