If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, what’s the first thing that crosses your mind? I’d bet that the majority of folks wonder about the cost. I checked in with Jolynn Johnson over at Crystal Kitchen Center which was recently awarded Remodeler of the Year from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC). Crystal Kitchen Center has been in business since 1975 and Jolynn has owned and operated it since 1994, leading a team of expert designers that create kitchens and baths that win awards year after year.
How can costs be considered when approaching a kitchen remodel? Are their different tiers for what can be done per price range?
Jolynn Johnson: Most people only remodel their kitchen once in a lifetime. If you rely only on cost, your kitchen may not stand the test of time. We offer different quality/budget lines of cabinetry through Crystal Cabinet Works. We only sell top-quality cabinets that perform for our discerning clients. There is much more to a cabinet than the outward appearance: the type of wood, how the cabinet boxes are constructed, the vast differences in the hinges and glides, as well as the durability of the finish all affect the final product.
What do you do when a client asks, “But I could paint the walls for free! Why does it cost so much?” or “But I could get that at Ikea for half that cost!” about things that seem simple but require great skill?
JJ: We often work with clients who choose to do some of the work themselves. We understand we all have budgets to work within and we respect that. We’ll share our years of experience in the remodeling business and guide them from making mistakes as we work with them through the budget process. We also try to educate our clients to understand the difference in quality of materials.
What are your suggestions for the most up-to-date in kitchen storage solutions? Is the pantry a thing of the past?
JJ: Pantries are still very popular in today’s kitchens. Sometimes being only 15” deep is better than two feet, as one can see what items they have and don’t get lost. The biggest factor in getting a walk-in pantry into a kitchen is really the space it takes; however, pull-out pantries are very popular and can be wonderful storage. There are many fantastic kitchen cabinet and interior organizers to make your life easier: spice racks, silverware trays, knife storage, tray storage, tip-out sink fronts, waste baskets, lazy susans, and phone/computer charging stations to name a few. We will walk you through these options and help you achieve that get-your-wish kitchen.
Is granite still the thing? How about stainless steel appliances? What trends are here to stay and what should be avoided?
JJ: Granite is still 25% of our business, while quartz material like Cambria and Caesarstone make up about 50%. Most appliances are still stainless unless we can put a cabinet front on them. Trends we are seeing now are open shelving in kitchen and baths, although I’m not sure this trend will be long-lived. Although they look beautiful and you are able to add your own personal character, consider the dust and the need to keep everything organized.
What are some of your favorite low-cost kitchen solutions? What gets a big bang for its buck?
JJ: Buying a granite that is a stock color will save you money. Other ways for getting more with your budget are using a top-mount sink instead of undermount, leaving in those soffits instead of removing them, keeping your appliances in the same position, and having a general ceiling light instead of recessed-can lights. All the “cool” stuff you see in pictures costs money, so keep it simple.
What are some of your favorite splurge kitchen solutions? What’s worth the splurge?
JJ: Steam ovens are wonderful and becoming more popular in more of the high-end kitchens. Also, people who are avid cooks are incorporating higher-quality appliances into their kitchen remodel budget. Wood appliance fronts give your kitchen a warm custom appearance. Some areas also are being designed to look like furniture pieces as opposed to walls of cabinets. Another splurge is custom decorative backsplashes; they can be hand-made from a local artist and, in many cases, be custom works of art with detailed and intricate colors and patterns. Not only is the cost of the tile more but the install can be more money as well.
What is an often overlooked aspect to kitchens that you need to be sure is incorporated in all of your projects?
JJ: In addition to requiring storage solutions and plenty of counter space, we must have the cabinet above the refrigerator pulled out to the front of the refrigerator (can’t stand seeing the boxes of cereal on top). Also, we would never give up under-cabinet or task lighting.
How about the (other) costs of remodeling, such as to the inhabitants of the home?
JJ: There is no getting around it — a kitchen and/or bathroom remodel will be disruptive. We take a great deal of pride in our 6-step process in getting all the design and product selections laid out in advance and setting up a construction schedule and review with the client in advance. Our workmen will stay on schedule and we keep to the budget. We also take great efforts in minimizing the stress for the client. The biggest factor is educating the client up front and talking about these inconveniences. Our tips? Getting movers and storage pods are often good solutions for what to do with your “stuff.” Having a temporary kitchen set up somewhere (basement, bathroom, laundry room or garage) and remember to keep out paper plates, napkins, and paper towels so there is less washing. Making meals ahead of time that can be microwaved. And, going on vacation!
See more beautiful projects and learn about what Crystal Kitchen Center can do for you at www.crystalkitchen.com.