Category Archives: kitchen remodels

How to get more cooking, countertop and storage space!


Kitchen island demonstrating storage convenience

That’s what a kitchen island is for. When you decide you can’t do without one any longer, the first thing you must do is determine if you have room for one. That done, decide what features you want the island to have. For some, a fully functional kitchen island is a more appealing and convenience option, allowing them to do perform all kitchen tasks at the island.

If you choose to incorporate a fully functional island in your kitchen, you’ll need to have gas, water and power piped to the island. With all those things in place, the kitchen island can feature a stove, sink, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, blender, coffee maker, refrigerator and any other cooking, cleaning and storage elements you can fit on and in it!

Storage is often an important and challenging element of kitchen islands. Many of the larger ones feature both drawers and cabinets for storage. To make the storage efficient and “close-at-hand”, keep shelving and drawers shallow and narrow; you’ll avoid foodstuffs and supplies stacking up and migrating to the back, never to be seen again.

Finally, consider adding some convenient or decorative elements to your kitchen, if you have the space. You can increase the storage space and efficiency of your kitchen by adding a lazy Susan or pull-out trashcan to the island.


Kitchen island with gas stove!

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What is the cost per square foot for my remodel?

Uh, oh! This is a loaded question to a home remodeler. Cost per square foot is impossible to calculate before the layout of the room(s), quality of materials, fixtures and appliances are settled on. Just selecting a certain price range of kitchen appliances can change the project cost significantly.

It makes more sense to focus on the cost to construct in discussions. This can be revised based on the clients personal choices, complexity of the remodel, etc. Perhaps a more important number to use is the clients budget, minimum to maximum amounts. Then the remodeler can show the client what is available in materials to meet their budget constraints.

During the design phase, for instance, a more expensive granite countertop could be replace by a clients wish for a high quality gas stove. There are numerous trade-offs, and a good experienced contractor will know what less expensive material will look as good as the clients first choice product.

Kitchen remodel, after photo

Before remodel, this kitchen was chaotic and poorly laid out; not all cabinets had doors. After the remodel, it presents a pleasant, light, organized work space.


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New Year’s Kitchen Resolution!

Make it one of your news year resolutions to remodel the kitchen to include proper storage room! One can gradually get used to having full cupboards that are never opened; with items that you use daily all piled on the countertop. After a while you might not “see” the mess, but when preparing dinner, it can be very annoying to have to move things aside so there is a little bit of cramped room to work.

Don’t put up with it anymore! Custom cabinets can be designed and configured to make your space workable. Most homes are built with standard, generic cabinets that are not made to fit every home, and so may have odd corners and gaps, showing poor planning for storage of kitchen appliances and tools.


Loads of storage in this remodeled Bellingham kitchen!

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Kitchen remodeling for efficiency and style

A majority of our kitchen remodels do not move walls or add-on to a home; the majority remodel within the existing space. This is far less expensive than adding on or moving walls. Some of our customers have had interior walls removed, to open up the kitchen, to include the living room or dining room within the visual space of the kitchen. This makes the kitchen seem larger and allows the cook to converse with family and guests.

A well designed custom cabinet layout can add incredible storage capacity and style to a box-store, inexpensive brand setup. Stainless steel sinks, matching refrigerator and stove, and new faucets along with a new countertop will make you think you’ve moved into a completely new home!


Stove is in the island; cabinets do not go all the way to the soffit; cabinets are of a uniform, monotonous quality.


Stove has been moved from the island; cabinets go all the way to the soffit, utilizing all available space.

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December 13, 2013 · 2:00 pm

How to avoid mistakes with your kitchen remodel

Don’t pick styles and colors that are extreme; after a few years they may wear on you and become annoying. Here are some suggestions to help you design a kitchen that you will love for years to come, and will be a selling point if you ever decide to move!

1. White is the most popular color. The National Kitchen and Bath Association survey’s always find this color at the top. It is never out of style; it is a bright color that reflects light and makes small kitchens seem larger. It looks clean, and is easier to clean!

2. Hardwood flooring rates as very desirable for 80% of home buyers. It has warmth and makes homes look cozy and inviting. It goes with all kitchen styles.

3. For cabinets, you can’t go wrong with Shaker style. They have been popular for generations and their simple, clean lines are easy to keep clean. They are a perfect fit for transitional style; a great combination of traditional and contemporary.

4. Carrera marble for countertops is a classis that never goes out of style. It has a lacy graining and subtle white colors that will fit with any color scheme. They are long-lasting and less expensive than quartz.

5. Backsplash tiles – go with subway tile and you will love it! This has been popular since the 1900’s. Remember, neutral colors will always be current and blend with any look.


Subway tile backsplash

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Why Remodel Now?

You know what they say: “What is the bottom line?” Meaning money, of course. That’s why you should remodel now. A master bath remodel, kitchen remodel, or adding a well-designed powder room will add value to your home.

Of course, you will be able to enjoy updated fixtures, colors and furnishings for as long as you live in your home. Replacing worn-out and dated faucets, shower fixtures and sinks can immensely improve enjoyment of just being home.

So, speaking in specifics, what gives the biggest return on investment in the remodeling world?

  • Repair or replace siding
  • Add a deck or improve the existing deck, if it is fairly new
  • Make improvements in the kitchen
  • Repair or replace windows
  • Remake a bathroom
  • Add insulation, especially to the attic
  • Remodel the basement
  • Have an addition built on, or up
  • I know this is not home remodeling exactly, but have your yard landscaped

Built in bench with 2 level deck in landscaped yard.

Decks have a lifespan, and if they are at or near the end of theirs, replacing a traditional single-level deck with several levels and built-in benches are winners. If your previous deck required a great deal of maintenance, have the new one built with low-maintenance materials. There are some wonderful railing options, such as cable railing and glass that allow much more light onto the deck, and do not obstruct the view.

Kitchens and bathrooms are obvious places to do either a complete remodel, or update things as you can afford to. New sinks and fixtures, new countertops, new flooring and paint are all lower-cost remodel projects, that nevertheless, add a great deal to enjoyment and value of the home.


Complete kitchen remodel, including granite countertops, custom cabinetry, and large appliances and fixtures.

Replacing cabinetry and large appliances are bigger ticket items, but are well-worth doing when you are ready.

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10 Design Trends for 2013 (or maybe 8?)

Well we’ve done the research for you, combing through thousands (just kidding – maybe hundreds; uh make that maybe tens) of websites and blogs, noted what our clients have requested lately, and the results are in. Ta da!

1. Kitchen cabinets: Clean, simple contemporary looks will be popular, with homeowners looking to economize and eliminate clutter and details that increase cleaning time.

2. Quartz composites are popular for countertops, due to low-maintenance (one of my favorite phrases), sturdy countertop material. Don’t forget great-looking!

3. Pre-finished and engineered wood flooring is becoming more popular due partly to the lower installation cost compared to site-finished flooring and to the hard, durable finishes available.

4. Deep, single compartment kitchen sinks, believe it or not! It seems like since forever that every kitchen had a two-compartment sink, but no longer is this a requirement. With accessories such as fitted colanders and dish drains, deep single bowl sinks have all the benefits of a divided sink, plus the large size to actually fit a roasting pan or baking sheet. We are getting both stainless steel and Corian requests from clients for materials. Kitchen sinks tend to be stainless and bath lavs tend to be Corian.

5. Colors; this is a very personal thing, but the indications are that charcoal will be popular this year (if the stars line up . . . ha, ha, just kidding).

6. Bathroom countertops are going with marble for total luxury, or marble look-alikes with manufactured stone materials.

7. Remodeling the home for older residents, which is called aging-in-place (we are certified for this type of design), or alternatively, called universal design, meaning the layout and materials are appropriate for any age, as is helpful in multi-generational homes, is increasing in popularity.

8. Green and sustainable is popular, with homeowners choosing materials that are free of toxics and any chemical off-gassing ingredients.

9. and 10. How about our readers sending in your opinions and observations on what you feel are the home remodeling trends this year? Shoot us an email at and we will post your comments. Keep it clean, people! Seriously, we’d love to get your input.


Pale green shower tile with frameless glass door

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How to organize and prepare for your kitchen remodel

It seems like a daunting task – how will you cook, and will you be able to access the fridge? Where will you wash the dishes? Possibly the biggest question – how long will my kitchen be out of commission?

Length of time depends a lot on the level of renovation you are having done. Let’s assume the most extreme; complete kitchen remodel. The cabinets, counter tops and sink will all be torn out, new flooring and an island added. A new stove, dishwasher and refrigerator will be installed.

A full kitchen remodel can take up to two months. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry recommends that you sort out the details of your project with your contractor to ensure your project goes smoothly and your life can stay as normal as possible in the interim.

Have the contractor spell out the process clearly. Ask what specifically will be done, when and how long each task will take.

Plan for extra storage. The contractor will have tools, materials and equipment in the house to complete the project, so you’ll want to find a good spot for them.

Have the contractor’s phone number handy. Designate one family member as the go-to person so the possibility of miscommunication is reduced or eliminated.

Check locks and keys. You might need to share keys with the contractor. Be sure you know who is responsible.

Keep clear. Make sure you, your kids and pets stay out of the way of the work crews.

Contractor vehicles will have to park on or near your property, set aside space for them.

Expect the unexpected. There are myriad things that can go askew during a remodel – the bigger the project, the greater the potential – like late deliveries, strikes, wrong parts, adverse weather, on the spot changes, and the like.


Remodeling Moods

So, everything in the kitchen must be moved out! Pack the dishes and move any food items you keep in the kitchen to a good storage location – meaning you will have to get into them at times during the remodeling project.

Set up a temporary mini-kitchen; dining rooms work well because you already have a table there. Set up small appliances on folding tables around the room. Try to be close to a sink if possible. If the weather is nice, use your patio grill.

Cook some meals in advance and freeze them. Eat out a lot. I like this one, but it has it’s limitations, especially if you have children. Take-out food works though, if your dietary requirements allow. Deli-food from your grocery store is a good alternative to drive-throughs.

To reduce clean up, use paper plates and plastic utensils.

Finally, relax as best you can and try to view this time as a family adventure. Before you know it, you’ll be in your revamped kitchen.

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How to avoid remodeling headaches


Beautiful stainless steel kitchen exhaust

Give yourself plenty of time to plan your remodel project, so that no changes will be needed when the work is being done. Changes to the scope of work are the costliest problems when remodeling. Leave time for research and create a comprehensive project plan or written contract, if hiring a professional. List every product to be used in the remodel and include your choice of finish.

Assume there will be unexpected surprises when walls, floors or ceiling are opened up. There can be previously unknown water or insect damage, structural problems, plumbing piping or electrical wiring issues uncovered. A good contractor will do his best to anticipate potential concerns, helping you to budget accordingly. However, even the best contractor does not have x-ray eyes; just be aware that when a wall or floor is opened up, you may find something that must be repaired before proceeding.

The current economic conditions are keeping contractors prices low, but at a certain point they may have to walk away from a potential job if the homeowner insists on too low a bid. Contractors have to make enough to pay overhead and their employees and subcontractors. Those who go with the lowest bid end up spending more for labor, averaging $1,500 extra on kitchen remodels and $1,000 on bathrooms. Do check the contract to eliminate a lot of open-ended amounts for products and materials.

It’s advisable to check your contractor for current license, insurance and workers’ compensation policies. The most up-to-date information can be found on the Washington State L & I website at: Type in the company name and you will get all the information on insurance, any complaints, etc. Don’t forget to check references from the contractor’s previous clients.

When planning your renovation, be sure to include the less exciting things that never the less need to be done; ventilation (kitchen and baths need good exhaust), lighting, location and convenience for use of trash cans and recycle bins.

Once you have done your homework, have fun! A newly renovated kitchen is a joy to be in, and there is nothing more pleasurable than a totally new bath, perhaps with a relaxing steam shower?

Check out this blog to get an interesting perspective on cheap vs. more costly contractors:

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No home is perfect until you remodel it!

resized kitchen photo1

Rose Construction Inc, Kitchen remodel for Bellingham homeowner

So what is a perfect home? The basics are that every system is functioning just as it should, with minimal maintenance and everything up to code. There should be electrical outlets where you need them; plumbing working properly and heating (and cooling if desired) should keep the house at just the right temperature. The roof will be doing its job to keep the rain out; the kitchen, bath and laundry room exhaust fans should be efficient and quiet. All structural elements should be doing their thing; no sagging joists, roof beams or decking. Proper lighting is where it’s needed and the flooring is just the way you like it . .  I could go on, but you get the picture.

Is there really any house that meets all these criteria? Probably not, unless of course, you have just remodeled yours! Even if it is a new or nearly new home you just moved into, probably someone else picked much of the flooring, countertops, cabinets and bath fixtures. In the case of a home, perfection is in the eye of the owner!

Every home has something that could be “tweaked” to fit the tastes and lifestyle of the current owner, to make the home work more efficiently for them. Some older homes could really benefit from upgrading and even moving a wall or two and adding on!

Spaces that really do not age well are the bath and kitchen. Everything from outdated styles to fixtures and cabinets that have worn out over time and much use should be replaced when that time comes. Part of the need for renovating these rooms is their heavy use, and the accompanying irritation that must be endured when the space does not perform as needed.

Consider a toilet or shower that drips constantly, or a kitchen faucet that unpredictably sprays the water out sideways! Then there is that kitchen cabinet door that just won’t stay shut. These problems are getting to be serious, as the leaking fixtures can cost the homeowner a lot of money over a year.

There is another class of problems that while they do not cost money, since they do not affect utility bills, still can be serious issues. Some of these are cabinets that are worn out or depressingly dark; kitchen tile that is cracked and just cannot be cleaned properly any longer; old enameled kitchen sinks that have developed cracks over their lifetime. Again, there are a myriad of these issues that can be addressed when remodeling your home. They can be tacked one or two at a time, spreading the cost out over several years, if desired.

resized bath shower

Bath remodel we did recently for a Bellingham resident, showing beautiful tile workmanship and glass shower doors


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