When we first met Betsy and Jim Andrews in Jersey City, NJ, their kitchen was in major need of renovation. Although their charming, 116-year-old home had a lot of character, the kitchen hadn’t been updated since 1956. This meant that both aesthetically and functionally, it was time for a revamp. But they faced one major dilemma - they had no idea where to start.
Life Before the Renovation
Before the renovation, the Andrews' canary yellow countertops and wall oven screamed 1950s. The kitchen didn’t reflect their style or taste and also lacked functional features like a center island for prepping food and entertaining. As a couple who loved to cook and entertain, a low power, four burner cooktop was simply not enough.
They knew they wanted to renovate their kitchen, but first had to figure out their budget and living arrangements during the project. Thankfully, because they were only renovating the kitchen, the Andrews weren't displaced during the project. However, they did find themselves ordering out for dinner more often.
Betsy and Jim also had a realistic budget in mind given the size of their project. They established from the beginning that they didn't want to spend over $100,000 in total.
After speaking with several friends who had recently completed renovation projects of their own, Betsy knew it was time to start compiling ideas. She was inspired by many of her friends' renovation projects in New York City, and knew she wanted a modern look in her own kitchen - stainless steel appliances, quality white cabinets, and light colored accents.
“I had no idea where to start actually,” Betsy said. “I knew that I wanted to have really nice finishes in here, and so the first thing I started searching for was appliances."
After speaking to some of the designers who had worked on her friends' kitchens, Betsy learned that most designers recommend choosing your appliances before doing anything else. This allows the designer to work around your favorite appliances, instead of having to settle on appliances simply because they fit into the space.
Knowing that they weren't quite ready to hire a designer, Besty and Jim started their search for appliances. This is when we first met them.
Selecting the Appliances
After seeing their friends’ Miele and Bosch appliances, the Andrews knew they prefered the sleek and modern look of European products. They also appreciated the wide range of functions available with high-end appliances.
When beginning their search for appliances, Besty and Jim first had to think about both their wants and needs. Because the Andrews love to entertain and have guests over, having high-capacity appliances that could cook multiple dishes at once was important to them. This led them to explore appliances like a gas stove, steam oven, and 6 burner professional stove.
And with the new open concept floor plan on their mind, the Andrews also knew their dishwasher had to be quiet enough that it would not disturb them as they relaxed in the living room.
After seeing photos of seamless kitchens designs, the couple also chose to opt for a built-in, panel-ready refrigerator. This would make the refrigerator look more like a cabinet than an appliance. To add a focal point to the space, Betsy knew she wanted a stainless steel range hood that would catch the eye of her guests.
One amenity Betsy and Jim knew they wanted from the very beginning was a high-quality coffee maker. As coffee connoisseurs, they wanted to be able to skip the trip to their local coffee shop in the morning and enjoy a quality cup of their favorite drink from the comfort of their own home.
After seeing the appliances in person and learning about the features of each one, the couple fell in love with the style and functionality of Miele.
But Betsy wasn't only looking at the appliances when she visited showrooms and shopped online. She also took notes on things like countertops, cabinetry, and backsplash design.
Building the Team
Now that Betsy and Jim had chosen their appliances, they were able to circle back to their friends to find a designer that matched their vision. After talking with the Andrews, the designer was able to help them make aesthetic choices like flooring and countertop type, a new backsplash, and the wall color.
Small remodels typically only require a cabinet maker and a trip to an appliance store to get the job done. But because the Andrews decided to go with a full remodel, they needed the help of a contractor to tear down walls and create the open concept kitchen they were looking for.
However, because the Andrews didn't know where to start in terms of hiring a contractor, they asked for our help in hiring a qualified professional. Based on the scope of the project and their design preferences, we recommended AD Home Improvements.
The contractor obtained the necessary permits for the walls that needed to be torn down, and organized a team to move the sink, dishwasher, and all relevant plumbing and electrical lines. This took a lot of the stress of the project off of Betsy and Jim, as they knew their contractor would be able to put together a great team to get the job done.
Breaking Ground on the Renovation
Armed with lots of inspiration and a great team, Betsy and Jim were finally able to break ground on the kitchen remodel. As each wall came down, the couple was able to more clearly envision the end result. Throughout the renovation, Betsy and Jim began to picture what life would look like when the project was finally done.
Life After the Renovation
Overall, the entire renovation took about six months from start to finish. However, the kitchen was worth the wait and greatly improved the Andrews' quality of life.
Because Betsy and Jim love to entertain, many of the amenities they chose reflect their love for gatherings. For example, they’ve already made good use of their 36 inch Miele range, which allows them to cook big meals for guests with the extra large space. They also enjoy the champagne bucket, which sits to the right of their Franke sink.
But their favorite appliance of all? The Miele coffee maker they had so eagerly awaited before the renovation. “When I get up in the morning, it’s the very first thing that gets turned on in this house,” Betsy said. “Even before a light."
Aside from the new appliances, the kitchen itself became much more functional and inviting after the remodel. Instead of a room meant purely for cooking, the kitchen became the life of the party.
The Bottom Line
When asked what advice they had for others who were at the beginning of the renovation process, Betsy stressed the value of research and knowing what you want. Magazines, social media, and friends’ kitchens are great places to draw inspiration from when starting to think about your remodel.
The couple also highlighted the importance of building a strong team that can bring your dream to life. The more you're able to openly communicate with your designer and contractor, the closer the end result will be to your vision.
At the end of the day, this renovation was born out of the Andrews' want to entertain in and enjoy their space. However, as circumstances changed, Betsy and Jim decided to sell their Jersey City home in 2020. The couple's charming home sold for well over asking price...in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The renovation came at the perfect time, as it allowed the couple to enjoy their new space, and also increased their home value when they decided to make the move to the suburbs. The remodel gave the Betsy and Jim peace of mind in knowing that interested buyers wouldn’t be scared away by outdated appliances and canary yellow countertops.
"I'm so glad we decided to go through with the remodel," Jim said after selling the home. "It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it in the end."
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