Friday, April 17, 2015

Even Lucy is Refacing!

To be more accurate, the statue of Lucy is going to be refaced. The likeness of Lucille Ball, in her hometown of Celoron, New York, is so bad looking that the town has decided to have her refaced. The newspaper headlines vary, but my favorite is “Upstate Town Terrorized by Demon Lucy Statue”.  Thank goodness refacing is now considered an acceptable method of rejuvenating a scary, sad looking statue or kitchen.
            The mayor of Celoron, Scott Schrecengost, has chosen to reface Lucy, rather than replace her, because it is considerably less expensive to put a new face on a 400lb bronze statue than to replace it completely. And, it can be done much faster that starting a new statue from scratch. Interestingly these are the same reasons most people chose to reface their cabinets rather than replace them. It comes down to convenience and cost. With our hectic schedules, many people don’t want to have their lifestyles disrupted any longer than necessary. It’s hard enough getting everything done that we’re supposed to each day without having construction going on for several weeks. Refacing takes much less time than replacing a kitchen and is much less stressful than a total renovation.
And in most cases it’s usually more economical than a new kitchen. I say “usually more economical” because there are factors that can increase the costs of refacing. When you select thermofoil replacement fronts the cost is about 50% less than buying and installing new, all-wood cabinets. However, if you choose special shapes or wood fronts the savings begins to diminish. Another factor that can add to the expense of refacing is changing the layout of your kitchen. You realize the greatest saving when no alterations are made to the floor plan. If you intend on changing more than 10% of the cabinets in the kitchen it makes more sense to think about replacing all of them.
            The selection of replacement fronts has recently expanded exponentially. Now, Lucy’s new face could be anyone; Ethel, Marge, Wilma, or best of all, a pretty image of Lucy, as was originally intended. In your home, you can reface with real wood, choosing from maple, cherry, alder, birch, pine or exotic woods. If you want to go with laminate fronts there are close to a hundred colors to chose from, and now the laminates can be textured or hand-crafted with a glazed finish or Italian high gloss lacquer, just like real wood. Add to this all the modern internal conveniences that you find in new kitchen cabinets and refacing becomes a viable alternative.
Although, in the past, refacing used to conjure up a less-than-beautiful solution, where the material used to cover the cabinets and doors didn’t look real and would peel off in a few years. While this may have been true years ago, the materials and adhesives used for refacing today have improved dramatically. Most contractors who offer this service now replace the door and drawer fronts and cover the cabinet with the same material the new fronts are made of. Today, a custom refacing job, if done properly, looks just like a new kitchen and lasts just as long.
            If you’re terrorized because you’re living with a scary looking kitchen, like the folks in Celoron are of their statue, it might be time to consider this wonderful solution. Granted, it’s not for everyone, so it’s in your best interest to speak with a professional designer for their input, however, most kitchens will benefit from refacing. And considering Lucy was one of the most talented, beautiful and funny women in TV’s history, it is only right that her statue get a face-lift. If you find yourself upstate, stop by the Lucille Ball Memorial Park to visit with Lucy (after the work has been completed) and see what a difference a new face can make.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Remodeling Fever Delayed by Snow!

     Just when you thought the winter was over, we got another six inches of snow on the first day of spring! I think we all had enough because this unusual weather is delaying our seasonal compulsion of remodeling something in the spring. It could be a kitchen, a bath, even a closet or garage, it really doesn’t matter. Our species is predisposed to do something to our home when the weather starts to warm. Like the swallows returning from wherever they went, this need is not something to be ashamed of. We have very little control over it.
     If you are facing this uncontrollable remodeling urge, you will probably need some help. But don’t despair; you don’t have to do it alone. There are many qualified designers available to create a functional, as well as aesthetically pleasing, kitchen or bath to satisfy your desires. Look for a firm that is associated with the National Kitchen and Bath Association. This is the largest organization in the industry and it sets the standards for modern interior design. But don’t expect to get something for nothing, because you get what you pay for.
     Most trained and qualified designers charge for their initial work, however their charges and pricing structures vary greatly. I know of companies that charge anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more, for this service. Usually, this sum can be applied towards the purchase of designs or cabinets, and I wouldn’t recommend contracting with a firm that did not adhere to that policy. After all, a good design takes a great deal of time, effort and creativity, so why should they give this away for free? However, if they’re willing to credit these charges towards a purchase, you’re not taking too big a risk.
     An argument could be made that if you don’t like the design and/or estimate you’ve wasted your money. I don’t entirely disagree with this, and that’s why I recommend finding a firm with a minimum initial design fee. This smaller expense certainly does not compensate the designer for all the time he must spend creating your dream kitchen, but it shows a commitment on your part, indicating that you are serious about the project.
Some firms have a staged design fee, which includes a minimum initial design charge. If after reviewing the design, you wish to pursue the project, they have a secondary fee (sometimes called a retainer) for additional work on the design or releasing the drawings to you. This seems to be an equitable compromise. The designer charges a minimal fee, confident that they will create an exciting design, within the budget that you specify. You get a chance to review the design and see how much the renovation will cost, before laying out a lot of money.
     At that point, assuming the design fits your budget, you have to ask yourself three questions. The first is, do you like the design? It doesn’t have to be perfect yet, but it must show promise, and you have to be convinced that it can be modified to your satisfaction. The second question is, do you like the company’s products? This includes the cabinets, countertops and other accessories. The final question is, do you trust the designer and his support staff? If the design or designer is not to your liking, or the cost is out of line, you have the option of ending the relationship without incurring additional costs.
     If you answer, “yes” to the three questions, you’re ready to move to the next step in a “staged design fee” program. If any of your answers were “no”, look for another firm that you are more comfortable with.
Once you find the right company to work with, a design you love, and a price that’s compatible with your budget, you can succumb to your impulses. Don’t feel guilty. Just as the swallows fly home, spring home improvement has been ingrained into our genes for a thousand years and it will remain that way for a long time to come.