Redo, or New? Kitchen Makeovers - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Redo, or New? Kitchen Makeovers

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Redo or new? With housing prices still flirting with the basement (pun intended), it’s no surprise that many homeowners are opting to spend a little money to upgrade the home they’re already in. The most requested upgrade (and the best investment) is a new kitchen.  In ‘Kitchen Makeovers For Any Budget‘, author Chris Gleason (who designs and builds kitchens for a living) offers his advice and how-to knowledge to help you make the correct decisions about whether to re-face or paint your present kitchen cabinets, add new appliances and cabinets, redo the workflow, move walls, etc. ‘Kitchen Makeovers For Any Budget includes’ four complete remodeling projects; each one deals with a particular aspect of demolition, design and/or accessorizing. The companion DVD focuses on the design, workflow and accessories available to maximize your space and provide convenient storage solutions.

So if you’d been thinking of moving, but the housing forecast is keeping you in your old home, fix up your kitchen to meet your needs and desires by following the how-to advice in ‘Kitchen Makeovers For Any Budget.’ To give you a feel of the book, we’ve included one of the case studies here as a download. Enjoy!

Kitchen Makeovers Case Study

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  • Ed Furlong

    I am finishing up a complete remodel of our kitchen. One aspect of this major task that I would have appreciated input on was whether to go with prebuilt cabinets (custom or stock) versus building one’s own cabinets. As a woodworker, I chose to build my own cabinets, also to do all the demo, install of new windows, moving electrical outlets, lay the floor, etc., basically do everything except fabrication and installation of the granite countertop.

    Now that the light at the end of the tunnel no longer feels like an oncoming train, I feel some real pride of ownership and satisfaction in accomplishing this project, but I also have gotten some hard-earned knowledge as a result, and see some real pluses and minuses of doing so much of it yourself. The time (in my case, multiple years while working full time) and effort commitment is very large and would suggest that anyone doing so much themselves really be aware what they are getting into.

    I hope this book covers this “full-on from scratch” approach, since many of the readers of this blog are likely to consider the option of designing the kitchen, building the cabinets themselves, and doing all the installation work as well.


    • chrisgleason

      Hi Ed-

      Sounds like an awesome project. I can relate to everything you mentioned- my wife and I have been in our home for eight years now, and I’m still up to my ears in projects. I probably always will be. I’m glad to hear that you did so much yourself- I tend to do as much as possible on my own, and while this approach is full of challenges, I love the satisfaction that comes with it.

      In terms of what this book covers, yes, it goes into a lot of detail for the full-on DIY’er. The concept for the book was that it could be a useful guide to kitchen planning, even for folks who figure to hire everything out, but that it would also have a bit of a split personality and provide a ton of info for people who want to get their hands dirty. The book provides lots of info and pics for building cabinets, doors, drawers, and more, and also goes into a lot of info on demo and installations. It also includes an in-depth profile with a friend of mine who took on the kind of project you describe, and I think that this “case study” approach should be fun and useful.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment. Do you have pics of your kitchen online anywhere that we can see?


  • chrisgleason

    Hi DC-

    Great comment. I can definitely relate to a lot of the issues you brought up- the challenge of people with unrealistic expections for one!- and also the difficult decisions that go into kitchen remodeling, if you’re really trying to be thoughtful about it. I agree completely that just superficially dressing up an essentially flawed kitchen is a questionable choice- but I have seen plenty of people do it anyway, for better or worse.

    One of the things that perpetually surprises me (it shouldn’t, by now, but it still kind of does) is the degree of variation in people’s desires for a kitchen remodel. I have had clients who were perfectly fine with small amounts of counterspace, for example, and on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve known lots of folks who require miles of gleaming granite tops, which frankly they only use as landing pads for clutter. Who is right and who is wrong? Hmm. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. I have clients who lose lots of sleep scrutinizing every possible opportunity for more and better storage, and I also work with folks who say “good enough” when they clearly could be more efficient. So, the subjective nature of the enterprise makes things tricky sometimes.

    That said, when I’m allowed “free reign” (not from a budget standpoint, but a creative one), I love to take the kind of approach that I think you’re alluding to: in the big picture, what is the best use of time, money, and space? Are there issues we can address to get a better layout? That’s where a lot of impact can be made. Sometimes moving plumbing or gas lines is money well spent. I’ve also had success with opening up spaces and removing (at least portions) of walls, or adding a window, when possible, to set the stage for a more efficient and pleasant space. Of course all of these things need to be considered in light of the budget and overall scope of the project, but I think it is critical to look at the big picture design issues. New door pulls and a coat of paint can be nice upgrades, in the right cases, but digging in and addressing the underlying design issues is how the best work can be done. And as you point out, it can still be cost effective: I like to think that for most of us, the best chance at success comes from being smart and resourceful, and not just writing a huge check, or conversely, putting a band-aid on a cut that requires stitches.

    Thanks for your insights. Happy remodeling!


  • dreamcatcher

    As a professional home designer, remodeler, and cabinetmaker (many hats) I would be very interested to know exactly how Mr. Gleason feels about making the decision between replacing and refacing. I have installed hundreds of new kitchens – thousands of cabinets. In the majority of cases I would say there is little advantage to refacing or painting cabinets because most of the kitchens I’ve ripped out over the years had major design flaws. It doesn’t matter how fancy your cabinet doors are or what color paint you choose if you don’t have enough storage and your kitchen layout is inefficient.

    To me, that is the real issue that must be addressed when considering a kitchen makeover. Obviously it all comes down to money [necessary evil]. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that most people in the situation of wanting new cabinets are also a little unreasonable in their wants and expectations.

    Sure you could easily drop $20k on custom cabinets – really the sky is the limit when it comes to cabinet cost. But if you were to approach the matter more reasonably you could get a similar semi-custom layout for about $6k-$10k and even less for stock cabinets DIY installed. Comparatively, hiring out refacing a standard sized kitchen would cost you about $3k while DIY repainting could just be a couple hundred bucks. Additionally, there are roll-out upgrades and organization systems available at about $100 per and hardware upgrades (knobs&handles) can easily run another $100 to $200.

    The point is that even the costs of refacing can quickly add up to a major percentage of the cost of creatively minded replacement and if your current kitchen layout is flawed then painting over them only amounts to the proverbial lipstick on a pig.

    At least that’s how I see it but I am curious to know Mr Gleason’s stance on the issue. Any way to get him commenting on the blog?


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