The Kitchen: Where to Begin the Remodeling Process?

The Kitchen: Where to Begin the Remodeling Process?

Part 1: Cabinetry

Syntha Harris Interiors
Photography: Stylish Productions

Kitchens have long been called the heart of the home. Whether you enjoy cooking, entertaining, or just love a beautifully designed space, having a well planned and aesthetically pleasing kitchen is a must. Remodeling an older kitchen is also one of the best investments that can be made to increase the value of your home. 

Where do you begin the remodeling process? Over the next three issues we will cover the top items to consider when starting the task, and how the decisions around each of those should not be made in a vacuum. Every choice must be carefully considered to insure a successful end result.

Our “Kitchen Series” will give an overview of pertinent topics, with design inspiration, things to consider, and tips from me and other industry experts that I partner with to create beautiful kitchens for our clients. Where better to start the series than with the topic of cabinetry…

Kitchen Cabinets

One of the first considerations when deciding what type of cabinet you select, is to determine your budget.This decision should be tied into the style of the home and bean extension of the home’s structure and the other design elements you have incorporated. 

If the budget does not allow for replacing the existing cabinets then a well done, professional resurfacing job is in order. However if the budget allows, ideally, replacing the cabinets will give you the latest in soft close drawers, full extension glides, removal of unattractive soffits, and of course updated cabinets that utilize all available space.

“A true qualified designer will help you realize your vision, improve functionality, and may actually reduce costs with creative ways to maintain design integrity while lowering cost. Most computer savvy people can manipulate a design in the design software, but if they do not truly understand how cabinetry works, there may be design errors. Examples may be not “pulling” a blind corner cabinet, moulding projection issues, traffic flow issues, and missed design opportunities, etc.”

Jeff Waggoner
Kitchen Designer, NKBA
Custom Cabinetry Direct

Designing Your Kitchen—Layout

Design layout and flow are one of the most critical aspects of a kitchen remodeling and almost always requires the expertise of an experienced kitchen planner.  We have all heard of the “kitchen triangle principal”, but the details of what that means is often not known by the lay person, and is an important consideration in design as is the “kitchen work zone” theory. 

“The kitchen work triangle principle is used by kitchen designers and architects when designing residential kitchens: No leg of the triangle should be less than 4 feet or more than 9 feet. The sum of all three sides of the triangle should be between 13 feet and 26 feet.”

“Instead of focusing on the distance between appliances, the zone theory, divides up the kitchen into five distinct work zones by function.”

If all of this seems way more than you anticipated, don’t dismay. This is exactly why there are professionals that specifically design kitchens. Through my two decades in design, I have worked hand-in-hand with kitchen designers, creating the perfect kitchen for clients. Having the right team is important; the interior designer, kitchen designer, and the contractor make up the trifecta of talent and skill that will ensure a successful project.

Cabinet Species

Considering the species of wood is an important first step in the design. Most painted finishes are on Maple or MDF. If you go with a stained wood you will want to consider graining. Maple has less visible “tighter” grain, Cherry is rich, keeping in mind it darkens with age and has red undertones. If the budget allows, Walnut is a stunning wood both natural and with glaze to add depth. Though Oak may conjure up visions of a 1980’s kitchen, by adding a grey washed glaze it gives a great Farmhouse or relaxed design to a space. Of course we should talk about sustainability and there are a number of good options including Lyptus, which is a renewable environmentally conscious hardwood, when stained dark resembles mahogany.

Framed or Frameless

Based on the style you seek there are two available options. They are full access also known as frameless, and a framed cabinet door which has three types of overlay (Inset, Standard and Full Overlay). Framed cabinets is an oft used style which permits greater ease in installation and greater offering and modification diversity. Frameless cabinets are a sleeker, more modern construction and are popular in Europe, but are definitely becoming more popular here. Though both options offer slab, shaker, and traditional door styles,

Cabinet Finish

Cabinet finish selections are another critically important part of your kitchen redesign considerations. Shades of white, grey, and taupe are always timeless. Mixing finishes with the perimeter in one finish and the island in a different finish, is also popular and looks like a trend that is here to stay.

Also strong is the lower cabinets in one finish and uppers in another, as well as adding a glaze to a stained finish to create a rich, unique look while still showing some wood graining. The options are limitless and serve to distinguish almost every project, space and client.

This kitchen is in natural walnut and Thermofoil combination

Door Style

There are a plethora of options when it comes to door styles. We have seen certain styles come and go over the years from raised panel with roping and intricate carved details, to the now incredibly popular shaker style. The style of door helps set the tone for the entire kitchen and therefore should tie into the feel you are trying to create in your home.

  • Shaker Door—Runs the gamut from updated traditional, transitional, to contemporary. A very good choice to use for most kitchen which explains its popularity.
  • Beaded Paneling—Country, traditional, to transitional.
  • Raised Panel—Mostly traditional.
  • Flat Panel—Also known as Slab, very clean and updated, more modern. Can range in finish including Thermofoil and Textured Melamine for a very modern look.
  • Glass Inserts—Another feature to add a unique look to a kitchen is glass inserts. From simple clear glass, to bubble, seeded, frosted, and antiqued. The choice is also design style dependent and should be taken into consideration with all other selections. Using purposely placed glass cabinetry will break up walls of solid cabinets and add interest to your kitchen design. It can also showcase a homeowner’s beautiful collections, so adding inside lighting to glass front cabinets should be considered. 

Syntha’s Design Tip:

“Make sure to get a sample door in the finish and door style that you select. That way you can take it with you when shopping for other elements in your kitchen, like backsplash and countertops.”

While the aforementioned discussion simply covered the basics in kitchen cabinet selections, there are many important issues that must be considered. Functionality, storage, and usability which includes decisions related to the use of drawers versus cabinets, pull-outs, tip trays, pantry cabinet heights and stacked cabinets are a few of the other equally important decisions that, if made correctly and during the initial planning stage, have the potential to both save money while also enhancing your satisfaction with the end result. Hiring a professional early on in the process can be very important as mistakes and change-orders can prove very costly. Next issue we will share an overview of things to consider when selecting appliances and flooring for your kitchen renovation. 

Syntha Harris

The visionary and the creative force behind her boutique interior design firm in Northern Virginia, Syntha Harris has been the principal designer at Syntha Harris Interiors since 1996. Before founding her company, Syntha was a runway and print model for European and American fashion houses for over two decades. Surrounded by style icons, Syntha has had the privilege to be a part of the creative process and behind-the-scenes in making fashion. With a trained eye for all things style and meticulous attention to detail, Syntha’s vision sees no boundaries when creating a living space that’s equally beautiful, functional and inviting. For the past 20 years, she’s earned a reputation for her transformational designs informed and inspired by her clients’ needs, desires and aspirations.

Pictured at top: 
Syntha Harris Interiors
Photography: Stylish Productions

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