Oct 10, 2023
Episode: 26
Small Kitchen, Big Transformation

We are back with another episode of Remodeling Unscripted! In this episode, Geoff sits down to talk about one of his recent renovation projects — a small kitchen with big potential! From project timelines to wasted space, he hopes this episode provides beneficial insight for homeowners and remodelers as he dives into some of the lessons he learned along the way.

They say great things can come in small packages, and we couldn’t agree more! Over the years, we’ve done many large, gorgeous remodels throughout Central Indiana. While it is true that the big, beautiful projects often garner attention in areas like Carmel and Geist, our belief is that some of the most incredible transformations take place in the hidden gems. We once did an amazing bathroom renovation in downtown Danville. It wasn’t the most expensive project, but it produced phenomenal before and after pictures and provided modern amenities in the bathroom while keeping the original period-specific feel of the home.

Another area where we’ve done great projects is Irvington. This edgy little area on the near east side of Indianapolis has history. The homes have character. And, the homeowners love their neighborhood. They raise their families there and stay for years. I’ve found the same thing can often be said of the Broad Ripple, Meridian-Kessler and Butler-Tarkington neighborhoods.

Recently, we completed what some might characterize as a small kitchen renovation in Irvington. The transformation wasn’t small. It just so happens the footprint is on the smaller side. Today, we want to share with you 3 valuable lessons offered by this remarkable small kitchen renovation.

Episode 26 Project Story Before 1 Episode 26 Project Story After 1
Episode 26 Project Story Before 2 Episode 26 Project Story After 2
Episode 26 Project Story Before 3 Small Kitchen Refrigerator Setup | The Lifestyle Group
Episode 26 Project Story Before 4 Episode 26 Project Story After 4

LESSON 1: Projects don’t always come together overnight.

This project took 19 months from the initial conversations to signing a contract. Did we talk every day with the client throughout that time? Nope. We had extensive interaction in the first month and then again in the last month to pull it together. A good remodeling partner understands that the timelines of clients vary and that needs to be perfectly okay. Clients approach potential remodeling partners at different stages of their decision-making process. Some call in the early stages, just gathering information, while others have been planning for years and call when they are ready to go! I believe these clients were in the information gathering mode during round one of discussions and planning, however, when they came back for round two, they were ready to proceed with the project, and the intent was to finalize details.

We are not a high-pressure company, so your timing is our timing when it comes to moving forward with a project. In that spirit, we consider early project conversations to be like dating. You are just trying to figure out if you like us as a potential remodeling partner (… and we are trying to figure out if we like you as well because life is too short for a bad relationship – no matter how good the project!) Signing a contract is like getting married. At that point, the commitment is real, and you hope and expect you chose your partner well. (SIDE NOTE: The Lifestyle Group is a very safe bet in this regard and good remodeling partners across the country reveal their character in these situations.)

LESSON 2: Kitchen design matters

In small spaces, every inch is precious real estate. While it might be tempting to throw in cabinets without considering function, the best designers know that the aesthetics of a space should marry seamlessly with its functionality.

We recently installed a kitchen that was designed by others and the client said to one of our carpenters, “This kitchen is stupid. It looks beautiful, but it doesn’t make any sense.” That comment was made because the visuals won the war and function was sacrificed to accomplish the goal of looking pretty.

At The Lifestyle Group, when we engage in a design process, whether it be for a kitchen, a bathroom or an entire whole home renovation, the process is interactive with the client and function wins every time, unless the client chooses the visual element over function. We simply cannot stand the thought of spending all that money and not having the space operate exactly as you would want.

For the Irvington kitchen, we knew we were working with a small footprint, but wasted space was identified that was considered valuable real estate to capture. The client had a piece of furniture in this area before the renovation. The question was how do we make the most of the available space? Our answer was to get creative by utilizing the wasted space for pantry cabinet storage to the right of the ovens, thus creating a smaller walkway to the bathroom more than large enough for any traffic pattern. This creative solution was key to maximizing storage and improving function within the kitchen space.

We also identified an opportunity early in the design process to greatly enhance the cook zone by getting it out of the corner and relocating it to area where the refrigerator previously resided. This was a key decision to maximize the function of the space.

LESSON 3: Great product selections can make a space!

Good kitchen and bath designers have both an excellent eye and good taste, but the great designers are the ones who can apply those skills AND cater to the clients’ preferences. Today, clients have an abundance of inspiration from platforms like Houzz.com and Pinterest, which if used effectively can guide us in making suggestions and selections that resonate with their vision.

Sometimes, clients want little to do with the selection process as it overwhelms them. These clients might say something like, “Just give me 2 or 3 choices and I will pick one of them.” Others come to the project with a specific vision, just like Lara did for her Irvington kitchen. Her impeccable taste led directly to the choices of backsplash tile and lighting that became the “jewelry” of the project. In the very first visit to the home, we took pictures of the inspiration pictures she had on her phone for the lights and backsplash tile. (Yes, we actually took a picture of her picture that she had pulled up on the phone.) Those two elements came to life in the project many months later, highlighting how the right selections can elevate a small space.

Because the details matter, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the use of the two Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers and the stylish Brizo Solna Articulating Kitchen Sink Faucet.

In the end, what truly matters is a happy client thrilled with their newly renovated space. Small spaces can indeed undergo amazing transformations with the right partner to help you through the details.

We hope you enjoyed the insights we shared from this Indianapolis kitchen renovation project. If you have any questions about a remodeling project you are considering, feel free to reach out to discuss. We’re here to help you turn your remodeling dreams into reality… and answer the questions that will keep you out of trouble along the way!

Stay inspired,

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Remodeling Unscripted

A podcast for remodeling industry owners and homeowners. Geoff Horen, a home renovation expert, hosts the podcast, which includes real remodels, challenges, and talk. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts and YouTube.