Kitchen Facelifts

If a full kitchen renovation scares your client, suggest a facelift.
By Michelle Gross
December 07, 2011

Kitchens are one of the most popular and expensive rooms to remodel, challenging contractors to find creative solutions for budget-conscious homeowners. Whether clients are looking for a change in their daily cooking space or preparing to sell their home, a complete overhaul is often out of their budgetary bounds. If that’s the case, suggest this year’s renovation solution: Don’t remodel, retouch.

Enhancing kitchen appeal can be as simple as taking advantage of the latest tools and techniques to breathe new life to the busiest space in anyone’s home. The term “facelift” may bring to mind aging entertainers looking for the fountain of youth, but in the design world, a room’s facelift has a whole different connotation. While it can refer to cosmetic changes, it more frequently means reinvigorating a room without breaking the homeowner’s budget. Clients skittish of costly remodeling will welcome design solutions that respect their budget and resources. With project reservations out of the way, kitchen facelifts allow designers to showcase results quickly, and contractors can work with clients on a one-time project or coordinate phases to space out costs.

There are plenty of “anti-aging” techniques at your command to refresh a worn-out-looking kitchen without draining clients’ savings. The following are common reasons why homeowners want to redesign their kitchen, along with budget-conscious ways to help them work with what they’ve got.

Client: “My kitchen looks old and outdated. I want a more modern look.”
There’s no need to think Extreme Makeover to get the room back to the 21st century. Linoleum flooring, old-fashioned wallpaper and worn accents add years to any kitchen. Strip the wallpaper. Update the sink and faucet. Cabinet hardware is said to be the jewelry of the kitchen and makes a tremendous impact for the investment. Transform dated cabinets with a fresh coat of paint. Add personality and character with an artistic backsplash or install flooring that makes the space more welcoming. Complete the new look by changing overhead lights, as well as outlet covers and plates.

Hardware, such as Atlas Hardware’s Dream Glass knobs, are like jewelry for the kitchen and can breathe new life into a space.

Client: “Not easy to cook.”
Though tempted, far be it from me to respond, “But why would you want to?” Numerous homeowners are challenged by their established kitchen work triangle—or lack of one. Start with the kitchen sink and the range to make kitchens work for clients, not against them. Remove any countertop items that have become parked in these areas. Maximize the use of cupboards. Add inserts to shelving and drawers to create more storage. Recommend “double-duty” appliances to maximize efficiency, like a microwave/convection combo or an instant hot/cool water dispenser. In addition to delivering both 200-degree Fahrenheit water and filtered cool water at the touch of a handle, the latter provides instant access to expedite daily tasks, such as boiling water for pasta or making oatmeal and tea, and are convenient for cleaning.

Hot water dispensers, such as InSinkErator’s Indulge™(shown), work as a system, delivering both 200-degree Fahrenheit water and filtered cool water at the touch of a handle. The instant access expedites daily tasks, such as boiling water for pasta or making oatmeal and tea, but is also convenient for cleanup. Unlike water coolers and sink mount filters that can be an eyesore, these dispensers are available in contemporary and traditional models, as well as several designer finishes.

Client: “More energy efficiency means saving money.”
Saving the planet is important to today’s homeowners, but so is saving money. The U.S. Department of Energy found that 20 percent of consumers’ energy consumption comes from appliances. The older the appliance, the more energy it uses. In this case, clients can change the looks they inherited, and it doesn’t have to painful. Recommend energy-efficient appliances to help them cut down utility bills while also protecting the environment. New appliances will also help update the look and functionality of the kitchen.

Client: “I need more space.”
This tops the list of client demands—the tricky part is finding a compromise between meeting those expectations and managing their existing resources. You don’t have to knock down a wall to achieve the desired effect. This is an opportunity for professionals to get creative. Generate floor space by making a trash and/or recycling pullout. Save counter space by installing pullout butcher blocks and open shelving underneath islands and kitchen tables. Mount appliances underneath overhead cabinets and go for cabinet-depth fridges. For clients with children, add storage space for kids’ toys and books by replacing chairs at the kitchen table with storage benches and installing shelf units on blank, open walls.

Clear some floor space with pullout trash and/or recycling bins (Rev-A-Shelf’s bottom-mount Model 4WCBM shown).

In the world of beauty, it is said that one should take pride in aging, to find the joy in imperfections. This doesn’t translate well to kitchens and rather begs the question, “How far will you let it go?” Every client presents a unique set of needs and an opportunity to exceed expectations. Some will have a closer watch on their wallet, and that’s to be expected. Show clients what they are missing, or better yet, what they have to gain from a kitchen facelift. Subtle transformations can do wonders.

—Michelle Gross is the director of channel marketing & communications at InSinkErator, a division of Emerson Electric Co., based in Racine, WI. InSinkErator is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of food waste disposers and instant hot water dispensers. For more information about the company, visit its website at www.insinkerator.com.


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