that they can recoup 100 percent of the costs of a kitchen remodel
might bring peace of mind to homeowners contemplating renovation but
is rarely the deciding factor in kitchen updates.
According to Milwaukee-area kitchen
experts, cost is certainly a consideration, but comfort, not price, is
the driving force behind consumers’ decisions. On your way to the
bottom line, here are some things to keep in mind when planning your
The first thing to consider is your
family’s lifestyle. What do you like about your current kitchen, and
what do you want to change? Changing traffic patterns and creating a
more open look are often the goals people hope to achieve. Some seek a
desk for writing recipes, while others want spacious counter tops or a
wet bar for mixing cocktails.
"A good place to start is to think
about what things you want to hide, and what things you want to
display," says Tom Blau, president of Blau Bath & Kitchen in
Milwaukee. He also says people should pay attention to a kitchen’s
bottlenecks, which can be remedied by creating a better traffic flow
through the kitchen.
Even if you’ve got a good handle on
your remodeling budget be prepared for some sticker shock when
visiting showrooms, since the price of wood, in particular, has
skyrocketed. And there’s a lot of wood used in kitchen remodeling.
Homeowners who choose upscale woods
such as maple, birch or natural cherry increase the project’s price
tag. "Oak used to be the standard," says John Meiners of
Stone and Banister in Pewaukee, who adds that oak is still popular for
its look and durability.
Shifting from oak to top-of-the-line
cherry cabinets will add $2,000 to a typical remodeling project.
"And many people are willing to pay the cost," Meiners says,
since they know they can get their money back if they sell their home
within five years. Even homeowners who aren’t interested in selling
their home enjoy the more luxurious luster and character of these
Cooking is job one
In today’s high-end kitchens, the
traditional stove is being replaced by two separate heating sources.
The first is a cook top, which can be installed in an island or in a
counter top. The second is a double oven. "Double ovens have
become increasingly popular, especially for families who do a lot of
holiday dinners," says Meiners. Cook tops typically are down
vented through the basement, which eliminates the need for an
When more square-footage is added in a
kitchen remodel, it gives homeowners the opportunity to display some
of their prized items. These display spaces can exist almost anywhere
— from new space created above cabinets to illuminated,
glass-fronted cabinets and open shelves. To compensate for the loss of
cabinet space, many homeowners are installing a pantry.
In terms of materials for counter tops,
stand-alone islands or peninsulas, hard-surface materials, both
natural and synthetic, have generally replaced Formica, Meiners says.
In addition to granite and Corian surfaces, a material called Zodiac
is popular. This synthetic surface resembles granite — without the
routine maintenance required to maintain granite, a natural surface.
Zodiac costs about 15 to 20 percent more than granite, Meiners says.
"It looks great and will last forever."
In the spotlight
These days, many consumers are more
aware of the potential lighting can bring to a project, says Paul
Greenspan, president of Milwaukee Kitchen and Bath in Glendale. Task
lighting, in particular, is effective in eliminating shadows and
increasing the kitchen’s brightness. "This is an important
factor, as more activities are happening in the kitchen than ever
before," he says.
Lighting is used for two purposes. The
first is to brighten the area. This is typically done with the
addition of recessed canned lights in the ceiling, and task lighting
above the counters. Sometimes Greenspan recommends adding a row of
rope lights above cabinets, to "fill in" an otherwise empty
space. Ceiling-mounted fixtures are often installed above a work
island or dining area as a special accent to a room. Greenspan says
the purpose of these fixtures is to complement the other lighting,
instead of "trying to make a statement."