Eat Drink Enjoy – The Results of a Great Kitchen Remodel

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Eat Drink Enjoy – The Results of a Great Kitchen Remodel

Is 2015 going to be the year you finally take the big leap and remodel your kitchen or bath?
Jo Meacham, kitchen design and owner of Urban Kitchens in Oklahoma City, has been working as a kitchen designer and contractor for more than 15 years in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

“We all know that the kitchen has become the most important room in the house. It is where we interact with our friends and family. Cooking, working, homework, parties, and just hanging out…The kitchen is the place to be,” she said. “Dreaming of a new kitchen has become a national pastime.”

Making dreams come true takes time and, of course, money. Many times the kitchen and bathrooms are the last rooms to remodel because of the costs and the inconvenience. That is what makes a house with remodeled kitchens and baths so attractive to home buyers. But, don’t wait to remodel when you think you are going to move! Remodel when you are planning to stay in your home at least five more years and enjoy the opportunity to design and build the dream kitchen.

The Three Steps to a Successful Kitchen Remodel

The Cost. The budget for a remodeling project is very important. Today’s homeowner wants to know how the money spent on a remodeling project is going to affect the value of their home. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to remodel, especially when the room has not been updated in more than 20 years! Updating these rooms can include removing walls and rearranging fixtures. Kitchens are opened into living areas and breakfast rooms, showers are enlarged and glass walls added, and many times changes require investments in electrical and plumbing upgrades. Everything adds up.

“I always ask my clients to give me a budget before we begin the design process,” said Meacham. “If you don’t know what a kitchen costs, you usually know what you want to spend. Do your research and have an idea of what you can afford and what you know you will have to spend to get what you want.”

Remodeling kitchen projects are generally divided into three categories:

• A makeover. Makeovers generally don’t include any changes to the cabinets. New countertops, backsplashes, sinks and faucets can be installed and can give your kitchen a completely new look while you spend the least amount. Add some new appliances and you may be good to go for another five to 10 years. Cost for makeover: $4,000 – $15,000.
• A Minor Remodeling Project. A minor remodeling project is a Makeover Plus. This type of project may include removing a wall and installing new flooring. The cabinets may be painted or new doors and drawers may be built for the existing cabinets. Cost for Minor Remodeling Project: $20,000 – $40,000.
• Major Remodeling Project. This project includes removing the existing kitchen and starting over! Cost for a Major Remodeling Project: $40,000 to $150,000.

“Clients generally have at least one thing that they want more than anything else. Sometimes it is expensive tile. Others dream of farm sinks. Gourmet chefs are often looking for that perfect range. I advise clients that it is often possible to include that “one” item, but think about how we might save in other areas. Remodeling is always a compromise.”

The Function of Your Kitchen

Are you a cook? Do you like to entertain? Do you have children? Some clients don’t cook at all! Cook or no cook, the kitchen is still the heart of the home. At Urban Kitchens we work with our clients to find out how the kitchen will be used. Here are some of my typical questions?

• Where do you put your phone or your purse when you come in the back door?
• Where is your junk drawer?
• What problem are you trying to solve?
• Who is the cook and how do they cook?
• How many people cook at one time?
• Do your children help?
• Where do you feed your pets?
• Do you use the kitchen as an office?
• Is a TV required?
• Music?
• Can you see at night to cook?
• Are you looking for “maintenance free materials?”

Kitchen designers are trained to be “kitchen counselors.” The problem is the kitchen. The resolution is how to design a new kitchen that meets the needs of the entire household.

After Function Comes Fun

The fun part of a new kitchen is how it looks! Budgets and function aside, the design is what makes it worth the money, the work, and the inconvenience. “I want my clients to have a kitchen that inspires them every day. I want them to feel it was more than worth it.”

The design or style of the kitchen can be easy or difficult, depending on the client. Many of today’s clients have been conducting kitchen research for quite some time. New websites like HOUZZ and Pinterest make it easy to collect ideas for every part of the project. This type of client makes a great design collaborator.

Other clients are looking for someone to offer them ideas. These clients know what “looks good” but design doesn’t come naturally to them. At Urban Kitchens we use the architecture of the home to begin the design process.

• The Urban Kitchen Philosophy
• Urban Kitchens are thoughtfully designed to embrace your home’s unique architecture, express your personality and enhance your lifestyle.

Kitchen Trends

It is not hard to find out what is popular in kitchen design today. Just take a look at any magazine or flip through HOUZZ . The White Kitchen has ruled for the past six or more years with the Shaker style kitchen the forerunner.

HOUZZ recently recognized Urban Kitchens with a Best of HOUZZ 2015 award in the Customer Service category.

Clients and kitchen designers alike have been enamored with White, White, White! This trend is probably here to stay but light stained wood cabinets, gray painted cabinets and a mixture of transitional/contemporary cabinet styles are also popular.

“Clean design is very popular. These ideas fit with our fast-paced lives and our desire to keep it simple. Decluttering also plays an important role in kitchen design. Older clients want to downsize their kitchen clutter and get organized,” Meacham said.

More than half of Urban Kitchens’ clients are empty nesters.

Kitchen Parts

If storage is the number one concern of clients, then cabinets are the answer. Today’s kitchen cabinets are built as specialized storage with convenience. The number one request is for solid wood drawers with dove tail connections and full extension soft close guides. This allows for the drawer to pull out 100 per cent and to close with the touch of a finger! The storage is increased by one-third when you can use the back half of the drawer and see everything.

Clients often ask if cabinets from companies like Crystal Cabinet Works and Showplace Wood Products are “custom.” Today cabinets made by reputable manufacturers can be totally customized. None of these cabinets are sitting on a shelf ready to be sent out. Each cabinet order is made using the design and drawings submitted by the kitchen designer. These cabinets are made using the latest technology, the best materials and under the finest conditions. Cabinet companies are required to be environmentally safe and have very strict recycling standards.

The finish on a cabinet produced in a factory is far superior to any locally painted cabinet. The finish is professionally applied and it is followed by a heated process that hardens the paint or stain and finish. This type of finish has been developed to last the lifetime of the cabinet.

Professional kitchen designers ensures that the cabinet design reflects how the customer will use the kitchen as well as the design of the exterior of the cabinets. New products are developed every year and it is the job of the designer to let the customer know what is available.


Appliances are a substantial portion of the kitchen remodeling budget. Kitchen appliance packages are available from $4,000 to $40,000 depending on your budget and your specifications. One client may want to spend more on a over-sized refrigerator and another may want a professional style range. This is one area that customers can benefit by doing their homework.

One of the most popular appliance lines is Kitchen Aid. Appliances from this company are in the mid range for costs. Wolf, SubZero, Dacor, Thermador and others such as Miele are luxury lines. Generally builders select Whirlpool and Frigidaire for starter homes and mid range residences.

“I am often asked if the same line of appliances has to be used throughout the kitchen. It is common today to mix brands but I advise clients to compare the look of each appliance with the others and make sure the design is similar. Often you can find different brands with similar handles and that can work. It is important to have each appliance fit your specifications,” Meacham said.


While granite countertops remain popular, the quartz man-made countertops are gaining popularity. Quartz countertops provide a better selection of lighter colors and can be easier to maintain. Granite, however, will remain the choice when the client is looking for the WOW factor! In the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in the selection of granite and natural quartz. A trip to one of the granite yards in Oklahoma City will surprise most customers with the amount of granite to view.

The cost of quartz countertops is comparable to granite, but generally about 10 to 25 percent more than the basic granite color selections.

While there are other countertop options such as wood, stainless steel, zinc, copper and glass, customers may not choose these with resale in mind. Both granite and quartz are easy to maintain and will last the lifetime of the kitchen.


Subway tile still rules the backsplash! White ceramic tiles, marble subway tiles and glass subway tiles continue to be popular. Backsplash designs and materials should be appropriate for the style of the kitchen and be a great backdrop. Traditional kitchens tend to use stone while contemporary kitchens gravitate towards ceramic backsplashes.

Some clients are interested in stainless steel backsplashes. You should consider not using stainless steel if you don’t like the way your stainless steel refrigerator looks when it has not been recently cleaned. A stainless steel backsplash is hard to reach and shows the results of any type of cooking, particularly grease spots.

At Urban Kitchens we encourage the use of a neutral backsplash. Since most customers have a variety of items in front of the backsplash including small appliances, most of the design is hidden. The backsplash is one place where you can save or you can spend since tile ranges in price from $3 a square foot to more than $50 a square foot.

How to Save Money When Remodeling Your Kitchen

The best way to save money is to completely plan your kitchen before you begin construction. Every selection should be made before you start and the contractor should know if all of the materials are available or when they will be available.

“I don’t want to ask my customer questions after we start a project. The decisions should be made and everyone should be in agreement. Changing your mind after the construction begins is the best way to go over budget,” said Meacham.

At the beginning of the project when you set your budget you should know that it is almost impossible to get everything you want for the amount of money you want to spend. Hence the saying “I have champagne tastes and a beer budget.” Even contractors are surprised when they are asked to find certain materials or fixtures. If you know the “one” thing you have to have is going to be expensive, try to find substitutes for other items that are not as costly.
Sometimes waiting is the way to save money. Often clients are not going to be happy unless they have everything they want. Maybe the project needs to be held off for a year or two until the budget is larger.

Do it yourself. The do-it-your-selfers that can save money by acting as their own general contractor are few and far between. If you have managed contractors before for smaller projects and can be readily available to manage the subcontractors that you need for the job, you may save money. If you are capable of performing some of the work, this is also a great way to save money. Sometimes customers are able to do tasks such as demolition and painting. Another money saver. If you have never managed any type of remodeling project and are not able to perform any of the work you should be aware that this can often cost more than hiring professionals.

Jo Meacham graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a master’s in architecture. She has been designing and building kitchens since 1999. Before Jo changed careers she was a historic preservation consultant. Urban Kitchens specializes in designing kitchens for historic residences and mid-century modern and contemporary homes. The Urban Kitchens showroom is located at 3515 Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City.

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