Dream Kitchen Or Nightmare Project?

By Sara Busby

You have been scanning Houzz and Pinterest for months, attending every home

show and tour, purchasing every kitchen and bath magazine published and

discussing your “dream kitchen” with friends. Here are a few up and coming trends

from this year’s National Kitchen and Bath Show in Las Vegas that might have

popped up in all that research:

– Mid-tone woods used in cabinetry

with simpler styles and less


– Metals and glass in backsplashes

– Decorative hardware and lighting in

many finishes and even a little ‘bling’

– Stainless steel sinks that are warmer

in color and finish

– Faucets with adjustable spray

patterns and hands-free operation

– Smart technology in appliances and

lighting that communicate with cell


– Cooler color pallets with more taupes

and greys

Whether one opts for the latest technology and trends or prefers a more traditional

kitchen, new and remodeled kitchens are the best place to spend money for return

on investment, according to The National Kitchen and Bath Association and the

National Association of Home Builders.

This experience can be so much fun with results that will give years of joy and

memories, or it can be stressful and not quite as satisfying as hoped. Heard more

nightmare kitchen project stories than “dream come true” ones? How to ensure

the experience is the dream and not the nightmare? Start with selecting a certified

kitchen designer (CKD).

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, a CKD “must have a

minimum of 7 years’ experience designing residential kitchen spaces. They are

highly skilled in design, space planning and product selection and have extensive

knowledge of building codes, flooring materials, appliances and mechanical systems.

They write specifications and draw plans that are easily interpreted by plumbers,

electricians and installers. A CKD must meet specific educational requirements and

pass a comprehensive academic and practical exam.”

It is the CKD’s responsibility to interview and listen, to understand and honor

lifestyle, design sense and budget. Select a designer that listens and communicates

well. You will be placing a great amount of responsibility on your designer to

interpret your dreams. This process is best approached as a give and take. Dreams

may have to be prioritized to stay within budget or for design due to space,

structural elements and schedules. Using the budget effectively, and presenting the

best products and plan for the job, is the CKD’s main focus.

Once the design is perfected, the materials selected, the contractor determined, it’s

time to start … or maybe not. These are some other key considerations which must

be addressed to have the “dream kitchen project” experience.

Establish an agreed upon means of communication with the designer and

contractor. Do you want a call, an email or text? Advised of every detail or prefer

to have the small decisions handled for you? How frequently do you want project

updates? Do you want to be out of town and come home to a clean and completed

project or to visit the jobsite regularly?

Prepare your home and your life for the renovation. Remove everything from your

kitchen and surrounding areas, clear space in the garage to stage deliveries and

plan the best location for the dumpster. Can you still get in the driveway, can the

next door neighbor get in their driveway? Where will you live while the work is

being done? Also, what hours are appropriate for work to begin and end? Some

developments have specific hours that work people are allowed in.

It is polite to alert your neighbors that there will be additional traffic in the

neighborhood, (and give them your builder’s phone number, just in case). Often the

neighbors will delight in sharing your experience and gladly help out any way they

can if you keep them informed.

You set the rules. No smoking in the house, but how about the driveway? What

about music? Which bathroom should workers use while on site? Pets may also

need special arrangements.

The project is now underway and will go through stages of: What was I thinking,

how can this make such a mess, when will these darn contractors be done, when will

the back ordered sink be here, how did the dog get that piece of drywall to chew on?

Remember that this process ends with a dream kitchen. Everyone working on your

job is a professional and will be doing their best work in a timely manner. If you can

enjoy the journey and have fun along the way the destination is amazing. Throw a

party and show off your new kitchen.

Sara Ann Busby, a certified kitchen designer, has been designing kitchens and

baths throughout the Midwest for more than 30 years. Busby previously served as

National President for the National Kitchen and Bath Association.