Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Kitchen Trends & A Kitchen That Has It All

White kitchen cabinetry and floating shelves are hot trends.  Kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
White cabinetry & floating shelves are among the hot
trends for 2014.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.
According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, NKBA, and a recent survey they conducted among kitchen and bath designers, kitchens are trending toward the contemporary for 2014, this includes transitional and shaker styles.  Detailing such as floating shelves, LED lighting, clean lines and easy care materials are what people are looking for as they redo their kitchens. 

White painted cabinetry was the number 1 choice for 2013, and the NKBA respondents predict that finishes in gray, and black along with colors other than white will gain in popularity, however they don’t anticipate white in its various shades to go away any time soon.  The trend toward dark natural finishes/stains will grow as well, while distressed finishes are anticipated to decline.  

White kitchen with gray Marmoleum flooring.  Kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
This kitchen boasts Marmoleum flooring in a
gray color called, "Satellite".  Photo by Chrissy Racho.
Ceramic wall tile along with glass tile and natural stone are the leaders for use in backsplash applications.  For flooring, wood is the hands-down winner, but ceramic tile is a close second with natural stone following but expected to be on the decline as homeowners are leaning toward maintenance free finishes.  “Green” products such as cork and linoleum have been popular, however, wood continues to hold in popularity and what’s being asked for in 2014 kitchen remodels, according to this particular poll of industry professionals. 

Satin Nickel pulls and finishes, as well as stainless steel
remain popular with polished chrome not far behind.
Photo by Chrissy Racho.

As far as finishes for knobs, pulls, and faucets, satin nickel remains dominant with polished chrome another popular finish.  Stainless steel appliances and sinks also dominate and the NKBA poll does not see this trend waning.  Faucets that feature pull out spray heads or touch-less technology are also expected to grow in demand.

Touch-less faucet in black and white kitchen.  Kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
Touch-less faucets and pull down spray heads are trending
for 2014.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.
  “Green” features such as water-saving faucets and LED lighting are also heavy hitters in 2014 as new regulations to the kitchen and bath industry continue to influence product lines and features.  This “Greening” of the home also dominates how consumers cook, with induction cooktops, gas cooktops and convection ovens being used more and more, while electric cooktops or ranges are losing ground.  Microwave drawers are replacing free standing microwaves, and energy saving appliances are being requested for today’s kitchens.

According to this poll, LED lighting in all forms is expected to increase in popularity as pricing comes down and it becomes more and more difficult to find incandescent bulbs.  Halogen lights and CFL’s are currently popular choices, though respondents to this NKBA survey expect use of these options to decline in favor of LED lighting.  Lastly, docking stations for various electronic devices along with flat screen TVs and creating storage for these items is high on everyone’s list along with added storage for pots, pans, spices, cookbooks, etc.  Creating storage for a kitchen’s entire myriad of tools remains a high priority for homeowners as they request a place for everything and everything in its place.  Clean lines and clean appearances-no clutter on countertops-is at the top of today’s wish list.

Dark counters and soapstone island counter contrast white ceramic backsplash tile.  Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
Dark soapstone island countertop and granite perimeter counters
contrast against white ceramic backsplash tile.
  Photo by Chrissy Racho.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

You’re Contemplating a Remodeling Project. Now What?

You have been in your home for some time and have lived with its idiosyncrasies, poor kitchen layout, aging materials and dated cabinetry.  Now the 20+ year old oven has decided it wants out, and you’ve had enough-time to remodel!  So who do you call, an Architect, Builder, General Contractor?  There is a better option; you should call a Design-Build company specializing in kitchen remodeling.
BEFORE: the flow of this kitchen
was poor with dated materials.

Many homeowners don’t know about design-build firms, or understand the value in hiring a design-build company for their remodeling project.  The industry has also, quite frankly, not done a great job in educating the general public on what design-build means or the benefit of working with this type of firm.  As the owner of the design-build firm Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, I am always happy to discuss what we do and the advantages associated with design-build.

BEFORE: Another shot of the kitchen.
The design-build model is a simple one; we are one stop shopping and handle everything involved with a remodeling project from initial design concept sketches to final installation drawings, ordering materials, pulling permits, managing subcontractors and final installation.  When working with a design-build firm, a kitchen design specialist will assess the homeowner’s goals, wants, and needs, and develop a plan to reach these.  The homeowner will work with the designer in choosing materials and making decisions with an eye to stay within budget.  Before signing a final contract, the homeowner will know exactly what they will be getting and the final cost of the complete project.  At Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, we’ll even set up a temporary kitchen for our kitchen remodeling customers.

White kitchen with stainless steel appliances by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
AFTER: by changing the flow into and out of the space, 
we greatly increased this kitchen's function. 
 Photo by Chrissy Racho
As a design-build firm, we collaborate with a team of skilled tradespeople to put each project together.  We only work with, and schedule, subcontractors that we have an established relationship with.  Because of this consistency in working with the same subs, they in turn have established relationships working with one another.   We have eliminated any ‘turf’ wars, and can quickly quell any problems. 

Our Project Manager works diligently to develop a time-line for every project, schedule our subcontractors, order materials, and handle the many day to day happenings of each job, taking the stress off of the homeowner.   

Remodeled dining area with white kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
AFTER: this dining area was also remodeled
along with the kitchen.
There is a misconception that competitive bidding is the best way to choose a contractor, with too much emphasis placed on the “best” (read “lowest”) bid.  The real value should not be based on lowest price but rather on who will better be able to maintain control of all aspects of the job, while also realizing the homeowner’s objectives within their given budget.  A design-build company does just that.  Because the entire project is managed by the same people from start to finish, there is consistency of design and experience in managing any unexpected challenges that arise. This single source responsibility often leads to a faster project completion.  For the homeowner there is the comfort that they only need to deal with the design-build company.  Should an issue arise, the Project Manager or firm owner is only a phone call away. 

When contemplating your next home remodeling project, consult with a design-build firm in your area that specializes in the type of job you’re considering.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Elements of Good Kitchen Design-Creating a Timeless Look

White cabinetry in kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
White cabinetry and satin nickel cabinet
hardware are classics.  Photo by Chrissy Racho
What are the elements of good kitchen design?  What makes one kitchen look and feel timeless while another looks dated in just a few years?  I was recently contacted by a past client looking to update their bathrooms, and whose kitchen I had designed a number of years ago. While revisiting the home, it was significant to me that the kitchen still looked as fresh today as it did when it was installed.  My clients continue to enjoy the space and accept rave reviews on its enduring style.   As you view the pictures of this kitchen project, can you guess what year it was completed?  I can give you a hint or two: President Bill Clinton was in his last term of office; the world’s computers had not ground to a halt as predicted.

A 1929 Colonial, many of the features in this kitchen were designed with that vintage in mind.  Classic elements such as raised panel cabinetry in white, and satin nickel cup pulls and knobs, are among the many features of this kitchen that never go out of style. Muted tones in the backsplash tile blend seamlessly with pencil tile liners in both black and black and white, two colors that withstand the test of time.  Glass fronted cabinets are used to break up the look of a long wall of cabinetry and though they look traditional in this setting, would feel equally at home in a more contemporary kitchen.  The use of Crown moldings adds another layer of interest.

Garden window over kitchen sink with pendant lighting by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Pendant lights over the sink add drama as well as function.
Photo by Chrissy Racho.
Storage and white cabinets in this kithen designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Storage abounds in this kitchen that is still beatiful today,
14 years after it was designed and installed.
Photo by Chrissy Racho
Functionality is an even more important element than beauty, and this kitchen is equipped with loads.  We took out a wall separating the kitchen from a pantry area to enlarge the space.  Every inch of this kitchen has usable storage and purpose.  Two sinks mean there is plenty of room for more than one cook in this kitchen, and no one will be bumping elbows.  Drawers of various depths and sizes store the multitude of tools frequently used while prepping food.  Corner cabinets are equipped with a lazy Susan to maximize under counter space, and rollouts beneath the cooktop store pots and pans.  Hardwood flooring is used to blend the space into the rest of the home so this kitchen feels as if it has always been there.

Good kitchen design is never out of style.  Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Good kitchen design never goes
out of style.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.
So, have you guessed the year that this kitchen was designed and installed?  If you guessed Y2K you’re correct!  Yes, almost 14 years ago and it continues to shine. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction is Awarded a "Best of Houzz 2014" Badge

Remodeling and Home Design
We are honored!  Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction has been awarded a "Best of Houzz" badge by Houzz, the leading on-line resource for home remodeling and design!

KBDC was given the "Best of" badge in the category of Customer Satisfaction which was determined by a variety of factors including the number and quality of client reviews received in 2013.  The badge is displayed prominently on our Houzz profile and shows the Houzz community that we are committed to excellence and are a top-rated home professional.  If you are unfamiliar with Houzz, it is a comprehensive view of home building, remodeling and design professionals and allows the consumer to find qualified professionals in their area.

I welcome you to visit our Houzz page and take a look through our more than 30 Projects and 11 Idea Books we have posted there.  You will not only find beautiful photographs of these projects, but descriptions, product tags and more.  Feel free to ask a question about any of the projects, or add images to your own Idea Books, then call KBDC to schedule a showroom tour and discuss your remodeling project.  We'd love to see what you have added and discuss the possiblities.

A special shout out to all of our clients who shared their kind words publicly which enabled us to achieve this award.  With KBDC, "it all falls into place..."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Home Consult: Free vs. Fee

Front of Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction Showroom, West Hartford, CT
The start of our successful remodeling
projects begin with the home consult.
Many years ago, when I was working with my mentor in his design firm, he would often discuss the practice taken by some designers of offering a “free home consult”.  It was his opinion that as a trained, experienced professional he was offering a home consult as a valuable service, and should be paid for his time.  “Would you want to visit a doctor who practiced for free?” he would often ask, “what does that say about how a “professional” views him or herself?” 

Upon opening my own design business in 1990, I adopted this same philosophy of valuing my time and experience enough to charge a fee for a home consult.  The home consult is a vital part of beginning any project.  It’s a chance for me to see the space and home first hand, assess issues of traffic flow, existing plumbing and electrical arrangements, take measurements and pictures, both inside and outside as appropriate, understand how the space works (or doesn’t work) with adjoining rooms, and discuss how the homeowner currently uses (or doesn’t use) the space.  For the homeowner, this information is priceless as we start the process together of discussing ideas, developing a budget, and working toward a design solution.  It’s also a chance for the homeowner to gain a deeper understanding of their home, gain new insights into how they use their existing space, and often they learn that there may be a design solution beyond the initial scope of their project.

Kitchen remodel designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
The final design of this kitchen remodel was totally different
from what the clients had initially envisoned and
greately improved the flow of the space.

This part of the process is what sets Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction apart from our competitors.  We charge a fee for this, because as experienced professionals, what is discussed at the home consult and subsequent budget analysis meeting provides the homeowner with real, meaningful information.  We don’t simply measure and suggest “a one size fits all” design for their project.  A kitchen or bath remodel is more than just aesthetics.  One can install the most beautiful cabinets and granite countertops, but if the space doesn’t function, what good are they?  When it comes to any kind of home remodeling, a client is making an investment in their residence.  As a design professional, it is my responsibility to guide my clients toward making informed decisions on how to best capitalize on this investment.  A home consult is the first, and quite possibly, the most important step toward making these decisions, and one that at KBDC we don’t take lightly.    

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Family Gathering Space Gets a Remodel

Display shelving around the newly added window ties the ceiling beam into the remodeled kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Kitchen remodel AFTER.  Display shelving around the
kitchen sink and newly added window ties the ceiling beam
into the overall design of the space.
Photo by Chrissy Racho
Image of kitchen BEFORE a remodel by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Kitchen BEFORE
The kitchen is truly the heart and center of this home.  A gathering place to eat, talk, and be together.  However the original kitchen was dark, cut up by a large peninsula and ceiling beam in the center of the room, and didn't take advantage of the amount of square footage available.

A new center island adds extra seating to the remodeled kitchen.  Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
The new center island features seating and cooktop.
Photo by Chrissy Racho.
After gutting the space to the studs and getting rid of the peninsula, we reconfigured the entire room to open it up for better flow.  We added a new island that includes seating, and a window over the sink to increase the amount of natural light.

A bay window was removed and the area bumped out with new windows installed for added light and banquette style seating.  We also incorporated the ceiling beam into the kitchen design for greater cohesion.  Using white cabinetry brought all the way up to the ceiling provides a greater sense of openness, light and height.

Special features of this kitchen include a farmhouse sink, bridge faucet with side spray, display cubbies, New Caldonia honed granite countertops and island, and hardwood flooring to tie in with the rest of the house which was built in 1927.  The new kitchen is the perfect combination of modern day style with old world charm.

An additional window adds more natural light to this beautiful kitchen remodel.  Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
Detail photo of the new stainless bridge faucet, farmhouse
sink and new sunny window.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

We Do More than Kitchens and Baths: A Refreshed Fireplace and Cabinetry Updates this Family Room

Before picture of a standard brick fireplace and raised hearth.  Project by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
BEFORE: Brick fireplace and
raised hearth.
"Oh, Weather Outside is Frightful..."  With winter weather breathing down our necks here in New England, what better time of year to post some cozy pictures of a fireplace unit and built-ins we recently completed.

 The couple came to us wanting built-in storage and a new fireplace surround for their family room.  The existing fireplace was your standard brick with a raised hearth and was centered in the room between two windows.  Off to one side was the entertainment unit which housed the television, cable box, and other electronics which caused the room to seem somewhat off balance.  

Glass and stone mosaic tile add a more contemporary feel to this living room.  Project by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
AFTER: Beautiful glass and stone mosaic tile adds texture
and changes the feel of the family room.
The newly designed fireplace wall features warm wood cabinetry with a chocolate stain.  This central focal point in the living room houses the family television and new gas fireplace insert.  Floor to ceiling glass and stone mosaic tile surround a spot for the television and fireplace. Removing the raised hearth adds space to the room and gives it a more contemporary feel.  On either side are low cabinets for storage, display and extra seating. More cabinetry and shelving on either side help balance out the family room.   These taller cabinets are topped by Chroma Quartz in Crystal White. The final result is a cozy and inviting space to
hang out and with friends on game day
or family on movie night.
Added cabinetry on either side of the new fireplace surround provides needed storage in this family room.  Project by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT
AFTER: low cabinets provide storage and seating while
other cabinetry and shelving can house games, movies
and display family memorabilia.
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