A kickin’ kitchen


Tips and tricks on getting the renovation you want

march07-25.jpgOne of the best ways to update your home is to renovate the kitchen. If you want to sell your house, you update the kitchen. If you’re a buyer, a great-looking, functional kitchen is at the top of your list. But if you finally decide to redo your kitchen, where in the world should you start?

New Orleans Living asked the foremost kitchen expert in New Orleans, Deborah Oertle, partner of the Kitchen Studio in Metairie, for her ideas. Selling topquality cabinets and countertops, the Kitchen Studio can design a kitchen that meets your needs and answer all your questions along the way.

Getting started

So you’ve decided to renovate your kitchen. What’s first? Oertle suggests doing what everyone secretly does: “Create a want list,” she says.

Pretend that you have an unlimited budget and create a list of everything you’d ever want in your dream kitchen. From there, start looking through magazines—interior design magazines, kitchen renovation magazines, even celebrity magazines—to get ideas. This will help your style evolve and help you get a sense of what you’re looking for in a kitchen. It will also help your designer better see what you want stylistically.

“That’s our number one recommendation,” says Oertle. “Tear out things [from magazines] and tell us why they appeal to you.”

Oertle explains that the wish list is the first step to truly finding what you want because a designer can look at it and tell you even more than you’d think. This is how dream kitchens are realized.

“We want to listen to you and give you what you really want,” she says.

Finding an expert
One of the hardest tasks, besides deciding what you want for your renovated kitchen, is finding someone qualified to do it. Before making a decision, do some research.

“I would recommend going to three or four different businesses, talking to the owners and finding out how much experience they have,” Oertle says. “Engineering a custom kitchen is a very complicated thing.”

Oertle says experience is key. If the person ordering and measuring the cabinets has less than 10 years of experience, the project might be in jeopardy. She also says that the designers you meet with should be excited about the project and about helping you accomplish your goal.

“They need to give you the proper respect,” says Oertle, for both you and your projects. You should hire someone who loves his job and wants you to achieve your dream kitchen.

Get designing
Once you have decided what it is you like (and what you don’t) and have chosen a designer, he or she can assist you with visualizing your kitchen. Oertle says designing the kitchen all depends on how the owner will use the space.

“We ask, ‘What look do you want? How important is cooking? How important is equipment?’ ” says Oertle. “Then we ask how they live—to show us their style—and then we get the client price-qualified by getting a low, middle and upper price range for our budget.”

The cost factor

The budget is always a challenge when renovating a kitchen. Oertle has some great solutions that won’t take away from the style of your kitchen if you’re on a tight budget. The first thing she suggests is to consider a full overlay door on your cabinets because they make it cost effective to build a kitchen.

The overlay kitchen doors are sleek-looking while covering a majority of the interior shelving. They are the most popular and are the least expensive to manufacture. Inset doors on the other hand have a much more elegant feel to them because the wood and etching is inset in the cabinet door. However, these are the most expensive. The third option is the standard overlay door, which covers all the interior shelving. The least expensive option, they aren’t exactly the most elegant, but if you’re looking for simplicity, you should ask for the standard overlay. “Most people don’t need expensive cabinetry,” Oertle admits.

This leaves more of the budget for better appliances. “Nine out of 10 people want stainless steel appliances, to look updated,” says Oertle. “So get stainless steel if that’s what you want.”

Remodeling kitchens has become very popular with homeowners, yet trends have changed over the past few years.

The new millennium brought a style that leans toward modernism, with sleeker appliances and advances in technology. Now they’ve even invented a refrigerator with a television display on the outside.

Oertle says that the trends in the last year or two have been “espresso dark wood, the Shaker look, arts and crafts, simple lines and stainless steel appliances.”

But for the spring, Oertle says that in the upper market, the English-style kitchen is in, with white offsets and latches. Similarly, the white coastal look is also big.

“We’ll be seeing a lot of turquoise and lime green with chocolate brown,” Oertle says. “Also, ’80s ‘pretty’ will be back … not exactly English ivy wallpaper, but lighter colors and floral.”