It may come as some surprise that last fall, we hired a professional designer for our impending kitchen remodel. Why? Don’t you love the DIY stuff? Can’t you do everything? Isn’t it expensive?
There are more than a few reasons that it made sense for us to go this route, and so far it has been worth it:
- First and foremost, I don’t know a whole lot about remodeling an old kitchen, despite how many times I’ve watched Rehab Addict. Our professionals do it all day every day, and have a much more technical approach to designing a highly functional home. They’re confident in their recommendations and able to explain every detail. Could I have replaced cabinet doors? Yeah! Could I have mimicked the existing floor plan and replaced with new cabinetry? Maybe. Could I have done it really, really well? Probably not without Photoshop.
- We needed a fresh perspective because we were toying with the idea of losing walls and adding windows. It’s been nice to have someone advising on that process, especially when it involves making sure the house won’t fall down.
- There was a very specific plan we had in mind after living with the space for years, but who were we to say that it was the best plan? Turns out, our plan wasn’t the best – the designers took our vision and tried it, and could quickly to point out issues when they aligned our idea with real measurements. From there, still using plenty of our input, they pieced together all kinds of CAD floorplans, narrowing it down to 5 really good options (yes, 5!). Their vision was thoughtful to the design of our mid-century ranch, and worked harder to make the most of the space available. Sometimes it’s hard to “unsee” what we thought it would be, but the plan we’re working with now is the difference between “great kitchen” and our “dream kitchen.”
- We want to get *done* and not have this project linger on for years and years, as would have been the case if we attempted to do it ourselves between other full-time jobs. Last time I checked, it was almost impossible to focus on anything with preschool/toddler-aged kids underfoot, and not that I’ve crunched the numbers, but the cost of our contractor and designer is probably similar to the daycare service we’d have to employ to babysit our kids if we went at this solo. The faster, more perfect kitchen wins! And then we can get on with our life.
The inquiry process actually started in 2016 when I met with a local “kitchen and bath design center” that seemed reputable but made me feel as though I was buying a Bluth kitchen. That in-home meeting was impersonal and apathetic, and discouraging exchanges that followed over email made me lose not only lose trust in them, but question who I could rely on in the remodeling industry. It set us back a few years.
About a year ago in 2018, our intent to remodel the kitchen was revived when our daughter befriended the child of an interior designer at school. I’m pretty sure that we introduced ourselves to each other, and then I immediately folded my hands into the shape of a heart to signal how perfectly this young friendship timed to my own home improvement needs. The introduction led us to hire Robin Muto Interiors based in Rochester, NY, and it was such a treat to get the project started again with fresh vision and thoughtful direction. (Robin’s studio/art gallery/home goods store AXOM Home are on Anderson Ave. right next to the Brainery and across from Barrel of Dolls, friends! You should stop in, because her space is super inspiring.)
I’m still weirdly nervous to share too much detail about the design because everyone’s a critic, but the construction that begins next month is going to result in a big, open, birch and colorfully-designed space, with a huge island, cool tech integrations, high-end finishes, giant porcelain tiles, and big, beautiful, windows. We’ll lose a closet but gain a mudroom. We’ll connect the indoors to the out, and open the kitchen to our dining room. These are all improvements that we’re genuinely excited about, and we’re really proud and feeling lucky to be investing in our home in this way.
P.S. I should note now that our designer isn’t doing this as some kind of sponsorship, I just really want you to know she exists because she and her team are seriously good.