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Kitchen Renovation Lessons Learned

After a recently completing a kitchen renovation, I can now honestly say, I will never live in a house again while the kitchen is being renovated. That being said, the whole process was a learning experience. and pre-planning and shopping around makes all the difference.

Lesson learned 1: If you want a stainless steel faucet with any character, be prepared to pre-order and wait at least a month. No one has them in stock. Faucets are not cheap and having to pick a substitute while you are waiting for your new faucet to arrive is costly. If you want chrome, you search might be a lot easier.


Lesson learned 2: Appliances are expensive! And it is hard to not find a cookie cutter stainless steel appliance and my kitchen is too small to deck out in Viking (not to mention would blow my budget). After an exhaustive search and taking many people's advice on where to go and what to get, HH Gregg on Sawmill Road is where I felt they had the best selection. It was many people's opinion to shop the "Open Item/ Scratch and Dent" selection, which I did. It was easy to find a selection of styles that were not available anywhere else and in the end I bought all of the appliances there. If an appliance is an open item/ discontinued or scratch and dent, they are still covered by the manufacturer's warranty (example: my gas range was missing burner covers, it was any easy fix, Kitchen Aid sent them to me for free). If the item is "damaged", just make sure you look the item over carefully to see if the scratch or dent will actually show.


Lesson learned 3: Matching counter tops to cabinets was big decision. While shopping granite with a client on a condo she was building, we were both surprised to see how much granite from a slab actually gets wasted. While her selection was a little more limited because of the developers selections, mine wasn't. Quartz was appealing, but from my conversations with the experts, it sounded as though it was mixed with some not so very eco-friendly materials. In the end, concrete was the best choice. It can be colored, patterned mixed with other materials and it was more "Green". When Counter Method came and made a template for the counter, I showed them a picture from a magazine of what I wanted and they were able to come up with a counter top that was exactly what I described and wanted.


Lesson learned 4: Beware of the restocking fee! Special ordering fixtures is not like ordering clothes from a catalog. Many companies will charge a restocking fee for any returns, sometimes as high as 20%! Considering most faucets start at at least $400 at the low end, that's $80 you will not get back.

Lesson learned 5: If you are going to install dark cabinets/ dark counter tops in a small space, add lots of lighting and reflective surfaces. I went from white cabinets to chocolate brown. I knew there would be a need for a lot of under cabinet lighting, but when looking for a back splash, glass tile would have been my first choice, but a sheet of stainless steel (which is highly reflective) made more sense and fit the look of the kitchen. Also, a light colored counter top didn't hurt.

Needles to say, when out with clients looking at homes, I now know first hand the value of a well updated kitchen more than before.

William Robbins