The original plan submitted by their architect

A recent kitchen remodel in San Diego led me to write this post in hopes that it will help anyone looking to do a kitchen remodel.

After an architect submitted plans for a kitchen remodel, my clients gave me a call to get a quote. While reviewing the plans I became concerned about the layout – and the lack of cabinets – so I went over some of the possible design blunders but the client was adamant about proceeding as is.  Unwilling to take on the job (because I wasn’t comfortable with the plan), I eventually took the job on as a favor since they had been such long time customers.

Needless to say, the kitchen revamp was done and a year later the client called me saying that their kitchen was not flowing or functioning as they had wished. The walkways were too tight, the marble tops (which I advised against) were stained and a few of his kitchen cabinets were pretty much non-functional because of their placement or lack thereof.

That said, our team redesigned the kitchen and we started by removing the center island and widening the footprint of the kitchen by pushing back an accessory counter which doubled as an island. In addition, we reconfigured the cabinet design — and added more — while installing the warmer, oven and microwave against the wall – instead of the previous version which tucked them away in the center island.

In the end it all worked out and it’s been two years since the revamp and all is well. But thinking about that client is what inspired this post. To be honest, it’s a painful process to rip out a new remodel, but sometimes it’s necessary as it was in this case. But in hopes that no one else will ever run into those same issues, I’ve compiled a few things one should consider when doing a kitchen remodel. I hope the advice helps and as always, be sure to ask any all questions to the contractor your consulting with.

BE REALISTIC: We all want the grand kitchen island with a cooktop and a double door Sub Zero refrigerator, but can you really fit it? The first thing owners need to do is be realistic with your wants vs. the space you have to work with. Space will limit what you can accomplish so plan accordingly and be realistic with your expectations.

HEIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Some kitchen designers/ planners like to mount cabinets way up to give the kitchen a broader and taller appearance. While that methodology works, it also becomes a cumbersome kitchen to live with. In addition, this can pose a potential hazard should anyone fall off a step stool trying to grab something from the back of the top shelf. The bottom line, make sure your cabinets are mounted to a height that is comfortable for you. *The kitchen cabinets pictures above were lowered three feet to make them more accessible.

THE WIDER THE BETTER: Wide walk ways are a must for the kitchen. Since your kitchen is a central hub for partying and daily nourishment, make sure to leave ample room so multiple people can walk by while others are cooking. In the case of my client, we eventually had to remove his kitchen island to make it work but the end result was a free-flowing kitchen that was inviting and easy to navigate around.

BLIND CORNERS: Corner cabinets usually have a blind corner which is good for storage but bad for accessibility. In that case make sure your designer incorporates a “Lazy Susan” or a “Crooked Drawer” – a method used to maximize accessibility and storage options.

MATERIAL SELECTION: Marble is great for a show kitchen, but a poor choice from someone who cooks daily. Easily stained, and high-maintenance, one has to wonder if the squeeze is worth the juice when it comes to marble countertops. While there are sealing alternatives which can help prevent the severity of stains, it may require a regular upkeep which some owners are not comfortable with doing.


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