Gone are the days when kitchens were simple rooms with a stove, icebox and sink, its aromas and noises politely closed off from formal living areas.
Today’s homes glorify the kitchen as the main family and entertainment center, complete with commercial-quality appliances, granite countertops, furniture-style cabinets, meal-planning desks, and walk-in pantries, overlooking adjoining breakfast rooms, bars and dens.
Busy homeowners are finding themselves brewing their own cups of specialty coffee, steaming health-conscious dinners and baking breads in half the time their mothers did thanks to the advances in microwave and convections ovens.
Selecting the right appliances, planning space and work centers, and managing costs are more complex and more important than ever before. And, if you are planning a remodel or kitchen makeover, you need to start with the right design.
That’s the reason the finest kitchen and bath showrooms have in-house Kitchen Specialists. A kitchen specialist can be expert in everything from appliance selection to task lighting, to the overall design.
When you visit a kitchen showroom, you want to meet with the kitchen specialist to educate you about what’s on the market in terms of appliances, countertops, hardware, and cabinetry.
Before you choose a plan or buy your first appliance, think about your lifestyle:
How large is your family? Will you need a second dishwasher? An extra-large refrigerator?
How much space is available? How much work area do you need? How much storage?
Who does the cooking and how many will share in kitchen duties? Will you need multiple work stations?
How much do you like to entertain? Do you do the cooking yourself or use caterers?
Do you want to eat in the kitchen, at a breakfast bar or at an adjoining breakfast room?
Don’t forget children and pets. Which areas of the kitchen need to be child-friendly and child-safe? Do you need a nook to feed your pet in the kitchen and store its food and dishes? Think about where you need to place stools for extra reach or if you’d like to include a pet door.
After you’ve established your wish list, create a budget. You’ll already have a few ideas from your kitchen specialist. For example, an appliance package can range from $5,000 to $40,000. Cabinets have an even broader price range based on customization, finish quality, and convenience storage such as self-closing drawers, pull out pantries, and custom door panels on appliances.
Now, it’s time to go back to the kitchen specialist and start working on designing the kitchen together, starting with your budget. She needs to know what materials to specify such as specialized European appliances versus domestic brands, or slab granite versus laminate for the countertops.
Next, the specialist will complete the detailed drawings by looking at your space limitations and foreseeing problematic traffic areas. She’ll correct potential problems before you discover that you can’t open the refrigerator without blocking a passageway, or that you hit your shins because the dishwasher loading space is inconvenient to get around.
Depending on the level of service in your contract, the kitchen specialist will not only help you choose the right products for your kitchen, he or she will also oversee your installation and make sure all appointments fit properly and are finished to your specifications.
Throughout the installation, the kitchen specialist will aid the installers and other tradespeople. She’s like an extra insurance rider that makes certain the most expensive room in the house will be built or remodeled as smoothly and as painlessly as possible.
Few kitchen installations are trouble-free, but with a kitchen specialist to run interference for you, you’ll find that once your kitchen is completed, you’ll be able to truly enjoy your first toast or first meal with your family and friends.