Top 10 Upscale Features for Kitchen Remodels

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About the Author: David Perrotti

Dave has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, is a Bestselling Home Improvement Author on Amazon, and constantly seeks to reinvent the remodeling industry. As a veteran of the Army and Air Force, Dave operates his business, Fine Home Contracting, on the core army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
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In the world of home renovations, homeowners often think they are stuck with a choice between luxury features or a reasonable budget. It’s tough finding that sweet spot where your dream upgrades and your wallet’s comfort zone intersect. We’re talking about those awesome home makeovers that manage to strike a perfect balance between WOW factor and wallet-friendly decisions.

If you’re a homeowner navigating remodeling in the Connecticut market – seeking renovations that deliver a dash of opulence without going overboard on expenses – you’re in the right place. This article is all about exploring the exciting realm of home improvements that gracefully dance between lavish aspirations and smart financial choices. So, let’s dive in and discover how to give your home that stylish upgrade it deserves, without breaking the bank.

Built-In Coffee Bars

One of our favorite trends in kitchen remodels over the past few years is the inclusion of bespoke, built-in luxury coffee stations. Whether making use of an existing island, or custom built-in cabinetry, having a designated, functional space for preparing your favorite hot drinks adds a touch of luxury to your kitchen that not only adds functionality and makes your daily routine easier, but also lends your kitchen a sophisticated feel and impresses company.

Design Ideas and Tips

A built-in coffee bar creates a functional and inviting space for morning coffee. Opting for quartz, marble, or solid surface counters makes for easy cleaning and a vibrant, luxury aesthetic. Those worried about the cost of stone surfaces may benefit from looking at more accessible materials like “standard” granite, which come in at a lower price point without the low-quality appearance of laminate.

Those looking to add a touch of luxury might consider live edge wood counters, higher-end quartz or marble surfaces, and cabinet upgrades like soft-close drawers and cabinets.

When drawing up your initial design, include cabinets for storage, outlets for appliances, and decorative lighting. Position near a breakfast nook or window.

Consulting with an Interior Designer who specializes in kitchen design can help immensely with drawing up ideas and getting your initial plans finalized.

Recommended Appliances

Invest in commercial grade coffee machines and refrigerators. Top brands include Miele, Wolf, SubZero and Thermador. For a sleek look, choose models with stainless, panel ready or integrated designs.

While your coffee maker or espresso machine is the centerpiece of your beverage bar, adding other functional appliances such as glass-faced refrigerators, drink warmers, and countertop organizers can further the luxury aesthetic of the area, with a very controllable impact on your budget. (Remember to use energy-efficient appliances!)

Custom or High-End Cabinets

When considering cabinet manufacturers and styles, many homeowners think that they are limited to either cheap, prebuilt cabinets, or expensive custom solutions. While there are definitely use cases for custom cabinetry, those on a budget should consider mass manufactured cabinets made out of strong materials, ideally with functional attachments that add  ease of use and convenience (Such as soft-close drawers, carousel cabinets, and other functional storage pieces.)

Wood Types and Finishes

Where possible, opt for quality solid wood cabinets over cheaper particle board versions. Consider whether your room feels light or dark without the cabinets, and select a finish that compliments the room. Walnut, cherry and maple are some more expensive options that provide warmth to the room, while painted white finishes can be used to lighten the space. We always recommend soft close hinges and drawers, even if it means buying a cheaper cabinet overall.

Unique Storage Solutions

Creative cabinets like spice drawer organizers, lazy susans, and pull-out pantries maximize functionality. Display glass fronts show off prized dishware.

Luxury Appliances

While choosing higher end appliances can very quickly increase the budget of your kitchen remodel, there is something to be said about the allure and appeal of designer stoves, fridges, and dishwashers. If you’re satisfied with your cabinets and have some wiggle room left in your budget, investing in better appliances is one of the most surefire ways to increase the overall appeal of your kitchen.

Professional Ranges and Cooktops

Common Luxury brands include:

  • La Cornue: French luxury brand known for beautiful, innovative chef-grade ranges with patented vaulted oven design. Handmade in cast iron with unique colors and finishes. Highly customizable.
  • SubZero / Wolf: Premier brand offering state-of-the-art kitchen appliances from refrigeration to ranges. Wolf specializes in pro-style gas ranges. SubZero makes built-in, integrated refrigerators and freezers. Known for performance, style and durability.
  • Miele: Leading German brand of high-end kitchen appliances from dishwashers to ovens, known for precision engineering, efficiency and minimalist style. Miele pioneered many innovations and has an excellent reputation.
  • Bertazzoni: Italian brand crafting enameled pro-style ranges available in a wide color palette. Features precision burner controls and high BTU output. Bertazzoni offers the bold colors and quality of luxury European appliances at a more accessible price point.

Opting for options like double ovens, induction cooktops, simmer burners and griddles can vastly increase the functional effeciency of your cooking area, and are definitely worth considering for foodies and hobbyist chefs. A perk of choosing from luxury brands is that oftentimes their appliances are produced in a  variety of finishings, giving you choices beyond just picking between black or stainless steel.

Quiet Dishwashers

One of the perks of investing in higher quality appliances is the range of options for luxury dishwashers. Our top recommendation is a silent model, which are insulated and generally run at around 50 decibels (The level of a quiet conversation.) Other features to look out for are quicker run times, water and energy efficient models, and the possibility of a second dishwasher.

Open and Spacious Layouts

If you’re considering a larger remodel with changes to your floorplan, opting for an open layout can completely change the impression your kitchen gives. Open floorplans were popularized in Connecticut alongside the Midcentury Modern building boom following World War II, and offer a quick pathway to a spacious, airy, aesthetic.

Removing Walls and Barriers

Knocking down walls between the kitchen and dining room creates an airy, open concept perfect for entertaining. We always recommend avoiding the removal of load bearing walls, which can greatly increase the cost of your project. Other considerations to make include which walls contain plumbing and electrical hookups, and where new pipes and electrical connections will need to be run once the existing hookups are removed. In the case that a wall adjacent to your kitchen is not load bearing, and contains very little plumbing and electric, we would highly recommend looking into removing the wall and converting to an open floorplan as a moderately affordable upgrade with a huge impact.

Island and Peninsular Designs

Islands provide ample counter and storage space in an open area, while also creatively controlling the flow of foot traffic through your kitchen, and helping to define the “Kitchen Triangle.” Peninsular layouts offer functionality of an island while separating the space. We always recommend including seating for casual dining.

Smart Home Technology

Voice Control and Automation

While voice controlled smart appliances and lights might seem like a stretch on a budget, our past clients agree the convenience these smart features add heavily outweighs the cost. When baking or cooking and dealing with messy hands, being able to adjust the oven’s temperature or set a timer by voice is indispensable. Likewise automated lighting, shades, and music can make entertaining and cooking simultaneously much less of a challenge.

Appliance Connectivity

Many new ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers can connect to apps to remotely monitor and control. It’s very important to choose matching brands for seamless connectivity, and double check that any mismatched brands are cross compatible. The benefits of a smart kitchen are built around convenience and functionality, and dealing with the hassle of multiple brands and systems outweighs the perks smart systems aim for.

Accessory Dishwashers

One of the least spoken about, but most appreciated recommendations we make for luxury clients.

Benefits of a Second Dishwasher

A second dishwasher, convenient for larger families and entertainers, not only keeps clean dishes always available but also decreases the consistent need for larger families to run a load daily. We recommend placing accessory models under counters or in butler’s pantries.

Some opt to use their second machine for only glassware or when prepping large meals to decrease the need for maintenance.

Natural Lighting and Windows

If your remodel is already lining up with structural work or a roof repair, letting more natural light into the space is one of the best changes to make.

Skylights and High Ceilings

When working with smaller, darker spaces, adding a skylight can bring in some much needed natural light and get rid of that dark, cramped feel. When paired with high or vaulted ceilings, this is the ideal way to bring natural light into a space and adds charm and opulence to your room.

Strategic Window Placement

For maximum light, position windows above the sink and surrounding counters. If you have an existing picture window above the sink and it has a dated appearance, replacing it with a new one can have a surprisingly large impact on your kitchen. Where possible, installing a window to highlight a stove is a less popular option with the same impact.

Kitchen Flooring Options

Hardwood, Tile, and Stone

We could write an entire article just looking at your options for kitchen flooring on a budget. While most companies recommend Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) for budget kitchens, we tend to warn homeowners that the natural expansion and contraction of the planks can be an issue when placed directly against cabinets and islands, especially near exterior walls where temperatures vary more wildly. For these reasons, we recommend looking at hardwood flooring, or low-maintenance options like tile and stone that can take the heavier foot traffic in these busier areas of the home. Be sure to pick materials that are resistant to scratching and water damage.

Radiant Heating

Radiant floor heating adds luxury and keeps feet cozy on chilly mornings. Opt for electric or hydronic systems under tile, stone or wood floors. These systems oftentimes integrate with other smart appliances, giving you the option to schedule when your heat kicks on, or to control it with your mobile phone and voice assistants.

Creative Backsplashes

The backsplash in your kitchen plays a few important roles: It creates contrast and carries the eye between your chosen countertops and cabinets. As such, coordinating your backsplash choice to match the surrounding materials is vital.

Materials and Patterns

While the most common backsplash tiles tend to be white subway tile or neutral mosaics, we recommend thoroughly researching your options for backsplash. Between the numerous choices in material, shape, color, and design, many homeowners are surprised the variety of impressions that backsplash can give to a room. Some less-considered options include mirrored and metallic backsplashes, natural stone slabs, and materials with unique textures and patterns to add contrast and vibrance to your space.

3D Effects and Metal Tiles

Dimensional tiles add depth, while tin ceiling-inspired metal backsplash tiles reflect light. ACCENT the backsplash by lining it with lighting or glass cabinets doors. Target keywords: 3D tile backsplash, metal backsplash Connecticut

Best Places to Look for Backsplash

When we remodel Kitchens and Bathrooms, our first recommendation for tile and stone surfaces is always Genrose Stone + Tile. With a wide variety of options ranging from mass produced stone surfaces right down to handcrafted artisan tiles, Genrose sets the industry standard in material and surface design.

Creating a high-end kitchen requires investing in luxury materials, appliances and design features that make a stunning statement. Carefully weigh priorities like layout, cabinetry, countertops and backsplashes, choosing options that maximize both aesthetics and functionality. Work with talented remodeling contractors and interior designers to achieve the upscale kitchen of your dreams. With smart planning, you can create a space perfect for relaxing and entertaining every day.

Can I upgrade to full-overlay cabinets without replacing the entire cabinet box?2024-03-22T14:29:03+00:00

In many cases, yes. Upgrading to full-overlay doors can often be done without replacing the cabinet boxes, but it may require new hinges and possibly some adjustments to ensure a proper fit and function.

Can I Add Soft-Close Hardware to Existing Cabinets?2024-03-22T14:19:01+00:00

Yes, many modern hardware features can be added to existing cabinets. Soft-close hinges and drawer slides are relatively easy to install and can significantly upgrade the functionality of your kitchen.

What’s the best way to incorporate lighting into my cabinetry?2024-03-22T14:18:36+00:00

Under-cabinet lighting is a popular choice for illuminating countertops. Consider LED strips or puck lights for an efficient and sleek option. Also, integrating lighting inside glass-front cabinets can beautifully showcase your items.

How do I choose the right material for my kitchen cabinets?2024-03-22T14:18:23+00:00

Consider factors like durability, maintenance, and aesthetic. Plywood is known for its strength, MDF for its smooth finish (ideal for painting), and particleboard for its cost-effectiveness. Assess your priorities to make the best choice.

Can I mix and match cabinet door styles in my kitchen?2024-03-22T14:17:54+00:00

Absolutely! Mixing cabinet styles can add depth and interest to your kitchen. Just be sure to maintain a cohesive color scheme or theme to tie the space together.

Do I need a design-build contractor for a kitchen remodel?2023-09-22T13:56:57+00:00

You can definitely hire a design-build firm for a kitchen overhaul, but a general contractor or construction manager working with an architectural designer can also execute this well. Design-build makes the most sense for whole home renovations, larger kitchen renovations, and those looking to minimize costs.

How much does professional cabinet refinishing cost?2023-09-06T17:14:01+00:00

Expect to pay at least $1000-2000 for a medium-sized kitchen, just for labor and materials. Costs go up significantly for larger kitchens.

How long does a refinished kitchen cabinet last?2023-09-06T17:13:13+00:00

Most refinished cabinets show noticeable wear, fading and damage after just 1-2 years of use. Factory finishes last 5-10 times longer under normal kitchen conditions.

Is it cheaper to refinish or replace kitchen cabinets?2023-09-06T17:11:46+00:00

In most cases, replacing kitchen cabinets is only marginally more expensive than refinishing them, and gives you longer-lasting results. Factor in long-term costs, and replacement provides a better value.

What size pizza oven should I get for my kitchen?2023-09-05T14:29:59+00:00

Choose an oven at least 45-60cm (18-24 inches) wide to comfortably fit a 12-14 inch pizza. Larger ovens allow you to bake multiple pizzas at once.

What design tips make a great pizza kitchen?2023-09-05T14:29:10+00:00

Focus on workflow, adequate counterspace, durable surfaces, ventilation, high BTU burners, and refrigeration for ingredients.

How much does a pizza oven cost?2023-09-05T14:28:50+00:00

Prices range widely from $300 for entry-level consumer models to $10,000+ for professional-grade pizza ovens. Built-in brick ovens cost $10,000 to $25,000 installed.

Should I remodel the kitchen before selling my home?2023-08-17T17:41:58+00:00

Yes, an updated, high-end kitchen with smart layout and finishes can greatly increase your home’s value and appeal to buyers.

Is it worth it to add a second dishwasher?2023-08-17T17:40:27+00:00

Yes. A second dishwasher keeps clean dishes available while others wash and provides extra capacity when entertaining large groups. A secondary dishwasher focused on glassware is perfect for home bars.

What are the most popular countertops for luxury kitchens?2023-08-17T17:39:41+00:00

Quartz and granite are top choices. Quartz offers a high-end look with less maintenance. Granite provides a rich, unique aesthetic at a lower pricepoint. Other common choices include butcher block, laminate, and corian.

When is the best time of year for a kitchen remodel in CT?2023-08-02T14:54:57+00:00

Winter and early spring are ideal as contractors may have more availability. Summertime leads to higher demand. Discuss timing with your contractor.

Should I choose custom or stock cabinets?2023-08-02T14:54:18+00:00

Stock cabinets cost less but offer limited sizes and finishes. Custom lets you customize the design, dimensions, materials and features. Assess your budget and design goals.

What are the most popular kitchen layouts in Connecticut?2023-08-02T14:53:49+00:00

Open concept kitchens that integrate cooking, dining, and family living spaces are very popular. Islands for extra prep space and casual dining are also in demand. Prioritizing workflow is key.

Do I need a permit for my kitchen remodel?2023-06-05T19:17:37+00:00

The answer to this question depends on the scope of your project, your location, and local building codes. In general, if you’re doing any work that involves structural changes, electrical or plumbing work, or adding or removing walls, you will likely need a permit. Check with your local building department to find out what permits you need and how to obtain them.

What are some common design mistakes to avoid in a kitchen remodel?2023-06-05T19:17:22+00:00

Some common design mistakes to avoid include choosing trendy designs that may not stand the test of time, not considering the flow and functionality of the space, and neglecting lighting and storage needs. It’s also important to avoid over-personalizing the space, as this can make it less appealing to potential buyers if you choose to sell your home in the future.

How can I save money on my kitchen remodel?2023-06-05T19:17:05+00:00

There are many ways to save money on a kitchen remodel without sacrificing quality. Start by setting a realistic budget and sticking to it. Consider doing some of the work yourself, such as painting or installing light fixtures. Shop around for materials and appliances to get the best deals. And consider using lower-cost alternatives to high-end materials, such as laminate countertops instead of granite.

Should I hire a designer or architect for my kitchen remodel?2023-06-05T19:16:43+00:00

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on the scope of your project, your budget, and your personal preferences. If you’re planning a major remodel that involves moving walls, plumbing, or electrical systems, it’s probably a good idea to hire an architect or designer to help you with the planning and permitting process. On the other hand, if you’re just replacing cabinets and countertops, you may not need professional help. Consider consulting with a designer or architect to see what they recommend for your specific project.

About the Author: David Perrotti

Dave has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, is a Bestselling Home Improvement Author on Amazon, and constantly seeks to reinvent the remodeling industry. As a veteran of the Army and Air Force, Dave operates his business, Fine Home Contracting, on the core army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

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