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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Kitchen Design: Blending function & aesthetics to design kitchen remodeling project

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

Well, how did it go? Was the meal fabulous, the company charming, and your home the perfect setting for a family gathering? Did your kitchen handle the four extra cooks as well as the turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, and yams? As long as we're dreaming, were the children on their best behavior and did your brothers avoid discussing politics?

If it's time to update your kitchen, think function as well as aesthetics. Browsing through kitchen showrooms like those at MountainLand Design, above, and Orson Gygi, below left, is a good way to get ideas for your kitchen remodel.

So maybe things weren't quite that perfect, but we do hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. In the process you might have discovered some basic flaws in your kitchen. It certainly isn't realistic to design a home to handle a once-a-year event like Thanksgiving, but with it fresh on our minds (and stomachs), we thought we'd look at kitchens in case you are craving a remodel.

There are two aspects to consider: function and aesthetics. Aesthetic inadequacies are usually easy to spot and are sometimes where a kitchen remodel starts and stops. You can't miss green counter tops paired with dark cabinets and yellow appliances.

Today you have a wide range of choices when it comes to updating the look of your kitchen. You can choose wood or metal cabinets that are stained, painted, with flat or raised panel profiles. You can trade green for granite, soapstone, tile, plastic laminate, and even concrete or stainless steel. Then you can finish it off with floors of wood, tile, stone, linoleum, or vinyl.

Harder to spot are the functional shortcomings. But if you are going to invest in aesthetic upgrades, we highly recommend making functional improvements at the same time. So consider: Does your kitchen function like a well oiled machine, or are you always bumping into a counter, screaming for more storage space, piling papers on the bar, or getting trapped by bad flow?

To help improve the function of your kitchen, ask yourself some questions. Do you want a one-cook or two-cook kitchen? Do you want room for a table and chairs or a bar and stools? Do you want a bigger pantry and more cupboards? Do you want to improve circulation with an island rather than a peninsula? Do you need room for a desk, wet bar, or laundry?

In general, you are looking at between $25,000 to $100,000 for a kitchen remodel, depending on the materials, appliances, finishes, and size. According to Sunset Magazine's Great Ideas for Kitchens, cabinets take up the bulk of your budget, and other costs include labor, counter tops, appliances, flooring, fixtures, and fittings. Structural, plumbing, and electrical costs will also affect the impact budget.

Design professionals can specialize and become certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. If you use the services of a professional, you will be charged either a flat fee or a percentage of the total cost of goods purchased (usually 10 to 15 percent).

So start planning now, and you will be in good shape for next Thanksgiving! As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2005 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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