Are you planning a Washington, DC kitchen remodel? You could be in for an adventure. Not all adventures are a walk in the park, however; making crucial planning and design mistakes can lead to a rough ride that starts before your kitchen remodel is complete and lasts for years after.
If you’re considering a kitchen makeover we encourage you to take the first step and contact us. The biggest mistake is to forgo a kitchen remodel and regret it years later. If your kitchen is dated or non-functional you owe it to yourself to at least meet with us. If you decide to hire us, we promise you’ll love your new kitchen.
Understanding the most common mistakes is the first step to avoiding them, and a little information can go a long way toward your perfect kitchen remodel. So let’s look at 10 remodeling mistakes to avoid.
1. Paying luxury prices for RTA cabinets imported from China.
Unfortunately there are many cabinet dealers selling homeowners in the Washington, DC area a bill of goods. And all too many homeowners who are happy to oblige. If you want to avoid getting hosed on kitchen cabinets it’s important to pay attention here.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like paying more money than I have to for something. The problem is when I pay top dollar to find out later I got ripped off. With cabinets being the largest ticket in item in most homes you’ll want to pay attention here.
At our showroom you’ll have opportunity to see cabinets in person, understand how they are built, where they are built, and review brochures. You’ll also get a sense for how cabinet prices compare. A showroom with cabinets ranging from upscale to semi-custom or builder grade will have a lot to offer you.
Before making the trip visit the kitchen cabinet dealers website. See what cabinet lines they carry to get a quick sense of what’s available. If all of the lines are imports from China they shouldn’t cost more than $600 per cabinet. Run if someone is trying to sell you a RTA (Ready To Assemble) China import for more than that.
Big picture view: how cabinet companies compare
Upscale Cabinetry $$$$
At the top are high-end luxury kitchen cabinets. These are the cabinets you’ll find in an Architectural Digest magazine or show, like a Plain & Fancy Cabinets. If you ever had any of the items below (and there are many more) on your wish list you should consider cabinets at this level. These cabinets will typically price anywhere from $1,300 to $2,800 per cabinet.
- 1” thick cabinet doors and
- Cabinets joined together to form one larger cabinet, thus avoiding
- Walnut cabinet interiors & walnut species available if you’re interested in stained cabinets over painted.
- Lighting integrated and routed into the
- Lights that open when you open a door or
- Motorized doors and drawers that open and close with a gentle touch or push of a button.
Popular Custom Cabinetry $$$
If you don’t quite need all of the luxuries that come with a fully-equipped high-end cabinet but still want a lot of customization then a popular custom cabinet line is for you. Durasupreme Cabinetry is our line we recommend you consider. You’ll love these cabinets and all that they have to offer.
- Fully custom down to 1/16th of an
- Custom paints, possible to select any paint
- Choose between frameless full-overlay cabinets and inset
- Wood species include cherry, maple, knotty alder, red oak or quarter-sawn red oak, hickory or rustic
- You can add glazes, heritage paint, weathered finishes, heirloom to heavy heirloom, and patina to heavy patina
Semi-Custom Cabinetry $$
If you’re looking for a simple kitchen remodel consider a stock or semi-custom line of cabinets. Our Waypoint Cabinetry line is a semi-custom line. It offers a lot at a competitive price point. This line will compete against the big box stores.
You’ll also need to choose between framed and frameless kitchen cabinets. Framed kitchen cabinets are the more traditional style, using frames on the fronts of cabinets to give cabinet boxes strength and for attaching door hardware. Framed cabinets use a variety of door styles and are adaptable to many designs. Frameless kitchen cabinets, because they have no frame, are made with stronger boxes to compensate for the structural loss. Hardware mounts directly to the cabinet boxes, giving frameless cabinets a very sleek look. Frameless kitchen cabinets also offer easier access and even larger drawers, as there is no frame to account for in their design.
Choosing the right dealer for kitchen cabinets is also really important. You want to look for a dealer that offers a range of kitchen cabinets from good to better to best. This will help you see the advantages and disadvantages of various features and help you understand what makes for a high-quality cabinet.
2. Making assumptions about removing walls.
Many kitchen remodels in Washington, DC include opening up space by removing walls. This can have a marvelous effect, but it may be quite costly if the walls in question are load-bearing walls. These walls often contain ducts, plumbing, and radiator piping, which can make removing them unaffordable for some. If you’re planning to remove a wall, make sure you work with a contractor who has a working relationship with an engineer – this will drastically cut down on uh-ohs.
3. Relying on a builder to design your kitchen.
Also, be sure to take a look inside your walls early in the design phase – making small holes in the wall will allow you to look inside and see what you’re dealing with. Consider doing this as soon as the decision is made to attempt to remove a wall, as you may find that moving your wall is far too expensive for your budget.
The key to your new kitchen is working with a kitchen designer who both understands your needs and has access to cabinet lines that will meet them. The two go hand-in-hand. It’s important to do your research on the cabinet lines offered by your designer. We’ve seen some kitchen designers and remodelers carry three or four stock cabinet lines imported from China and try to pass them off as ‘luxury’. Don’t find out after the fact, understand what you’re paying for in a cabinet.
If you’re taking out walls you’ll want to work with a kitchen designer who works with an engineers. This is crucial. Many kitchen designers are all too eager to spend hours on design without knowing for sure whether or not a wall you want to remove is load bearing.
It’s a good idea to consult kitchen designers one-on-one. This helps keep you in the know and in control of your kitchen remodel. Great kitchen designers can offer insight and ideas you won’t get anywhere else, and they often have an understanding of styles that can make your vision something tangible.
There’s nothing quite like seeing your vision take shape with the help of the right kitchen designer.
4. Taking too much advice from friends or relatives.
Chances are you don’t know many engineers or designers. But when it’s time for something like a kitchen remodel, suddenly your friends and family can become experts. Free advice is often bad advice, and you’re generally better off putting your trust in professionals you’re paying to give you advice.
When it comes to remodeling in Washington, DC you never want to make assumptions. Shortcuts or workarounds have a record of not working out. We do this everyday and still don’t make assumptions. If we’re unsure about something we’ll seek the advice of an engineer, master plumber, or master electrician. You should do the same.
5. Not designing for flow and functionality.
If your design is too cramped for free movement or your layout is wrong, you’re going to end up with a kitchen that’s no fun to use. This is unacceptable in the most important room in your home. Be sure to leave sufficient space for walkways, and don’t neglect the importance of including a proper kitchen triangle in your design.
6. Overlooking lighting.
Many homes in Washington, DC have small kitchens with little lighting. A happy kitchen has the right lighting when and where you need it. Designing for lighting is important, and you’ll want to work closely with your designer to understand how to make lighting work best for you.
This includes sufficient task lighting, general lighting, natural lighting, and accent and ambient lighting. You’ll want to look at all your available options, including under-cabinet, in-cabinet, pendant, recessed, and chandelier lighting.
At Bath Plus Kitchen we believe lighting is perhaps the most important element of a major kitchen remodel. That’s why we carry Task Lighting and Hafale Lighting, two of the leading lighting companies. By working with Bath Plus Kitchen you’ll have access to the latest in under cabinet, in-cabinet, toe-kick, and crown lighting.
If there’s an opportunity in your Washington, DC home to add natural lighting you should consider it. For inspiration check out kitchen remodeling project where we opened up the back of the house to add three sets of french doors with transoms.
7. Trying to save old kitchen cabinets with paint.
If your existing cabinets are in good shape, you might consider repainting them instead of replacing them. Our advice: don’t do it. Far too often, the result is a kitchen remodel that looks like what it is – a partial kitchen remodel with old cabinets. Your old cabinets will look their age next to all the new features in your kitchen, and by the time you see the full effect, it may be too late.
Another reason for not painting your Washington, DC kitchen cabinets is it’s a bad investment. Most homes have builder grade or shop-built cabinets. By paying to reface or paint you’re throwing good money after bad.
8. Refinishing old floors that should be replaced.
Beautiful, old, wood floors are great, but those magazine-quality refinishing stories of old floors usually leave out a couple of details. Chances are if you live in Washington DC your floors are over 80 years old. At that age they’ve exhausted their useful life. Also the floors have likely been refinished two, three, or even four times.
It’s a wise decision to invest in new floors and start fresh for your kitchen and your home. You’ll have the opportunity to update the floors to a wider plank. 5” wide and 7 ½” wide planks have been the major trend in flooring for a few years now. If you’d like to stick with the traditional 2 ¼” wide consider darker floors, which contrast nicely against white kitchen cabinets.
9. Not having a budget or not sharing it with your designer.
If you’re just starting out we recommend reviewing the Cost vs. Value Report for Washington, DC. The report provides you with averages for mid range and upscale kitchen remodels. That will give you at least a starting point for what to invest in your kitchen. Keep in mind every kitchen is a custom project and varies greatly from one to the next.
Having a realistic budget and sticking to it will help you to get the most return on your investment. Coupled with your personal preferences, your designer will know where to go for an upgrade and where to save.
For those of you looking to do more than a pull and replace (keeping a similar kitchen layout) you should have money set aside in your budget for unplanned expenses. Especially if you live in an older home and / or are looking to take out a wall. The more involved your kitchen remodel is, the more likely it is that you’ll have at least one problem that creates unplanned expenses.
10.Rushing the design phase.
Give yourself plenty of time to put your design together, especially if you have a larger project. Rushing the design phase of a kitchen remodel often limits your selection of things like kitchen cabinets, as the best and most in-demand craftspeople always have limited availability and require lead time to complete large projects – you cannot rush quality. You may also find yourself stuck with whatever contractors are available if you rush things, which is almost never a good thing. Your dream kitchen is worth the extra wait, so be patient. If you’re considering beginning the design process for your kitchen remodel, the time to start is now.
We recommend two to three weeks for small to midsize pull and replace kitchen remodels. For large or luxury high-end kitchen remodels plan for 45 to 60 days for your design.
We’ve covered ten topics in this article that are typically discussed and addressed in our design phase. Now that you know what to look for, you’re much better equipped for an easier, smoother kitchen design and remodel. Your Washington, DC kitchen will thank you.
If you have any questions about your kitchen or bath remodel, please contact us or schedule a time to visit us at our showroom at 1215 King St Alexandria, VA 22314. We’d love to help make your dream a reality.