With a new year comes a new opportunity to remodel your kitchen, whether it's a full overhaul or just some targeted updates. This book, "New Kitchen Ideas that Work" (Taunton Press) by Jamie Gold, includes some amazing examples of the latest trends and strategies in kitchen design.
Facelift or Full Remodel
Sometimes a kitchen doesn’t need a full remodel, just a facelift. (Sometimes that’s all your budget will allow, as well.) If your current cabinets are structurally sound and you’re keeping your existing footprint to preserve the flooring, you could be an excellent candidate for cabinet refacing or refinishing. Neither of these cosmetic improvements will add storage to your kitchen, but both could give it a new look. A cabinet facelift can also include the addition of storage accessories, decorative molding, and new hardware.
Another kind of facelift could bypass your cabinetry entirely, one that involves replacing or resurfacing the countertops on top of the existing base cabinets. Most often, this change will be from laminate to natural or engineered stone. One note, though: This generally entails changing the faucet, sink, and drains, as well. These upgrades offer you the opportunity to improve functionality while you’re improving your kitchen’s style. For example, you can choose a sink with a better bowl configuration and upgrade to a pull-out faucet with a coordinating soap dispenser for greater convenience.
Updating the lighting is another form of kitchen facelift. You can change out old-style fluorescent light boxes in favor of recessed can lights without making any other changes in the space. Or install pendants over islands and peninsulas for a better-lit, better-looking space. You can also convert recessed lights to pendants, if you prefer that look, and add undercabinet lighting to improve your work areas. Of course, a licensed electrician is the best person to make these changes.
A change in flooring also can enhance a kitchen’s functionality as well as its style. New flooring can be more comfortable cork, for instance, or more durable porcelain. Whatever choice you make, it is crucial to consider the new material’s specifications so that you avoid unexpected consequences, like locking a dishwasher into place.
In recent years, new systems have been developed that allow for installing a stone top directly over existing counters. These countertop systems are most often made from a thin layer of engineered stone to achieve the new look and performance rather than from the standard 2cm or 3cm slab of stone. Concrete and porcelain resurfacing are also available, but not in all areas of the country.
The chief benefit of these countertop resurfacing systems is reduced demolition and kitchen downtime. The limitations include a narrow range of styles to choose from, relatively high cost, and a limited number of companies performing them. You can research this in your area by looking up “countertop resurfacing” on the Internet, but be sure to check references, licensing, and work performed for others in your local area.
Working With What You Have
Whether you’re planning a facelift or a full-scale remodel, it’s essential to factor in the major elements staying in the kitchen or adjacent rooms that open to the kitchen. These include architecture, flooring, and built-ins. What you change in the space should coordinate with what you’re keeping.
For example, consider the size and style of moldings, built-ins, or a fireplace surround that will stay, and incorporate that detail into the new kitchen design. Choose cabinetry finishes and countertops that work not just with the kitchen flooring (new or existing), but with the flooring and built-ins in rooms that open onto the kitchen.
Generally, you don’t need to take furniture into account when selecting permanent elements, but there is a notable exception. If you have a large, valuable focal-point piece, like an antique library cabinet or oversize heirloom hutch, you may want to coordinate with it, as well, by selecting complementary styles and finishes for the updated kitchen. Smaller furniture, paint, cabinet knobs, and similar small items don’t need to factor into your plans, as they’re relatively easy and inexpensive to change later, if you wish.