Need a House Uplift? It’s Time to Revamp the Heart of Your Home
Today, kitchens are much more than humble spaces in which to store, prepare and cook food. They’re home activity centers, focal points for family and social gatherings, and now – with mobile devices allowing people to work, entertain themselves and enjoy social media – multifunction workspaces in their own right.
Unfortunately, kitchens laid out and equipped decades ago often can’t fulfill the central role demanded of them. They resist – despite the best efforts of the homeowner – entry into the modern era. Though, how exactly can you know whether problems you’ve identified as affecting “the heart of your home” can be fixed, or whether a top-to-bottom kitchen remodeling is needed?
Sometimes an ailing kitchen will broadcast the fact that it’s ready for out-and-out replacement in the form of an obvious defect you just can’t ignore. For example, those rickety old wall cabinets finally fall off the walls, that ornery faucet finally explodes, or you trip and fall because your curling vinyl floor now resembles a scale model of the Swiss Alps.
“That’s it!,” you say, after paying for another expensive repair or long weekend spent dealing with the problem yourself. “We’re starting from scratch!”
Many homeowners, however, won’t find the kitchen remodeling decision to be as straightforward as the example above. Yes, the kitchen “works” from an infrastructure perspective, but everything about it “feels wrong.” Instead of experiencing a happy bouncy feeling when you enter it in the morning, you feel a quiet sense of unease. In the evening, your fleeting idea about preparing a tasty dish is instantly replaced by an overpowering desire to order in.
“Is this kitchen situation fixable?,” you ask yourself. And, perhaps, it is. Maybe the only thing that’s needed to banish your gloom is for those old cabinet doors, leaky sink fixtures, drab backsplash and scarred countertops to be replaced by more modern equivalents [link to 6 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Modern]. As long as the kitchen’s basic infrastructure (plumbing/electrical/venting) and working layout are both sound, there’s no reason not to evaluate simply swapping out worn kitchen components.
Was your kitchen “designed” to be too small?
Sometimes the component replacement strategy won’t cut it. It’s not so much what’s in the kitchen that dooms it; it’s the limitations imposed on the kitchen by the original designer of the home. For example, many homes built in the early to mid-20th century abided by the old concept that kitchens and dining rooms needed to be separate rooms. This decision elevated the importance of the dining room, while consigning the kitchen to a smaller, secondary space.
Separating kitchens and dining rooms made sense in the old days. Kitchen odors needed to be kept from wafting into other areas of the home. Entertainment took place in the dining and living rooms, never in the kitchen. But people just don’t behave that way anymore (and the hood extractor vent eliminated the kitchen odor problem a long time ago).
For those finding themselves in terminally cramped kitchens, the solution is to expand the kitchen to a size appropriate to its central role, usually by removing a wall and making other structural alterations necessary to bring this about. Obviously, if this level of “surgery” is required, one should – as with any remodeling project affecting the structure of your home — rely on the expertise of a qualified contractor/remodeler before proceeding further.
Some questions to ask
If you’re wavering on the “remodel or not” question, it may be helpful for you to take inventory of your current kitchen’s strengths and weaknesses. Take a notepad and create a page with two columns. In the first column, write “What’s good about my kitchen?” in the second, write “What’s not so good about my kitchen?”
Start jotting down some notes. Here are 10 items to consider:
- Counter space — is there enough? Could there be more?
- Lighting — adequate or not? Could additional natural light be introduced?
- Cabinets — enough storage space or never enough?
- Appliances – are the fridge, sink and range really large enough to handle everything that’s asked of them?
- Dining – does your family eat in the kitchen (or would they if there were more room?)
- Water and sink — easy to work with (or are sink bowls too small to handle the dishware you use)?
- Layout — easy for chefs to move easily between storage/preparation/cooking/washing locations or not?
- Dining room – do people really use it or is it just a glorified nostalgia chamber?
- Electrical — are your appliances routinely popping breaker? Are there enough outlets to handle current and future use?
- Flooring – solid, attractive and unyielding or tired out, rippled or curling?
Going through this exercise can give you a better indication of whether “the heart of your home” needs some simple therapy, or a wholesale transplant.
Another helpful thing you can do is start learning about how other people have transformed drab, cramped, creaky kitchens into fun, expressive spaces. Pinterest.com is a great place to look for designs that can inspire you; also please check out the Gallery section of our website; here you’ll find photos of beautiful kitchens that we’ve remodeled on Long Island.