Decisions, Decisions, Decisions …
The toughest, and probably the most exciting part, of any job is when we have to make the final decision. It is game time … no more procrastination! Decisions made during this past week will be in front of us for a long time … especially decisions about appliances, the floor, counter tops, back splash and hardware. It was clearly a busy week but we got thru it and made some great choices.
This started a few months ago when we decided to remodel the kitchen. Our kitchen appliances were about 10 years old, the cabinets paint had started to chip and the granite counter tops were the centerpiece of the kitchen that would overwhelm the rest of the features. I started my research and looked at options for everything that needed to be fixed and replaced. I was amazed at the number of choices available and how creative one can be with design to create some pretty amazing kitchens.
First things first … finalize the scope
At first, I made the decision to keep it simple – Change the appliances and refurbish the existing cabinets and fix what is in most need of repair. Once I started exploring my options and started to narrow down the choices, it became evident that it was not going to be enough. Not for what I really wanted from the design anyway. The counter tops needed to be replaced which led me to the decision to change the backsplash to match the new counter tops and then you have to replace the hardware :) I decided though not to change the floor or change the layout to avoid having to move the gas line or change any of the electrical and plumbing connections. Deciding against removing existing cabinets and the island has significantly reducing overall project costs. While it was ok to keep the floor, it did become a huge factor in choosing the counter top and backsplash.
Where to start… long lead time items
As one would expect, I started with the built-in appliances. I looked at all possible brands and all the variations and combinations, all along trying to make sure I did not add significant re-work to the cabinets and fit this all into the budget. Finally, I locked in on Wolf-Subzero M-Series appliances. I love the quality, finish, versatility of these appliances and I changed the configuration to match my needs and fit the overall design. This week I modified the configuration to add a wine cabinet (to my husband’s delight) and to use some extra space by the refrigerator and swap the cooking range with a cooktop to give me some extra cabinet space. The vendor (Liebert’s from White Plains, NY) was extremely helpful in accommodating these late changes while keeping the same delivery schedule.
So hard to choose … Most critical decision
Choosing the countertops and backsplash is like choosing a dress.....everything matters … color, tone, texture, material, placement, how it goes with the accessories and the environment.
My research on the material for the kitchen floor, island, the perimeter and the backsplash has been going on for a while. I have been tirelessly looking around at by visiting most of the stone yards around the area at places like Florim, Walker Zanger, European in Ct, Lima Tiles in Stamford, Dimensional stone and Tile Design, Marble America in New Rochelle, just to name a few.
There was a lot of going back and forth based before coming out down to our final selection. Lead time was very important so I stayed focused on what was already available in stock and of course in our budget.
Finally, I managed to find an absolutely gorgeous and stunning stone Crystal Quartzite (scientific name) that is consistent with the stone. It is a natural stone and it is generally found in white to grey tones. Pink and red hues are a result of iron oxide in the stone. Yellow, blue, green and orange quartzite results from the presence of other minerals. Regardless of the color the quartzite will have streaking caused by varying degrees of pressure in its formation and the random presence of iron oxide or other minerals. Now you have your stone education for the day :)
Quartzite is harder than Granite and marble and withstands heat very well but it must be sealed once before use and then 1-2 times per year. Without the sealant it can stain but this is true of all natural stone including granite and marble. When properly sealed quartzite cleans up easy and provides a seamless continuity to the design. I say all that so you will know what to consider when picking a stone for your project.
Other comparable materials are quartz, granite and marble. Quartz and Quartzite are both popular but they are not the same material. They offer differences in looks, durability and price. Quartz countertops are often called engineered because loose quartz makes up 93% of the material. Its blended with a binder and pigment. The pigmentation allows it to be formulated in a much wider range of color and look which in turn gives the appearance of a natural stone such as a-granite or marble.
I decided to shift from one natural material, Granite, to quartzite because I absolutely fell in love with the translucent, crystal like magic created by this unique stone. The granite along with the dark cabinets and the lime stone was absolutely lost. It is a beautiful stone but it needed to cloud the space versus being dominated by the color and the surrounding material.
The team from Walker Zenger (Portchester, NY) helped me evaluate my options and made the slabs available in a short timeframe. Marble America (New Rochelle, NY) is my fabrication vendor to help me fabricate and install the stone over the next few weeks. Both are outstanding vendors and I am looking forward to the installation of the stone in a few weeks.
Here are all the options I looked at …
Need to get going … on the rest
I didn't stop all week, I also started work on removing the cabinets, getting them sanded and applying the primer. The old dark color of the cabinets is hard to cover and it will take a couple coats --- As Mario Falco, my general contractor, put’s it --- “We have to sand, prime, then sand again and prime, then sand again and prime then sand and prime one final time and then we will be ready to paint on these cabinets --- The final paint itself will take 2 coats before we do the final coat once all the other installation is done.” He is a professional and a perfectionist. Great GC!!
Next week is another big week – receiving hardware, completing the sanding and modifications to the cabinets. The fabricators are coming over tomorrow to make the template and also the sink has been shipped to be delivered by Monday. Thanks to Alexandra Port at Waterworks for making all the transaction easy.