Ask the builder: Points to consider when remodeling your kitchen

Question: We are remodeling our kitchen. We see so many cabinet stores in town, but would like to do some upfront planning ourselves. What recommendations do you have?

Kitchen design does require considerable forethought, especially if this is a home you will be in for some time. Customizing “the busiest room in the home” to your specific needs will reap many benefits. To help you prepare for the eventual meeting with a kitchen designer, here are some items that were recently shared with me at a seminar called “Blueprint for Kitchen Design.” The speaker, Carol Lamkins, CMKBD, covered nine “centers” in kitchen design:

1. Store Center: This is the first step in food preparation-the area where homeowners place their grocery bags after bringing them in from the car.

2. Prep Center: This is usually located between the refrigerator and sink and holds utensils and equipment associated with food prep. Some homeowners may require two areas like this if there are multiple food preparers in the family.

3. Cook Center: The range or cooktop is the center of this area. Lamkins suggests having 15 inches of counter space on one side of the range and 18 inches on the other side to allow for ingredients.

4. Bake Center: An oven or double-oven should be located in this area, with at least 15 inches of landing space either next to or across from the oven for hot items that are removed from the oven.

5. Convenience Center: Store a few dishes in this area for homeowners to grab a snack or microwave some popcorn.

6. Beverage Center: This area can have a small refrigerator to hold sodas, water, wine and beer. Provide storage for glasses and stemware and if there is space, include a sink. The newest item in this area is the built-in cappuccino/espresso machine.

7. Serve Center: This is usually located next to a table or eating bar in the kitchen and holds linens, placemats, and some dishes. You can combine this with the beverage center.

8. Clean-Up Center: This area has a sink and dishwasher and storage for dishes.

9. Communication Center: Today’s kitchens are central to family communication. Include space and outlets for computers and recharging electronic devices. This might be a good location for cookbook storage.

Each of these centers should be tailored to the homeowner. To decide what features to include in the new kitchen, Lamkins said homeowners should list what they like and dislike about their current kitchen. Homeowners should also take a survey where they answer questions about their lifestyle. Some questions:

– Who cooks?

– Who cleans up?

– What type of cooking

do you do?

– Where do you eat?

– How do you entertain?

– Do you have pets & where

do they eat?

– What are your hobbies?

This survey will help the homeowner organize their thoughts, help the kitchen designer organize their approach, introduce them to choices, provide talking points, and create a checklist for the designer when they are working on the plan.

Now, I would add to this list a few items. Depending on the scope of your remodeling project, so many other aspects must be considered. Think about the following:

– Change in lighting requirements- undercabinet, island, task and gener al lighting. Avoid shadowing.

– Colors-paint, tile, wallpaper or


– Flooring and wall accents, such as tile backsplashes.

– Electrical & gas requirements for updated appliances.

– How the kitchen connects or

interacts with other rooms or the exterior, such as garden views, etc.

– Natural light-window upgrades to enhance light and views

– Traffic flow and circulation-it is

the busiest room and keeping it

organized and creating the

appearance of lots of space, while

still being cozy, is important.

– Electric, plumbing and possibly

heating/cooling are impacted by the redesign. Be sure to consult with

your builder or respective trade

to assess ease of change and costs

associated with the redesign. Do

this concurrently with your

meetings with the designer.

In terms of local cabinet providers, I recommend you contact the Home Builders Association at 946-2305 or The HBA is considered the “Good Housekeeping” seal for consumers in need of resources and information relative to the building industry.

Members (builders and suppliers) of the HBA must go through a fairly extensive screening process before being accepted into membership. So, the HBA has already done some preliminary screening of cabinet suppliers/makers for you. These cabinet suppliers will be able to provide you some very good advice on design, style, cost and function.

Finally, I would encourage you to ask the kitchen designers to see some photos of past new build or remodeling projects (before/after). This will give you an idea of their creativity and ability to stay within budget.

Mike Ferraro is president of Ferraro Builders and past president of the Home Builders Association of Grand Traverse Area. Ferraro Builders is a full-service design and build firm and Certified Green Builder specializing in Custom Homes, Timber Frame Homes, and Remodeling. BN