Designing Your Dream Kitchen
Basics of Room Design
The basics of room design are true no matter which room you are designing. Each room, no matter what the function will have walls, floors, ceiling, trim, windows, and electric outlets. Each room will have a certain function, or even several functions that need to be taken into account when designing it. Perhaps it is a heavy traffic area, or must do dual duty as an office and a guest bedroom, and those things will need to be taken into account for every choice that is made. You will need to thing about the ecological impact of your choices. Will you want low VOC paints that don't release toxic chemicals into the air you breathe? Will you want to warm the room with passive solar heat from large windows? Or is the room situated on a northern side where you may actually want the windows to be smaller so that there is some protection from drafts? In all of this you must consider the things you like, the colors you like, the textures you want to have around you. Is your style more country or is it more classic? Do you like whimsy, a cozy cottage look, or a sleek, sophisticated loft? Finding your own style is step one.
Finding Your Kitchen Style
When it comes to finding your kitchen style you need to consider several things.
1. How often do you cook? I cook alot. I am a food writer, and I enjoy cooking as a hobby. I have 4 ovens, a stove with a griddle, and 2 dishwashers in my kitchen, plus oodles of storage because I use every bit.
2. What type of cook are you? - If you cook alot of convenience foods, or use takeout alot, or if you cook gourmet meals..each of these cooking patterns requires different storage and surfaces.
3. What style is the rest of your house? If your whole house is modern contemporary a rustic country kitchen is going to look a little strange and you are probably not going to be happy with it.
4. How much time will you spend there? If you are spending alot of time in the kitchen you will want to make sure that you have phone access, comfortable places to relax between recipes (a window seat maybe?) and maybe even a t.v. or computer.
5. What is the direction of the light? Where does the sunlight come from? Different directions give different moods and colors. A warm color will make a north facing kitchen cozier while a cool color will cool down the summer kitchen that has a south-western exposure.
Kitchen Design Showroom
Scary word, that.
Before you even plan anything you should have an idea of how much you can afford to spend. If you are like most people you will have to choose between soapstone counter-tops, and that Jenn-aire range..or maybe between a warming drawer and a over the stove hot water spigot. Knowing how much you have to spend keeps your imagination in check!
Spend the most on the things that will last the longest. Flooring choices, counter-tops, cabinets are all areas to spend the most you can afford. You may be able to save money by installing yourself if you are good at handy-man type activities. A word of warning however, a kitchen can be difficult to do and if it is out of commission for very long the whole house suffers. You can only live so long on ham and cheese sandwiches and more than one marriage has been strained by house renovations!
If there is some way to use what you all ready have, then do it! There is no price to creativity and some of the best kitchen ideas I have seen have cost little or nothing. Paint is cheap and makes huge changes!
Plan on the cost being about 10% more than you expect. There are always things you could not anticipate. Wood rot that gets uncovered, bad pipes, wiring that must be updated...if you plan ahead for these costs it will make life more pleasant.
There are several layouts that work in a kitchen. Each layout, except one, bases the design on a work triangle.
1. The one wall kitchen has everything lined up on one wall. The cook moves from one work station to the next in a straight line.
2. The Corridor- Usually the stove is on one side of the kitchen and the refridgerator and sink are on the other.
3. L Shaped Kitchen- This usually has the stove at the small line of the L and the fridge and sink on the long side.
4.The U Shaped Kitchen- Normally this is the most spacious, and my personal favorite. Each side of the U forms a work station. The refridge is on one leg, the stove at the bottom and the sink at the other leg.
Dealing With Contractors
Always get at least three estimates and names of the last three or four customers he had that you can talk to. Ask questions of those customers. Some questions you may need to ask are:
1. Punctuality? Was he there when he said he would be?
2. Clean up? Did he clean up after himself?
3. Attitude? Language? If you have small children and your contractor talks like a Marine Corps DI you want to know it.
4. Work ethic?
By chatting with former clients you can get a good idea of what your contractor is like. You want to get a random sample, thus asking for the last three or four, rather than him giving you the numbers of clients he has handpicked..which may look very much like the names in his family Bible. By getting a random sample you will be able to see if he consistently does good work. Check to make sure that they have the proper credentials, The need to have licenses, insurance and be bonded so that if anything happens you are covered. They should be willing to give you copies of these documents along with the written estimate.
Get a time-line. He should be able to let you know when the job will be completed barring anything unforeseen. Ask if he is willing to allow you to do some of the work to cut the price. Some contractors are and some are not. Remember to get it in writing. If it is not in writing it is not a fact. He is only going to be legally responsible for what he writes down and the both of you sign. Make sure that all papers are fully filled out, signed and dated by both of you.
A kitchen remodel can add value to your home and make it much nicer to live in. Do everything you can to get the finest quality materials you can afford and communicate with your contractor to get exactly what you want. You won't want to have to update it in 3 years so be sure to make wise choices now.
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