One aspect of remodeling that most of my clients are not fully prepared for is the potentially overwhelming number of choices that they are going to have to make during the course of their project. They occasionally smile when I tell them that they will be making more choices in the project than they could ever have dreamed of, probably thinking, “Oh, it really can’t be as bad as that.” Well, actually it is!
As an example, let’s say you’re choosing some cabinets for your kitchen. Let’s not even be concerned yet with the layout of individual cabinets. Just choose a cabinet and style. After you’ve resolved the initial dilemma of using factory-made cabinets vs. local custom-built cabinets, to come up with final pricing, the cabinet supplier will need to know:
- What is the door and drawer style? (Slab, raised panel, flat panel, arched,etc.)
- What is the cabinet construction? (Plywood vs. particle board)
- What material and finish is the cabinet (Cherry, maple, paint-grade? Clear finish, stained, painted? Polyurethane, catalyzed lacquer, conversion varnish, or?
- How do the doors fit into the cabinet frame? (Inset, overlay, lipped?) And if inset, would there be a detail, such as bead, around the opening?
- What type of hinges would the door have? (Concealed, self-closing? If exposed, what style and finish?)
- How are the drawer boxes constructed? (Dovetailed joints? And of what material would they be constructed, e.g. melamine, plywood or solid wood?)
- What type of hardware would be used for the drawers? (Full extension glides? Side- or bottom-mount glides? Self-closing?)
- What type of cabinet pulls will be used? (Knobs, D-shaped pulls? What finish, such as satin nickel, brushed chrome, etc.?)
- Will the upper cabinets have under-cabinet lights, and if so, how will those be concealed? Will there need to be a recess for the light, or a valance? If a valance, what would the design look like?
- How will the upper cabinets meet the ceiling? Will there be a crown molding? (What size/profile?) Or other closure detail?
- What is the detail where the cabinet meets the floor? (Toe kick material and design)
- What do the exposed sides of cabinets look like? (Do they match the doors or are they just exposed flat surfaces?)
- What are the interior fittings, such as pull-out shelves or recycling bins?
- How will the appliance choices affect the design, such as with matching panels being required?
Worn out, yet? We’re just getting started. We haven’t even gotten to the specific cabinet layout, yet. By the way, any lighting or other electrical items inside the cabinets? Glass doors? Maybe some decorative features like brackets or corbels? Oh, and we still need to pick out the countertop with an edge detail, and figure out the backsplash design.
One reason that projects often take much longer to construct and cost more than planned is that many of these decisions have not been made ahead of time, and accurately priced. Homeowners then have to make far too many decisions under pressure, and end up delaying the project while decisions are still being made. And then when the total cost of their choices is added up, it’s an unwelcome surprise. But by then, the prospect of “going back to the drawing board” and making new, more cost-effective, choices is too painful.
One benefit of using a design professional such as an interior designer or architect is that they can help simplify the decision-making process by suggesting choices that have consistently worked well and are cost-effective, and intelligently discussing the pros and cons of various options with you.
And it’s not uncommon for overwhelmed clients to get to the point where they just shriek, “You go ahead and just pick something that’s good,” as they escape out the door.