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Full Fork Renovations: Materials and The Art of Choosing

0 Comments 22 April 2015

I was going to call this post Finishing Touches, but figured people might think I meant that the renovation is done. Because it’s not done. But it’s coming along as it should! That’s saying something. Some contractors don’t come at a consistent pace and actually, you know, work. And that’s all I’m saying about that! We’re pretty happy with the progress we’ve been seeing with this one. But a long time ago, in a pre-renovation house far, far away, there was a frazzled homeowner trying to figure out how all of it would come to be. (By the way, the first pic in this post is just after they did the sheet rock – that’s the point you can start to imagine more easily how it will all look!)

KitchenDetailsKitchenDetails_AppliancesKitchenCabintes2The images shown here at left are 11×17 sheets I collected photo ideas on, similar to what we’d want to do in our renovation. Most were found at Houzz.com, a site that has ALL the ideas. If you’re renovating or fixing up any part of your home, inside or out, you’re just about guaranteed to find some great ideas and inspiration there. I can’t recommend it enough. I also can’t recommend enough starting to look at pictures and projects online in advance of your renovation. It did get tedious after a while looking and saving pictures and pinning things, but it will really save you some frustration later when you renovate.

On these pages (click them to enlarge) I made notations of any specific materials we planned to use: the flooring, paint colors, the sink, a special lighting fixture for over the sink, etc. Sure, some of those details changed afterward, but these ideas still helped get me started in the right direction. I even chose early on how I wanted the backsplash to look design-wise, which changed a little, too, but is mostly coinciding with the details on that page.

10906236_10204419720265614_4044319829482642645_n10919014_10204419720825628_4704800816396593095_nThe kitchen island was one detail we splurged on. We bought an antique drafting table from a store we visited while on a vacation. We’re super excited to add it to the kitchen soon and love the old world industrial style it will contribute. It’s also inspired our design for the overall space, choosing certain other finishes certain ways, we’ll be doing some open industrial style shelving in the kitchen now – that kind of stuff. We’ll also be wrapping the support header beams (you can see a little of them in the sheet rock picture above) with a stain-able wood material to help carry the look throughout the space.

Some details you may not be able to choose prior because things come up during the renovation. Hidden things that end up costing you money, for example. Know how people react when they hear bad news that will cost them more on those HGTV shows? I know how they feel now! You just have to decide on the spot sometimes, or at least in a few days, important details. One of those for us was the kitchen counters. I personally wanted quartz, a light, airy and marble-like tone, preferably. Due to plenty of research, I knew this would be expensive, but unless you have a connection in the business, you won’t know exactly how much this kind of stuff costs till you get your general contractor involved (if using one). I’ve learned the home renovation industry and the contractors involved are for the most part an insular group. You can’t just go online and find exact pricing for this stuff, which makes it that much harder for a homeowner to plan and see how much money they will need overall. This is also one way you get in trouble later, not having enough money for one part when you thought you would, etc.

We ended up going with granite, something I was really opposed to. I was never fond of how most of it looks. Splotchy, peppered and, frankly, often looking like mold trapped right beneath the surface. There are lighter options, but they’re, of course, the more expensive ones! Popularity right now favors lighter granite, so it’s one factor that is upping the price of ones that have more “movement” and flow like marble. Don’t even look at quartzite, a granite and quartz stone, if you’re on a tight counter budget – it costs just as much as most quartz (a quartz stone with resins built-in). Don’t take my word for any of this, though – make sure you do your own research. The world of counter tops materials is just one of many with its very own rabbit hole to get lost in. So shiny!

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It’s funny how you can eventually completely change your mind when you get pricing. Shown is the counter material we’ll be going with. It’s a Bianco Romano granite and it’s one of the cheaper light granite options we could find. I’ve learned to appreciate granite a little more, now I just hope I will like its performance overall in our kitchen over the next 20 years!

And that’s, pretty much, how I took months of first agonizing over finishes, boiled it down to a few choices and when time to get the party started, presented it to our contractor. This enabled us to have far fewer questions when getting going and since then. Because of research, I knew already about a lot of things that came up and didn’t feel in the dark. If you’ve never done some of these things (For example, what counter edge to select for the kitchen counters – so many kinds and what exactly will they look like on a finished counter?!), you’ll still learn along the way, but hopefully you’ll be working with contractors that are just as willing to communicate fully and clearly as they are about taking your money. That is probably the most important detail! Never work with any that won’t give you a budget breakdown of their services and what they project each part will cost, and don’t work with subcontractors who aren’t willing to meet with you if you feel it’s necessary to explain things more clearly for you. The people we’ve worked with have been great. Friendly, enthusiastic and helpful with actual results – all things that will only make you feel better about what you’re getting yourself into.

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- who has written 346 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and book blogger, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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