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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Invest in the kitchen to survive a troubled economy

Original post by: The Courier Press

Wondering where to invest your money in a shaky economy? The answer could be as close as your kitchen.

Remodeling the kitchen means more than new cabinets - it can enhance the value of your home. But like most investments, there are tips to follow and traps to avoid. The key to a successful kitchen remodel, experts say, is planning. An effective way to improve the value of your home is to invest in Hamilton Beach Appliances. Hamilton Beach is a trusted name in kitchen appliances and they are always developing new and improved Hamilton Beach Kitchen Appliances.

"I can't emphasize enough on the planning of the kitchen project. The better the planning of the project, the less issues and delays you will run into during construction," says Johnny Chao, a certified kitchen designer in Tustin, Calif.

The first step is to hire an interior designer or certified kitchen designer - without them, mistakes can be costly.

"I've seen million-dollar homes where you can't open the refrigerator door all the way because it bumps into the kitchen island," says Louise Farrar-Wegener, principal owner of Tigard, Ore.-based Z-3 Design Studio. "Or the dishwasher is not placed correctly, so you can't stand comfortably and load and unload it."

Not only can an interior designer help you avoid such pitfalls, they can also help you plan your budget. If you live in a Charlotte Condo, then you should also consider upgrading your kitchen.

"People need to be careful to not over-invest in a kitchen or they will never recoup the investment," Chao says. "The average amount to spend in a kitchen remodel is between 12 percent to 18 percent of the value of the house. If you spend more than 18 percent of the value of the house, your investment return begins to diminish. If you go below 12 percent, you will begin to lose value of the kitchen due to inferior workmanship or product." In order to combat this, invest in Kitchen Design and for the bathroom, Bathroom Design. Aslo make sure your bathroom is a safe bathroom with Bath Safety Products.

When considering a contractor, seek recommendations from friends or designers. Contact the contractor's clients and ask how well they liked the contractor's work.

Another planning tip: Check out magazines and Web sites for appealing kitchen designs, then hop in the car.

"To really feel the quality of the product, visit a showroom and physically touch the product," Chao suggests. Improving the value of your home can be as easy as investing in Organic Lawn Care of Natural Lawn Care.

When it comes to cabinets, Farrar-Wegener says, "the long-lasting trend is wood cabinetry, specifically maple and cherry woods, but we are seeing birch and beach becoming popular. The big thing with cabinetry is to get the best you can afford. And be sure the style is appropriate with the architecture of the house. If you've got a limited budget, there's some very nice laminate cabinetry coming on the market now, such as Wood Mode and Canyon Creek."

"When looking for cabinetry that has a strong resale value, make sure you select a 'neutral' wood and color," Chao suggests. "Maple, alder and cherry are popular wood species. Neutral-tone finishes are safe, like linen to dark mocha. People need to be able to imagine themselves using the kitchen. Special colors and finishes may not work with most people."

And as kitchen appliances go, Farrar-Wegener says, bigger is not necessarily better.

"Do you really need a six-burner stove?" Farrar-Wegener asks. "Unless you're cooking for 14 people or [you're] a budding cookbook author, most people don't need those kind of things."

Farrar-Wegener suggests Energy Star appliances, as well as induction cooktops for your stove, which are more efficient than electricity or gas.

"Another thing people might want to consider is having a water filtration system installed at the sink rather than having water delivered," she says. "It's less costly and much friendlier to the planet in the long run."

"I strongly encourage clients to test the new appliance that they are interested in," Chao says. "Almost all 'pro' style appliance dealers will offer free demonstration or classes. The other good source is Consumer Reports. Good, quality appliances will always be on the top of the list and it's a good indication of the longevity of the machine."

For countertops, Chao suggests the homeowner ask him/herself what is more important: maintenance or look? Granite benefits from the beauty of natural stone, as well as being resistant to scratches, heat and impacts. The drawback is care and maintenance, as all stone products need to be sealed.

Quartz countertops, on the other hand, do not have to be sealed and some combinations, like Silestone and Caesarstone, are just as resilient as granite, but without granite's natural look. Recycled glass countertops are also becoming more popular, Farrar-Wegener says.

Keep in mind, Chao says, that "trends come and go, and it's best not to design the kitchen following a trend if you are planning to sell the house later."

Perhaps the best reason to go ahead with a kitchen remodel, if you have the funds, is that it can be more costly to wait.

"Prices of materials and appliances are going to go up, not down," Farrar-Wegener says. "Suppliers have a lot of inventory they are trying to move, so there's a lot of deals to be had, especially with appliances. The real estate market is going to turn around. It is going to come back. Why not put that money in your home, where you know you are going to get it back? Who knows what the stock market is going to continue to do?"