Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

April 27, 2004 > New Life for Old Kitchens!

New Life for Old Kitchens!

by Diane LaMontaigne

Every kitchen begins with a design. A successful kitchen design blends aesthetics and function resulting in a kitchen that is beautiful while facilitating meal preparation and cooking.
Most remodeling jobs center on the design or re-design of kitchens; adding new cabinets, countertops, sinks, floors, lighting, new appliances, wall tiles, or even a custom fireplace. The amount of stress experienced with a remodel is easily overcome and fades when you are able to enjoy and use the features of your "new" kitchen.

In the past few years, I have worked with a number of clients on kitchen designs. The amount of remodeling depends largely on the budget. If you have a limited budget, consider a color change, updated lighting, maybe a new floor or a very simple task... clean off your counters! De-clutter your kitchen by limiting or eliminating magnets, pictures and notes on the fridge; the kitchen will feel more inviting. Most clients are amazed at the transformation accomplished by a new color or clean counters.

A look at a recent kitchen design by La Mountaine Designs, gives a clear understanding of how older kitchens can be transformed with a moderately priced re-model. Some materials for this project were found at local businesses, an important goal while working in Tri-City homes. We found a great faucet at Water Concepts in Fremont and considered a cozy "in wall," Bed and Breakfast style, gas fireplace from The Intimate Flame, in the Niles District of Fremont.
"Before" and "After" pictures show dramatic changes in a 70's-style kitchen outdated and neglected. Brown and orange plaid wallpaper was replaced by beautiful travertine tiles complimenting a light beige wall color. The back splash has a custom, hand painted mural, complimented by three accent tiles placed around the kitchen.

Beautiful, closely grouted granite tile replaced the old countertop giving the kitchen a modern and elegant feel. An economical porcelain tile floor resembles stonework and blends with the travertine wall tile giving the kitchen a lighter and larger look.

In some re-models, new appliances are purchased. In this case, the clients loved their older, light beige Jenn-Air stove top and could not find a new one with the same features. A local retired contractor was hired to refinish the stove top in black and, with the addition of a new chrome hood; one would never know it was twenty years old. The clients kept their black oven and dishwasher, adding a new chrome refrigerator.

Local contractor, Stevens Custom Furniture and Woodwork of Union City, was brought in to assess the cabinets. The cabinets were in such great shape that it wasn't necessary to replace them -- a new finish was applied and they look brand new. Last but not least, removal of old style oak trim light boxes and the addition of recessed lighting gives the a final touch and look of a model home kitchen.

There are many styles of kitchens, one-wall, two-wall, L-shape, U-shape, peninsula and island kitchens. The end result of any of these should maximize kitchen space. In this case, there weren't any major structural changes, yet the kitchen appears larger.

If you like your basic layout and cabinetry, a cosmetic update can do the job. New wall color, countertops and flooring can transform a room inexpensively. But, if your kitchen no longer fits the way you live, think about a design change and come up with a list of priorities. If you don't like grocery shopping, add a pantry to hold stock. If your family likes spending time in the kitchen, incorporate space where homework and other projects can be spread out. If floor space is a problem, consider opening walls to adjacent rooms then unify them with paint, floor or an entertainment center built from the same cabinetry style used in your kitchen.

The kitchen is often the "hub" of busy family life and the heart of homes, so make it a great one!

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