Category Archives: Kitchen Designer

A Case Study: Kitchen Remodel


The purpose of this study is to give an in-depth look at a typical kitchen remodel .  To provide an understanding on how the entire process works in order to eliminate unpleasant setbacks.  The study hopes to shed light on the importance of having a plan beforehand.  That communication between the  owner, designer, contractors and vendors, is very crucial to avoid the should’ve, could’ve & would’ve.

The Situation

This 1953 California Ranch custom home in Burbank, required a lot of upgrade when the homeowners purchased this in 2012.  For the past 4 years they have been remodeling this 3 bedroom/3 baths, continuously.  The kitchen, being the most important room of the house, was the last to get an upgrade.  With the holidays just around the corner, they did not plan to have any work in kitchen done until the new year, which was 2 months away..

Kitchen then.

Things that needed consideration for the new design:

  • Incorporate the “V-groove” on the cabinet doors which can be seen as an architectural detail all throughout the house.
  • Stay within the budget.
  • Keep the existing footprint.
  • Create a modern approach to a transitional kitchen.
  • Design cabinets to anticipate appliances replacements in case of breakdown or defects. To foresee possible changes in sizes or specs by appliance manufacturers.

The Challenges

Here are some challenges during the initial design process :

  • What will the gap of the V-groove door detail be?
  • How can the white laundry machines flow seamlessly with the new stainless steel appliances and make that area a multi-purpose, catch-all, parking spot for groceries, laundry, purses and toys?
  • How to transition the wood floor in the dining room to the new porcelain tile in the kitchen without using wood reducers?
  • Can the engineered quartz, being the preferred counter top surface over granite, fit into the budget?

The K+B DECON Approach

Material swatch.

Within a couple of weeks from the initial meeting, we presented 4 schemes to the owner.  Our design schemes started from the simplest to a more complicated approach giving the owner the option to decide which among the schemes fit their long-term goals.  They approved the open layout,which was the most expensive of all the 4 schemes. Not so much as the cabinetry, but the construction became a little more challenging.  More work, more money.  The approved design set things in motion.  A more accurate bid was generated.  Materials for floor, countertop, and walls were selected.   A final color match of the door stain was produced for the client to approve.  Appliances were purchased and the schedule for construction was set.  It was a moving target but all vendors were made aware of the schedule so they can anticipate their own work load.  Each party (owner, designer and contractor) had a different task and a responsibility but all shared the same goal.  To start and finish the project on-time; per specs, per budget.  On the day of construction, all major decisions were made.  Every materials were ordered and on cue for delivery and installation.  It was just a case of implementing the design and whatever we find between the walls and beneath the floor and the ceiling were matters to be addressed at that point in time.

Kitchen during construction: Day 1
Kitchen Now: View from dining room
Kitchen Now: Built-in laundry with floating shelves above.
Beautiful glass backsplash complimented the honed quartz counter top by Caesarstone.


Open bookshelf breaks the ‘panelling effect’ of the V-grooved doors.

The Result

By managing the client’s expectations, we eliminated most of the gray areas.  We were also fortunate to work for a client who kept an open mind during the entire process.  Who trusted us and the rest of the crew to deliver our best.  We encountered some minor obstacle: new laundry machines to replace the old one due to a broken part which could cause leaks in the future.  This created a setback with the counter top installation and the cabinetry around it.  But a quick phone call to the cabinet shop, they produced and installed 3 new panels in a matter of days.  We promised the client the process will take 6-8 weeks.  They moved in after 6 1/2 weeks.

One happy client = mission accomplished!


5ive and a Half Steps to Fail Your Way to a Successful Kitchen Remodel

Henry Ford quoted: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”.  

Failure is viewed as the recipe to success, because you can always try again and watch out for any pitfalls that caused you to fail the first time and be more cautious on your next attempt.

This is very true, but you DO NOT want to encounter failure when you are doing a kitchen remodel. There is a reason why most homeowners remodel or upgrade their kitchen once every 25 years. Kitchens are kind of a big deal. It is a huge part of our lifestyle. It is the nucleus of every home. The gathering point and the epicenter where memories are made, where the body is healed and where the soul is enlightened. A slight disruption of that lifestyle can be nerve wracking, stressful and life changing. But why do people fail their way to a successful kitchen remodel? Here is the list of bad habits and wrong practices by some unfortunate homeowners:

One:  Poor planning – Mistake no. 1 is lack of having a plan in place.  All projects begin with a goal and a vision. Creating an overall outlook prior to beginning your project is important.  Know your expectations and limitations in terms of budget, deadline and quality.  If budget is the deciding factor, plan around your budget.  This will help you navigate your way to choosing how extensive you want your project to be; how much to spend on cabinetry, appliances and other finishes.  If you are planning to have a huge party on Thanksgiving Day with a new kitchen, plan at least 6 months ahead (or more, if you are doing a major tear-down), and finalize all purchases at least 3 months before you start the construction work.  Inadequate planning mixed with poor decision-making is a recipe for a disaster.  Plan ahead.

Two:  Going for the cheapest bidder – The most destructive of all is going for the cheapest and lowest bid.   Low prices always attract buyers but it seldom leaves satisfied customers because hidden behind the too-good-to-be-true “bargain” price are sub par materials, unlicensed practice or inexperience crew/team compounded with mediocre service and lack of follow through which can lead to dissatisfaction and extreme disappointments and oftentimes, sadly, to legal actions.  A contractor who under bid his price in order to win a contract usually does not have enough funds to pull it through.   An abandoned job is typically the consequence of awarding the contract to the cheapest bidder.  In the end, you wish you can tear it all down and start over.  Going cheap is the one mistake you cannot afford.

Three:  Procrastinating – Though it is best to take your time and weigh your options when tackling a kitchen remodel because it gives you time to organize and plan a strategy, you also need to gauge the disadvantage of putting aside a task or decision that needs attention.  A kitchen project is a link of a chain of decision-making, productivity and results.  Productivity relies on decisions made in order to achieve results.  Waiting on the last minute to order your cabinets with an 8-10 week lead time or the Italian range that takes 5 months to ship and you realized you only have 3 weeks can put your project at a grinding halt.  Time is gold.  It is something that you cannot take back.  Decide now!

Four:  Lack of Communication – The most common ingredient to a disastrous kitchen remodel is lack of communication.  This can happen from the onset or during the course of the project.  Once you signed your name on the dotted line, you, as a homeowner is a major key player.  Your decision is golden.  Your ‘nay’ or ‘yay’ is the word that keeps the project moving.  So always do your best to keep the lines of communication open.  Follow up on your designer, vendor or contractor when you need clarification or changes to your project.  Never assume that the other party understood when you implied you want the lights to be controlled by a dimmer.  Ask for a written agreement or take notes or email your contractor and have him / her confirm it.  This will save you a lot of frustration and setback.  You can never be too repetitive.  Again, you can never be too repetitive.

5ive:  Seeking Perfection – I hate to blow your bubble – but there is no such thing as perfection.  Every tile installation has a flaw, every cabinet door paint finish differs slightly from the other, every schedule is never on time and every slab of granite has the vein at the wrong place. When you seek perfection at a construction job, you are in for a great disappointment.  Don’t freak out and complain about an installation in the middle of it being done.  Or the delivery is 10 minutes past the delivery window.  Grant yourself some wiggle room.  Remember, there is one common denominator in your kitchen remodel: the human factor.  Let the expert do their work.  That is the reason why you hired them in the first place – they know their craft and they stand behind their work (that is, when you hired the right ones and didn’t go for the lowest bidder!).  But if you need to voice out your concerns, bring it to your designer or contractor’s attention.  A great designer or contractor is the one that makes your satisfaction their ultimate goal.

5ive and a Half:  “ I can be a DIYer” – If you or your significant other is quite handy and is familiar with building materials and local codes, then don’t read this part.  But if you lead a busy work and lifestyle, you will need an experienced professional who is knowledgeable, conscientious and trustworthy.  This is a huge investment.  Whether you intend to flip it or to live in it until you retire, spending a good amount of your hard-earned money is serious business.  Do not be fooled by television shows that make tearing down a wall fun and easy.  It never is and never will be.

If you can identify yourself with any of the above or in a similar scenario, stop and reflect,  then read again. Share this post to someone who you know is going through or is thinking of doing a remodel, this may help him / her make an intelligent move.

We put our customers first.  It is because of you that we are in business.


Transforming your kitchen with stile

Note:  The featured kitchen above was planned carefully 6 months prior to the start of construction.  No surprises and no hiccups.  It was a project  made in heaven. 🙂

Photo courtesy of Jason Jorgensen Photography