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"The clients that have been the most satisfied with my services and products have been those turn into a turnkey operation.

It is hard to put a value on a complete project management operation. The client just contacts me for any dilemmas or questions about the project, and I do any or all the research they may need to bring it all together.

But, it is very important to me to make sure that the final concept to the project is the same in my mind as it is in theirs. Doublecheck, confirm, verify, and put it in writing are great habits"

"I break kitchen and
bathroom design projects
into three areas.

1. Functional layout

2. Appropriate texture

3. Corresponding color

Helping each client to
prioritize their needs

Kitchen project ideas from simple to complete

Products, portfolio, and helpful information for your kitchen.

Bathroom project ideas from practical to extensive detail.

Products, portfolio, and helpful information for your bathrooms.

Meet design experts to assist in your kitchen or bath project planning.

Meet our designers, view design ideas and out design fees.

Search ideas for kitchen or bath products or design by category.

Project ideas organized by category for kitchens & baths.

Read kitchen articles or tips by our very own Certified Kitchen Designer.

Magazine, internet, and other source articles from our very own designers.
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2003-2005 Kitchen Tips

The Value of a Professional
Harder Than Granite?!
Stainless Steel
Select Products With Comfort
Work Triangle
Over the Range Microwaves
Cabinetry: Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom;
“Don’t Judge a Book by the Cover” (Unknown):
Refacing: Wise or Worthless?
New Kitchen Technology: Friend or Foe?
Change Orders
What Do You Expect?
I,L,U, or G Shaped?
Kitchen Lighting 101
Where to Start?
Remodel the Kitchen or MOVE?!
Chef's Choice
Kitchen as a Workout Room
What's Your Theme?
How Much Will I Save?
A Leg to Stand On
Natural Kitchen
Pull: 5 Tips on Getting a grip (Knobs & Handles)
What WOOD You Choose?
Keeping up With the “European” Joneses
It’s All in the Family (and friends):
Back to the Drawing Board
Maximizing the Minimum Kitchen
Don’t Drop Your Drawers
“How Long Do You Think it Will Take?”:
Multi-Level Kitchens
Mechanical Plan(s)
How Much Should I Invest in My Kitchen?
Kitchen Glossary of Terms
“Should I Buy the Same Brand For All My Appliances?”
Kitchen Planning Guidelines?

The Value of a Professional

If you have heard the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" (Author unknown), then you understand the value of using a professional to assist you in high liability endeavors. Sure, you can take the time to educate yourself on cabinetry and the available options and all the pros and cons that go with those options. This could take you anywhere from 10-40 hours of time to get complete thorough information. But, remember, you still have the countertops, appliances, flooring, lighting, plumbing, accessories, wall coverings, window coverings, and more to do the same things with. Then you have to know how the all should interrelate, and keep in mind color, texture, layout, safety, function, investment and more. Finally, don't overlook timeframe, contracts, warranties, maintenance, and availability. Does it sound a little overwhelming? It should. Kitchens are complicated, and that is why a professional kitchen designer can make the burden much lighter by bringing to the table years of experience, especially if the designer is Certified. They can analyze your needs and wants, and match those with the appropriate products on the market. You may pay a little more up front to use a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD), but it will pay for itself many times later.

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Harder Than Granite?!:

When looking for floor coverings or countertop materials, have you ever wondered what goes beyond the resilience of granite? Well, there are a couple of products emerging in the market to try to fill in where granite is weak. First of all, granite is rock, porous, inconsitent in color and pattern, and sometimes containing large empty pockets (like marble). Because of its porous nature, granite can stain. Sealants are applied anywhere from every six months to a year to maintain a stain resistant quality. There is a composite granite family of products available now which are impervious to staining, do not require sealants, and are very consistent in color and pattern. Also, many are not aware that porcelain, such as porcelain tile, is many times stronger than granite 0nce it is properly installed. Sometimes, however, there is a glaze applied to porcelain tile which is much weaker than the body of the tile. Just a sidenote; you wouldn’t put a luxurious home on a cheap quality foundation. Don’t put granite or a better luxury product onto cheap low quality cabinetry. The cabinets are the foundation for the countertops. When it comes time to replace them with furniture quality, then the granite countertops will need to be replaced.
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Stainless Steel:

Many folks don’t believe me when I say that stainless steel will sunset in its popularity in the near future; oh, maybe 2-3 years. It is indeed a very designer friendly color and material. It does appeal to the industrial look of a kitchen, and certainly adds a level of class. However, like any fad or trend, it has had its time in the spotlight. It is difficult to keep clean, almost impossible to touch up damage, and shows scratches quite nicely. What will replace the stainless steel boom? Well, some metals are making their way into the appliance and hardware market, especially lighting fixtures; copper, bronze (hand rubbed is nice) charcoal, and colors are making a sizable rebound. So, look down the road 5-10 years on new projects or remodels to make them a wise investment for the future.
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Select Products with Comfort:

A kitchen or bathroom remodel takes a large investment of time, money, and energy. To ensure that your selection of products and colors of products will be fitting in your home, I recommend to clients to live with the design, color selection, and product choices such as the cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and more for a few days before signing the contract to proceed with the ordering of materials. If the clients still feel comfortable with the overall specifications of the project, then it is probably safe to proceed.
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Work Triangle:

What is it? Is is composed of the three most used appliances in the kitchen. The sink, which is used most of the three, then the refrigerator, and finally the cooktop (not necessarily the range, the oven is not a part of the triangle). The work triangle helps to consider the demands required to prepare a meal. By keeping the distances between 4-9 feet from the center of one to the center of the other, the spacing is safe and effective for the majority of users. Also, there should be no heavy traffic areas that interfere with any part of the triangle. Watch out for the temptation to space the triangle to far apart in a large kitchen to make the kitchen feel complete. There are many other uses for the space if the work triangle takes up one corner of the kitchen.

Over the Range Microwaves:

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) has recently published an article stating their legitimate concerns about the use of over the range microwaves. They have a very good position on this product. First, if you think about the fires that have been caused or fueled by these unique appliances, that should deter people enough. Also, microwave should be located so that the bottom of the unit is 24” - 48” above the floor. This creates a safer height for most users. They should also have sufficient landing space right above, below, or next to them. Also, because these units are installed above cooking surfaces, they are a serious safety hazard for children and shorter adults, by encouraging them to get climb up the range to use the microwave. And, even taller adults lean against the range and reach over the cooking surface with their attention on the items in the microwave rather than what is happening on the cooking surface. One of my favorite locations for a microwave is built into a wall cabinet which is setting on a taller counter surface at about 42”-48” above the floor. This create a nice landing space, nice height, and still with a nice built-in application.

Cabinetry: Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom;
“Don’t Judge a Book by the Cover” (Unknown):

Just because it looks nice doesn’t mean that the quality follows the finish. A beautiful stain or paint can be added to any quality of cabinetry with a glaze, spattering, crackeling, and more. But, please don’t expect that your cabinets will meet your function, performance, and longevity expectations just because they look nice.

What is the difference between stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinetry?

Advantages- Quick delivery time, low cost
Disadvantages- Very limited offerings in wood species, finishes, accessories, and modifications, Quality is low to medium, warranty is usually minimal to none.
Examples: Local- Cabinetec, Drews Quality cabinets Nationwide- ,
Application- Entry level homes, low cost condo projects, apartments, mobile homes.

Advantages- Reasonable and reliable delivery time, very consistent quality, muliple options for woods species, finishes, accessories, and modifications. Reasonable cost.
Disadvantages- Some limitations on customization, usually purchase through dealers.
Examples: Local- Goodwin Mill, Wardrop Nationwide- ,
Application- Remodel upgrades, mid-high end homes and condomeniums.

Advantages- If it is possible they can do it, large selection of options, products, and accessories.
Disadvantages- Long delivery times, higher cost, not always consistent quality.
Examples: Local- , Venuti Woodworking Nationwide- ,
Application- High end projects.

Don’t forget to look further than the finish. Remember drawer construction, cabinet structure, hinges, and more to establish the true quality of a cabinet.


I went to a birthday party at my sister’s house the other day. It is a modest three bedroom home, just completed summer 2003. In the kitchen the first thing I noticed was that the freestanding electric range was right next to the wall on the left. I couldn’t believe it. Not that I was surprised that a builder would do that, they are usually not thoroughly educated and trained on effective design practices in the kitchen, but I was astonished that it passed inspection. After some brief research, I was informed that there is no code for clearance or landing space for appliances to the left or right. In other words, there is nothing in the residential building codes to enforce safer clearances, or fire rated material. If there was a flare up while cooking, the paint on the wall next to the range would be very succeptable to ignition and burning.

The NKBA ( has established some basic guidelines which include clearances and landing spaces for appliances, which Certified Kitchen Designers are committed to promote and integrate as closely as possible. One of those deals with the landing/clearance to the left and right of a range. It is Guideline #27 and reads:

In an open-ended kitchen configuration, at least 9" of counter space should be allowed on one side of the cooking surface and 15" on the other, at the same counter height as the appliance. For an enclosed configuration, at least 3" of clearance space should be planned at an end wall protected by flame retardant surfacing material and 15" should be allowed on the other side of the appliance, at the same counter height as the appliance. For further instruction on these requirements see Guideline 31.

See for additional guidelines.

Lets help to promote safer and more user friendly kitchen plans by observing industry guidelines compiled by a large number of industry professionals. For help with a kitchen design, give me a call, I’d be glad to be of assistance.

Next time someone asks you to check on landing spaces and clearances, make sure you can say “clear”.

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Refacing: Wise or Worthless?

How can you get more value out of your kitchen without a complete remodel of everything? After this brief tip, you be the judge.

In evaluating the best place to put their investment in their kitchen, many cllients have reviewed this one option, refacing. What is refacing? Basically, it is replacing the cabinet doors with new ones of whatever wood and finish you would like, then adhering new veneer, to match those doors, to the face and sides of the cabinets. In the end, it gives you an improved look to your kitchen.

If the only thing that concerns you about your kitchen, is the appearance, then this may be the direction to go. However, it would be worth your time to have a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) evaluate and note any other possible areas of improvement, such as: safety, layout, colors, features, storage, texture, lighting, functionality, value, and more.

Usually I will provide an estimate to a client with both scenarios, both replacing and refacing. In a kitchen where the replacement of cabinetry only would run $10,000.00, the refacing would run between $5,000-$7,000. Why so much for the refacing? Remember, the doors of cabinetry are the most expensive part of the cabinet, because of the solid wood (typically), and the detail and labor involved. Also, the labor to reface far exceeds the labor to install the new cabinets. Out of the 25-30 projects that I have proposed both options to the client, only 2 or 3 have opted for the refacing.

What about just refinishing the existing doors? Most of the time, the labor to strip the existing finish and/or stain, and prepare and finish the doors again, is so labor intensive that most contractors will not even do it. Now, sometimes, a finish can be applied to the surface of the existing, providing some factors are in place. Definitely, you should like the existing doorstyle.

Refacing is quick, and less inconvenient. It also does not require the replacement of countertops, or other products in the kitchen. Sometimes, you can even keep your dishes in the cabinets. Is this the right option for you or someone you know? You be the judge. Remember that you have a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) at your fingertips if you want to discuss it further.

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New Kitchen Technology: Friend or Foe?

The last couple of years has brought out some very interesting technological advances in the kitchen arena. Here are just a few.

Wet wash- The new kitchen sink with a dishwasher built in appeals to those that find they wash a large amount of smaller dishes, ie. saucers, glasses, and utensils. It could be used as an accessory to a primary dishwasher.

Hot refrigeration- That’s right, a standard range operates as a refrigerator, so you can keep the casserole cool until it is time to cook. Then, with the touch of a button, you can then cook the meal without the hassle of moving it from the main refrigerator. You are supposed to be able to call from your cell phone on the way home from work and turn on the oven over the phone.

Cool e-mail- Get rid of the magnets, you can now have a fridge with a screen for e-mail connection and general notes for the family right on the front of the refrigerator.

Not so hard- How many times do you have to remind your kids not to slam the drawers. No more worries. With this new feature, you can slam drawers, and they still close softly. There is a hydrolic piston that slows the close from about 3-4 inches out.

Longer lasting- New Xenon light bulbs are supposed to outlast regular halogen bulbs by about five times the life, and only cost about double.

Synthetic granite- Composite granite countertops are consistent in color and pattern, and are not porous, because the product is ground, mixed with resins, and poured. Still has the same great attributes as mountain cut granite slabs, and more.

Porcelain floors- Porcelain has finally become the almost obvious preference when choosing floor tiles. Where the price was double that of conventional ceramic tile just 4-5 years ago, it is now only 10-20 percent more. However, it is about five times as durable as granite, once it is properly installed, and has just as many pattern and colors available.

All of these new and exciting products are supposed to make our life easier, but there is always a down side. Not only does new technology cost more up front, but usually has more problems up front to work through with time. Make sure there is a good warranty, and that you feel you will truly use the added features in a way that is valuable to you. Finally, you do have to take time to learn how to use the new technology, and usually teach others to do the same.

When done right, technology, even in the kitchen, can be a great assest and addition to your life.

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What if you are looking to do some minor investments (improvements) in the appearance and functionality of your kitchen?

Here are a few options.

Pulls- That is an industry term for knobs or handles. What a great way to spice up the doors of the cabinetry with some attractive handles. If there are no handles or just knobs, all you do is drill for the needed hole or holes in the desired location and install the handle. If you currently have handles, it is difficult to move back to knobs and properly fill in the emptly screw hole, so you might want to get a handle with the same center to center dimensions, or find a handle or knob with a back plate to cover out of place drill holes.

Glass doors- If you have wood doors with a center panel, then you can have the panel removed by a carpenter, and add glass, metal mess, laminate, or anything to achieve the look that you desire.

Splash- One of the most visible places in the kitchen is the back splash between the countertops and cabinets. Some tasteful ideas include tile with metal inserts, stainless steel panels with swirl designs, bead board paneling, and certainly continuing the countertop up the back splash.

Trim it up- In some cases crown and light rail (under the wall cabinets) moldings can be added in a different color as a very nice accent. This is especially effective when trying to draw some of the attention away from cabinets that are not too attractive.

Let there be light- Proper lighting in a kitchen is invaluable. There are some nice halogen button lights which add brighter long lasting light under the wall cabinets where shadows are more prevalent. For the return on function and appearance, lighting is one of the most cost effective areas.

Sink it- The kitchen sink is the most used appliance in the kitchen, and the home for that matter. Considering this, it would be a great place to invest in a nice sink and faucet. These items usually get noticed quickly, and appreciated.

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Change Orders:

We all reserve the right to change our mind, and that is fine. Sometimes it may cost though. Kitchen projects are certainly no exception. When planning a kitchen, or bathroom, for that matter, homeowners should get as much of the details and responsibilities spelled out as possible. This helps to keep expectations clear. Then when John and Jane homeowner come to change some details, both you and they know what they are changing from. Just because the product has already been delivered doesn’t mean that you can’t change it, but in most cases, you may not be able to return it, if you are just changing for personal preference, if it is a special order item.

I have attached just one page of a specification format that I based my paperwork from. This happens to be one from tne NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association). Notice the amount of details just in the appliances. And this information is not usually spelled out on the proposal or invoice of your appliance supplier.

I have also attached a copy of a change order from the NKBA which members have the priviledge to use.

Remember that changes are not always a bad thing. Just be sure to be specific and write down the reasons for changing as well. Not everyone has an excellent memory, especially with how many details need to be remembered in building a home.

So whenever you are requesting changes in your kitchen project, make sure it is a change for the better. And don’t overlook the value of having your kitchen designer review the changes as well.
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What Do You Expect?

When you purchase cabinetry for the kitchen, what are your expectations?
Do you expect quality product?
How about attractive stain/finish options?
Reasonable price?
Of course, you are looking to have the representative return your phone calls?
What about have them delivered on time?
If there are problems, you do expect them to fix them?
Ideas, ideas, ideas?
What about 2 years later, don’t you still want the drawers to hold up?
Literature for product information?
Samples for approving doorstyle, stain, etc.?
How about warranties like other product manufacturers?

I have been getting quite a bit busier lately. Maybe I should thank local cabinet shops for providing me the business. I have been encountering many complaints from clients and even builders about the troubles they are having with local cabinet shops. Is it because they do not make a good product? I don’t think that is always the case.

Where am I going with this? Let me draw a comparison. When I lived in Alaska, and I worked at a family owned successful home decorating center, we began to worry when news about Home Depot was coming to town. However, after their arrival, our business ironically increases, and the clientelle became continually better to work with. Why? After going to Home Depot, and experiencing the service and help available there, people would really appreciate the value (VALUE) of a professional and the time they took to help through the process. Sometimes cost really didn’t matter as much as they thought for what they were looking for.

The first four or five years that I sold cabinetry, the only exposure that I had was to semi-custom and custom national manufacturers. They were not designer, they only sold to dealers like me who did the designing on a personal basis with each client. They were not the installer, they allowed trained regular carpenters to do the installations. They were manufacturers, and they were good at it. Because they were large in size, they provided very clear product information, and backed up their product with a valuable warranty.

In other words, why try to reinvent the wheel. A designer, especially a Certified Kitchen Designer like myself, prides in providing the time and attention needed to each client that their project and products come out witht the best possible results. I don’t have to worry about my shop crew, I have enough worry’s about getting the clients specifications clear and to coordinate the details of the project in a workable format. Local cabinet shops are trying to design the jobs as well as manufacture and install. In doing so, they are having a difficult time fulfilling expectations of the client.

When providing a proposal, to a client, the supplier of the cabinets (designer or manufacturer) should provide a concise list of details so the client knows what they are getting. It is imperative that the client understands the construction of the cabients, what the finished product will look like in advance, a set of plans, and a warranty. Then, there is the follow through on behave of the supplier to let the client know when to expect them, and keep that part of the contract, that they will be complete, and if there are troubles to get a rapid response.

If you, or someone you know, is trying to make sense of the business of cabinetry for a kitchen or bath, feel free to contact me.
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I, L, U, or G shaped?

Which kitchen layout is the best? It depends upon the needs of the client, budget, number of users, and space available.

I- Single wall kitchens are useful in suites, studio apartments, and less expensive smaller homes. A variation to this is the two wall galley kitchen. While efficient use of space, almost always it becomes a traffic center right throught the work triangle. Needs creative planning. Usually both are most effective for one user.

L- This two wall design is very common. Sometimes it comes with an island in the middle. It is an easy kitchen to design with, and usually keeps traffic out of the work triangle. Cost is flexible, and it can be appropriate in various size homes. It can be designed for more than one user, but there are limitations.

U- Nice for one user, especially when the center of the kitchen is not much wider than a 4 foot walkway. This option has some design flexibility. The corners always create some restriction. With an island this can be a nice kitchen for two users, and a bar sink or undercounter refrigerator can improve the work flow.

G- The best layout for a single cook or user. The cost on this particular layout is usually the highest, because of the three corners and three or four walls of cabinetry. However, because of its coverage, the limitations on creative use of the space are usually less than the others. Sometimes an island can be included, in addition to the peninsula. If an island is included, it requires the space to be larger, providing substantial storage and work or task areas. One of the obvious disadvantages is the single entrance into the kitchen. I have seen some G-shaped kitchens that have been slightly broken up by an entry from another room or outside.

Most important in planning the layout of a kitchen (new construction or remodel) is the application and use of the space. If the homeowner is not creating this kitchen for long-term use for them, then the assistance of a certified kitchen designer can help create a kitchen for the contemporary, or todays, average user’s needs.

For some visuals of the layouts that I have described click on this link:

For some actual projects to view some different uses of layout options see these links:

Kitchen Lighting 101:

Do you love dark furniture looking woods, or perhaps thick textured dark painted walls. Great, because that is the trend. Only one problem... light.

20-25 years ago dark cabinetry was the preferred style, but the lighting was terrible. Usually a drop ceiling with flourescent lights was implemented. And, flourescent fixtures were great for low energy consumption and for heavy output when multiple fixtures were used.

However, today, lighting in the kitchen can be a multi-task accomplishment. Three major areas to pay attention to are ambient (general), task (specific), and display (highlights).

Ambient (general):
Intended to give a comfortable amount of lighting to the surfaces, ie. cabinet faces, flooring, countertops, walls, etc. Flourescent and incandescent fixtures are most common. This lighting helps to light up the room(s) when it is dark outside, or no natural light source.

Task (specific):
This lighting provides lighting to areas such as the sink, counter surfaces, cooktop, baking center, island, etc. This light is usually more intense and whiter. incandescent, halogen, and now xenon are common.

Display (highlights):
Can be used to accentuate glass cabinetry, a decorative hood, indirect lighting for a coffered ceiling, and more. All light types are common for this purpose.

Don’t underestimate the return on investment in good lighting. It can help to emphasize what you want noticed, and thus hide elements that are less desirable.

Where To Start:

Generally, I have found, that the one major setback to beginning a Kitchen remodel is just that... beginning. Breaking the ice seems to be what most have difficulty with.
Who do I talk to?
How much should we budget?
Is it worth it for resale value?
Should I go for the latest and greatest or the traditional and reliable products?
How do I protect myself against costly mistakes and problems?
How long will this take?
Can the kitchen be catered to our family’s needs?
Where can I find unique products?
Should we move out during the construction?

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to consider and answer. A kitchen remodel can be a very large undertaking adding stress and complications to your life for a few months.

Here are a few ideas that may soften the stress and help the process to be clean and more endurable:

1. Write down a list of reasons for the remodel. What is your objective? Also write down what you like and don’t like about your existing kitchen.

2. Gather clippings from magazines and other resources showing what you like in kitchens. Don’t forget to note what it is that you like on each clipping.

3. Locate a kitchen designer (Certified Kitchen Designer or CKD preferrably). You can do this by visiting the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s website at

4. Establish a clear budget to work from. Though you may want a $100,000.00 kitchen, if you are not careful, that kitchen could end up costing you $125,000.00-$150,000.00 without wise planning and management.

5. Have a contract with specifications for materials and services clearly defined, including who is responsible for each product or service.

A good kitchen designer will help you make this process smoother, understandable, and maybe even enjoyable.


You can find it everywhere now. Glass. It is a truly unique, clearly remarkable product. With cost of material low, designing and engineering new products utilizing glass has soared. You can find it as countertops, sinks, tile, cabinet doors, light fixtures, cabinet handles, shelving, hoods, and more. The beautiful features of glass include ease of color, vivid representation of various textures, low maintenance, and very interesting shapes and detail available.

Next time you look for an innovative product, for your project, don’t just look through glass as a means to an end, but even an end itself.

Want to find out more about new market products and uses for them? Give me a call.

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Remodel the Kitchen or MOVE?!

I have run into a few clients lately who have evaluated this option, or had friends tell them that this was their dilemma. So a kitchen remodel is obviously very time and energy consuming. Why would anyone remodel their kitchen, when they could “build a new home the way they want it”.

Let’s consider a couple of points here. First, most things that are worthwhile take energy and time to execute effectively. Second, by living in the home for years, a homeowner now knows exactly what they do and do not like about the kitchen. Thirdly, uprooting one’s family from a home to a new home, may require changing schools, church location, accessibility to comfortable shopping locations, and regular services that relationships have been built around. Not to mention the burden involved in planning a new home and the very difficult transition period.

Now, I am not suggesting that building a new home is not needed in some cases, or worthy of significant consideration, but, a remodel should not be thrown out the window just because it requires multiple decision making, time, resources, and of course money. I think some have the perception that a remodel is just an act of replacement of existing products and fixtures, and not an upgrade or improvement on the overall use of the space. Besides, wouldn’t it be very disappointing to build a new home (the new kitchen is almost guaranteed to be a different layout) only to find that you now have developed a new set of complications and design problems to plan for a remodel some time down the road?

Here are just a few of the reasons that my clients have chose to remodel (not in order of priority):

1. Resale value / investment.
2. Love the home they are in.
3. Love the neighborhood.
4. Have enough equity in the home to make the kitchen fit the home.
5. Completing a full house theme in design.
6. Kitchen products are falling apart.
7. Not functional for family’s use.
8. Want more convenient and easy to maintain products.
9. Need more storage or preparation space.
10. Required because of flood, fire, roof leak, new appliance won’t fit, etc.

I have also attached a file produced by the NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association) on kitchen needs and wants in a kitchen remodel. A simple way to analyze the need for a remodel.

Chef's Choice!:

One of the trends that hit the mid to late 90's, was the industrial/commercial style kitchens.  This usually entailed large commercial ranges and matching vent hoods, granite countertops with full height splashes, contemporary halogen lighting, and lots of accessories.  Well, what do most chef's prefer?

I was on a staff of designers that executed a very large kitchen in Anchorage Alaska, in a home decorating center (I will have pictures of this kitchen on my website in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime you can see other kitchen projects by clicking This working kitchen was to be used for cooking classes and TV cooking shows on the local television stations, and more. Much of the planning time was spent on what the local chef's preferred that would apply in a residential setting.

Here are some of the preferences:

1.  Dual fuel range (ie. gas cooking surface with an electric convection oven).
2.  Large and deep single bay sink.
3.  (2) Two very good quality dishwashers on both sides of the sink.
4.  Double ovens
5.  Multiple heavy duty wire roll-out shelf units for quick access to heavy pot & pans (commonly without doors).
6.  Granite or stainless steel countertops.
7.  Tile, linoleum, or vinyl flooring.
8.  Substantial task lighting.
9.  Very large preparation spaces.
10.  knife blocks in top drawers close to the cooking surface.
11.  Spice storage also close to cooking surface.
12.  Multiple pull-out trash bins close to range, fridge, and sink.
13.  Bar or preparation sink.
14.  One Prmary refrigerator, and one secondary (undercounter perhaps).
15.  Always seating somewhere (chef's like to show off for friends).

Some of these trends are embedding themselves into the common practices of America's contemporary kitchens. For example: It is becoming much more common to see two dishwashers in the average kitchen. Fisher & Paykel, an Australian manufactured dishwasher is taking this to the bank. They produce a dishwasher drawer unit which can be used as individual drawers on both sides of the sink. The beauty is, they are only about 16" or so high, so you don't have to bend down all the way to use them. They also have a two-drawer standard unit which fits in the standard 24" wide dishwasher space. See more about this innovative unit at

Kitchen as a workout room?

Jokingly, a few of my clients have mentioned that they don’t mind going long distances in the kitchen to prepare a meal, ie. between the refrigerator, the cooking surface, and the primary sink.

This “work triangle” as termed by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, provides a basic region with suggested distances to keep the heaviest used appliances in an effective range. Just because some “unfamiliar” association suggests it, does that mean it really should be given much weight? Well, here are a couple of other considerations for appropriate distances for the work triangle:

1. Energy level of the users.
2. The balance of space in the kitchen can be more easily accessed and used by other users.
3. Safety.
4. Resale value.
5. Procedural. Comfortable flow of function.

Considering that one research on kitchen use stated that on the average each meal takes over 400 steps to execute. With that in mind, most people are worn out upon completion, and that is when the work triangle is being followed.

What’s your Theme?

Does your kitchen lean on the Georgian, French Provencial, Colonial, or the Contemporary side? Or, perhaps you favor the American Country, Old World, Meditteranean, or Classical? In fact, you might have a better appreciation for Traditional, Transitional, Eclectic, Modern, Southwest, Oriental, Art & Crafts, Rennaisance, French Country, or Outdoors?

And I have just got started. What is a theme design anyway? A theme design has been established from time periods, cultural traditions, geographical resources, and more. A theme design, today, can incorporate mutiple facets of many themes. This does take some talent and knowledge of theme design. That is why there are such things as designers.

In the kitchen, it is “the statement” of the home! A theme helps to bring order and understanding to the home. Even if the only things that identify a theme are the tile backsplash, the cabinet hardware, and the faucet. The eye has to have something that makes sense to focus on.

It is obvious through the sales of “Parade” homes that those designed with a theme in mind, usually sell closer to the asking price than those that have no design order.

Some elements that create or emphasize a particular theme are:
1. Material
2. Color
3. Finish
4. Lighting
5. Spacing
6. Layout

To get more information on how to create a theme design for your existing or new kitchen, contact your kitchen designer.

How Much Will I Save?

When it comes to most things in life, savings can be considered from both sides of the timetable, ie. savings up front, and savings down the road. A lot of times, when the primary focus is put on savings up front, the end result is less desirable.

Let me illustrate this for kitchens. Many times a client will want to save a lot of initial investment in cabinetry in order to justify the purchase of granite countertops up front. Usually this means lesser quality drawers, guides, side construction, and more. This may even mean getting a “free design”. Since the granite will last virtually forever, certainly the life of the home, the cabinetry will not. I have even seen some cabinets that have begun to fall apart within 6 months, 6 MONTHS! This is not always the case. But, if the homeowner decides it is time to upgrade to the cabinetry quality that they should have started with after 5 years in the home, most of the time, the beautiful granite countertops will not be able to be reused. So, did they really save?!

What are a few other areas which savings should be considered in planning the kitchen?

1. Save water consumption- Dishwashers with low water usage, such as: Fisher & Paykel, Bosch, Miele, Asko, and some others.

2. Save electricity- Low voltage lighting, such as halogen. Microwaves that cook with light, saving time and electricity.

3. Save unnecessary strain on the body- Keep daily used items in the range of most comfort to access. Recommended landing space next to the primary appliances to avoid unnecessary travel.

4. Save Frustration- Proper planning for clearance spaces, walkways, appliance locations, colors, textures, and materials can provide a pleasant experience in the use of the kitchen. (Certified Kitchen Designers are trained in all of these areas for mulitiple applications).

4. Save Headaches & Confusion- Use a kitchen designer who spends their career assisting clients in the process of planning kitchens. This can help with locating hard to find products, keeping the project within a reasonable budget, finding materials and textures that are complimentary in function and aesthetically pleasing, and assiting in communicating the project expectations to the contractors.

A nice sidenote is that some of these things can be accomplished with savings up front. Take the time to plan the kitchen for the savings that matter the most. Plan for long term savings.

If the homeowner puts appropriate time and energy planning the kitchen properly, then they can enjoy for more than just one generation. And, the savings of avoiding a short term kitchen remodel are significant. The average kitchen remodel in 2003 ran approximately $34,000.00.

A Leg to Stand on

Turned legs and decorative legs are implemented into the aesthetics and structure of kitchens nationwide now. They are typically incorporated into country, southwest, classical, traditional, arts & crafts, colonial, victorian, and french provincial themes. However, some contemporary, asian, and old world styling are incorporating legs of their own, such as adjustable stainless steel legs.

Why use legs? Structure or merely aesthetics?

They can be a great support for overhangs in islands, and a nice way to tie in and emphasize a sink base cabinet with turned leg onlays attached to the front of the cabinets.

When using the legs for structural purposes, make sure to secure the leg at least from the counter to prevent easy removal. On long spans, ie. breakfast bars for barstools, additional spanned support will be needed. Corbels are common in this setting.

One thing is sure, cabinets, and countertops need structure, and so legs in a variety of options will probably always be around, so get creative on how they can be integrated into your plan.

Natural Kitchen

You are probably familiar with people who have a great appreciation for natural products, especially in the home. Or, maybe you are that someone. Well, you are not alone, even in the kitchen.

There is a significant amount of pressure on manufacturers of kitchen products to use less harmful chemicals, more natural ingredients, and concern for how they affect humans and the environment. Now, I am not one to be on one extreme of the spectrum or the other, but not only is there a nice balance, but the available selection of products is becoming integrated with multiple options.

What am I trying to say? Let’s just consider some of the products that are more natural than synthetic and their popularity and demand in the market.

1. Cabinetry- Have you ever heard of Wheat board sided cabinetry? They are being produced right now. They use the wheat of the fields after harvest, and mix with some organic glues to come up with a durable and environmentally safe structural product. See Or, you may know that particleboard sided cabinetry has substantially less formaldehyde than particleboard. I have had a few clients that are very sensitive to formaldehyde.

2. Countertops- Brand new on the market is a product that I am awaiting my packet of product information on, it is a high pressure paper. After some resins have been added, then layers of paper are pressed under high pressure to result in a very durable product. The rest of these products show the boom in more natural materials: Concrete, granite, glass, butcher block, stainless steel, and more.

3. Flooring- Linoleum is making a giant leap back into the market, and it is a very durable and long lasting product, and it only gets harder and better with time. Solid wood, slate, wool carpet, concrete, cork, and more are all seeing a come back into the market. Each offering unique benefits to the homeowner.

I think I will leave it at that for now. There are other areas being influenced by this demand, including lighting, appliances, plumbing, and more. If you would like to get more information on these or other products that could be implemented into your next home, give me a call.

Just remember, it’s natural to prefer good products for your home, and I will finish this time with a quote that I just put up in my office “The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of low price”, unfortunately, to whom I cannot give the credit.


It is very common for me to design a kitchen for a client that doesn’t use it but for drinks and storage. They rarely cook or eat in their kitchen. That means that the commercial style range with the substantial ventilation goes virtually unused. Does this mean that they should not have purchased these products for this kitchen... maybe...maybe not.

During the planning and designing stage of the project, there are multiple considerations that go into the proper layout and criteria for the kitchen. Some examples are:

Do you cook in bulk? Store in bulk?
Is the primary cook right-handed or left-handed?
Do you cook ethnic foods?
How often do you entertain?
Do you like your guest to assist with preparation, cooking, cleaning, or all of the above?
How often do you shop? Daily? Weekly? Biweekly? Monthly?
What is the majority of your foods? Fresh? Canned? Frozen? Other?

These questions are only those that relate to the cooking and food portion of the kitchen. There are storage, safety, accessibility, investment, theme, and other considerations. But, as you can see, communication and evaluation of these questions can help in the planning of a kitchen appropriate for your needs. See or for other questions to help in the communication process for your kitchen project between you, your kitchen designer, and the contractor.

So “eat” up ideas, questions, and considerations. Make the communication the feast of the project. If it is not discussed, it won’t be dealt with.

Pull: 5 Tips on Getting a grip (Knobs & Handles)

On next month’s KCSG’s “Open House” program (Cable channel 6, over the air channel 16 / Sponsored in part by ERA) I will be discussing knobs and handles for cabinetry. Here a few helpful tips in writing:

1. Materials available; stone, glass, plastic, porcelain, stainless steel, wood, leather, zinc, brass, and more. Make sure you use a material that is appropriate for the setting. For instance, plastic may not be good in the laundry where you store chemical compounds, glass may not be good in very heavy use settings in the kitchen.

2. Style; be creative! That is, if you want the pulls to be noticed. Perhaps, you don’t like pulls, but you don’t like finger routes on the cabinetry either, then try the touch latch option.

3. Comfort; when considering between knobs or handles, keep in mind that it takes torque in your fingers to use knobs, and sometimes difficult when carrying multiple grocery bags and such. However, with the hook of a finger a handle can be operated. Also, remember to plan two pulls on each drawer that is 30” or wider.

4. Cost; if you are evaluating between stylish door style or pulls, look at the overall cost and benefit. The style of the door does nothing for the actual function of the cabinetry, ie. storage. So at least cover the basics, and get a cabinet constructed in the quality that belongs in the home. After that, if you can’t afford a $20,000.00 by the time you add the ornate door style, glazed finish, sand through edges, etc. Perhaps change the door style to something simpler or more modest and save 10%. You will also save anywhere from 10%-30% by taking the glazing and sand through off the ticket. Then, take just $1,000.00 of the $4,000.00 (minimum in this scenario), and invest in some quality, aesthetically pleasing cabinet pulls.

Are you sold on the value of hardware yet? Good, then when you are ready for your set of hardware, you and I will have a good time selecting pulls for your project. Oh, one last tip:

5. Spare; I cannot emphasize enough the importance of purchasing extra pulls. Between a manufacturer discontinuing a style, broken pulls, and stripped screws, there are many good reasons to keep extra on hand. I recommend a minimum of one extra in small projects, and as many as 5% more on larger quantities.

Well, have fun with this area of your project by getting a grip on your cabinet pulls.


Everyone wants their kitchen to be interesting. Most spec projects are seeking for something of interest to catch the eye of the prospective home buyer. Sometimes homeowners are not sure where to begin, or how far to go in creating interest once you have begun. In most kitchens there is a balance to be observed between the different areas of interest, ie. layout, texture, and color. Most people notice these in the reverse order, ie. color, texture, and layout. But, color is one of the least important aspects when it comes to performance and function of the kitchen, even though many of my clients remodel their entire kitchen based solely on color.

I am going to review these areas, to create interest, in order of real importance:

We are talking here about the spacing, negative space, and style. This is an area where you work with the shape and space of the room. Cabinetry heights, walkway spacing, island hood, raised bar, work triangle help to create interest in the flow and relationship of the kitchen parts to each other. Soffits, Arched doorways, and raised dishwashers all fit into this category. Layout is the most impacted by the environment it is worked in. So, if you are limited by walls, windows, doors, or spacing with adjoining rooms, you can focus on one of the next two areas to create interest.

This involves pattern, shape, finish, and more. Texture and color are areas that must be evaluated together for the complete visual conceptual to come to life. Most designers will either create a color board of samples, or simply gather all the decided product samples together for a more realistic visual. Always look at your samples at least six feet away, and as a interior designer friend of mine (Hi KayLynn) suggests to her clients, view them on the plane which they will be applied, ie. vertical or horizontal. glossy finishes versus highly textured porcelain tiles create a feeling, or interest to the space. The more texture by way of pattern in a space, the larger it looks. Cozy up a large space with dark colors, matte finishes, and more surface texture. If drawing interest through texture will not be appropriate, then consider color.

There are a great deal of books written on color. Take time to become familiar with colors that appeal to you. If it is overwhelming to choose all your colors at one time, try the flooring or the paint in the home, since that will be the most visible. Or, in the kitchen, start with the cabinetry. Then take the other colors one at a time. Having a designers assistance will protect from the basic mistakes that cause colors to clash. When it comes down to it though, you (the homeowner) chooses based on suggestions, preference, and opinion. Color can influence moods, create focal points, shrink or enlarge the perception of size, and soften or hide mistakes.

To make your kitchen project more interesting, at least be sure to have a kitchen designer review it for suggestions or support of decisions that have been made.

What WOOD You Choose?

In presenting options to my clients for door materials, wood is just one of many viable options. However, wood is by far the highest concentration of door materials in our region. With that in mind, what impacts a person’s choice of wood? Well, there is the grain, hardness, cost, and usually color change (color change in will occur in most finishes if the finish does not have an anti-yellowing component added).

Since there are scores of wood species used for cabinetry today we will consider some of the more common ones. Some fun and exciting woods to consider though, are worth a brief mention. They are fir, hemlock, mesquite, bamboo, birdseye maple, and there are many more.

This brief summary/comparison of more common woods for cabinetry is a general comparison, and some specifications change with location, circumstances, and other conditions.

Grain- Soft flowing and subtle, somewhat consistent; similar to maple and cherry.
Hardness- Softer of the other common woods shown below. Takes stains nicely.
Cost- Similar to oak. Depends on the manufacturer, and if you are choosing knotty or clear.
Color change- Will darken some, and take on a yellow hue.

Grain- Very consistent, soft and spuratic lines.
Hardness- Hard. Great for natural finishes or painted.
Cost- Medium priced similar to maple and hickory.
Color change- Not much, maybe a slight “pinkish” hue.

Grain- soft flowing, and somewhat consistent, usually with some blonde streaks.
Hardness- Softer of the hardwoods, but harder than alder. Very nice for staining.
Cost- More expensive of the hardwoods.
Color change- Darkens significantly from the fresh cut with a natural finish. Stains can help.

Grain- Similar to oak, but very inconsistent grain and wood base color.
Hardness- Hard. Takes stains nicely though.
Cost- Similar to maple.
Color change- Doesn’t change much.

Grain- soft flowing, somewhat consistent in color and grain.
Hardness- Hard. Sometimes difficult to stain.
Cost- Medium priced.
Color change- Slightly will darken with a subtle “pinkish” hue.

Red Oak:
Grain- Obvious, consistent pattern, color is somewhat consistent.
Hardness- Hard, slghtly softer than hickory and maple. Takes stain nicely.
Cost- Low to moderately priced.
Color change- Not much, but some finishes commonly yellow the appearance with time.

Grain- Soft, flowing, usually has knots.
Hardness- Soft, and takes stain nicely, but sometimes the light grain doesn’t.
Cost- Low.
Color change- Some yellowing with time.

Grain- Beautiful soft and consistent.
Hardness- Very hard. Not as friendlly to staining.
Cost- Medium to high priced; similar to cherry or slightly higher.
Color change- Darkens somewhat.

For additional information, visit to see more information on other American hardwoods. Or visit or for a couple of other online resources for education on woods and their uses in the cabinet industry.

Keeping up With the “European” Joneses

Why are we typically following in the footsteps of the European countries when it comes to kitchen products, technological advancements, and even more obvious, style and color? Is it because they are compelled to be creative with their resources because of limited spacing in their residences? Or, maybe since much of our culture and traditions started with them, they just continue that way? I am not quite sure. But, the fact is, it is true.

In Southern Utah, we usually run about 3 years behind the national trends, and the US runs about 3-5 years behind the trends in Europe. So, if you are planning for resale of a Southern Utah home with a new kitchen, and this sale is planned for 5-8 years down the road, then look to the europeans for hints and ideas.

This doesn’t mean each kitchen can’t have its own unique characteristics, but even in Old World, Colonial and other themed kitchens, new products and techniques can be used to accomplish traditional looks or functions.

So, what, do you ask, is found in european kitchens at this time?

I may have touched the surface on this topic once before, but here are a few trends to know about:

Color: Medium pastel painted finishes, laminate, and deep stained woods.
Style: Simplistic. Slab doors, sleek lines, some movement in patterns.
Features: Furniture style cabinetry, most on legs and mobile. Substantial accessories to reduce time and effort.
Technology: Task centers, sometimes where a sink or cooking appliance is located at each.
Products: Glass, leather, paint, concrete, composite products, and more. Simple maintenance is the key.

Trivia: Did you know that europeans use their cabinetry as furniture. They actually move their cabinetry with them to the next home. That’s right! They mount their cabinetry on metal thin rails, and when it comes time to move, they lift them off and ship them out.

It’s All in the Family (and friends):

There are so many advantages to living in beautiful Southern Utah. For those that grew up here, and have a large family living here, they usually have a vast amount of resources just through their family. That is especially evident in the building/construction industry. It is a great way to save money (sometimes), and learn a lot in the process.

However, there are a few areas to keep a finger on the pulse, especially in a kitchen or bathroom process:

What happens when your brother who makes cabinetry forgets to charge enough for the finish or the wood? Who pays?

What about when your neighbor, the general contractor, does have a written contract with you for the kitchen remodel, and there are structural problems three months after the project is complete?

Your best friend is going to install the ceramic tile on the floors, but gets sick, and the island with the sink can’t be set until the tile flooring is complete?

Your father-in-law designs the kitchen, but forgets the dishwasher?

Now, these dilemmas do not always rear their ugly faces, but unfortunately, they do often enough. There is nothing wrong with using friends and family in building or remodeling. But, there are some things which must happen to cover everyone in case of accident or other misfortune. Here are just a couple:

1. Never underestimate the value of having information in writing. You will catch more of the misunderstandings this way.

2. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from a professional on any decisions.

3. Never paid the full amount of the LABOR before the work is done. 50% is very common.

4. Evaluate the option of having the product and services provided by a professional versus your best friends husband; it may only be 10% difference. What is more security, peace of mind, and valuable time worth?

5. When purchasing product, make sure you have a sample of as many of the colors and products to compare with. Never assume “They should look good together”.

Finally, it is always a red flag to avoid doing business with anyone that you don’t communicate well with, especially if it is family or friends.

Back to the Drawing Board

Writers get writer’s block; what do designers get? Designer’s block? Yes, even experienced professional designers get stuck on design solutions. Usually this occurs after hours and hours of work on the same project. Certainly homeowners, contractors, architects, etc. are not immune to this.

So, while planning the kitchen for new construction or remodels, what do you do when you get designer’s block. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Go “Back to the Drawing Board”- Start from scratch, and even use some scratch paper and just sketch out some options. Make sure you keep an open mind similar to brainstorming. It is critical, however, at this stage to always cover the basics of kitchen design and that you draw to scale.

2. Get a second opinion; preferrably a professional opinion. After looking at the same plan multiple times, new fresh ideas can be harder to develop.

3. Prioritize your goals for the kitchen! Make a list of things such as: Decorative island copper hood, two single dishwasher drawers, double ovens, Island with raised bar, and so on. After listing all of your wants for this kitchen and prioritizing them, make sure you can implement the first three. If you can’t, you may need to reconsider the entire plan. After the first three are integrated, if you are able to sneak any of the rest into the project it will be nice surprise.

I usually prioritize my kitchen planning as follows: Layout, investment, safety, function, texture, material, color, and style.

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Maximizing the Minimum Kitchen

So you want to renovate your kitchen, but you can’t move the walls, windows, or doors, and the kitchen seems to small for your needs. Don’t loose hope, there are some things you can do to make that small kitchen seem large.

1. Try increasing the depth of those wall cabinets to 15” instead of 12”. Have you noticed that some of your bowls or saucers only take up 7-8” in depth, then you have 2-3” to work with, but most of your dishes won’t fit there. Give them 3” more of breathing room, and they will.

2. Make sure you have ample counter space for preparation. You may consider a smooth top electric cooking surface to double as counter surface when not in use. Also, there are many sinks now that come with cutting boards to cover the top of the sink. Don’t overlook the value of a large bread board in the top of the base cabinet.

3. Make sure that the cabinet over the fridge is extra deep to provide easier access to storage items.

4. If there is an option to ventilate the hood directly out the wall, rather than up through the cabinetry, that will create more storage.

5. Keep the cabinetry and ceiling light, to give the feel of a larger space. Perception is very influential.

Still stumped? That’s why Certified Kitchen Designers exist. Feel free to call.

Don’t Drop Your Drawers

2004 Parade of Homes was something, wasn’t it? Beautifully LARGE homes with beautiful kitchens. Cabinet finishes were very attractive. And, the creativity was certainly well attended to. But, the one thing in the cabinetry that I find is commonly overlooked is the drawer construction.

If there is one area of importance in construction quality in the kitchen, it is the drawers. They are the most used; unlike doors they hold weight, and with a few moments of review one can become familiar with appropriate quality to request or insist on.

DO settle for nothing less than either dovetail drawers, metal drawer boxes (usually from Blum or other), or dowel construction. Dovetail or metal drawer boxes or easily identified, unlike dowel, which you would have to ask. Some say that dovetail drawers only belong in furniture. Cabinetry is built-in furniture!

DO NOT put drawer boxes which are particleboard or plywood stapled and glued butt or rabbet joined. They do not last in the typical appliacations.

Lifespan- Dovetail or metal - 20-30 years without really showing too much wear and tear. Butt or rabbet joined- in as little as 6 months- 1 year before some repairs would be needed. These vary depending on the use and weight load in the drawers. But apples to apples for use and demand, dovetail and metal outlast butt and rabbet joined as much as 10 times the performance and strength for as little as twice the cost.

So, don’t “DROP” your drawers to save money. Find somewhere else of a lower priority. Remember, either you pay for it now, or pay twice to three times the amount later.

“How Long Do You Think it Will Take?”:

The next words to come out of the contractor’s mouth are indeed the “famous last words”, especially, in the remodel market, where I want to focus today’s tip.

One of my current clients presented this question to a local cabinet maker on the lead time for the cabinetry. His initial response to her was 2-3 weeks. It has now been nearly 3 months, and counting. Now, there are differing ingredients for the reasons why, but most are not sufficient.

Four years ago, I was doing a final pre-construction walkthrough with the client and general contractor on a nearly $100,000.00 kitchen remodel. The client posed the question above. After some consideration of the overall scope of the project, I said three months. This allowed some reasonable time for material or work delays. The contractor quickly responded with something to the effect of “No, it should only take a month and a half”. After he walked away, I quietly told my client to really plan for three months. Well, three months later, almost to the day, the client began to move back into the kitchen.

I don’t state these experiences to put others down, or try to say that a designer always knows best. There are some things that have some established time tables to deal with. Let’s look at the average kitchen remodel schedule (Keep in mind that this is steadily and consistently working on it):

Design/Planning: 4-6 weeks

Order/Product delivery: 4-6 weeks

Construction: 4-6 weeks
a. Tearout: 1-2 days
b. Move doors,plumbing, electrical: 3-5 days
c. Drywall, tape, texture, paint: 5-7 days
d. New flooring, trim: 3-5 days
e. Cabinetry install: 3-5 days
f. Countertop, plumbing, appliance install: 2-4 days
g. Final touchups: 1-2 days

Total project timeframe from meeting the designer to moving back into the freshly remodeled kitchen= 3-6 months or so.

This timeframe is determined significantly by multiple factors, and should be thoroughly considered in planning for alternate options of living.

Because, when you consider eating out, living in a hotel, cooking in the garage, washing dishes in the sink, dusting off everything in the rest of the house, and many other inconveniences, it should be a realistic time schedule!
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Multi-Level Kitchens

Most of today’s kitchens have at least two users utilizing the kitchen regularly. Usually they are different heights as well. For comfortable use, the counter surface should be 3-6” lower than the bottom of the users elbow. With this in mind, it is preferred to implement at least two different height countertops, one 30-36” and the other 36-42” high. This allows comfortable use for most of the average users in the kitchen.

Ideally, the kitchen would be customized to the needs of the homeowners, and the counter heights would be determined accordingly.

You may also see a use to place a landing space height next to a major appliance based on the loading and unloading of food, dishes, etc.

See the links below for some areas to compare kitchens and their use of different height counters:

Mechanical Plan(s)

All too often a client finds themselves at the jobsite with the plumber and/or electrician making last minute decisions on placement of outlets, waterlines, recessed lighting, and more. Between jobsite travel, waiting for contractors, decision making, and returning to the office, this can take 2-3 hours at a time.

Save yourself concern, time, money, and confusion. By planning the mechanical locations at the time of the kitchen design and planning, you will prevent a significant amount of mistakes and misunderstandings. Your kitchen designer, and most certainly a certified kitchen designer, will have the ability to produce these plans for all to read. They should include a legend for symbols used on the plan, and written directions for anything different than a standard set. For instance, if the standard for outlet location is established at 16” aff (above the finished floor), but the refrigerator outlet is called out at 42” aff, then that should be noted. Also, the mechanical plans should be free from other distractions such as cabinet lanquage or construction notes that do not relate to the electrical or plumbing.

By working this plan in during the design phase of the kitchen, it also encourages you (the client) to make firm decisions on lighting, appliances, plumbing, etc. to keep the flow of the project going. Never rely on verbal decisions to be the contract. There are just too many details to keep straight for everyone involved.
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How Much Should I Invest in My Kitchen?

Whether we are talking about short-term resell, long-term resell, or maximizing personal customization, we are always considering the value of good sense investment into our homes.

It is well understood that the kitchen is the most valued room/space in the home. It also gives one of the best returns on investment. So, the questiion is, how much should be invested into a kitchen project?

When building your new home, I recommend to budget 10% of the expected value of the home into the kitchen. Out of that 10% budget, about 33%-40% should be planned for the cabinetry. Each category of product has it’s own percentage recommended. Remember that you can take away from one area and add to another, but you should always consult a design professional to make sure that is the best option.

For some perspective, most builders are spending just 5%-7% in the kitchen for new construction. That’s right, on a $200,000.00 home, the average builder is spending $10,000-$14,000.00. That is why most new homeowners are dissatisfied with the end result.

Because of the tearout, preparation, and sometimes moving doors and windows or walls, the national average runs about 15% of the home value.

Let’s look again at that $200,000 home of our dissatisfied homeowners. The builder spent $10,000-$14,000, when the investment should have been at least $20,000. Now, the homeowner will typically wait 5-7 years until they are ready to sell or are fed up with the performance of the underinvested kitchen. At this time, they will remodel, putting $30,000 into this kitchen that would have lasted longer, and cost them less if it had been invested properly the first time.

Weblinks to other kitchen cost/budget resources:

Kitchen Glossary of Terms

Toe Kick: The recessed section of the bottom of bases cabients. Prevents regular kicking and damaging of the face of the cabinet.

Full Extension: When a drawer has hardware making it an option to pull the drawer completely out of the cabinet, providing complete access to the drawer storage.

Built-in: Commonly referring to refrigerators, where actual installation is required, securing to the wall, and side cabinetry, making a seamless appearance in the adjascent cabinetry.

Resilient: For flooring, it refers to vinyl sheet goods material.

Halogen: High quality lighting, where gas inside the bulb provides long term performance, and also produces a whiter brighter light. Ideal for task purposes.

Dovetail: A joinery construction style, used mostly in drawers, to provide a very strong connection of the sides of the drawer box. When complete, it looks like many "Dove tails" together.

Veneer: Thinly cut sheets of solid wood, usually adhered to particleboard or plywood to give the appearance of solid wood without the expense.

Tambour: Sometimes referred to as an appliance garage, is comprised of a roll-top wood door that rolls up into the top of the cabinet, allowing clear access to storage sitting on the countertop.

GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. A safety mechanism in outlets to prevent overloading the circuit. Required in kitchens and bathrooms in most city codes.

“Should I Buy the Same Brand For All My Appliances?”

This could be compared to food, cars, and more. For instance, would you purchase the same brand automobile no matter what your use for the car would be? Would you buy a Dodge for a work truck? Cummuting car? Flatbed truck? Leisure car? Delivery van? Maybe, but probably not. Each manufacturer has their areas of strength and specialty.

There are a few circumstances when I recommend purchasing the same brand. If you are working to acheive a specific theme that requires a unique style only offered by one manufacturer, that would be appropriate. Or, if you are purchasing a special color, such as those offered by Kitchenaid or Viking, that would certainly dictate a package of appliances.

In all practicality, it is very appropriate to mix manufacturers of appliances in a kitchen, to acheive the best result for that homeowner’s needs.

What do I recommend? Well, I do have my favorites. Here are just a few.

Buillt-in Units- Viking by far. They continue to be the best built refrigerator on the market (in my opinion). Next would be Kitchenaid.
Standard Units- Amana and Maytag are my go to lines.

Cooking (Cooktops)-
Gas- Viking for precision, Bosch and Dacor and Thermador for design and usual performance.
Electric- Dacor and Thermador are nice products.

Cooking (Ovens)-
Electric outweighs gas in wall ovens overwhelmingly- Miele for superior precision and features, then Bosch and Thermador for great perfomance in everyday use.

Cooking (Ranges)-
Gas- Viking still has my vote. Next, I would go to Thermador, Dacor, Amana, and Maytag.
Electric- Dacor and Amana are my preferences.

high-end- Fisher & Paykel has the quality of all the rest, with some great unique features. Next to that has to be Bosch.
Standard- Bosch entry level.

Microwave- Sharp or Amana is my choice.

Compactors- Broan. Smaller width, same capacity, greater compact strength, same price as the competitors.

Happy shopping, and go with what fits your application.

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Kitchen Planning Guidelines?

Who would have guessed that there would be 30+ basic guidelines to planning a kitchen? “Isn’t there just a fridge, range, sink, and some cabinetry?” many of my clients inquire. Yes, but much more goes into the planning, as many of you who have built a home (those that have taken time to really analyze the use and planning for the space) know.

I will point out just a few of the guidelines, which have recently been updated by the way, to give you an idea about what they cover. But, remember that in addition to planning the layout, you also must consider product style, colors, models, texture, patterns, technology, investment, and many other aspects that affect the big picture.

So, these guidelines are just a tip of the iceberg.

You can find the more complete listing of these guidelines at

“Kitchen Planning Guideline 2 - Door Interference
No entry door should interfere with the safe operation of appliances, nor should appliance doors interfere with one another.

“Kitchen Planning Guideline 6 - Work Aisle
The width of a work aisle should be at least 42" for one cook and at least 48" for multiple cooks. Measure between the counter frontage, tall cabinets and/or appliances.

“Kitchen Planning Guideline 21 - Microwave Oven Placement
Locate the microwave oven after considering the user's height and abilities. The ideal location for the bottom of the microwave is 3" below the principle user's shoulder but no more than 54" above the floor.

If the microwave oven is placed below the countertop the oven bottom must be at least 15" off the finished floor.”

How does your kitchen rate?

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Granite vs. Solid Surface

Scenario:  You move into your new home with the beautiful Corian® (solid surface) countertops.  The are a beautiful dark blue with a granite fleck pattern.  And, just to add that extra element of trickery, you have the countertops finished with a high gloss to imitate the look of granite.  Enthusiastically, you invite your best friends over for dinner in your new home.  After taking the pan of pasta off the stove, you carefully transfer the hot contents to a heavy serving dish.  You request your friends assistance, and slide the heavy ceramic serving dish across the island countertop, only to find a series of very obvious scratches from the dish.

This is not uncommon.  Many people want the look of granite with the warmth, versatility, and forgiveness of solid surface.  It is just not possible.  There is never a products without any disadvantages.  This scenario suggests that a designer, or countertop salesperson didn’t educate the clients on the recommendations for flat finish on dark colors in the kitchen. 

Lets compare some of the other positives and negatives of granite vs. solid surface.

This is a general comparison of the average product, since there are some variations to the components and/org ingredients in granite or solid surface that may change its performance.

Heat Resistance:  Granite is very good for heat.  After a house fire, the only thing left may be your granite countertop.  Solid surface on the other hand, is plastic and therefore, doesn’t handle heat well.

Scratch Resistance:  Granite can scratch from other granite, diamonds, and other similar materials.  Typically though, it doesn’t happen.  Once it does scratch, it is very difficult to remove... it must be buffed or ground out.  Solid surface scratches much easier, but it only takes some Scotch Brite® elbow grease to bring it back to new.

Maintenance:  Granite should be sealed anywhere from every 6 months - 1 year depending on the degree of use.  Daily maintenance just requires soap and water.  Solid Surface only needs wiped with soap and water, but doesn’t require any addition treatment.

Scenario:  You find out about the difficulty of keeping the glossy finish on a dark solid surface countertop in the kitchen, and decide to change the finish to matte or flat.  Now, you can still enjoy the warm soft feel of the Corian® countertops instead of the cool harsh surface of granite.

Visit or contact me for additional pointers on the use of Corian® or other solid surface countertops vs. granite for your kitchen.

Next week:  All Tile Are Created Equal! Right?

All Tile Are Created Equal! Right?

When was the last time that you went swimming in the vast sea of available tile?  If it has been more than five years, then you are up for a unique treat.  There are literally millions of options of tile from hundreds, and maybe even thousands of manufacturers. 

So... how do you know what to choose?

First, it is always wise to at least consult with an experienced professional.  Someone who helps clients regularly choose the appropriate tile for your situation.

Now, there is a lot of technical information that I will not go over this time, but just be aware of a few things that make tile different.

you can choose between granite, marble, slate, terracotta, ceramic, porcelain, and more.  Each have their unique strengths.  Besides the cost, I recommend to analyze the hardness, slip resistance, glazing type, texture, size, and color just to name a few.

Think about it.  In a setting such as a kitchen or bathroom it would be beautiful to have granite or ungauged (various thickness) slate on the floor, but polished granite is much to slippery when wet, and ungauged slate created a trip safety hazard.

Most of this is common sense, it just takes some effort to remember to ask questions and evaluate the comparisons.  So... that $.79/sf tile that your friend purchased from the “Big Box Store” recently is chipping, and maybe now you know why.

Next week:  A Better Way to Organize Your Storage

Interior Design Tip by KayLynn McNeal

In a bathroom, many people forget to put their separate lights on separate dimmer switches, causing unnecessary use of extra electricity.  By lowering the wattage going through the lights, it helps to reduce the energy cost, and lengthens the life of the bulbs, and helps to create that extra ambiance for the bathroom retreat concept.

Interiors  By Design  634-1606

A Better Way to Organize Your Storage

Do you find yourself sorting through small appliances to get to your cheese grater, or pots & pans to get to your mixing bowls?  Maybe you are getting ready to build a new house or remodel your existing kitchen, and this is all that you have been used to.

Many of you may be wondering “what does a kitchen designer, let alone a man, know about storage and accessibility in the kitchen?”.  Besides cooking for myself and my family, and doing to lion’s share of the clean-up, I have spent a lot of time with my clients assisting them in the planning and preparation stages when it comes to the use of the storage.

Some of it can be quite simple.  For example:  A well-planned kitchen would typically plan all the cooking appliances (cooktop, oven, microwave, toaster, warming drawer, etc.) in the same area of the kitchen.  With this in mind, if there is enough room, there would be space for pots & pans, cookie sheets, spices, cooking oils and baking supplies, and more.

Other items may have use in multiple areas, such as:  mixing bowls.  Some recipes require mixing prior to the cooking, others require the mixing after, and some require mixing in between cooking cycles.  So, you may consider planning roll-out shelving close to the cooking surface to stack some mixing bowls, and some others near the refrigerator, where you may pull supplies from to begin mixing.

I am sure most of us are familiar with the quote “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” (Author unknown).  If you don’t take the time to consider it before, you will definitely think about it afterwards, and maybe for a long time.

One of the practices, that I go through with my clients in the survey part of our design process, is explaining the process used from bringing groceries in from the car, to unloading in the kitchen, to storing, preparation, cooking, serving, clean-up, etc.  A step by step review of where items would be most appropriately planned.

Remember, when you or a client get stuck on the planning process, I do provide an initial complimentary consultation in my office / showroom.  Or, if you require an initial jobsite consultation on a remodel, then I charge a small fee.  Call for more information.

Next Week:  Planning Your Kitchen for Future Changes

Planning Your Kitchen for Future Changes

“I can’t afford an additional sink, faucet, etc. for the island, but as my family grows, and there are more users in the kitchen, then we will need a more versatile design”. 

I rarely find a client whose household dynamics and circumstances stay the same throughout their use of the kitchen.  Between raising children, family coming to live with them, gaining pets, losing pets, failing eyesight, or many other changes that may impact the use of the space. 

Of course it is impossible to plan for all the changes that “may” happen, but there are a few ways to cover the obvious ones, without having to remodel the entire kitchen each time.

Bar sink:

In the scenario of the bar sink, a cabinet could be planned that is sufficient for a future sink, and could still have a drawer and shelf, or roll-out shelves in it.  You would bring plumbing and drain lines to the island, and cap them off under the cabinet toe kick space.  When you are ready to make the change, the drawer can be made false, the shelf or shelving removed, the countertop cutout for a new sink, and the plumbing hooked up.


Entertainment in the kitchen is growing in use, but it may not fit your current desire for the space.  You could have the wiring run to the back of a cabinet sufficient for an average unit, and make it accessible when the time is right.

Second Oven:

I had a client who wanted two high quality wall ovens, but had to trim the budget in a few plances.  She was very specific on the unit that she wanted for her second oven.  We planned an opening in a tall cabinet cut just to the size of the dimensions she needed, then we placed doors over the space.  When she can afford the second oven, and assuming it is still available, she can simply take the doors off and install the oven.  Oh, and we did have electrical already run to the space.

Commercial Style Range:

Maybe you are in love with the Viking freestanding range, but it is a little bit of an overkill for your current home.  You could purchase the range, and also a more appropriate range for the home.  When you move to the home that the Viking feels at home in, you replace the Viking with the other range.

Adjustable Height Seating:

If you purchase a home when your children are young, but plan to live there at least until they are all raised, you may consider inner kitchen seating that can be changed.  How?  Install a 40 1/2” high pony wall between the island or peninsula and the seating area.  Cap the pony wall with countertop material, and have a bar top mounted at 30” high while the children are small, then have that mounting moved up to 36” while they are adolescents, and move it on top of the pony wall for use during their teenage years.

Remember that studying out the needs of the space in advance and carefully planning with your certified kitchen designer, and your contractor can make some of these scenarios workable.

Next Week:  Difficult Craftsman Finishes and Products

Difficult Craftsman Finishes and Products

“How can I tell if a product is good quality, it looks nice, but that doesn’t always represent its true quality?”

A few helpful hints to analyze a kitchen products true quality (cabinetry, countertops, appliances, flooring, etc.), especially when it’s not obvious.

1.  Ask your designer or sales representative from the company that you are purchasing from.  it is a sign of concern even if they don’t have an answer right then, but when they don’t even know how to find out.  Usually though, they should be able to tell you the hard facts of its make up or construction, whether or not they throw in their opinion with it.

2.  Ask friends or family who have gone through a similar project.  When they have lived in the space for at least six months, they typically have formed solid opinions based on hard evidence.

3.  Go to industry associations in search of answers and information.  Here are some examples:

   - The National Kitchen and Bath Association provides information                  on design, products, and industry professionals nationwide.

   - Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association sets standards,                                     evaluates, and certifies cabinet manufacturers for meeting tolerances of performance


   - International Solid Surface Fabricators Association is              dedicated to manufacturers and fabricators of solid surface countertops,                   such as:  Corian®, Hi-Macs, Staron, Gibraltor, and more.

 - Has become a substantial consumer                              advocate for non-biased product comparisons.  almost every issue deals              with a product category in the kitchen or bath.

4.  Finally, follow your gut, instincts, conscience, inspiration, whatever you want to call it.  When it is right for your situation, you’ll know.  When there is something awry, this is usually pretty evident as well.

Best of wishes in determining product quality for you and/or your clients.

Next week:  Looking Beyond Stainless Steel and Glazed Finishes


The key to any successful design project, regardless of the budget, is to have it master-planned.  Even if you are a “Do-it-yourself” person, consider bringing in a professional to help you focus on the goals, plan the project, stay on budget, and of course have a cohesive color coordinated project in the end.  Once all the selections are made, and you’re ready to start initiating the plan, you can, of course, choose to press forward on your own and either way, you can accomplish the steps one by one as time and budget will allow.

By Kaylynn McNeal, Allied ASID, Interiors By Design 634-1606

Looking Beyond Stainless Steel and Glazed Finishes

Do you ever feel like you are in a rut?  Usually in the design industry, this is when a trend or fad is at the peak of it’s life span, when it’s popularity and application is beginning to wane.

I have taken some criticism to suggest that we would ever venture out of some of our current popular trends or fads.  Stainless Steel (or imitation stainless steel, such as brushed aluminum) for one.  Now, stainless steel picked up in the mid ‘90’s, and came on full blast in the late ‘90’s.  We are nearing a ten year mark for this trend.  It may not go away completely, but there are changes in the works.

Maybe surprisingly, but, my wife and I just brought home our first stainless steel Fisher & Paykel dishdrawers for personal use about a week and a half ago.  Fantastic product, and, of course, I sell them, but I am not impressed with stainless steel.  First of all, it shows everything (fingerprints, scratches, water drops and streaks), and it is cool to the touch, and dents easily.

Now I have known about these complaints from my clients for many years now, but now I have experienced it personally.  Like a friend of mine reiterated a quote that he heard something like “It’s not about what you know, but how you feel about what you know”.  Now I FEEL more acutely about the disadvantages of stainless steel, that I had KNOWN before.

So, what’s to come?  Variations of copper and bronze finishes are taking the rest of the metal market by storm (hardware, lighting, etc.), so why not appliances?  I also see the continued rise in painted finished being introduced. 

Now, to glazes.  They may stick around in different options, but, already in the high-end markets, they are out.  What you see now, is more exotic or unusual woods, ie. bamboo, brazilian cherry, walnut, teak, and more.  Or, you find rich dark stains on common woods, such as oak, cherry, maple, pine, etc.  Finally, don’t be afraid of a quality painted cabinet project.  It is relatively easy to touch up, consistent in color, and you can certainly mix colors in your different task areas.

NEXT WEEK:  Double Check Specifications


Even in the most modest kitchen designs, don’t scrimp on the disposal!  We’ve all had the $49.95 model that won’t even take vegetable peelings.  Regardless of your budget purchase the best waste disposal you can!  Only the $250.00 on up models are really worth having and let me tell you why... You should be putting all food waste down your pipes, even bones!  The bones get ground to a fine sand and that’s what cleans your pipes, and they’re quieter too! Never call a plumber again!  No more sticky garbage cans and it saves on the land fills.  Originally, disposals were supposed to take “it all”, but as in most appliances from the 70’s-90’s, they started getting cheaper and even got less for your money.  So for your next birthday, anniversary, or christmas, get the best disposer you can, and your life will be a bit easier. 

By KayLynn McNeal, Allied ASID, Interiors By Design.  435.634.1606

Double Check Specifications

I am sure that you have all heard of the saying to “measure twice and cut once”!  Many of you have probably experienced the disadvantage of not doing this.  In this industry assumptions usually end up being very painful.

With so many options available for products, not only in sizes, but features, colors, accessories, etc., having all of the specifications in one place to compare side by side with adjacent products and rooms becomes a necessity. 

How do you do this?

Well, I happen to have the privilege to access some specification forms produced by the National Kitchen and Bath Association ( ).  These forms spell out the model number, colors, materials, sizes, and even who is providing the product, ie.  designer, owner, or owner’s agent.  When I have used these forms in the manner in which they were designed, the amount of project errors decreased substantially.

I recommend a three step process to specifications. 

First-  Discuss the intended products to be used, and write down as many details as possible in pencil in the project specifications packet. 

Second- Verify the selected products specifications just before the final printing of kitchen plans.

Third-  One final check of all product specifications after the final measure, and just before the cabinetry is ordered.

What is the value to you to do it right the first time?

NEXT WEEK:  The Standards of Raising and Lowering Countertops


In bathrooms, we often get the wrong lighting.  Most builders and master electricians are not trained in lighting design.  Consider hiring a trained lighting consultant for your next new home.  For example, we are usually given one long chain of lights over our bathroom mirror and vanity.  On a scale of good, better, and best, this is only fair to good (I won’t have time here to explain all the whys, so if interested, give me a call).  If you put sconces to each side of the mirror (oh, and it’s better to use two smaller mirrors - one on each sink), then you jump to much better.  So with a two mirror situation, you would have three sconces total.  Then for the very best lighting, you would have a light over each mirror and sconces on the sides.  In every bathroom remodel please consider redoing the vanity lighting and putting all lights on dimmers.

By KayLynn McNeal, Allied ASID, Interiors By Design.  435.634.1606

The Standards of Raising and Lowering Countertops

Kitchen planning would be so much easier if everyone was the same heighth, had no physical limitations, and the same preferences.  It wouldn’t be very interesting or creative, but it would be easy!

Thankfully, that not being the case, we all have unique circumstances to deal with in our kitchen planning.  That is why tract homes with three standard floor plans are not very popular.  Modifications, to meet the needs of the homeowner, are limited.

So, when it comes to countertops, this principle is very important.  It is highly recommended to have at least two different height countertops in the kitchen.  This creates a comfort level for different height users.  

A few options:  If you have a bad back, try raising the dishwasher off the floor, which in turn raises the countertop surface as well.  48”  is a nice height to aim for, and then use this for decorative fruit bowls, serving trays or other decorations.  How about a shorter primary cook?  I have a couple of clients right now that are 4’11” to 5’1” tall.  We are not only planning a 30” high preparation space, but also considering a lower sink area as well.  One other consideration is to use some type of appliance garage cabientry (no bottom on the cabinet) for those that sit on the countertop.  This allows the user to use that as extra countertop space when in need.

What is a measuring tool for comfortable height counters?  Try planning somewhere between 3-4” lower than the bottom of your elbow.

If you are planning for long-term use, and multiple users and scenarios, you can implement a unit that raises and lowers a countertop section to your liking.

NEXT WEEK:  You Can Look But You Can’t Touch!

You Can Look But You Can’t Touch!

Is this the type of marriage that you want with your new kitchen?  I am surprised how many of my clients will invest $50-80K plus on a new kitchen or kitchen remodel, and then cook less than 10% of their meals in it.

It is not that the kitchen is not functional, or comfortable.  Primarily it is because they don’t like to cook, it is easier to eat out (not cheaper), or that the kitchen and/or eating out are more about prestige.

How does one plan for a client of this type?  Usually the planning is more focused on today’s preferred trends, or interest to future buyers.

A couple of things to keep in mind though: 

1.      Though you may not use the kitchen much, don’t forget to maintain the products.

2.      Just because you don’t use it much, doesn’t mean that you can drop the quality of construction to meet your level of use, and have the future homeowner appreciate it in the same fashion.

3.      If you go out to eat that much, you are probably a social family, which means you probably entertain at home often.  A well planned kitchen should be equipped with features and products to meet this demand.

NEXT WEEK:  Prevention Ideas to Reduce The $ Cures

LAST WEEK:  The Standards of Raising and Lowering Countertops

Prevention Ideas to Reduce The $, Help Cures

A few quick ideas to prevent yourself or your client from spending $ in areas that aren’t appropriate.  This helps to cure the buyers remorse that all too many homeowners experience in a new kitchen scenario. 

These ideas are most beneficial in cases where the homeowner would be looking to cut the appropriate quality of products in the home, because they “can’t afford” them:

  1. Be careful to invest money in areas that you will not be replacing soon.  If they rely upon the integrity of other connecting products, ie. Countertops to cabinets, then make sure the other products meet the quality of intended investment.

  1. Don’t forget that, after the purchase, there is maintenance that takes time, and money for cleaning supplies, not to mention the possible energy to operate the product.  A dishwasher is a prime example.  If you save 5 gallons of water every wash by investing in a low consumption dishwasher, then you could save 150 gallons each month, not to mention the amount of water you save from not washing some dishes by hand.

  1. Perhaps you found a cabinet you love.  Of course you have expensive taste!  Try getting the doorstyle in a partial overlay instead of full overlay.  That is typically about a 5-10% difference.  The cabinet construction is the same, the wood is the same, the color could be the same, you would just see a little more of the faceframe of the cabinet.

  1. Consult with a professional kitchen designer.  I have many clients who have the perception that they need to overdue some things just because of misunderstandings of what belongs in their particular situation. 

Some designers say that “Less is More”.  That may be the case.

NEXT WEEK:  Kitchens for Baby Boomers

LAST WEEK:  Prevention Ideas to Reduce The $, & Cures

Kitchens for Baby Boomers

DVD player or apron front sink?  Do baby boomers want retro, taking them back to their parents kitchen when they were growing up, or get the latest and greatest technology to be hip with today’s trends?

Perhaps a little of both.  The Retro styles such as:  Beadboard panel doors, wood flooring, wall mount faucets, and patterned backsplash wall tile may bring an unusual feel of comfort and home.  On the other hand, computers in the kitchen for emailing grand children, solid surface countertops for easy repair and maintenance, and warming drawers for holiday family meals helps them achieve their end result:  Spending more time enjoying life as they wish.

For those baby boomers looking to spend the sunset of their lives in the house (in this case kitchen) of their dreams, here are a few tips:

  1. Lever faucet handles, cabinet door handles instead of knobs, and touch button controls on the cooking appliances instead of knobs; all for ease of use on the wrists. 

  2. All light switches on dimmers to set the right mood for various occasions.

  3. Raised dishwasher and ovens, for minimal back straining.  Maybe two separate dishwasher drawers or units for when the couple wants to cleanup together.

  4. High contrast in colors of vertical vs. horizontal surfaces.  Easier on the eyes, and safer at night.

  5. Digital photo display unit, such as on the LG refrigerator, where family photos can be loaded, since their stainless steel refrigerator won’t hold magnets.

This may sound like we are planning for the elderly,  but in reality, we are planning for comfortable use spaces so that the baby boomer owner may prolong their journey to the “elderly” status.

NEXT WEEK:  Decisions:  What to Choose First

LAST WEEK:  Prevention Ideas to Reduce The $, Help Cures

Oct. 29, 2004

Decisions:  What to Choose First

Where to start? where to start?  May clients find this a debilitating scenario.  They have their dream home planned on paper.  Even the kitchen layout has been properly planned and designed.  The only decisions left are products, patterns, textures, colors, etc.  Now what?

I recommend to begin with a product that has a large scale impact on the quality and look of the home, ie. Paint, floor coverings, cabinetry, etc.  There are unusual circumstances where a client has come in with a light fixture, or a tile backsplash, or a faucet that they are sure they want planned into the project.  In those cases, we can start from that item and choose coordinating products, but still beginning with a large impact item.

Remember three things:

  1. Texture, pattern, or color for the focus of the product, never all three; sometimes two of the three.
  2. Always put the color palette (sample colors) of products and materials together to get a feel for the color flow.
  3. Comfortable contrast lasts longer than indistinguishable adjacent colors.

NEXT WEEK:  The Latest in Kitchen Accessories

LAST WEEK:  Kitchens for Baby Boomers

Try painting your front door a bold color… it’s a great way to express your personal style.  Be sure to clean and sand the surface properly and then use an oil based gloss paint.
By KayLynn McNeal, Allied ASID, Interiors By Design.  435.634.1606

The Latest in Kitchen Accessories

Kitchen storage space is only as good as its accessibility.  So use at

least a few of the common, and maybe a few of the uncommon.

Common-  I am sure that most of you are familiar with lazy susans,

tilt-out trays, roll-out shelves, tray dividers, bread boards,

appliance garages, spice racks, and much more.

Uncommon-  Maybe, however, you have not heard of some of the newer

options in space organizing. 

1.  Pull-down shelves:  Perhaps some of you are shorter, maybe even

closer to 5’ tall.  There is a device available which mounts inside the

wall (upper) cabinet.  You can pull at the bottom on a handle, and pull

the whole unit, containing all the items in your wall cabinet, down to

the counter level, making everything in the cabinet more accessible.

2.  Plate carriers:  Do you ever drop plates pulling them out of the

cabinet, because you try to lift too many?  Try storing them in a deep

drawer.  With this carrier, you simply stack the dishes inside the

carrier, then, at meal time, you carry all the plates to the table at


3.  Blind corner pull-outs:  Sometimes you can’t get away without a

blind corner cabinet.  To make this space easier than getting on your

hands and knees and crawling into the cabinet, try this unit.  Some of

them have a shelf that mounts on the inside of the door.  Then, once

the door is fully open, you reach in and pull the roll-out shelving

from the inside of the cabinet to access the hidden items.

There are many more unique storage organizers available.  I just thought

that I would wet your taste buds.

NEXT WEEK:  Why To or Why Not Vary Wall Cabinet Heights?

Last Week:  What to Choose First

Interior Design Tip:

When cleaning the home, don’t forget to deep clean the light fixtures,

shades and chandeliers.  Almost 20% of our household lighting can be

lost due to dust?  To clean a large chandelier, simply hang an open

umbrella upside down from the bottom of the fixture, then spray the

fixture with glass cleaner.  Those crystals will sparkle after dry! ...

And you’ll save energy too.

By Kaylynn McNeal of Interiors By Design, Inc.  634.1606

Why To or Why Not Vary Wall Cabinet Heights?

Since we all vary in height and physical needs and capabilities, it only makes sense to vary countertop height based on individual client circumstances and/or needs.

Today’s average household demographics include multiple users in the kitchen.  This helps create the need to cater to the uses by multiple height users.  Consider a couple options:

Tall – 42”-48”:  Great for Tall (6’ and taller) cook preparation space, nice for leaning while socializing, and also great for decorative or less often used counter stored items.  Often times a raised dishwasher or under counter oven will create this scenario.  Also, tall bar stool seating works at this height.

Standard – 36”-42”:  Most kitchens are planned around an industry established standard of 36” high.  Great for preparation space for someone 5’6” – 6’ tall.   Medium bar seating height.

Low – 30”-36”:  Table height.  Good for desk areas, baking centers, areas where children or shorter cooks (under 5’6”) will use for preparation space, and more. 

Just remember that Varied height wall cabinets are nicer for form than function, but well planned varied height in countertops can achieve form as well as function.

NEXT WEEK:  Top 10 Reasons For Using a Professional Designer

Last Week:  The Latest in Kitchen Accessories


Improve the drama on any flat boring ceiling by bringing the wall paint color onto the ceiling 8”-12” to create a cove ceiling effect.  It’s subtle yet dramatic.

By KayLynn McNeal, Allied ASID, Interiors By Design.  435.634.1606

Top 10 Reasons For Using a Professional Kitchen Designer

  1. Your mother told you so.

  1. It sounds cool to have your own personal kitchen designer.

  1. You don’t have the time to do all the necessary research on all the options and decisions.

  1. It is always good to have a second opinion, especially a professional one.

  1. Longevity and resale value are important.

  1. Almost anyone can make it “look good”, but only some can add functionality, safety, creativity, frugality, common sense, and more.

  1. Combining education and experience always makes a better end result, especially in kitchen design.

  1. It is too difficult to maintain communications with each provider of product or services.

  1. Professional Kitchen Designers have all the tools necessary at their disposal to implement the project as planned.

1.   You simply want the best kitchen for your money, because remember “The bitterness of low quality lasts long after the sweetness of low price”. (Author unknown)

NEXT WEEK:  Why Should Husbands and Wives Compromise in the Kitchen Planning!

Last Week:  Why To or Why Not Vary Wall Cabinet Heights?

If you are even thinking about building a home, remodeling your kitchen, or buying a fixer upper for resale, don’t sign one document until you visit to get educational comparisons of company’s information in the building profession in Southern Utah.  You can search for homes at  and soon you will be able to get your project bid there as well.  If you are a company considering locking in your placement on this innovative site, there are some great reasons to get on this year.  Call Shad 229.1585 for more information.

Why Should Husbands and Wives
Compromise in the Kitchen Planning!

I worked on complete kitchen remodel about three years ago where all of the communications were with the wife, including the final review.  The husband was very concerned about the cost, and really didn’t have much to say about the color and product choices.  After the completion of the kitchen remodel, the husband would invite friends over to show off the kitchen, and had a difficult time containing his enthusiasm.

When I got seriously involved in complete kitchen remodel projects, I was not aware of the amount of relationship mediation that I would also be involved in.  I am beginning to think that psychology, and marriage relations classes should be a prerequisite for design professionals. 

Yes, Kitchen remodels, and new construction for that matter, creates friction that most people cannot prepare for.  This friction is not just caused by the financial demand on the relationship, nor is just the time and information overload, but it also comes down to color preferences, style, use of space, and more.

As a Certified Kitchen Designer, I am obligated to implement the industry accepted standards for kitchen design.  With this as my safety valve, I can often times soothe frustrations in decision making. 

Though I am not a believer in generalization, I have noticed common patterns.  In many circumstances I am working primarily with the wife for the planning; ie. Layout, product choices, colors, features, etc., then the husband gets involved more at the end when the money is the issue.  Most often the cost is sticker shock to the husband at this point.  After much discussion and some revisions, the cost is more acceptable.

The ideal is when I can have both husband and wife actively involved thorough the kitchen planning.  Even with both parties involved, I find the need to help in the compromising of choices. 

Now that I have said all of this, here is one of my most successful tools for compromising:  Prioritize.  Most of the time the preferences by both parties are not all achievable.  So, I suggest to write down the important desires for the space.  Then, prioritize these from one down.  Most of my clients are able to successfully implement the first three priorities, and not the rest.  After this realization, their hopes and expectations for the completed project are much more realistic.  And, this then saves some of the after project friction and misunderstandings.

Answer:  Husbands and Wives should consider this project a joint effort.  Whether both parties use the kitchen the same amount, or are as concerned about the color and style as the other, they will both have some expectations of the final result.

NEXT TIP:  Do the Holidays Cause More Kitchen Remodels?

Last Tip:  Top 10 Reasons For Using a Professional Kitchen Designer


When reupholstering any piece of furniture, ask to have all the foam replaced with high density foam.  This costs a bit more up front but will be well worth it.  Another tip is to have your cushions wrapped with several layers of poly dacron fiberfill.  This will give your furniture piece the look of down filled and it will sit like an expensive piece of furniture.

By KayLynn McNeal, Allied ASID, Interiors By Design.  435.634.1606


Search for a home, buy it, fix it up.  Find a lot, connect with a realtor, plan out your new home, have the complete project bid by the best in Southern Utah, hire a general contractor and all the suppliers, build the home, sell your existing home, and do this easily on !

Do the Holidays Cause More Kitchen Remodels?

I remember clearly the first turn of the calendar year in my experience with kitchen product sales.  I was selling appliances in Alaska in 1995.  When the first week in January dawned on us, there was a flood of inquiries into all the appliances.  Why?  Well, after having family over for up to two weeks, and constantly entertaining and providing meals, any and/or every discrepancy in kitchen product performance rears it’s ugly head.  Either the dishwasher leaks, or dies, the fridge starts making grinding noises, or dies (thankfully these holidays are during the cold months, ie. outdoor refrigeration), a burner goes out on the cooktop, or dies, or the microwave only works on one setting… or dies.

Beyond the appliances, many savvy family entertaining homeowners find their cabinetry not holding up to the rigorous wear and tear of nephew Tyler, or the finish doesn’t maintain the same original beauty after many gravy and desert clean ups.

So, needless to say, phone traffic in the first two weeks in January for remodel interested homeowners increases noticeably.  Then, the real work of planning and construction begins.


  1. Each time you find yourself disappointed in something in the kitchen, keep a running list of those items.  You wouldn’t want to remodel, only to find that you forgot to change a few things that you really disliked.

  2. Listen to your family and friends comments carefully without justifying or agreeing.  This is valuable feedback.

  3. Evaluate clearly your needs and wants for the project.

For those of you finding yourself in this same holiday kitchen enlightenment, Call me at 229-1585 and answer a short questionnaire for your FREE copy of “REMODEL YOUR KITCHEN” evaluation checklist.


NEXT TIP:  Kitchen Talk:  Understanding Language That the Professionals Use.

Last Tip:  Why Should Husbands and Wives Compromise in the Kitchen Planning!


Realtors!  Soon you will be able to add new listings or make changes to existing listings on all of your active websites from just one website … call me (Shad) to find out more at 229-1585.

Stay Tuned for More Design Tips Coming Soon!

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