For most artists, nothing could be more fun than a blank canvas, or the equivalent...but let's be honest, as designers every kitchen we do isn't an expression of our art...that would make us lousy designers, and I tell my clients just that! "My job is to bring out the artist in you and skillfully make it all work", I constantly seek out and nudge and nurture any hint of preference I can find in my homeowners.
I don't love every style, I have passion for color and texture and love the opportunity of limitless choices, I appreciate all styles, and I am open to experimenting...and that, I thought, was about as open as I could be as I designer. The only thing I truly hated in our business was "kitchen refacing". Anyone who I met who was considering it, I am sure was met by my nose flipping upside down, and a twisted curl on the side of my mouth...seemed more like a scheme than a home improvement. I was suspicious.
As a kitchen designer, the very thought of Kitchen Refacing was like having my hands tied. I thought: 5 doors to choose from, 5 colors, nothing else changes.
Well, talk about needing an attitude adjustment! I was long overdue, and little did I know when I signed on at Empire Kitchens and Baths, http://www.empirecontractor.com/, I had met my match. I came to find out there was very little I could do in a new kitchen remodel that I couldn't do within a "kitchen refacing" project.
My preconceived notion of the process was:
- remove old doors and drawers fronts
- sand cabinet surfaces,
- smear with glue,
- slap up plain laminate
- install new doors and drawer fronts
- leave customer with same old floor, counter top, layout and basic look
In my mind, the frustrations of the existing layout never got addressed, everything just got "spruced up" like painting your front door, but way more expensive.
When I got to Empire Kitchens and Baths, located in Union, New Jersey, I learned that Kitchen Refacing wasn't a marketing hook, our refaced kitchens got completely overhauled, with huge benefits to the consumer. One main criteria was that their cabinet boxes had to be in good shape...beyond that there were few rules to obey. We moved plumbing if necessary, moved stoves, turned those 24" wide gas tall oven cabinets of the 1950's and 60's into
roll-out pantry cabinets, added custom islands, removed soffits and added crown molding, we even turned 30" high uppers into 42" high uppers. This was refacing like I had never heard tale of. The colors and finishes available competed equally with the new cabinet manufacturers, and we could be completely done, start to finish in THREE WEEKS.
How the process really is with the right designer:
- Remove all old doors and drawer front and drawer boxes
- sand all exposed areas as per plans
- finish interiors of any cabinets with glass doors
- make plumbing & electrical upgrades as per plans
- add custom boxes and make necessary modifications to existing boxes
- your refrigerator gets concealed behind custom panels and a new deep cabinet installed above it
- new flooring is installed
- high Pressure Laminate or wood paneling is applied to all expose surfaces as per plan
- new Doors are installed with concealed European hinges
- new solid wood dovetailed drawers with full extension soft close drawer glides are installed
- new drawer faces are installed
- new counter top surface of customers choosing is installed
- new roll out trays, base wastebaskets, vegetable bins, liter bottle pullouts, spice racks, cutlery dividers, every convenience you can imagine is available and installed per plans
- new crown molding and light rail
- under cabinet lighting is installed
- and a full custom back splash is added, tile, Corian, granite, customer's choice
This appealed to many customers, and the reasons varied. Some folks couldn't imagine being under construction for 6 weeks, some really liked their kitchen layout and just wanted an update and more conveniences, some wanted to leave more of their budget for high end appliances, others saw the value in their existing kitchen.
They may not have known they were being "GREEN" but imagine the benefits of re-using your existing boxes! Not just on your personal economy, but on the environment. The savings on energy by not re-manufacturing what already exists, not re-boxing it, not re-shipping it. Use what you have, the ultimate savings. And now add to that, you are saving the ugly question of where to get rid of your old cabinets!
Traditionally, when I rip out a kitchen, the arrival of a 30yd dumpster heralds the news to the neighbors. And while remodeling kitchens is my passion I know how this huge garbage bin makes my eco-friendly colleagues cringe. When I reface a kitchen, my installers bring what little remains back to the shop in the back of standard work van.
Compare the toll on the landfill, there is no question, refacing your kitchen is an act of ultimate conservation, and the results can be no less dramatic. The colors and hand applied finishes, the array of door styles, the ability to create your custom specifications equal to any other cabinet resource.
Ask yourself, what else can I learn about kitchen refacing, is it for me? Is it for some of my clients? I know it is for some of mine.
If you are interested inlearning more please feel free to email me and visit our website at The Kitchendeziner.