Cooking up a design

Consider your real needs before you do that expensive kitchen remodel

By Brian Kelly

Herald Writer

Scan a dozen home-for-sale ads, and you’re bound to see it. There, tucked ‘twixt descriptions of fireplaces and hardwood floors, like a claustrophobic slice of smothered ham in cordon bleu, a phrase that sends some into a lip-licking dinning dream: "gourmet kitchen."

For some people buying a house, the kitchen is a make-or-break factor.

And for those making the best of the house they already call home, upscaling the family’s feed station is one of the most popular areas for renovation projects.

"Between 50 to 75 percent of the remodel money goes into the kitchen," said Karen Fugate, owner of Emerald Design Inc. The Marysville company specializes in kitchens and bathrooms, and has a team of three designers to help homeowners undertaking renovation jobs, as well as assisting professional architects with new construction projects.

Despite the prevalence of microwaves, fast food and the growing number of people who don’t know the difference between a pot and a pan, kitchens still play a vital role in every home, even if there isn’t a gourmet chef in the house.

"It’s a very popular place to hang out," Fugate said. "Families and friends like to spend their time socializing in the kitchen, even if they’re not eating."

Emerald Design takes a project from the idea stage through drawings and designs. It also has a crew that can do the actual nails-and-hammer work as well.

The company primarily works with remodeling. Typical clients range from first-time homeowners who have lived in their home five to 10 years, to owners of homes 50 years or older who want the interior completely gutted and redone, and an addition built.

When it comes to a "gourmet" kitchen, though, it’s really up to the users to define how grand is good. Some folks favor custom cabinetry, solid granite countertops or other components that meld the realms of function and aesthetics, while others focus on appliances or the work areas of the kitchen.

"Some people are convenience cooks; they’re busy working parents. Other people, the little bit older homeowner, likes to spend a lot more time cooking," Fugate explained, adding that the latter may intensely scrutinize the choices of appliances and other details, such as drawer space or other basics. "What we try to do is really listen to the customer’s needs and try to choose the products that match their needs and their budget."

Focusing the design for those who will actually use the kitchen is crucial, said Dean Davies, an Everett architect and a kitchen designer certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Some equate gourmet with large, expansive kitchens. But for a cook that has to take three or four extra steps to reach that whisk or open the fridge, too much space can be a bad thing.

"My feeling is, people are making kitchens too big. I see a lot of kitchens that are designed more for glamour than for function. It’s the bigger-is-better kind of thing," Davies said.

"I wouldn’t really call those gourmet kitchens. I would think that a gourmet kitchen is something that’s easy to use, easy to clean, the surfaces are at the heights that people use," he said.

Access to kitchen tools, the choice of appliances — it all comes down to details. Some stoves, for example, have high heat ratings but are actually less efficient than ones with better-designed burners, Davies said. Built-in refrigerators can be disguised as cabinets, but also can be more energy-efficient. Granite countertops are handsome, and they won’t be damaged if someone sets a hot pan on the counter.

The attention to detail shouldn’t stop at the kitchen entryway, though. A big challenge is making the custom kitchen match adjoining rooms that may not have as much remodeling done, Fugate said.

"We’ll try to maintain the character and the taste that the original home has. If it’s a very old home, we’ll go with the more traditional tastes and flavors," Fugate said. "If it’s a more modern home, we’ll go with choices that maintain that flavor depending on what the atmosphere warrants."

Creating a custom kitchen can bring benefits in the short and long term. First, homeowners get to enjoy the new kitchen that’s been created.

And when it does come time to sell, a custom kitchen can turn the heads of potential buyers. Although the home’s value depends largely on square footage and location, Fugate said, home buyers look long and hard at the kitchens when they’re shopping around.

"They say that remodel money is best spent in the kitchen, because you’ll get your value back out of it when you try to sell," Fugate said.

"Potential homeowners are not interested into coming into a home and remodeling the kitchen right away," she said. "The best money you can spend, in terms of increasing the sale-ability of your home is in the kitchen and bath."

You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to kelly@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

FILE - In this Monday, March 23, 2020, file photo, a worker walks near a mural of a Boeing 777 airplane at the company's manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash., north of Seattle. Beginning in 2024, some 737 planes will be built in Everett, the company announced to workers on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
With 747 out, Boeing to open new 737 Max line at Everett’s Paine Field

Since the last 747 rolled out of the factory, speculation has been rife that Boeing might move some 737 Max production to Everett.

IonQ will open a new quantum computing manufacturing and research center at 3755 Monte Villa Parkway in Bothell. (Photo courtesy of IonQ)
Quantum computing firm IonQ to open Bothell R&D center

IonQ says quantum computing systems are key to addressing climate change, energy and transportation.

Nathanael Engen, founder of Black Forest Mushrooms, sits in the lobby of Think Tank Cowork with his 9-year-old dog, Bruce Wayne, on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Growing green mushrooms in downtown Everett

The founder of Black Forest Mushrooms plans to grow gourmet mushrooms locally, reducing their carbon footprint.

Barb Lamoureux, 78, poses for a photo at her office at 1904 Wetmore Ave in Everett, Washington on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Lamoureux, who founded Lamoureux Real Estate in 2004, is retiring after 33 years. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Barb Lamoureux, ‘North Everett’s Real Estate Agent’ retires

A longtime supporter of Housing Hope, Lamoureux helped launch the Windermere Foundation Golf Tournament.

Bothell
AGC Biologics in Bothell to produce new diabetes treatment

The contract drug manufacturer paired with drug developer Provention Bio to bring the new therapy to market.

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
US board says Boeing Max likely hit a bird before 2019 crash

U.S. accident investigators disagree with Ethiopian authorities over the cause of a 2019 Boeing 737 Max crash.

Store owner Jay Behar, 50, left, and store manager Dan Boston, 60, right, work to help unload a truck of recliners at Behar's Furniture on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Behar's Furniture on Broadway in Everett is closing up shop after 60 years in business. The family-owned furniture store opened in 1963, when mid-century model styles were all the rage. Second-generation owner, Jay Behar says it's time to move on. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Behar’s Furniture in Everett closing after 60 years

“It’s time to move on.” The small family-owned store opened in 1963 and grew to cover an entire city block.

Katy Woods, a Licensed Coach, Branch Manager, and experienced Banker at Coastal Community Bank.
Coastal Community Bank Offers Classes for Businesses

To support local business owners and their teams, Coastal offers complimentary Money… Continue reading

Innovative Salon Products online fulfillment employees, from left, Stephanie Wallem, Bethany Fulcher, Isela Ramirez and Gretchen House, work to get orders put together on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, at the company’s facility in Monroe, Washington. The company began including pay, benefits and perks to its job listings over a year ago, well ahead of the new statewide mandate to include a pay range on job postings at companies with over 15 employees. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New state law requires employers to give pay range in job postings

Washington’s new pay transparency law aims to narrow wage gaps based on race or gender — though some companies may seek loopholes.

Paddywack co-owner Shane Somerville with the 24-hour pet food pantry built by a local Girl Scout troop outside of her store on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
An out-paw-ring of support: Mill Creek pantry feeds pets, day or night

With help from local Girl Scouts, the Mill Creek pet food store Paddywack is meeting the need for pet supplies in a pinch.

Kelly Cameron is the woodworker behind Clinton-based business Turnco Wood Goods. (David Welton)
Whidbey woodworkers turn local lumber into art

In the “Slab Room” at Madrona Supply Co., customers can find hunks of wood native to the south end of Whidbey Island.

Siblings Barbara Reed and Eric Minnig, who, co-own their parent’s old business Ken’s Camera along with their brother Bryan, stand outside the Evergreen Way location Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022, in Everett, Washington. After five decades in business, Ken’s will be closing its last two locations for good at the end of the year. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Print it or lose it: Ken’s Camera closes after decades caught on film

The local legend, processing film photos since 1971, will close its locations in Mount Vernon and Everett at the end of 2022.