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Kitchen remodel contractor | Kitchen home makeover |NJ Tristate remodelers.

See this article by Kara Morrison. She explained her process for het kitchen remodel. Good read.


The tiny kitchen in our 1980s home came complete with a dropped ceiling, fluorescent box lights, tile countertops and original major appliances, including a groovy trash compactor. When we bought the house in 2009, we knew we’d eventually have to renovate. For years the task — and pricetag — seemed overwhelming.


When the main electric cooktop burner went out and the odd-sized oven was scorching everything, it was time. If we needed to sell the house, we knew we’d take a hit; kitchens and baths still sell homes. The last thing I wanted was to make incremental upgrades or renovate at the finish line for someone else.

If done right, I knew this space could improve not just the look of our whole house, but the way we live. I envisioned making cupcakes (and healthier meals) with our 3-year-old at a new peninsula, and supervising her craft projects while I cooked. Until now, we’d done all we could to keep her out of the cramped space, where danger seemed to lurk at every inefficient turn.


Out of necessity and frugal DNA, I was sure I could do an affordable remodel. I wanted to do an affordable remodel. But affordable is a relative term. When we started daydreaming about this project, I thought I could do it for around $15,000 — perfectly plausible if you watch certain home-improvement shows. Unfortunately, that’s less than half what it ended up costing.


The national average for a mid-range major kitchen remodel was $56,768, according to the Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value report.  That’s for semi-custom cabinets, mid-range appliances and laminate countertops in a 200-square-foot kitchen. Their national average for an “upscale” major kitchen remodel (with custom cabinets, high-end appliances and stone countertops) in 2015 was $113,097. A mid-range minor kitchen remodel (without new cabinets) in 2015 was $19,226. Those numbers broken down for the rural market were slightly lower: $55,269 for a mid-range major kitchen remodel; $110,646 for an upscale major kitchen remodel and $18,839 for a mid-range minor kitchen remodel.

Electrical work alone to update the 35-year-old wiring in our kitchen was $4,175. Quartz countertops and installation cost $4,265. Raising the ceiling meant re-routing a main air duct, which got complicated, as did removing a structural half wall. Overall, the total Ikea bill for all appliances (dishwasher, cooktop, double oven and installed microwave) was $3,500; the cabinets cost just shy of $8,000. But construction costs meant the whole project came in just under $35,000. When all was said and done, it really did feel like a new house, not just a new kitchen.


Affordable design is my mantra. I’ve known many architects and builders who like the modern look, quality hardware, soft-close doors and drawers and the many organizing options that make Ikea cabinets highly functional. I liked the price, although the extras added up fast and cost way more than the approximately $2,000 advertised for a 100-square-foot model kitchen. What I didn’t know: these cabinets have a fiberboard (basically cardboard) back panel, and contractors who aren’t familiar with them are going to have a learning curve. 


Overall, I love the dual rotating carousels in my corner base cabinets, the full-extension drawers and affordable organizers that fit perfectly. I like the modern wood-grain. But I don’t like the fact that the doors feel less than luxe to the touch and the rough grooves are tough to dust. My contractor insists when all the individually priced flat-pack parts, panels, shelves and man hours are added up, stock real-wood cabinets from his supplier would have been in my budget. I’m satisfied, but it’s good to research all your options.


Pick a good contractor

Make sure your contractor is licensed, understands what you want, is someone you can work with (for weeks on end) and is a bit of a perfectionist. Ultimately, I picked a hands-on contractor whose attention to detail made my budget-conscious choices look higher-end. Make sure to get a detailed construction contract that outlines all costs upfront; unforeseen costs should be handled with a change order.


Don't skimp on key pieces; sprinkle in bells and whistles

I opted for an under-cabinet LED lighting system, and lights in three glass-front cabinets with a total pricetag of about $500. The electrician installed outlet strips under the upper cabinets (rather than wall outlets) for a sleeker look, and our contractor installed an on-counter air switch for the garbage disposal, which is handy.I got an in-counter soap dispenser that gives the countertop a clean look. These little touches feel more custom than budget and didn’t break the bank.  I also chose an electric induction cooktop ($999) that’s much faster and more efficient that regular electric cooktops, and a double oven.


Pick quality countertops

In general, I’m not a fan of generic slab granite, which is starting to look dated. Quartz countertops — made from ground natural stone bound with resin — are a growing trend. They fit a modern aesthetic, come in tons of colors and are more durable and maintenance-free than other surfaces. Our ColorQuartz countertops (in pearl) are the showstopper of this kitchen. The peninsula feels larger than I imagined and links the kitchen to the family room in way I’d always hoped would happen. No question, quartz was a splurge, but worth it.

Add shine with a backsplash

A backsplash is the jewelry of a kitchen. What you choose can define your style and either add to or detract from a cohesive look. For a couple of years, I’ve noticed a trend toward seamless slab-glass backsplashes. The look is clean, modern and durable, and seamless sounded great. Who wants to clean splattered spaghetti sauce out of grout? I also tend to think the look will stay current longer than a specific tile, and heard it was more affordable than individual glass tiles. Because it’s not yet common, getting this installed was a headache. I’d seen this done by painting the back of clear glass before adhering it to the wall.


Choose efficiency over size 

Our entire kitchen is only 120 square feet. For years, we daydreamed about extending it onto a small unused patio, but finally conceded that was a budget buster. By maximizing the space we had (plus the extra cabinet space from raising the ceiling, etc.) this remodel made our small kitchen feel surprisingly roomy, and the efficient layout has made cooking much less stressful. I made brunch for my visiting parents without breaking a sweat and had friends over for coffee before the construction dust had cleared. Our daughter loves the space; she calls it "her" kitchen. And those cupcakes? Terrific.


By: Kara Morrison

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