Get Cooking with a Kitchen Remodel

NH designers give tips for flipping your kitchen



Courtesy photo

Want to update your kitchen but think an overhaul is out of reach? These designers share ideas for creating an ultimate kitchen that won’t break the bank.

Trends in Cabinets & Countertops

Cabinets and countertops are often the most expensive components in a kitchen, and staying ahead of trends can help them hold their value. “We see continuing trends in clean lines, from basic to luxury kitchens, and more patterns. People are also getting creative and bold in their granite design or in their quartz stone,” says Charlotte Nelson of Dream Kitchens in Nashua. “Hot pieces right now are the decorative tile backsplash. People who are doing upscale kitchens might look for more handmade tile. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but it is a place where you can add your personality. Drawer styles in clean lines can help your budget.”

Brian Eagen of Brian Eagen Builders in Deerfield agrees. “The designs seem to be a lot cleaner — more modern lines. I also see a big demand for soapstone and subway tile backsplashes,” says Eagen. He adds that large islands are also very popular with homeowners. “It’s where everyone hangs out,” he explains. “If space allows, a cooktop in the island is a big [trend]. People often want a prep sink or second dishwasher too.” As for color choices, he adds that white and dark stains are both popular.

Painting your cabinets — rather than tearing out the old and starting over — is also a big cost- (and time-) saving option. “Refacing cabinetry is very popular,” says Christian Boyér of Boyér Interior Design in Manchester. Or, he adds, replacing just the doors or changing the hardware can make a big difference. Add in new countertops and your kitchen can have an updated new look with minimal work.

Boyér also stresses that functionality is a top priority. “Most people want it to be easy to maintain and clean, so you have to make things functional with the finishes you use,” he says. Additionally, many homeowners don’t “like to see their stuff,” he says. Ways to store or conceal kitchenwares and appliances are often a priority. Pantries, he says, are one popular way to achieve that goal.

Stoves & Hoods

Home cooks that dream of an ultimate kitchen want a top-quality stove. “A lot of people want to make the jump to the six-burner cooktop and the larger hood,” says Eagen. If this is where you want to invest your money, Boyér says the high-end gas stove brand Wolf is a common choice.

The good news is choosing a stove and a hood is a wise move for your health and your wallet. “It is less expensive to have a stove than wall-mounted ovens,” says Nelson. “And you don’t have to spend tons of money on a hood that can give you function and a wow factor too. Ventilation is a really important factor — it’s better for your lungs, better for your house and it takes out odors. In the long run, it really helps your health.”

Places to Save

These designers are skilled at helping their clients stick to budgets. “If the homeowners are design-savvy, shopping and picking out their own fixtures, such as lights and faucets and sinks, will help save money,” says Eagen. “That way you don’t have to pay for someone else to shop for you.”

Nelson helps steer budget-conscious clients towards swapping out wood for MDF — a fiberboard material that is used for painted surfaces. “It is more stable, cheaper and takes paint well. Then you can use your savings to pump it up with a nice light fixture and hardware,” she says.

Don’t want the stress, work and cost that comes with kitchen renovations? A few small tricks can make a big difference.

Boyér recommends looking for different accessories, such as bar stools or chairs, as well as hardware and lighting fixtures. “Switch all these out and you can have a whole new look,” he says.

Take the Plunge

Wondering how much you’ll get back in your home value post-kitchen makeover? The website costvsvalue.com lists the 2015 average return on investment for major kitchen remodels in New England at 67 percent. For minor remodels, that number jumps to 75 percent. Nelson cautions homeowners to do their remodel sooner rather than later: “With the labor and materials resources out there, now is the time to redo your kitchen. As the market heats up, those things will only get more expensive. It’s getting hard to get good skilled laborers, and, in the future, it will be harder.”

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