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Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom is one of the biggest undertakings for homeowners. They may spend months browsing design inspiration online and in print—quickly realizing how overwhelming all the decisions are. House & Home asked local industry professionals how they help guide clients through some of the design challenges involved with remodeling. Their responses may just have the answer you’ve been looking for. 

Q: How do I overcome the difficult decision on which cabinet style is right for my home?

The dilemma! An overwhelming number of choices is making it too difficult to decide! At KitchenEXPO, we make it easy. When we first come to your home to measure, we’re not just measuring the space details.  We’re “measuring up” the home using a critical eye for overall style; including flow, furnishings, colors, collectibles and even your tolerance for dramatic change. We will then walk you through a myriad of options—some of which you will like, and others you adamantly oppose—which begins to narrow the focus. We do this while considering budgets and a list of things you would love to see in your new kitchen that you didn’t have before. While trends come and go—yesterday, gray was white hot, now browns are returning—two tones are very popular; a blue island with a white perimeter, pulled together with like countertops. White cabinetry and neutrals will never go out of style; we’ll show you these options and make you comfortable; that’s what we do best. The happy medium is a style referred to as transitional—somewhere between formal and casual, modern and classic. When you’re ready to “update,” just remember that was your intention.

Brian Gordon, president/CEO
Serving all of New Jersey
(732) 650-9700

Q: Kitchens can have so many personalities: casual,  traditional, country. What color schemes and  design touches do you recommend to bring these to life?

Painted cabinetry finishes are an excellent choice, possibly with some level of distressing to the finish, to aesthetically achieve a casual, traditional and country look and feel of a kitchen. Consider mixing together more than one color of cabinetry to pick it up a notch from the typical one-finish selection made by so many homeowners. An example of a color scheme that could be used to have a casual, traditional or country look could be some blue cabinetry on an island mixed with cream or gray on the perimeter cabinets. Farmhouse sinks are very popular choices for a country look. For an easy casual lifestyle and ease of cleaning, a great choice for the flooring could be a wood- or stone-look porcelain tile, which would be a great choice if there are pets in the home.

Fran Isaacson, owner
Inspiration Kitchen & Bath
Skippack, Pa.
 (484) 994-2611

Q: I love to cook and bake. How can my kitchen design incorporate this passion?

Our design process always starts with listening and learning about the homeowner and how they envision using their newly remodeled space. An avid baker probably wants two or even three ovens; a cook might insist on a six-burner, 48-inch range. Once we know that, those specs are worked into the design to make the most efficient work space possible given the size of the kitchen. Work zones for prepping, cooking, cleanup and storage make it easy to perform each step of the cooking process. Following layout, sufficient countertop space and organized, convenient storage space will be primary for anyone who loves to cook or bake. All essentials, whether spices, knives, tools or pans need to be easily accessible. Large sinks are another must. Efficient storage of pots, pans and baking sheets is a requirement in every kitchen and shelves or pull-out drawers need to be adjustable to accommodate a variety of sizes. The beauty of a custom designed and built kitchen is that you decide what the priorities are based on your unique wants and needs.

Dan Dilworth, owner
Dilworth’s Custom Design
Phoenixville, Pa.
 (610) 917-9119

Q: My current bathroom has a tub,  but it’s not functional. Should I get rid of it completely in a remodel?

After 34 years in kitchen and bathroom remodeling, we’ve found that 90 percent of people do not use their tubs. They seem like a luxury and builders put them in for the illusion of a wow factor, but they take up a lot of space, take a half hour to fill with water—which gets cold—and no one wants to clean it. Instead, people request larger, multi-function showers with body sprays, bench seating and tile upgrades for a spa experience. But if there’s a situation where a tub is conducive to the floor plan, under a corner window for instance, then in that situation we use a free-standing tub that is more like a piece of art. There are a range of styles from ultracontemporary to traditional, and they don’t take up as much space. Additional features like passive heat in the floor and lighting can make the bathroom a comfortable, enjoyable experience.

Dave Cerami, CKBR, owner
HomeTech Renovations
Fort Washington, Pa.
(215) 987-4092

Q: What makes an island useful  in a kitchen design?  

Islands are useful in a kitchen and everyone wants one, but some kitchens do not have the existing space to have an island. Islands are so popular because they offer more storage space, more work space, more appliance options and more social space. Islands can be made with lots of extra drawer space. This is a great way to stow away items for easy reach. The countertop space you gain from an island is priceless. Extra countertops offer more room for food prep, more room for making baked goods, more room for homework, and even more room for setting out a buffet dinner. We have had clients get creative and put bar fridges in their islands on the side facing outward into their living room for kids and guests to grab drinks without getting in the way. How about those holiday dinners? Who wants to rinse veggies or hands while a turkey or ham is sitting in your main sink? Now you can have a second sink. The most popular reason is the extra seating. Whether it’s for a quick breakfast, a social gathering, or a place for kids to do their homework, islands offer extra seating for anyone who wants to be in the kitchen.  

Wendy Amiano, vice president
Amiano & Son Construction
Tabernacle, N.J.
(609) 268-5923

Q: Do you recommend different countertop materials for a kitchen versus bathroom?

When making the important decision of the perfect material to be used for different applications in your residence, I would advise that a homeowner be more conscious of the aesthetic look they are trying to obtain than what the industry tries to identify as a more durable product. Natural stone granite is, and will continue to be, one of the most durable materials for a countertop surface.  Keeping in mind that natural stone is porous, the incredibly easy process of sealing the stone ensures protection as well as the longevity of the beautiful natural stone. Marble has been one of the most popular vanity top surfaces because of the subtle grain flow that does not compete with most tile, and because it does not get used as heavily as a kitchen surface, marble makes for an ideal application for a bathroom remodel.  

Mike Werner, sales manager
AAA Hellenic Marble
West Chester, Pa.
(610) 344-7700

Q: What are the advantages of cabinet refacing and will it provide that new look I want in my kitchen?

Cabinet refacing will completely transform your kitchen and leave you with enough savings to replace the countertops, add an island and even some cool new storage accessories. If you think you’re limited with cabinet refacing— think again. When making the decision to remodel your kitchen, ask yourself, “Do I really need a full rip-out or am I just looking to update an outdated room?” Like many homeowners, you’ll most likely keep the existing layout of your kitchen exactly the same but wish to renew its look.  We replace all the doors and drawers with new and laminate the cabinet box in your new colors and style. By doing this, you’ve changed 80 percent of your kitchen. Additionally, cabinet refacing allows you to convert a cabinet to a drawer and vice versa—making your new kitchen truly a custom space. To learn more about cabinet refacing, visit KitchenMagic.com/cabinet-refacing for more kitchen remodeling solutions.  

Linda Fennessy, marketing manager
Kitchen Magic
 (800) 510-4710

Q: What are some factors to consider when selecting a vanity?

There are several things to keep in mind when selecting your vanity so you can find the style and function that is right for you. Classic cabinet-style vanities are most common and offer lots of storage. Although this style of vanity takes up the most space, it makes up for it with ample amounts of storage options. Vanity cabinets that are designed to look like legged furniture offer both storage and visual appeal.

For a smaller space consider a pedestal or console sink. A freestanding sink gives a smaller space some visual relief, as well as extra room to move around. Pedestal sinks do not offer any storage, so you will want to make up for this in other areas of your bathroom design. A wall-mounted sink is mounted only to the wall, leaving the space between the sink and the floor open. This “floating” design gives a more modern, open and airy look to the space. The wall-mounted vanity could consist of a cabinet and sink combo, or, just the wall-mounted sink alone. For double sink vanities, consider if you will really utilize the two sinks at one time. Your money may be better spent by using one sink and allowing for more valuable space on the counter for toiletries and whatnot.

Whichever your choice, be sure to do research on both the style and function of your new bathroom vanity. Confirm you are purchasing a quality product to avoid problems in the future. Always communicate with your contractor and let him/her know your “wants and needs” list. Contractors are a valuable resource and can help you make wise, cost-efficient decisions that work for both your style and budget.

Stephen A. Turbyfill Jr., president
Freedom General Contracting, Inc.
Doylestown, Pa.
(215) 794-0326

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 19, Issue 4 (October 2018). 
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