Posted in Back splashes, cabinet hardware, Cabinets, Counter tops, Kitchen Trends, Kitchens, Kitchens Don'ts, Maple Cabinets, Oak Cabinets, Paint, Resale Value, Return on Investment, Traditional Kitchens, Trends in Tile, White Kitchens

Musings on when to paint your cabinets

So your house is not selling. It’s sitting on the market without offers while other houses in the neighborhood are selling while your home continues to linger. Feedback from your realtor says that potential buyers don’t like the kitchen. Realtors advise depersonalizing your home, (remove family photos and personal “clutter”), so buyers can get a better sense for how this home would fit their lifestyle.  But how do you depersonalize your dated kitchen? Your father may have built or installed these cabinets or you may have selected your favorite maple wood stain but does that matter to the buyer?  Remember, they are not buying for sentimental value.

Do you dig in and wait for the buyer who likes your taste to come along months down the line or do you appeal to more home buyers who desire the current trends and get your house sold quicker?

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Kitchen Circa 1990’s. Floors Circa 2015. Fresh coat of paint, hardware, new counter tops and splash and this kitchen would be charming!

A former client was shocked that their house is still sitting on the market with really insulting low ball offers while the cheaply renovated neighbors house sold in 10 days. This is a sad case of letting your personal style getting in the way of selling your home. It doesn’t pay to be annoyed that your dated cabinets are better quality than your neighbor’s cheap but cute “ok-Ikea” kitchen. If it’s dated, even though it was in style when you remodeled 10, 20 or 30 years ago, facts are facts: out of style kitchens are a big fat negative for the buyer who wants a move-in ready home.

Are you ready to drop $100,000 or more off of your asking price so you can sell your house? Ready for a change?  Or for a modest investment in paint, cabinet hardware and new counter tops, you can update for kitchen for a quicker sale.

Let’s get started:  Consider what’s fresh and timeless versus what home-buyers consider dated and dreary.

# 1: Consider painting your wood cabinets, (yes I said it, paint your wood cabinets!). It’s ok to paint wood. Hire a professional painter to get the job done fast and efficiently.

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Bright white and wood look charcoal plank tile floors as shown in a model home at the Oaks at Portola Hills.

Take a tour of model homes in your area to get a sense of what is trending in your town.

# 2: For a bit more elbow grease, route out the door panels and add clear glass for a vibrant change in your wall cabinets.

# 3: Add cabinet hardware to your cabinets. It’s the jewelry in the kitchen. Brushed nickel or polished chrome knobs and pulls add a nice touch.

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Caesarstone Shitake Counter tops, Brookhaven by Wood-Mode Cabinetry

#4: Are your wood stained cabinets in good shape but the counters are Uba Tuba or Baltic Brown granite? Rip out the counters and splash! Install new counter tops in a light quartz. Back splashes with a little pizzazz becomes a focal point in the kitchen.

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Cherry wood with Mosaic stone and glass tile for the splash and quartz counter top.
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Paint White Cabinets, mosaic & subway backsplash, quartzite slab, polished chrome pulls

Pick up any kitchen magazine and you’ll find a majority of the covers show kitchens with quartz or quartzite counters. Dark & busy counter tops appeal to fewer people.

Even the quartz manufacturer’s weed out dated colors. I just threw out 10 sample blocks from one of my vendors that discontinued colors that were popular 4 years ago but not today. Edit out what doesn’t work.

Solid color quartz counter tops or marble and “marble-like” are in high demand for most of my clients.

 

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3 x 6 white subway tile and honed quartz counter top.

And finally tip # 5: The most popular back splash today: Subway tile! Painted kitchens and subway tile are always a classic winner! A client came to us after seeing our fabulous contemporary display in an appliance showroom, but once they saw our classic white display with subway tile, the decision was done. This style evokes immediate love for classic good looks.

Update the back splash with a classic white subway tile! It is timeless and one of the more affordable back splash tiles available. Paired with new counter tops, paint white cabinets, new hardware, a new faucet and stainless steel sink will transform a kitchen into an appealing space for a home buyer to consider.

And if you are in the Orange County area and need help with your dated kitchen, please give me a call for an estimate. 949.448.9627.

 

 

 

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Posted in Cabinets, How to buy kitchen cabinets, NKBA, Planning, Return on Investment, The Cabinet Estimate, Working with a Kitchen Designer

Playing poker with your cabinet estimate: "How much is it gonna cost ?"

I am not a betting person but sometimes I wonder if I should take up poker since some client’s like to play it with me. Poker it seems is a game of not revealing your cards and is a game of chance, skill and never revealing your moves.

The problem with playing poker in remodeling is that it just doesn’t work this way if you want me to plan an estimate for you. “How much is it gonna cost me?” “How much do you want to spend?” I could bluff but that just wastes both your time and mine, doesn’t it? You can’t build your budget on a game of Texas Hold-em and I can’t plan a design for you unless I know your budget, pardner. Case in point: You want to buy cabinets from me and you want to know how much it’s gonna cost. You look at my corner 10 x 10 display and you ask how much would something like this cost in my kitchen? Well that’s like asking how much is a bag of groceries!

Estimating is time intensive and if you really want to know the truth, if you think you are getting a deal with getting someone to come out and give you a “free estimate” you just lost the game. Anytime someone says it’s a “free estimate” is playing poker with you. Chances are he is factoring his time into the cost of the project without revealing to you that the time to estimate, the drive time, the payroll expense to pay someone to layout the plans for your “free design” just upped the ante for him. He has to factor his time and labor into your cost. But not just your estimate, you are also paying for everyone else who asked for a free estimate with over all higher prices. Time is money, my friend, and no one is driving around town, spending time with each customer that calls for a free estimate and not building his costs into your estimate. If he isn’t, he won’t be in business  for long.

Do I want to play poker with clients? Nope, I am a straight shooter. I don’t like gambling with my customer’s time or money. I can provide you the option of a free estimate if you bring me your measurements and I can do a take off with preliminary numbers to get you in the ball park of price ranges. A free estimate won’t be accurate to the penny because I have not verified the dimensions my self. It will remain a ballpark range within 10-15% until the dimensions can be verified and the details of your “wish list” versus “must have” list” clarified by you.

If you are not comfortable with measuring your own kitchen, I can do that for you but I charge a measure fee for my time to come out to your house and take accurate measurements of the space and you will get accurate pricing. This is rebated back to you when you purchase my cabinets, which is a fair deal. If you don’t want to buy from me, you get a few rendered concept views and those are for you to keep.

All this makes sense until the customer who wants to have a Mexican Stand Off enters the picture. She wants a price, but won’t bring in dimensions of the kitchen and she won’t pay a measure fee for preliminary plans. She won’t pay the fee because she doesn’t know if she will like what she gets. It does not pay to play poker with a client because I cannot guess how much your kitchen is going to cost until we discuss what it is exactly you want in your kitchen and until I price it out. I cannot presume to know your taste and style without at least having a conversation with you. I have to see it or at the very least be provided pictures of kitchens you like and dimensions to estimate from.

Come on folks, this is like going to see your Cosmetic Surgeon and telling her you want your face to look younger but you are not willing to reveal what part of the face you want worked on and how much you want to spend. A brow lift, a facial peel, a face lift, remove the bags under your eyes, remove the jowels, it all adds up. What do you want to do?

Likewise you can’t go to a Realtor and say “I want to buy a house” and escorted to several homes for sale without knowing what your price range is.  Kitchens, like houses, like cars, like anything you want to buy are available in several different prices ranges. If you cannot reveal honestly what your investment can be, your service provider will not be able to provide you the best service or the best value for the money without these basic facts to work from. Mostly, I want to provide my clients a project and a product they are satisfied with. To do this well, communication is essential and this is no place for a game of poker with your wants and needs.

Also, if a client tells me she doesn’t need a design, she just needs to order cabinets, you can’t place an order for cabinets without a plan. A plan involves a design, a design involves exact dimensions, dimensions require accuracy and if I am responsible for your order, I need to be the one measuring for those cabinets. I suppose you can simply go to your local big box store and place your order with the order takers, but then you are responsible for your dimensions. I prefer not to be an order taker.  

Getting an accurate design and paying a Professional Kitchen Designer will save you money in the long run. You can retain a Kitchen Designer to provide you a space plan so that you can get competitive bids from contractors or you may get a great price from that Kitchen Designer and buy from her. Whichever the case may be for you, working with a Kitchen Designer will add value to your project. Contractors will thank you for having detailed plans to bid from, as this saves them time knowing what the details are for your project in advance. There are too many details in cabinet design for a contractor to keep up with or even care about. Most contractors will advise clients to get their cabinets planned out and provide them a copy of the plans. A kitchen designer will be able to best advise on cabinetry, counter tops, lighting, flooring, best use of space layout, seating arrangements, appliances, storage solutions and so much more. Furthermore, an experienced designer that specializes in Kitchen Design will save you from the headaches of not pre-planning the details and not having the materials on the job when the contractor needs them. You can find a Professional Kitchen Designer by searching the National Kitchen and Bath Association website, NKBA.org.

How much is it going to cost? Moreover, how much will you save by retaining expert advice? 

photo credit1: http://flickr.com/photos/latitudes/66492870/in/set-1442169/
photo credit2:   Clint Eastwood, The Man With No Name

Posted in Cabinets, Hot Topics, Planning, Return on Investment

What to expect in 2009: Price Increases

What buzzed across my fax machine this past week caused me to groan, “price increase from my cabinet manufacturers? Not again!”

The three things that are unavoidable are death, taxes, and price increases.

Several appliance manufacturers recently increased prices by a dramatic 20% due to the cost of raw goods, energy and production costs. If you got in on a sale before appliances went up this fall, good for you. I am telling all my clients who were holding out until after the holidays to order now while you can still buy cabinets at 2008 prices.

Why wait? Cost of goods inflation waits for no one.

If you were thinking of getting started in ’09, start looking for end of year deals now.

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Posted in Counter tops, Energy Star, Green Design, Hot Topics, Return on Investment, Sustainable Design, Who Knew, Windows

It is easier finding green building materials, wish the same was true for cheap gas.

It used to be finding earth-friendly, energy efficient products was harder to source out. Now, there is a buffet of green options before us. The options are within our reach; energy efficient; recycled content; fsc certified wood products are easier to find and closer to home. See the latest articles and products shown in ECOHOME.
While we have freedom of choice to order the best, most energy efficient and eco-friendly products. The disparity of choice has never hit us harder than it has with the cost of gas.
As I waited at the freeway off-ramp to get home tonight, several thoughts came to mind. The insane price of gas at close to $4.50 per gallon makes me extremely grateful that I live less than five miles away from work. Others don’t have it so easy. Commuting to Los Angeles and the surrounding cities in grid-lock traffic is a way of life for many. 50 to 60 mile round trips are common travel distances for Southern California suburbanites. People I talk to everyday are telling me they are rethinking how they are getting around. The wait lists for carpools is increasing. Others have to rethink sales trips to the city. My vendors are faxing notices that they are forced to add fuel surcharges to our orders to offset the cost of delivery.

All around me, I am witnessing people adapting. Water rationing is another thing we need to be aware of here in California as we face news of an impending drought. As I sat there idling at the jammed offramp I noticed a rider on a new motorcycle in the lane next to me. I quickly took note of the new bike and the fact that the rider was a women. I wondered, did she trade in her SUV for the motorbike? Would she have purchased that bike if it wasn’t for the crazy cost of gasoline?

We live one city away from the agricultural farm lands and another unusual trend is coming about. There is a long stretch of farm land from Camarillo to Ventura where the strawberry, lettuce, avocado and orange crops are grown. Commuters are trading in the gas hogs and the farm laborers are buying these these newer and bigger SUV’s and trucks because the prices of these vehicles are becoming more affordable.
So what does this mean to us? Adapting to the changing times is a way of life. The choice to go green will be the new desired trend. Remember when real estate ads read “gourmet kitchens with all new stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops” were all the rage?

I predict in five years from now, it will be the norm to see real estate ads describe homes for sale as “green built, energy efficient homes”. Energy robbing appliances, single pane windows, non-low VOC paints and particle board cabinets will drive the cost of homes down, while installing the more expensive energy efficient building materials will bring a higher return on investment.

Now, you are probably wondering about the symbols above. Maybe you have seen some before. Do you want to know what they mean:
Here you go, read on. Next time you come across one of these symbols, you will know what they mean.
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.
Green Seal works with manufacturers, industry sectors, purchasing groups, and governments at all levels to “green” the production and purchasing chain.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

The Alliance to Save Energy promotes energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security.

For businesspeople focused on evaluating, selecting and manufacturing environmentally preferable wood and paper products, Metafore is a source of tools, information and innovative thinking.

Posted in Counter tops, Return on Investment

More Tips on ROI

Reno ROI, no this is not the name of a slot machine in Reno Nevada.
As catchy and game-like as the name “Reno ROI” sounds, gambling on renovation return on investment is a topic anxious homeowners take seriously. As a matter of fact, there are several new articles on the subject available to read on the internet.

Home Renovation Guide has a ROI round up on the topic. They have some interesting points, for instance did you know that by adding a swimming pool is not a value added ROI despite the huge investment, while a simple quick fix (painting kitchen cupboards) adds to the resale value.

I will add my own cautionary update to kitchens based on what clients tell me.

  • Do not purchase expensive granite counter tops to top existing cabinets if your cabinets are shot.
  • If you are fixing up the house for a quick sale and need to do it economically, save your money on new cabinets and expensive slabs of granite.
  • Instead, detail out your kitchen to a spic and span immaculate state. Paint the cabinets inside and out, buy new hinges, drawer boxes and glides to freshen and update the cabinets inexpensively. To keep your investment costs down, top the cabinets with new 12×12 granite tiles instead of more expensive granite slabs or solid surface options. Granite tiles are less expensive than slabs and more appealing to buyers then laminate tops. (check what is popular in your region. In Southern California I have seen more people here are laminate top snobs. Most would not dream of having laminate where East Coast transplants do not mind it.)
  • My renovation clients in the past have pointed out to me, they managed to get a buyers credit in the sale for replacement costs on dilapidated cabinets, fixtures and appliances. They call me to rip out cabinets ASAP because the kitchen cabinet interiors are so gross, they can’t bear to put their food away.

A sensible update: updating light fixtures nets a 60% to 70% ROI.

I would agree, nothing changes the atmosphere of a room better than updated lighting. I would add that homeowners should not overlook the switch plates and covers. Staring at a cracked outlet plate, a peeling painted plate, a Barbie doll or Star Wars switch plate in a bedroom is begging for a simple replace and update! Add dimmers to all light fixtures if possible.

From here you can jump off to the other articles around the blog about ROI. Chris Pearson from
The Red Sign.net marks the top three rooms to invest in. The top three, Kitchen, Bath and all room window replacements. He sources: 2007 Cost vs. Value Report (Remodeling Magazine and REALTOR® Magazine).

Another tip I will add, get permits whenever you do a home improvement project. Reason: permitted jobs add value and peace of mind that your project was done to code. Always hire licensed contractors. Never cut corners. Poorly installed projects devalues your ROI.

CNN Money calls out four renovations that kill a home’s value. In a buyer’s market, you do not want to get caught with improvements that may kill a sale.

Posted in Counter tops, Return on Investment

More Tips on ROI

Reno ROI, no this is not the name of a slot machine in Reno Nevada.
As catchy and game-like as the name “Reno ROI” sounds, gambling on renovation return on investment is a topic anxious homeowners take seriously. As a matter of fact, there are several new articles on the subject available to read on the internet.

Home Renovation Guide has a ROI round up on the topic. They have some interesting points, for instance did you know that by adding a swimming pool is not a value added ROI despite the huge investment, while a simple quick fix (painting kitchen cupboards) adds to the resale value.

I will add my own cautionary update to kitchens based on what clients tell me.

  • Do not purchase expensive granite counter tops to top existing cabinets if your cabinets are shot.
  • If you are fixing up the house for a quick sale and need to do it economically, save your money on new cabinets and expensive slabs of granite.
  • Instead, detail out your kitchen to a spic and span immaculate state. Paint the cabinets inside and out, buy new hinges, drawer boxes and glides to freshen and update the cabinets inexpensively. To keep your investment costs down, top the cabinets with new 12×12 granite tiles instead of more expensive granite slabs or solid surface options. Granite tiles are less expensive than slabs and more appealing to buyers then laminate tops. (check what is popular in your region. In Southern California I have seen more people here are laminate top snobs. Most would not dream of having laminate where East Coast transplants do not mind it.)
  • My renovation clients in the past have pointed out to me, they managed to get a buyers credit in the sale for replacement costs on dilapidated cabinets, fixtures and appliances. They call me to rip out cabinets ASAP because the kitchen cabinet interiors are so gross, they can’t bear to put their food away.

A sensible update: updating light fixtures nets a 60% to 70% ROI.

I would agree, nothing changes the atmosphere of a room better than updated lighting. I would add that homeowners should not overlook the switch plates and covers. Staring at a cracked outlet plate, a peeling painted plate, a Barbie doll or Star Wars switch plate in a bedroom is begging for a simple replace and update! Add dimmers to all light fixtures if possible.

From here you can jump off to the other articles around the blog about ROI. Chris Pearson from
The Red Sign.net marks the top three rooms to invest in. The top three, Kitchen, Bath and all room window replacements. He sources: 2007 Cost vs. Value Report (Remodeling Magazine and REALTOR® Magazine).

Another tip I will add, get permits whenever you do a home improvement project. Reason: permitted jobs add value and peace of mind that your project was done to code. Always hire licensed contractors. Never cut corners. Poorly installed projects devalues your ROI.

CNN Money calls out four renovations that kill a home’s value. In a buyer’s market, you do not want to get caught with improvements that may kill a sale.

Posted in Return on Investment, Surviving A Remodel

Hats off to the weekend warriors!

I have got to hand it to the “do-it yourself” able bodied homeowners who tackle and complete home renovation projects. With the high cost of materials and labor to complete a project, “sweat equity”, can payoff in the long run. That is if you have the patience to endure living in construction mode far longer than it takes if you hire professionals to do the work. Check out the story of Lili and Arnie Richards, profiled in LA Times Blog, “Pardon Our Dust”.

Great story if you are thinking about doing it yourself.
A kitchen remodel and dining room addition all for $27,000 is remarkable. A remodel like this would certainly run into figures closer to $100,000 if done by a general contractor.
Why it worked for them:

  • They planned in advance and stuck to a schedule. Diligent in planning.
  • Previous experience remodeling.
  • Realistic about the invariable hic-ups. They managed their expectations.
  • Self-starters, determined to see the project through to the end.
  • Self-reliant. Spirited even while enduring labor tasks they deplored.

I salute their ingenuity and spirit. Bravo!