With Proper Planning And A Good Designer, A Kitchen Remodel Isn’t The Big Green Eyed Monster You Feared It Would Be

Posted on | May 30, 2017 | No Comments

Homeowners will often live too long with a kitchen that no longer suit their needs, simply because they are afraid of the unknown. Kitchen remodels can seem very overwhelming, but they aren’t necessarily the big green monster people imagine them to be. Gina Arledge, owner and principal designer at the premier Greensboro design firm, The Kitchen Studio, has coached many a homeowner through  a successful remodel. She spoke with North Carolina Design about demystifying and de-stressing the kitchen remodeling process.

“A lot of people who come to me are very nervous about the process,” she concedes. “Remodels are daunting. It’s challenging to have people in your sanctuary, bringing in their big boots and a lot of dust. Remodels can take 2 to 3 months to finish or even longer in some cases. They’re not fun and we don’t pretend they’re fun. But they are absolutely worth it, and we help remind the client of that fact.”

“We do a lot of hand-holding and cheerleading. We talk about what the finished product will look like. I always like to say that when we’re done, their house will have the kitchen it should have had in the first place. We help them keep their eye on that prize, and we reassure them that there’s an end in sight. We help them make all of the big decisions. We let them know that we care, and we’re paying attention.”

Gina notes that one of the best ways to alleviate the stress of remodeling is to get help very early on. “It’s always so smart to consult a designer from the very beginning,” she affirms, “Builders are going to say, ‘well, what do you want to do?’ They’re going to follow your lead. If you don’t have a plan, you can’t get accurate estimates. A designer can help you create a really solid plan, with feasible, accurate numbers, that you can then bring forward with your builder and subcontractors.”

“Designers also act as project coordinators. They know what needs to be done, and when. They can help you pick out everything and have it ordered in a timely manner.” But, Gina notes, they can’t do it alone. “If you want the best outcome, you have to be involved. If you have large dishes, you’ll want to take two of them with you during selections to make sure they fit in the cabinet.”

To fully flesh out her client’s needs, Gina goes on a fact-finding mission. “We always start at their house,” she says. “We measure the walls, and the adjacent rooms we might be going into. We talk about how they cook, how they function, what works now, and what doesn’t work. We create idea books that give me insight into their minds. Even if they pull 1,000 kitchens, I can usually find a pattern that helps me understand who they are and what they want.”

“From that meeting, we set up a second meeting at my studio. Between those two meetings, I create a design, print line drawings, do full color renderings, create a 3D internet model – I use any tool I need to show the client what the finished product is going to look like. Then I ask for their feedback. Feedback is so important – these are preliminary, conceptual designs, and we can make any change at this stage. They can’t be afraid of hurting my feelings.”

According to Gina, hiring a designer isn’t enough – to help the process go smoothly, it’s important to find the right designer. “Of course, you want someone who’s knowledgeable and experienced,” she observes. “But it’s also really important to work with someone who makes you feel comfortable and confident. Not every designer is going to be a good fit for you, just like every client isn’t going to be a good fit for me. Find that person who ‘gets’ you. It really makes all the difference.”

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