With the holidays quickly approaching, have you been secretly making that wish list for your new luxurious kitchen?  I'm sure you have...and you didn't start by cutting corners or making compromises.  But eventually, even the most luxurious of kitchen designs have to take budget into consideration.  You, as the homeowner, have to make smart decisions on where to allocate your dollars.
Here are some tips on how to get the best bang for your bucks...

WHERE TO SPLURGE...
*Countertops that make a statement...
      Your countertops make the biggest first impressions!  They cover the largest surface area and set the               tone of your room.  With so many different materials available to you today, whether natural or man
      made, your countertops should make the biggest impact! 
      (Come back next week for "Countertop Intelligence!")
*Hardware...
      Your hardware is the jewelry of your kitchen!  It adds the finishing touch just like your earrings, 
      necklace, or bracelet.  And just like your jewelry, it should be a very personal thing...let it reflect your
      personality!
*Custom cabinets...
      You can show your personality by creating  custom cabinets as focal points in your kitchen.  Exotic and 
       costly materials such as blackened stainless steel or bamboo can be used only in significant places to 
       create some interesting focal points!

WHERE TO SAVE...
*Leave the walls...
       You don't have to make a room larger, but you should look at it as an empty space.  Re-invision it with 
       more surface areas, refrigerator relocation, etc.
*Design, but don't overdo it...
      Over designing your kitchen often leads to overspending.  Adding to many crown moldings and                 
      excessive details and ornamentations, will increase to budget without any aesthetic payoff.  Keep your 
      design simple and stylish.
*Faux is fine...
      Not all materials you use in your kitchen have to be expensive.  Porcelain tiles that look like limestone, 
      wood or marble, are much less expensive.  You'll spend less without compromising on style!
*Appliances...
      This is one of the best ways to save on a kitchen remodel.  There is no need to buy all top of the line 
       appliances.  You should choose those that are best suited for your needs.

With a little careful planning, you can have the luxury kitchen of your dreams without breaking your budget! 

       

 
 
Not long ago, the only alternative to cabinet replacement was to paint the cabinets.  Today, however, cabinet refacing is a quick and cost effective way to give your kitchen that much needed makeover.  It involves keeping the basic structure of the cabinets but replacing the doors, drawer fronts, and hardware.  Occasionally new cabinet fixtures will be installed and damaged drawer boxes may be replaced.


MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE...
Consider the condition of your current cabinets.  If you are unhappy with the look but they are in good shape and the layout works for you, then refacing may be the right choice if cost is an issue.  However, if your existing kitchen layout does not work for you or the cabinets are structurally damaged, then replacing is definitely the solution.  Refacing does not correct damage or deterioration of cabinet material.


DESIGN OPTIONS...
When refacing  your existing cabinets you are limited to three options.  
First...rigid thermofoil (RTF) doors are made of flexible vinyl foil over a medium-density fiberboard.  
Second...a wood veneer door which gives you the look and warmth of wood.  Wood veneers come in a                            variety of species and finishes.
Third...a plastic laminate that comes in a hundreds of colors and patterns.  They are durable and moisture                 resistant and are reasonably priced.  However, the rigidity of the material limits the design to a                         plain cabinet style.


COST CONSIDERATION...
A professional cabinet refacing project for a typical 10' x 12' kitchen could start at approximately $3000-$5000 (you can expect to pay more for real wood veneer).  The cost can increase to $7000-$10000 or more for a larger project.  In comparison, replacing old kitchen cabinets with new cabinets start at $4000-$5000 and higher for stock cabinets; semi-custom cabinets can cost $9000-$12000; and custom cabinets can cost anywhere from $15000-$25000.  All this depends on the size of your kitchen and the materials you choose to use.


CAN I DO IT MYSELF?...
Cabinet refacing, although it looks easy, is very difficult to do.  It requires techniques and tools that the average homeowner does not own.  Also, unless you are a professional refacer, you will not have access to the materials required for this project.  
Cabinet replacement is an easier solution for the do-it-yourselfer.  It consists of heavy lifting and precise leveling, however, as the voice of experience, your kitchen will be completed much faster and with less problems if you hire a professional installer.


WHICH DO I RECOMMEND?...
Who doesn't want new kitchen cabinets?  If your budget allows, new cabinets are definitely the way to go.  You will have the flexibility to make changes in your layout that would make your kitchen much more user friendly.  New cabinets also give your kitchen long lasting value for your own enjoyment or for resale.


In the end, it is not your designer or contractor's decision as to whether to reface or replace...it's yours!  
My motto has always been..."we are here for a few weeks making your house beautiful, then we leave...you will be here forever, and you need to love where you live".
                        YOUR KITCHEN IS THE HEART OF YOUR HOME!...

 
 
The first step to that beautiful new kitchen you so desire is decluttering your existing kitchen.  Don't wait until two days before the demolition crew is scheduled to begin,  to start removing things from your cabinets.  Over the years, I have seen homeowners wait until the last minute, only to put everything away and end up with more boxes than they really need!  
Give yourself at least three weeks to prepare yourself for that new project...Week 1 for the upper cabinets...Week 2 for the base cabinets...Week 3 for miscellaneous items.  
Speak to your designer or contractor about setting up a temporary kitchen somewhere else in the house. Keep out any items you will need during the renovation...plates, soup/cereal bowls, glasses, coffee cups, pot, pan, silverware, etc.  At Cucina by Lina, we offer our homeowners a temporary microwave and an electric hotplate...for those nights that ordering in or eating out just aren't an option!

Before you start, give yourself an attitude adjustment.  To successfully declutter your kitchen, harden your heart before you begin...NO MERCY!!  Clear your countertops, get a minimum of four boxes and label them as follows:  Put Away (Kitchen), Put Away (Elsewhere), Give Away/Sell, and Storage.  Anything else gets thrown away!  
A good amount of sturdy black garbage bags will come in handy...why black bags?!?!...OUT OF SIGHT/OUT OF MIND...declutter into opaque trash bags for best results.

Now let's get started...
Open your kitchen cabinets...time to clean up!!!
Week 1 & 2...Empty the kitchen cabinets.
     *take everything out of the cabinets including any shelf dividers, racks, etc.
     *work on one cabinet at a time
     *avoid decluttering everything at once, it will help you to stay focused
     *give away or throw away small gadgets and appliances that are just taking up space
     *be rational about how many cups, plates, bowls, glasses, knives, forks, and spoons you actually need
        Suggestions:  If you're not sure, do a trial separation...pack up what you're not sure about and don't                   unpack it into the new kitchen...if you don't go back into those boxes, then perhaps you don't need it!
     *get rid of items you haven't used in a long time
   Week 3...Clearing up miscellaneous items.
     *consider removing items from the kitchen that don't belong there
     *remove all items for the top of your refrigerator and make a verbal promise to yourself to relocate them
       into another location in the new kitchen 

Once that new kitchen is complete, here are a few thoughts to avoid the clutter...
     *dish washing route...don't store dirty dishes in the sink...either put them in the dishwasher or wash them         right away (don't forget to dry them and put them away)
     *don't go out to buy containers for things that don't fit on your shelves...a good example are your coffee               cups...pick a shelf for your coffee cups...if it doesn't fit on that shelf, then you don't need it!
     *follow the "One for One Rule"...get a new skillet and get rid of an old one...it works for your wardrobe,             why not your kitchen gadgets!

Good luck...and feel free to suggest any Blog topics you would like to read about!
Time for me to go follow my own decluttering advice....see you next week!