Where to start with a kitchen project

Where to start with a kitchen project
(Courtesy photo)

By Rory Callahan

Sensible, intelligent people end up with disappointing kitchens so often that it depresses me. I hear a similar story about once a week.

“We’re in the middle of our remodel. We’re scrambling to find appliances we like, that will fit what we’ve planned and be on budget. Now our cabinet guy has said our order is delayed.” The worst news, and they don’t know it yet, is that what they’ve planned is not the best use of space with which to meet their family’s everyday needs.

I can only think the reason for so many underwhelming kitchens is that folks just don’t have a frame of reference for what constitutes good planning, good cabinets, where to go, what to buy or how to go about it properly. So, they often only figure it out after they’ve bought their kitchen. To me, that’s nearly a crime.

Your options boil down to three fundamental grades of services and product.

At a starter level, there are home centers and builder supply shops. There are rudimentary planning services that will provide durability for about two to five years before you see deterioration in finish, drawer glide function, door alignment and structural stability.

The next step up is the cabinet discount chain store. These offer a few lines of stock and semi-custom cabinets. They may offer a custom line they rarely sell, so they’re not experts at designing in that line. They do a good job at a good value to help you update your home. The look will be new but somewhat model homey in its ordinariness. The cabinets are likely very acceptable considering the cost and last you for about five to 10 years before they need work.

If you like very nice things and find yourself purchasing high quality things in general, then you’ll want to visit one of the many independent kitchen boutiques where you will find both the city’s best designers and highest quality cabinetry. Expect to pay top dollar and the result will be a stunning kitchen you will love and will last for a decade or more.

But at what price? Most of us cannot afford that level kitchen.

There are strong values to be found where you’ll get both expert design and durable custom cabinets at a discount. These shops are under the radar, but keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll find your place. Take your time planning and shopping. A rushed kitchen is a disappointing one.

Here is my simple, or perhaps oversimplified, method of estimating your new kitchen’s total floor to ceiling cost – that means new appliances, cabinets, countertops and labor: What did you spend on your last car? That’s how much your kitchen remodeling project will cost.

The writer is kitchen planning director at M&M Appliance & Cabinets on South Washington Street.