Kitchen Facelift or Kitchen Remodel? What to Keep in Mind

Cindy Beyer Design Tips

This is a sponsored column by Cindy Beyer, a Reston-based interior designer and Reston Now Best Reston Business Award winner. Find her online at

I have heard many people say “I HATE my kitchen!”

How many of you have looked at your kitchen and said the same thing? There are multiple options to consider before committing to a total kitchen replacement.

The first option and lowest cost is to repaint or re-stain the existing cabinets and swap out the hardware with new updated pulls, hinges and knobs. There are several do-it-yourself videos online that can help you with this process. Any good painter can also handle the job for you.

The second option is to reface the cabinet fronts and doors with updated styles. Your doors should be a standard size that any re-facing shop can handle. The frames are kept intact and can be refaced with a wood veneer or painted.  Swap out the old hardware with new styles. This is a viable option for a fraction of the cost of replacing. If your floor plan still works for you, I would suggest this route with new appliances, countertops and a fun tile backsplash.

The third option is a total kitchen remodel.

When considering a kitchen plan, it is wise to consult with a designer. You will be surprised at how a kitchen project can impact other rooms of the house, so it would be a good idea to use a professional designer with skills beyond just kitchens and cabinets. I use a software program that is aligned to my cabinet shop sources. Once finished, I have a complete list of all pieces needed as well as perspective drawings and floor plans to show my client.

Designing the perfect kitchen takes time and knowledge. I work with industry guidelines including The  National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).  The following are a few important items I like to stress to my clients:

  • Workspace triangles ( the path from your sink to refrigerator to stove top) must not exceed 9 feet for any single leg and not exceed 26 feet total.
  • Traffic patterns should not interfere with the workspace.
  • Clearance from the front of the counter to the front of the back counter should be at least 42 inches if one person using the space and 48 inches if multiple people will be using the space.
  • Cabinet doors, as well as functional doors, should not interfere with the operation of appliances. I can’t tell you how often I see an oven door or dishwasher door not able to open fully. This is often the case in tight spaces where the builder just threw together a plan. That is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Once the plan is finalized, the fun really begins!  There are hundreds of cabinet styles and finishes to consider. I don’t recommend more than two cabinet finishes in the room. Center islands are a good place to change the cabinet finish and work surface material.

Picking a material for your countertop can also be exhausting. There are many surfaces to choose from such as: quartz, stainless steel, butcher block, marble, concrete, granite and pressed glass, to name a few. Some surfaces will need to be sealed and maintained, so keep this in mind while making your choices.

The backsplash material is also an area that can make a big kitchen statement. Keep in mind that the more intricate the design, the more costly it will be — so also be smart when choosing your backsplash material.

The same goes for hardware. If your current appliances are older than 10 years, then it is a good idea to replace them with new up to date technology.

Have fun — and happy cooking!  If you would like help with your new kitchen, feel free to email me at [email protected].

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