You Get What You Pay For

We’ve all received flyers in the mail: ABC Remodelers can install a new kitchen or bathroom for you for a great low price! XYZ Remodelers can do it for even less! You’ve just had an appointment and a design review with the designers at Nicely Done Kitchens & Baths. Our design, our customer service and our beautiful showroom have left you dazzled, but you’re wondering how we arrived at the price we gave you for your new kitchen…a price that may be more than ABC or XYZ remodelers.   Why is this? Should you immediately assume that the lowest price means the best value?

Short answer, no…but it’s a bit complicated to explain.

We know that it’s difficult to imagine spending a large amount of money on something intangible. If you were going to purchase a new car, you’d probably already have a make and model in mind. You’d go to a dealership, test drive a couple of models, make your decision and drive away in your new car. You have immediate access to it—it’s tangible. But your new kitchen is intangible. Until every detail is in place (and there are many details) you can’t “test drive” it. You must have faith that the remodeling company you choose will give you the best value, workmanship and customer service experience until they are 100% finished with your kitchen and it becomes a tangible item.

There are several factors that will impact the cost of every remodeling project:

  1. The size of the space and the scope of work—Smaller kitchen vs. large kitchen, keeping the existing footprint vs. extensive remodeling.
  2. Quality of the products specified—Real wood vs. manufactured? High quality lighting and plumbing fixtures? Moderately priced appliances or professional level appliances?
  3. Nature of the design—The design should be a result of the designer carefully listening to your vision, desires and needs and designing a great kitchen or bath that meets those objectives. Sometimes those dreams and desires result in a higher price tag.
  4. Number and of services provided—At NDKB, we offer full design service, installation by highly-qualified contractors and craftsmen, and professional project management throughout your project.   The value services you contract with our firm make an enormous difference in the final success of your project. Again, the intangible items—services—are what will bring you the greatest value.
  5. Quality of services provided—At NDKB, we guarantee the quality of our general contractors. We employ fully-licensed contractors, master plumbers and master electricians who bring years of experience to your project. We ensure that the proper building permits are acquired if required—a very important process and one that often gets skipped by lower-cost contractors.

A few more thoughts about ABC and XYZ and their low, low prices. Lower prices generally mean that the company is operating with low profit margins. What does this mean for you? It means that the company has less available profits with which to provide you with quality design, high-quality materials, and…all of those intangible services we just discussed. Will ABC be in business 5 or 10 years from now? If they go out of business, where does that leave you if you encounter an issue with their products or craftsmanship? Nicely Done has been in business since 2003. We stand behind our product and have been known to revisit projects completed a decade ago to provide assistance to our customers at no charge. It’s all part of the “extra mile” service that you will receive at Nicely Done Kitchens & Baths!

At Nicely Done Kitchens & Baths, we understand that you have a budget and that you want the best value for that budget. It all begins with becoming educated about both remodeling and what we can offer you, both tangible and intangible. Rest assured that we have your best interests at heart and will do all that we can to ensure that you understand exactly how your remodeling dollars are being spent!

The pleasure of getting a great deal on your remodeling project only lasts a short time. That great deal can come back to haunt you later in the form of defects in your kitchen or bath as a result of poor craftsmanship and materials. The value of quality workmanship, materials and a team standing behind it for years to come will last the span of your kitchen or bath’s life.

Your Kitchen: Back to School

It may not seem like it in the midst of another hot, humid Virginia Summer, but Fall is just around the corner! It’s time to send the kids back to school –wouldn’t it be great to remodel your kitchen and other areas of your home to help make those harried school mornings run a little more smoothly?

How could remodeling help ease the morning rush hour?

Picture your current kitchen…are you a little short on space? Does your entire family end up tripping over each other, bumping into open doors and drawers, using up what precious little countertop space is available in the rush to make breakfast and lunch? Do you have adequate pantry space? Are your workspaces set up to help you move from task to task efficiently? If every morning is a struggle for space that leaves you racing against the clock to get out the door on time, ensuring a stressful start to your day, then maybe a kitchen remodel is the answer!

The good news is that your kitchen doesn’t necessarily need to grow in size to grow in functionality! It’s a wonderful thing to remove a wall and open up into unused space and we are happy to do that for you, but it’s also possible to fit much more functionality into the existing space. We are currently working on a small kitchen in which the owners chose to keep the original footprint, but are gaining so much in cupboard and pantry space. How? NDKB is removing the original cabinetry and installing new. Like many kitchens installed during the 1980s and 1990, the old cabinets do not extend to the ceiling. We are installing full 42” cabinetry that will add another 12-14” of cupboard space all around. NDKB is also removing a closet with bi-fold doors in the kitchen and installing floor to ceiling pantry cabinets in its place. These small but significant changes will provide much-needed space for this busy family.

Space can be made within your existing kitchen’s footprint, but what about enlarging your kitchen to include not only new cabinetry, but a custom island—the perfect place for quick breakfasts and informal meals. As we mentioned in last month’s blog, islands can be customized in so many ways! Drawers make the perfect, kid-friendly space for a lunch-making station. Most of our cabinet manufacturers offer customizable drawers and drawer inserts to ensure that this space works perfectly at whatever phase your family is in. Keeping lunchboxes and supplies within easy reach of children fosters independence and ability to make lunch on their own. After school, the island becomes a great place to do homework and help parents prepare for dinner.

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Remember: cabinets aren’t limited to your kitchen. They can be used throughout the house! Consider expanding your cabinetry in the kitchen to include a custom desk area with a command center to keep track of school and extracurricular activities, calendars and art projects. A desk in the kitchen also provides a great place to keep the family computer, in a central area easily monitored by parents.

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Beyond the command center, consider including a dedicated space for storing backpacks, coats, shoes and other daily necessities. If you’re always searching for your keys, this is the perfect spot to keep them! In conjunction with your kitchen remodeling project, NDKB would be happy to install cabinetry with benches, drawers and doors to corral and contain these items. Wouldn’t a great area like this near your front or back door help your mornings run a little more smoothly?

 

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Have the dog days of Summer made you forget the rushed mornings and evenings of school days in your kitchen? Maybe it’s time to rethink your kitchen’s layout and let Nicely Done redesign a kitchen that both simplifies and beautifies your life!

Living the Island Lifestyle

Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas…we all know the words to that very famous Beach Boys song.  Island life–ocean breezes, sunny days, palm trees swaying in the wind.  Feel the sand between your toes, imagine the warm evenings, tropical drink in hand.  Watch the sands of time slowing in the hourglass as they slip by on “island time”.

What isn’t to love about that laid-back lifestyle?  What if you could have an island in your life on a daily basis?  Nicely Done Kitchens & Baths would like to help you visit an island every day!

OK, by now you probably realize that we aren’t giving away a free trip for two to St. Martin’s.  Sorry to burst your bubble and drag you back from daydreaming of coconuts and deep-sea fishing!  No…we’re talking about kitchen islands–and we’d love to help incorporate one into your new kitchen design!

What is the purpose of a kitchen island?  Why do you need one in your new kitchen?  What are the benefits to including an island as part of your overall design?

  • Additional storage in the form of drawers, shelves or cupboards.
  • Additional counter space for food preparation.
  • Customization–if you’re a baker, maybe a marble counter surface would be your dream.  Do you have some beautiful dishes or cookbooks you’d like to display?  We can design an island with open shelving.  Looking for a place to locate the recycling bins?  Let us install custom pull-outs.
  • It’s the perfect spot for casual dining or buffet set-up.  Design your island with an overhang, a high-low counter area, or partial cabinetry and turned legs with open space for seating.  We can configure your island to accommodate your in-kitchen dining needs.
  • It’s a fantastic spot for the kids–the island becomes the homework/craft/gathering area.  You could even design your island to offer amenities just for the kids, such as mounting the microwave in the island or using low drawers with dividers for a lunchbox prep area.  Putting items easily within their reach fosters independence in the kitchen.
  • Locate your cooktop, sink or other kitchen amenities in the island–freeing up more countertop space.
  • A beautiful island becomes the focal point of your kitchen–the choices in materials are unlimited.  Do you love the color red but couldn’t imagine a kitchen full of red cabinets?  How about regular wood cabinets and a stunning red island?  Add an architectural range hood or hang some beautiful pendant lighting over the island to complete the look.
  • Added resale value–including an island in your kitchen design will increase the resale value of your home when included as part of an overall new kitchen design/installation.

For those of you contemplating purchasing an island without a full kitchen remodel, we can provide you with several choices of well-crafted islands such as these:

black island gray island white island

Are you ready to learn more about owning an island?  Call us today at Nicely Done Kitchens & Baths to set up a complimentary meeting with one of our amazing designers–they are ready to design the kitchen of your dreams, island included.  Aloha!

 

Small and Dark to Big and Bright: A Kitchen Transformation

Like many homeowners in the DC Metro area, our clients found themselves in an older home with great bones but a small, dark and dated kitchen that didn’t function well for their busy family of five.

The homeowner says “The kitchen was very small, but it worked well when we purchased the house eight years ago and it was just the two of us”. In the coming years, they would add three children to their family and discover that the kitchen didn’t function well for them.  In addition to being dark and small, the homeowner says that the cramped space caused issues such as the oven and refrigerator doors opening against their eat-in island. The island was so small that only four of them could sit at once, with one person standing. Even though they had an adjoining dining room area, they found they wanted to eat in the kitchen.

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Before–small, cramped, dark and dated
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The wall between the small kitchen and dining room area was removed to double the new kitchen’s size

The final straw was when things started to break. The ice-maker stopped working. The laminate flooring had fasteners backing up. A host of small irritations gathered to finally induce these homeowners to make a change. They called several general and specialty kitchen contractors and although they were all pleasant to deal with, the homeowner said that no one had a vision for the space like Nicely Done’s designer, Cathy Goss.

“The other contractors who gave us estimates didn’t offer new solutions, they just recommended reusing the existing space and footprint. Cathy was the first designer who was able to see a solution outside the box”.

The resulting design incorporated removal of a non-load bearing wall between the existing kitchen and formal dining area. This doubled the size of the original kitchen from 120 square feet to 240 square feet. Removal of the dated, dark cabinets and installation of custom white Holiday Kitchens cabinetry give the entire kitchen a bright, open and airy feeling. Removal of the wall meant an additional window in the kitchen, providing more natural light. The large island, in a contrasting shade of truffle brown provides ample casual seating and prep space.

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After: spacious and bright!
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After: Bright white cabinetry by Holiday Kitchens.
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Cambria countertops in “Ella” pattern with gray veining highlighted with pale gray backsplash tile.
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Beautiful new stainless steel hood and gas range.
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Subtle, yet lovely–the inset tile pattern in the same shade of gray provides a focal point behind the new range.

Additional decorative touches can be found in the subway tile backsplash in a pale shade of gray, with inset mosaic as a focal point above the range. New wood flooring was installed in the former kitchen area and stained to match the existing floors for an integrated feel throughout that level. New lighting, fixtures and improved layout maximize the beauty and functionality of this amazing new kitchen. The classic look will serve this family for years to come and provide a wonderful gathering place at the heart of this classic home.

The homeowner praised Nicely Done’s staff:   designer, project management, and installers: “The whole team was very professional, responsive, attentive and always available for any questions or concerns we had during the project”.

If the homeowner could offer one piece of advice to others thinking of renovating their kitchen, it’s this: “Do it sooner rather than later—don’t put it off—enjoy it with your family now”.

Are you in a similar situation as this client? Why not call Nicely Done Kitchens & Baths today and see how we can turn your cramped, dated kitchen into the spacious kitchen of your dreams?

Hoods: Vent in Style!

Ventilating your stove used to be pure and strictly function – no form or beauty called for here! But in the last few decades, we’ve seen a beautiful transition take place as manufacturers produce and homeowners request a desirable feature for their exhaust fans in the kitchen. So what are the options? How do you choose?
Source: Bestrangehoods.com
There are three popular choices for hoods: the microwave hood, a stainless steel (with or without glass) hood, or a cabinetry hood that matches the rest of your kitchen.
Stainless steel hoods can range from simple and utilitarian in style to sleek and contemporary. The most popular option of the three, stainless steel hoods have a much more powerful blower than microwave hoods.
Source: Nicely Done Kitchens portfolio
Source: Nicely Done Kitchens portfolio
kitchen1
Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio
There are also incredibly beautiful and sculputral designs for island hoods that are quickly becoming popular focal points of the kitchen. See if you can find the once-utilitarian ventilation system in the next photograph:
Source: Bestrangehoods.com
Source: Bestrangehoods.com
Source: Bestrangehood.com
Source: Bestrangehoods.com
Comparable to stainless steel hoods in power are cabinetry hoods (with a separate blower/liner interior). The great advantage to cabinetry hoods is the seamless transition made between this appliance and your wall cabinets: it can be subtle enough to almost completely blend in, or distinct enough to make a bold statement. This slightly more traditionally look eliminates the interruption of an appliance across the upper line of sight in a kitchen.
Source: Nicely Done Kitchens portfolio
Source: Nicely Done Kitchens portfolio
Source: Nicely Done Kitchens portfolio
Source: Nicely Done Kitchens portfolio
The microwave hood is an excellent choice for spatially constrained projects. They are the best space savers! Rather than taking up room for a microwave and a vent separately, you get an all-in-one. And if you consider a convection microwave, like the GE Advantium, you also get a combination convection oven. What this translates to is more room for cabinetry and usable storage in your kitchen!
Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio
Last on the list are downdraft hoods. The least popular – but certainly still used – this hood style is the absolutely most discreet, as it is a part of a range or cooktop unit. Downdrafts suck the air down from about countertop height (or slightly higher) instead of trying to catch it from above. About as powerful as microwave hoods, the greatest advantage is not in their suction power, but their subtly, allowing for stoves to be installed in islands or peninsulas without interrupting the otherwise open, vertical line of sight with a ceiling-mounted hood.
Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio

Where Is Your Focus?

In most kitchens, we strive to design a single focus point in the space – something that catches your eye and hooks you as soon as you walk into a space. There will be so many beautiful elements to your new kitchen that it may be hard to choose one part to be the focal point – but that’s why we are here to help!
One of the favorite focal points is the range. Showcased with a statement stainless steel, glass, or matching cabinetry hood and accented with a framed, centerpiece backsplash design, the combination of appliance and extra tile space to show off is a great option.
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Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

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Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

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Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

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Source: NDKB Portfolio
Are you missing a window in your kitchen and struggling to decide how to address your sink? Make it a focus of the room! Rather than concentrating on the extra space created at the stove for a hood, the sink offers a great opportunity for creativity and beautiful tiling to draw in attention as you walk into the space.
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Source: NDKB Portfolio
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Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

Source: NDKB portfolio
Source: NDKB portfolio
Last but not least, nothing says “showstopper” like a spectacular island. Whether you are showcasing an exotic piece of granite, elevating the line of sight with unique pendant lights, or just going for sheer and staggering size, the island is one of the most popular focal points for new home remodels.
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Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

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Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

Renovated kitchen in Northern Virginia designed by Nicely Done Kitchens.
Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

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Source: NDKB Portfolio
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Source: NDKB Portfolio

 

Renovated kitchen in Northern Virginia designed by Nicely Done Kitchens.
Source: NDKB Portfolio

The RANGE of Differences

We’ve discussed before the huge array of options when it comes to kitchen appliances (see previous posts, The Case of the Disappearing Appliances, and our Turning the Kitchen Upside Down three-part series). All trends and shifts in popularity aside, let’s examine some of the design basics of one of the most functional pieces in a kitchen: the stove.
Source: google.com
There are three primary styles of stoves: cooktops, slide-in ranges, and free-standing ranges. The difference between a cooktop and a range is that a cooktop – much like its name implies – is just the top cooking surface of the stove. A range, on the other hand, includes a cooktop at counter level and an oven below in one combined unit. Below, we explore some of the distinguishing details between these three popular options.
COOKTOPS
Source: NDKB portfolio
Source: NDKB portfolio
Cooktops are available in gas and electric (including induction) and are the most popular choice for clients seeking a streamlined, smooth design. The aesthetic advantage is that a cooktop sits atop a cabinet base, so there is no interruption of appliance across the base system of your kitchen. Cooktops are most often paired with a single or double wall oven, separately – though occasionally, depending on the models, you can combine them, as seen immediately below:
Renovated kitchen in Northern Virginia designed by Nicely Done Kitchens.
Renovated kitchen in Northern Virginia designed by Nicely Done Kitchens.
A variation on the typical cooktop is the professional range-top: this option has the appliance dropping down the front of the cabinet, but only includes the cooking surface and controls (no oven below):
Source: google.com

 

FREE-STANDING RANGES

Source: NDKB portfolio
Source: NDKB portfolio

Free-standing ranges are most popularly characterized by a metal backsplash rising up along the back of the unit, usually with the controls mounted on it. A few years ago, however, GE revealed a free-standing range that – revolutionarily – had no backsplash and moved the controls to the front. What still defined the unit as free-standing, however, is the square edges all around the unit: the range gets pushed all the way back to the wall and has nothing to protect or cover the gaps (small though they may be) on the left and right side of the range, where it meets the cabinetry and countertop.

SLIDE-IN RANGES
Source: NDKB portfolio
Source: NDKB portfolio
The most popular of the two range styles among families renovating their homes, the slide-in range offers all of the advantages of the free-standing range with none of the draw backs. The distinguishing characteristic are the flanges on the left, right, and back of this unit that overlap the countertop so that food and other various particles don’t fall through any cracks. The back of this range, inherent to having a flange, also has a small countertop slice that acts as a bridge between the unit and the wall.

The Mudroom: The Ugly Duckling Is Growing Up

Residential design is a complex microcosm layered in details, specifications, and multi-disciplinary coordination. The end product is overwhelmingly familiar and prevalent across society, yet the understanding of the world behind the “façade” is largely unrealized. The intimate world of residential is interesting to examine because of the dynamic between design and user. Over the
decades, we’ve seen the shape, flow, and purposes throughout the home transform – and this transformation has largely been driven by the inhabitants, rather than the design industry. The kitchen, once regarded as no more than a service space, is now the social heart of the home and open to most of the first floor in any new design. Master bathrooms, similarly, have evolved into spacious, relaxing spa retreats. Now, there’s a new space that is taking homes by storm: move that inefficient closet over, the mudroom has made its big debut.

Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio

Once the ugly ducklings of the home, mudrooms have gained considerable popularity recently within home renovations. We are all a familiar with the stunning impression of a grand, sweeping foyer, but attention is now turning to the “real” entrance to the home: the one occupied by muddy children and boots and backpacks, often attached to the garage for convenient egress. Families are finding more and more of a need for dedicated, designed storage and organization systems in this constantly utilized room. And why not? Homeowners are getting tired of their “actual” main entrance being a constant pile of coats, hats, and school accessories, while the “guest” entrance remains stately and pristine. You and your family are just as deserving of beauty as your guests are!

Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio

Effective and stylish, a well-designed mudroom can transform your day-to-day activities and the enter/exit organization of your home. Picture this: school backpacks hung on hooks in a row on the wall, bench-seat storage lined up next to the door – so you can both store and put on your shoes – and shelves, cubbies, or reach-in closets to accommodate your every storage need coming and going. Combine it with a built-in laundry space, and you maximize the design potential for a single, well designed room to suit the biggest utilitarian functions in your home. These dreamy visions have become some of the most popular add-ons to our kitchen renovation projects because they allow homeowners the best of both function and form in a small but constantly used space. You, the user, have informed the up-and-coming design movement of the mudroom – so let it return the favor and transform you and your home!

Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio

Turning the Kitchen UPSIDE DOWN! – Part 3

Dishwashers in pairs, microwaves in drawers – sometimes it’s like we’re living through the looking glass! There is no longer just one, single option for what to do with your appliances in the kitchen. Join us for the final part of this three-part series: the wet and wonderful world of dishwashers!

Source: google.com

Dishwasher Drawers: Ideal for small families or a wet bar area for entertainers, dishwasher drawers are split vertically into two separately operating drawers within the standard dimensions of a regular dishwasher. The great advantage: you can have one small load running at the time!

Source: google.com

Compact Dishwashers: Do you have a condo or just live by yourself? Standard dishwashers are 24″ wide, but 18″ wide dishwashers are also available!

Source: google.com

Double Dishwashers: For families and entertainers alike, having two dishwashers in one kitchen can be a dream come true. Rather than piling the sink sky-high in the middle of a party – or the middle of the busy work week – while you wait a few hours for the current load to finish washing, just load up your #2!

Source: google.com

Turning the Kitchen UPSIDE DOWN! – Part 2

Ovens on walls, dishwashers in pairs – sometimes it’s like we’re living through the looking glass! There is no longer just one, single option for what to do with your appliances in the kitchen. Join us for part two of this three-part series: in this post, we explore oven options!

Ovens have long been associated with stove tops: you cook on the top and you bake on the bottom. This is known as a range, to have these two appliances combined into one. But today, there are multiple options that deviate from this long-established norm!

Source: Google.com

Wall Ovens: The primary disadvantage, especially for aging-in-place designing, is having an oven that is low to the ground and can only be accessed by bending far over. Wall ovens alleviate this issue by elevating the oven to a much higher, more accessible position!

Source: Google.com

Base Ovens: If you like having a base oven but don’t like the look of a combined range appliance, a sleeker option could be a cooktop with a separate base oven. Depending on the size of your kitchen, the base oven could be immediately below your cooktop – giving the same functionality of a range, but no break in the countertop or cabinetry lines – or elsewhere in the kitchen.

Source: NDKB Portfolio
Source: NDKB Portfolio

Double Ovens: Why settle for only one oven in your space? There are a variety of options for double oven solutions. You can have two full-sized wall ovens, stacked at a convenient height. Or, you could have a range (with the ovens built in below) that stack a full-sized oven and a smaller oven, which is perfect for cookies and casseroles without losing your Thanksgiving turkey cook space. Or, you could do a standard oven and pair it with a Convection microwave, which cooks just like a regular microwave but also can bake just like a small convection oven.

Source: Google.com