November 14, 2012

7 Major Tips Before Renovating your Kitchen

Your kitchen is probably the most used room in your house. Poor layout, inadequate lighting, cramped spaces, outdated fixtures and old cabinetry are common complaints of homeowners. The following are major tips before renovating your kitchen. Above all, it is important to clearly identify the features you want in your new kitchen. Just as important is a thorough pre-renovation inspection to identify any existing problems.


Common Kitchen Renovation Situations


Kitchen renovations are high on the list of the most common home renovations. A renovation can be as simple as installing new flooring or be a major undertaking that includes enlarging the space and replacing all fixtures and finishes.

Homeowners consider kitchen renovations for many reasons including:

  • Size and design — the existing kitchen may be too small or poorly laid out.
  • Fixtures and appliances — the fixtures and appliances may be worn out, inefficient or outdated.
  • Cabinets and countertops — cabinet finishes, hardware or countertops may be outdated, need repair or replacement.
  • Structural problems  — there may be problems that require structural changes or repairs.
  • Moisture — the floor, walls or finishes may be unsightly or damaged due to moisture problems.
  • Plumbing and electrical — many older kitchens don’t have enough electrical outlets and circuits. Older plumbing and plumbing fixtures may include lead or galvanized steel piping.
  • Heating and ventilation — older kitchens often have inadequate ventilation or heating systems. The area may be poorly insulated and have a high degree of air leakage, two factors that lead to high energy consumption.
  • Finishes — older finishes may be unattractive or not durable enough to withstand the daily wear and tear.

Avoid Surprises 

Once you start a renovation, there’s no turning back. Your life is disrupted and any unexpected problems will lead to higher costs and delays in finishing the project. Thorough planning will help you to develop a realistic understanding of the work to be done and the costs involved. Here are some of the likely situations that people encounter. However, every situation is unique and you should hire a qualified professional to do a thorough investigation, find the problems and suggest the best solutions.


7 Tips Before Renovating your Kitchen

Of course the kitchen cabinetry is the most important of all considerations. But you know that already don’t you? So I won’t be discussing that…besides there are just way to many options to list in a Blog. So please read what I have assembled from various sources on line and in magazines as some of the most common and most important things to consider while planning your next Kitchen Remodel.

  • #1 Size and Design

The first step in any kitchen renovation is to make a plan. Think about how the kitchen is used and identify the features that you want in your new kitchen.

Ease of movement and a convenient layout are of the utmost importance in kitchen design. The classic work triangle should be the basis of the kitchen floor plan whenever possible. The kitchen sink, refrigerator, and stove, as the three kitchen features used the most, should be arranged in a triangular pattern. The work triangle concept saves unnecessary steps when preparing foods, and is generally agreed upon to be the most convenient kitchen design.

Another kitchen remodeling idea is to incorporate more than one workstation so that more than one person can work efficiently in the kitchen at the same time. If space allows, a self-standing chopping block, island, or other similar kitchen feature will add convenient work space.

When planning a kitchen renovation be realistic about the size constraints. If you have a galley kitchen, a huge center island and roaring stone fireplace will obviously be out of the question. So work with what you have and don’t try to turn the room into something it’s not.

Consult decorating books and magazines for inspiration, and look for kitchens that have similar styles and layouts, and then experiment with online kitchen planners to see what works.

  • How much workspace do you need? Is an eating area in the kitchen important?
  • What are the traffic patterns?
  • Is there adequate storage space?
  • Does the kitchen meet the needs of everyone in the household including anyone with special needs, extended family and guests
  • Plan thoroughly before you start. Sometimes a simple reorganization of the space will solve many of the shortcomings of older kitchens.
  • Consider an addition or adding space from adjoining areas to meet your space and function requirements.
  • Use a professional designer/builder to help you design a plan to best meet your present and future needs.

#2 Appliances

  • Do the existing fixtures and appliances have years of useful life left?
  • Do you like the style and features of your appliances? Are they energy-efficient??
  • Replace or repair worn out appliances or fixtures.
  • Familiarize yourself with available products and options.
  • Choose efficient fixtures that will reduce water and electricity consumption. New kitchen appliances carry an EnerGuide label identifying their energy efficiency rating.


#3 Lighting

  • Lighting stands an important role at all areas inside a house and especially for a kitchen as nobody wants to cook under a kitchen that is neither too dim nor too bright. Make sure the lighting installed is bright enough to cover all working areas and also all the corners. Dimmer is not advisable for heavy usage areas such as kitchens as the life span of a halogen bulb is shorter and therefore separate gangs of switching is a better idea so you can adjust the brightness by switching on and off only the area needed. Concealed lighting underneath the top cabinet is another good idea to consider as it will enhance the look and also brighten up the counter-top of the Kitchen efficiently. A good level of natural and artificial light is vital to create a successful kitchen design.
  • Interior low-voltage fixtures may use recessed cans in a ceiling or tracks mounted on a wall or ceiling, Pendant lights and under cabinet lighting. Many low-voltage systems use halogen bulbs, which burn with high intensity light for their size. Halogen bulbs also are long lasting, reducing maintenance Half a dozen recessed low-voltage ceiling fixtures can illuminate a room as effectively as conventional lamps.

Ask yourself…I s there adequate general, task and ambience lighting in the overall design for your liking. After all it’s your kitchen so make sure it’s right the first time.

Below is a nice resource to have in your bookmarks

#4 Counter Tops, Back Splash & Sinks

Selecting a counter top is a really tough thing to during a remodel.  You will likely need to select it prior to selecting your cabinets.  There are many many options.

  • Granite Counters

Granite is the counter top material of choice when there are no other things to think about – like money. It defines elegance in a kitchen. The beauty of the stone contributes to the beauty of even the most modest kitchen.
Pros: holds up to heat; comes in beautiful colors; looks permanent and substantial.
Cons: very expensive, requires lots of maintenance, including periodic sealing; absorbs stains; can crack; limited range of colors available.
Eco-Friendly:   Very low.   Not renewable.  Once it is removed from the earth is cannot be easily reused.   Be sure to use low-VOC sealant, look for a source that is near you to cut down on transportation, and seek out remnant slabs.

  • Engineered Stone

Engineered stone is composed of quartz particals. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite and has a nonporous surface that resists scratches. It’s easy to maintain, without the annual sealing required by natural stone. Brands on the market are DuPont Zodiaq®, Cambria Quartz, and Silestone.
Pros: resistant to stain and acid; easy care.
Cons: Expensive.
Eco-Friendly:   Usage of color pigments and resin don’t make this product super friendly.  Mining of the quartz clearly has an impact on the environment.     

  • Solid Surface

Because solid surface counters are just what they’re called, solid, any scratches can be sanded out. The countertops are custom-made to your specifications by companies such as Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone.
Pros: comes in a rainbow of colors and patterns; seamless; stain resistant.
Cons vulnerable to hot pans and stains which can damage the surface; can be moderately expensive.
Eco-Friendly:  No-VOCs, but the jury is out.  Clearly not as green as products such as IceStone, otherwise they would have the certifications like those of IceStone.

  • Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean. Add to that inexpensive and you’ve got a really good choice for countertops for the average home. Because it’s installed a section at a time, it can be done by most resourceful homeowners.
Pros: takes hot pans; easy to clean; wide range of price, color, texture and design.
Cons: counter surface is uneven; tiles can easily chip or crack; grout lines become stained; custom-designed tiles are very expensive.
Eco-Friendly:  Some ceramic tile is made from recycled content such as old lightbulbs, bottles and porcelain.  It is biodegradable, and use low-VOC adhesive.

  • Laminates

Laminate counters bear trademarks such as Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. They’re made of plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that’s easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends.
Pros: you can buy laminates in lots of colors; easy to maintain; durable; inexpensive.
Cons: scratches and chips are almost impossible to repair; seans show; end finishing and front edge choices can be pricey.
Eco-Friendly:  Resins used may include urea formaldehyde, look for laminates that advertise that they do NOT.   Also look for the use of recycled plastic.

  •  Wood or Butcher Block

Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are most often used as countertop woods.
Pros: easy to clean; smooth; can be sanded and resealed as needed.
Cons: can be damaged by water and stains over time; scratches must be oiled or sealed according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Eco-Friendly:  Look for wood with FSC certification, and use of low-VOC sealants and water-based finishes

  •  Stainless Steel Counters

For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. They are heat resistant and durable. Because they’re constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop.
Pros: takes hot pans; easy to clean.
Cons: Expensive; noisy; may dent; fabrication is expensive; you can’t cut on it.
Eco-Friendly: Look for recycled steel, because mining and refining steel uses a large amount of energy and pollutes the environment.

  • Soapstone Counters

Soapstone is generally dark gray in color and has a smooth feel. It is often seen in historic homes but is also used in modern homes as both a countertop and sink material.
Pros: rich, deep color; smooth feel; somewhat stain resistant.
Cons: requires regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil; may crack and darken over time.
Eco-Friendly: Barely more friendly than Granit as soapstone is mined from the surface, but some areas where soapstone is mined is not only impacting the environment, it is impacting animals – such as tiger habitats in India.  Soapstone is a material that is definitely harder to come by in the world, and diverse places are being impacted by searches for soapstone – please use fair trade merchants.

  • Marble

Because of it’s extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen on the countertops of whole kitchens. To get the luxurious look, use it on an island or inset at a baking center. Marble requires constant maintenance, as it easily stains. Some new sealers retard staining.
Pros: waterproof; heatproof; beautiful.
Cons: expensive; porous; stains easily unless professionally sealed; can scratch; may need resealing periodically as per manufacturer.
Eco-Friendly:  Same as Granite above.

  •  Concrete Counters

If you have countertops in unusual shapes, concrete may be a good choice, as they’re often cast right in your kitchen. The high price tag may be beyond most people’s budget.  It is very important to have them sealed.
Pros: heat and scratch resistant; can be color-tinted; looks exotic and unusual; new treatments eliminate cracking; additives reduce porosity; new finishes are more decorative.
Cons: mid to high range on cost due to custom work; cracking is possible; can look somewhat industrial; porous but can be sealed.
Eco-Friendly:  The aggregate mixed with cement and water should be recycled for concrete to count as green.  Also look for low-VOC sealers.

  •  Glass

Glass offers a sleek, modern style that doesn’t have to look like a bland glass tabletop. You can find various colors and different textures to give it some distinction. Glass countertops are sturdy enough to stand up to their role however you’ll still want to be sure you avoid dropping something large and heavy on them.
Eco-Friendly:   If made from recycled glass.

  • Composite & Recycled Materials

Composite and recycled materials deliver some interesting alternatives for countertop selection. Some are made from recycled paper and combined with resins to form a surface that’s hard yet warmer than stone, and others are made from recycled glass held together with either cement or resin.  The eco-friendly nature of these choices may also give you the satisfaction of having helped the environment.  Some of the companies producing recycled paper products using a phenolic resin, or products made from recycled glass, cement and plastics include: Richlite, IceStone, Vetrazzo, EnviroGlasPaperstoneSquak Mountain Stone and EcoTop.
Eco-Friendly:  Highly eco-friendly.  Do look for low-VOC resin usage, and in the case of paper products look for FSC certification.


Back Splashes add a world of possibilities to kitchen design

Backsplashes used to be a standard 4 inches high and were used primarily behind the stove and sink for protection from moisture and grease. Now they are used anywhere there is a counter and have become an important design feature. A variety of materials can be used for backsplashes: concrete, natural stone, metals, mosaics, glass and ceramics.

Granite has proven to be the most durable natural stone for backsplashes. However, it should be resealed twice a year to maintain protection from moisture.

Marble is a beautiful, low-maintenance material, but it is very porous and absorbs grease and dirt.

Textured glass, a look that is resurfacing from the 1950s, is another backsplash option.
Colorful insets and borders can dress up metal backsplashes.

Ceramic tiles offer a huge variety of design possibilities. They come in a vast array of colors, textures and finishes. They give the budget-conscious the opportunity to create a custom look and save on installation. The grout, however, must be cleaned and resealed regularly.

 Kitchen Sinks

  • Single bowl or double bowl?
  • Do you need a drainer?
  • Under-mounted or top mounted?
  • What is the common usage of the sink?
  • Answer  these questions by asking yourself will you even need or use  a large sink, one with double bowls or a colander


#5 Electrical / Media Wiring

  • Light switches
    Think carefully about the location of switches. If you position four or five next to each other, people may be confused about what switch controls which light. Where possible, position switches near their lights. Be sure that you can turn on lights easily, no matter which door or entryway you use. Often the most convenient arrangement is to use three-way switches so that a single light or series of lights can be controlled by two different switches. Typically the lights in a kitchen are on a single 15-amp circuit.
  • Receptacles
    Codes often require a separate circuit for a refrigerator. A microwave oven may need its own circuit too, depending on its size and power. Most codes will require two circuits for counter top receptacles and specify where they should be placed. There are some exceptions to the rules so talk with your Designer/Builder before you start if you have special requests. The receptacles must be ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and must be on 20-amp alternating circuits.
  • Appliances
    An electric range, cooktop, or oven must be wired to a dedicated 240-volt circuit. Other appliances are 120-volt. An under sink receptacle for the garbage disposer may be split so that one plug is switched and the other is always hot, allowing you to plug in a garbage disposer and a hot-water dispenser. Or the disposer may be hardwired into a switched box. Usually the switch is placed on the wall near the sink. A dishwasher may have its own circuit, or it may be on the same circuit as the garbage disposer. A range hood typically is hardwired.
  • ·         Media Wiring

There are also special media wiring outlets today for various media generating devices. Such things as USB ports for cell phone charging, Cat 5 for T.V. and Ethernet for yep you guessed it internet, although most now use wireless.

 #6 Heating & Ventilation

  • Range hoods or down draft systems need to be of consideration. If you don’t have a good cross breeze or window area ventilation then perhaps a stronger CFM fan is needed.
  • Ask yourself;
  • Is the room comfortable and easy to heat?
  • Does excess condensation form on windows or other surfaces?
  • Is there an exhaust fan that is ducted to the outside?
  • Is the air fresh and clean? Are there lingering musty smells?
  • Would a large exhaust fan lead to back drafting of an oil or wood stove, furnace or water heater?
  • Consider your options;
  • Make sure that there is adequate heating to the area. Poor insulation levels and high air leakage will make the area hard to heat, drafty and uncomfortable.
  • Install an exhaust fan with adequate airflow capacity, 50 L/s (105 cubic feet per minute minimum). The fan should be quiet with a sound rating of 3.5 sones or less and be vented to the outside. Choose ventilation appliances that are certified by HVI (Heating and Ventilating Institute).

Tips: A cooker hood should always be placed not more than 36” +- , above the cook top surface.


#7 Flooring

  • Consider how long you are standing on your kitchen floor each and every day cooking meals. Shouldn’t you be comfortable doing it?  Well you can if you plan and consider all the choices available today. There are so many new products out it’s hard to keep track of but a little research on your part can yield dozens of answers to help you decide.
  • Your kitchen floor, besides being practical and durable, is a major design statement as well. The floor you choose affects every other element of your design and with the variety of materials, colors and textures available today, your choices are nearly endless.
  • Stone or tile is an excellent choice for heavy traffic areas. Ceramic tile is durable and available in assorted colors and styles with the option for decorative borders and designs.
  • Limestone is a natural stone that offers an Old World look. It’s a porous material that must be sealed upon installation and then twice a year.
  • Cork is a durable, versatile material available in a variety of colors. It is water-resistant and reduces impact noise.
  • Wood is a popular choice for today’s kitchens. It feels good underfoot and creates a warm look. Today’s pre-finished wood floors withstand heavy traffic and water stains. High-pressured plastic laminates are an alternative that provide the same look for less money.
  • Vinyl or resilient flooring offers a variety of styles and colors in either tiles or sheets for those on a budget.
  • One other way is to heat the floors for a warm even heat throughout the kitchen area…not to mention the comfort you’ll find on the bottoms of your feet. Although some floors, like solid wood is not recommended to have a heating source under it. Check with your building professional before you move in this direction for a list of qualified floor materials.

Visit our blog on heated floors

Bonnevie Construction services town’s in Southern NH and Norther MA including (but not limited to): Amesbury MA, Newbury MA, Newburyport MA, Hampton NH, North Hampton NH, Exeter NH, Stratham NH, Portsmouth NH, and many many more.