Monday, October 31, 2016

Function and Storage in Smaller Kitchens

My kitchen is so small! How can I get the most storage space possible?

This is the challenge many New England homeowners face. New home construction has typically increased the size of kitchens and their functionality. Yet, that is not always the case. However, a huge percentage of  population still live in neighborhoods filled with Capes, smaller Ranch or Raised Ranch homes. Even Victorians and New Englander home's often have a very small amount of square feet devoted to the kitchen.

What is the solution? Kitchen additions are ideal if you have the capitol to invest. It is a good investment that does add value to your home. However, that is not realistic for many. Thinking creatively and strategically is imperative when remodeling your kitchen in the same space the old one is in. This is where innovation in the cabinet industry steps in to solve so many issues.

Let's begin with discussing what is available in cabinets:

Every square inch of space can be useful. You need to think about utilizing all your vertical space as well as the horizontal run of cabinets along the walls of your kitchen. If you are fortunate to have tall ceilings you have great potential storage space you may not have considered before. All of us have those items we need for holidays and special events. Only items used daily or multiple times a week need to be within your immediate reach.

Vertical storage space is accomplished by maximizing the height of your wall cabinets. Installing these cabinets all the way to the ceiling adds valuable storage. You can accomplish this by stacking cabinets or  utilizing those tall enough to reach your kitchen ceiling. You can add a beautiful design touch too if you add lighting to the top wall cabinet stacked on the main lower cabinet.

I know what you are thinking. "How inconvenient! I can't reach those top cabinets!" Keep in mind we are brainstorming to create storage within your kitchen footprint so that you do not have to go to your basement or other house "storage " area to get the dish or pan you need. Step stools are your friend and very useful to retrieve anything stored over your head. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter platters and special dishes are perfectly stored in these ceiling height cabinets. Anything you need to store that is not used on a regular basis is perfect to be put in these cabinets.

Typical walls cabinet range in the 30, 33. and 36" high category. However, with our custom lines 39 to 60" cabinets are available. Storing the items used often in the lower part of the taller wall cabinets leaves storage room for the items needed occasionally. If you include a peninsula in your kitchen adding a tall cabinet reaching to the ceiling with one to three drawers at the base of it is perfect for cutlery for eating on the peninsula. Or storing supplies to do homework or bill paying is optimal as well.

If you do not have a dedicated pantry, there are tall cabinets of various styles you can utilize as your pantry. Similar cabinets are also available for broom closets if needed.

There are two very important changes in kitchen cabinet design, especially for corner cabinets or drawer base cabinets. These two innovations have dramatically improved function in small kitchens.
The old "Blind Corner Cabinet" has been reinvented." Blind " is the perfect word to describe this cabinet. Typically it is the black hole where anything placed in it gets pushed back so far it is irretrievable. There are some interior accessory solutions. We will cover that topic next week.

Large Corner Cabinets which are very roomy have replaced the blind corners. They are available with stationary shelves and Lazy Susan's. Nothing gets lost in these cabinets. Everything is in view and the storage capacity is ample.

The other great innovation are wide Pots and Pans Drawer bases. I LOVE these! They are the most versatile cabinets. Yes, they are strong enough to hold your heavy pots and pans. They are also great
places to store dishes or food normally kept in the pantry. The convenience of simply pulling out drawers that are fully extended to access anything you need is awesome. Everything in the drawer is visible and easily accessed. Typical drawer bases are 12 to 18 inches wide. The 3 Drawer Bases measuring 24 to 42 inches wide will hold much more than two of the typical drawers.

Sometimes a smaller cabinet dedicated to a particular use can be the most functional space saving cabinet in your kitchen. I am suggesting pull out 3 to 9 inch cabinets.They may be a base or wall cabinet application. These cabinets are perfect for storing those small items that get lost in bigger cabinets. Spices, medication, specialty utensils are items best stored in these unique space savers. The three and six inch wide ones have a multi use if your kitchen needs to utilize fillers. The filler can actually be a storage space.

I hope these suggestions help you realize any kitchen can be improved and made more functional.
It is all about information and choices. Next week we will discuss the accessories available for the interior of the cabinets mentioned today.    

Monday, October 24, 2016

Storage in Smaller Kitchens

Last weekend I was overwhelmed with the beauty of our NH Lakes Region. The amazing kitchens I had the privilege of  touring sparked my imagination and envy! The homes were built by members of the Lakes Region Builder's Association. Their annual Home Tour of these exceptional custom homes truly stimulated me, as well as tempting me to be jealous, at least a little. The homes were located all around Meredith, Alton, Wolfeborough, and Moultonborough, NH.

I have to admit my "wanter" became activated quickly. I love my home and I am thankful. However, what woman doesn't envy "new" homes, especially when they have perfect professionally decorated interiors! Are any of us really content? It seems we ladies love to change our nests as often as possible. The question arose in my mind, how can I help our clients maximize the possibilities with in their budget and design a beautiful functional kitchen or bath with what they need and want?

Being a Kitchen and Bath Designer, I love to check out every kitchen and bath for obvious reasons. It is delightful to see how spacious kitchens can be. If one is fortunate enough to live in a large home whose square footage allows ample space, storage and organization is easy.  Some are so large , specialty work centers within the total kitchen create actual hearth cooking areas, baking centers, designated food prep areas, pizza ovens, and convenient office like space for working or studying at home.

What woman doesn't want counter tops for miles to prepare meals on? Beautiful spacious wide floors for family traffic areas between the islands and base cabinets on the perimeter walls are on every one's wish list. How much counter top space would you like to prepare meals on?  However, realistically, most of our kitchens are probably only 200 to 250 square feet. Our homes are more likely to have two walls to hold everything needed to cook, eat, and entertain in our kitchen. So, the question is, "how can I fit in everything I want and need in my new kitchen?

The reality is most of our homes do not have the square footage to hold the spacious all inclusive kitchen of our dreams. The need to prioritize is key. How, you ask? Well I suggest starting by
being mindful every time you enter your current kitchen or bath. There are things you love do not want to give up. Then there are always cabinets or features that you just do not use or like. Start writing down what you love, what you must still have in your new space, and what you do NOT want to take up precious space in the new design.  Just listen to the subconscious conversation you have every time you are in the room.

Next, the fun part! Grab a folder and start your wish list. The really fun part of the is I suggest you brainstorm creatively, as if your budget was not an issue. Yes, I really said that! Write down every feature, convenience, and aesthetically desirable feature you can imagine. Trust me, this will help you. Why, you say?  Remodeling is exciting, expensive, and messy. It is worth the process, once the actual demo and installation phases are past. How will you insure the final product has as many of your "must haves " as possible?  The answer is, by discovering what is possible and listing your preferences in categories.  You will want to maximize your funds to gain what is most important and desirable to you. This is a very personal process filled with many more selections than you can imagine. Those selections and choices drive the cost of your project.  So, write down notes , add pictures to your folder of what you love. You will begin to see a pattern that reveals what style, color, specialty cabinets you prefer. Probably there will be many similar pictures in your folder. Selecting a door style and finish close to them will help you create the kitchen or bath you will enjoy for years to come.

Have fun with this! Do not edit yourself. Let your imagination create your dream space. This really is the best way to start. Yes, you will need to eliminate some items. That is why you need three categories to separate your wish folder ideas into. The three categories are:
1. Essentials you must have
2. Optional  features and cabinets if space and budget allow
3. Unrealistic items that are not truly practical or needed

Next week,we will discuss the many options available in cabinets these days to maximize storage in your project. After all, isn't that always a priority?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Why Licensing Matters and How to Find the Best Contractor

What is your profession? What area of expertise have you invested time, finances, and great effort to become the best you can be? Was your incentive to be able to serve others to the best of your ability?

There are professions where you can find people of such raw talent, they do not need training or education. A few examples would be artists, writer's, and some craftsman whose natural ability is extraordinary. Yet, even geniuses in these arts seek education to sharpen the gift within them. It is human nature to want to be the best we can be in our field of expertise and profession.

Would you pay an untrained person to cut and color your hair? Would you purposely go to a medical or dental professional you knew had not completed their education? Probably not! However, many homeowners looking for the "best/cheapest" price for a home improvement project will risk the value of the biggest financial investment in their portfolio. Please do not make that big mistake. Unlicensed and untrained contractors do operate in virtually every nook and cranny of America.

Right here is NH licensing is not required. Are you asking why I named this Post "Why Licensing Matters?" Well, there are ways to protect yourself and find the best contractor, even if  NH does not
require they get licensed.  Since New Hampshire does not require a Contractor to be State Licensed, it is up to you to use wisdom, research, and choose the best for your particular project. The industry's low barrier to entry and ability to secure work happens due to a general unwillingness or inability of municipal and State authorities to vigorously create and enforce regulations. "How can this be?", you ask. Maybe it has something to do with our State motto, "Live free of die".  Actually, it boils down to the lack of organization and staffing to create the standards to meet and verify any applicant's financial records, insurance, experience, and background that needs to be policed and administered by contractor boards, business and regulatory agencies, consumer affair departments, or attorneys,depending on the location. Bottom line it is a problem that can create a nightmare for homeowners.

Remodeling takes expertise, experience, and the ability to listen carefully to your clients ideas. It also takes great intelligence combined with creativity. Designers and Builders must possess an unusual balance of mental capacity as well as emotional intelligence to understand what their clients really dream of.  They must be accurate with math, which is right brain activity. They also must be creative which uses their left brain. Only 6 % of the population has that combination of skills.

I am so happy to tell you that Lenny and Lisa , the owners of Apple Wood Construction and Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath function excellently in these attributes. There is literally nothing Lenny cannot build. His reputation is spotless and well known among the building inspectors and
the town office that distributes Building Permits.

 Inexperienced carpenters may promise what they cannot deliver to win your business. There are so many expensive mistakes made by homeowners who only consider the price. Every ethical and professional remodeling contractor has the personal experience of being contacted by a homeowner needing to be rescued from the mistakes of a less than ethical "contractor' who abandoned their job with their money in hand! That makes the entire industry suspect. However, if you do your due diligence, ask for referrals and take time to interview a few Pros, you will avoid being taken advantage of.

Where do you begin? In your family and social circle you are going to become aware of projects completed in homes you are invited to visit. If you are thinking about remodeling in the future, be sure to capture the opportunity to ask what your host liked or did not like about who they awarded their project to. Listen and take notes if possible. Your friends and family will love to talk about their project and welcome your curiosity and questions. In fact, they will probably be flattered and excited you want to know.

One of the key issues about remodeling "value" is finding who you like and communicate easily with. You will most likely be interacting with this person and their crew for months. Select the one who really listens to your ideas and preferences. Ask them what they think about your goals. Ask them if what you want is possible, and what the positives and negatives are. Listen to their explanations and jot them down as notes to refer to while interviewing the next candidate.

Another good question to ask anyone you are considering is , How do you stay on top of new trends and products? Do you continue your education and learning new developments in your field? This question is particularly important if you are interested in contemporary design or need special functionality in a commercial application. In every industry, learning new ways and about new products is good. Especially now with Green Building being emphasized. Green means environmentally friendly using less energy to live. If you get a push back like, "Oh no, this is the way I have been doing this for 20 years", you may want to consider asking for referrals then contacting them to ask for their opinion. Another great positive sign is any tradesman who is active in local Builder's Associations. These professionals tend to be interested in learning from each other, being educated as they seek continued training in their field. Plus, great relationships are forged in these associations. The experts from all the fields get to know each other, often refer one another and create a very cohesive team to get jobs done more quickly and efficiently. The camaraderie adds to each tradesman and the mutual respect built tends to add to each contractors commitment to excellence.    

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why Design Build is the Best Choice!

We  here at Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath are affiliated with Apple Wood Construction.

As a General Contractor, our scope includes custom home construction and everything that includes. There literally is no residential construction project we cannot tackle.

Lenny Santosuosso literally became a Lead Carpenter as a young man. Apprenticed by his father, Lenny Senior, he apprenticed for the Kitchen and Bath business from the ground up. Excellence was a priority then and still remains his primary goal now. Lenny insists every project be done "right" and excellently the first time. His references and referral business due to customer satisfaction is well known. The best compliments any contractor can receive comes from their peers. Lenny is praised by licensed inspectors. They say, "if Lenny built it, we know it was done right." The second best referral is from satisfied client's who recommend Apple Wood to their family and friends wanting to remodel or build.

What is Design Build? What are the pros in selecting a professional that has reached this level of expertise?

1. A Design Build Contractor is one stop "soup to nuts" process from the beginning to the end of a
2. The client works only with the Design Build Firm who handles every phase and detail.
3. There is no one handing the client a list of sub contractors to call to hire and install any part of
    the project.
4. Design, selection of product, demolition, installation, clean up, and warranty is all handled by one
    company, the Design Build firm.
5. A higher level of quality in every phase is key.

We have all read the horror stories of home owners who tried to cut corners, be their own contractor, and coordinate a build team. There is no continuity or team commitment in this scenario. Typically the money "saved"  results in spending much more addressing unexpected problems no one wants to even think about, much less deal with.

Is Design Build more expensive? It can be. However, it is a bargain when you consider the peace of mind and the appreciation you will enjoy on your property by hiring a truly professional experienced company.

A firm who has reached the status of being in this select category, is typically well known locally in the industry. Their reputation is built and depends on customer satisfaction and referrals.

Here are some things to consider when it is time to award your project to a building professional.
1. Does the Designer "get" your dream and listen to what you want?
2. Do they respond to your concerns?
3. Have you thought about this fact: Your home, belongings, family, children, and pets are going to
    be exposed to whoever you award your project to, for months. Do you trust them? Have you done
    your due diligence to be sure they deserve your trust?
4. Do they respect you and your home's interior? Will they protect areas in your home that are
    surrounding the project area to minimize dust, noise, etc.?
5. Will they clean up the work area daily and carefully store any products or tools so as to keep your
    family safe in the construction process?
6. Do they partner with quality vendors for plumbing fixtures, lighting, cabinet, and counter top
    professionals to assure your ability to select the best available to complete your project.
7. Do they follow through with what they promise?

This is one of the most thrilling experiences of home ownership. It has great creative fun times. It also has many challenges and seasons of inconvenience. Who you select to work with truly makes a difference. Getting referrals is extremely important.  

"You get what you pay for!" That is true in the Building and Remodeling world. Sometimes, we have waited so long for our dream home, we can want it done "NOW" for the cheapest price possible. Often, cutting corners creates more stress and problems than working with a true competitive experienced professional from the beginning. When everything is considered, you will be happy you awarded your project to the best, a Design Build contractor.

Please come talk to us. If you are looking for a contractor who is creative, experienced, has great integrity, skill, and is competitive in pricing, you will be pleasantly surprised!