Author Archives: amy

Kitchen Remodeling: How much SHOULD it cost?

house money images


The first two questions we usually get from new clients looking at kitchen remodeling is “How much is this going to cost” and sometimes “How much should this cost?”  At Teknika Design Group we start with the second question.  Why, because that is what determines if you will 1. Get money back for all your hard work and 2. Enjoy your new kitchen.

So how do you figure that out?  There are three facts and 1 intangible to look at.

The first guidance we give is what we hear from real estate experts,  kitchen remodeling should be between 10 and 20% of the value of the home.    The old adage is that you do not want the most expensive home in your neighborhood for resale, but neither do you want potential buyers to be scared away by a huge remodeling project.

The second fact to look at when making your budget decisions is how much others in your area spend.  The Remodeling 2013 Cost vs. Value Report at can help us with that information.  This report that comes out yearly and has 35 possible remodeling options divided up between midrange and upscale projects.

For kitchens there are midrange Major and Minor Kitchen remodels as well as upscale major kitchen remodels.  The definitions are all based on a 200 square foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops.  Here are the specifics:

Midrange Minor:   reface the cabinets, replace Formica countertops, low end appliances, hardware, sink and faucet.

Midrange Major:  semi-custom cabinets, laminate countertops, double stainless steel sink with single lever facet, midrange energy efficient appliances and new vinyl flooring.

Upscale Major:  custom cabinets with interior storage accessories, stone countertops, glass backsplash, high end appliances, under mount sink, high end faucet and filtration system, under cabinet lighting and new solid wood flooring.

So what are the average cost and resale values in the Philadelphia area?

                                             Cost                       Resale Value                     Cost Recouped

Midrange minor               $20,894                  $14,067                               67.3%

Midrange Major               $60,558                  $39,880                               65.9%

Upscale Major                  $116,836               $66,094                               56.6%


Another obvious question is how does kitchen remodeling compare with other renovations you can do on your home?  The highest cost recoup for the Philadelphia area was garage door replacement at 76.7%, then siding replacement (fiber/cement) at 74.6%.  The average was in the high 50%, low 60% range for cost recouped.  This means that kitchen midrange renovations are a good value.  However, if you want to go for the upscale major remodel you had better be sure you are in the 15% range of your home’s current value.

The final fact is how long you plan to remain in your home.  If you plan to stay in your house 5 years an upscale major remodel will cost you $10,148.40 per year.  If you plan to stay in your house another 20 years it will only cost you $2,537.10 per year.

The final factor, an intangible one that needs to be answered is what you need to enjoy your kitchen to the max.  Do you absolutely have to have the Subzero refrigerator with the Viking stove, the Miele dishwasher and custom cabinets.  If you are planning to stay in your home for 15 years it might be worth the cost.  Think how many times in those 15 years you will walk in the kitchen and go WOW.  So remember calculate the 3 facts of kitchen remodeling costs but spend time on the intangible factor as well.

Any questions let us know.  You can reach us by calling 215.922.4414 or by emailing me at .   If you want to see our portfolio of work, go to

Predictions for Philadelphia Kitchen Design

So what can we expect for Philadelphia kitchen designs in the next five years or so?  This is a major concern since most of us in the process of designing our kitchens expect to have them for at least the next five years.  We don’t want them to be dated before we even get them installed.  If my crystal ball is up to snuff this is what I will be talking about at Teknika Design Group in five years or so at .  So here are my best guesses for the coming years.

1.  Technology will continue to be a huge part of the evolving kitchen.  I think more and more kitchen cabinets, countertops, appliances will incorporate technology.  For example, countertops will automatically be able to pull up recipes and show them on the countertop instead of using a computer, Ipad or the really old fashioned way, a cookbook.  As a matter of fact, Microsoft Corporation already has a projection system that can put recipes on the countertop in their Microsoft home of the future.

countertop screen2.   As the economy continues to improve, we will see a return of more ornate kitchens.  Currently, Philadelphia kitchen design contains clean lines and simpler moldings and doors.   However, as individuals become fiscally more comfortable and the economy continues to improve (assuming it will), renovators will be more apt to spend more on their kitchens including more elaborate moldings and cabinetry.  This will include more glazes, sumptuous stains and unique wood veneers.



3.  Green will become a larger part of home renovators go to products.  This will become the norm for two reasons.  The first being that “green” products prices will come down.  Currently most green products are about 10-20% higher than their non-green counterparts.  This should change as technology improves and sales increase.  The second reason is that there will be more green options.  This includes everything in the kitchen from cabinetry to hardware and countertops.  This will be because manufacturers will automatically include green options in all their lines, again because volume will increase, prices decrease.   This will begin because one of the ways consumers will start spending their increased salaries will be on green options.


eco friendly kitchen

How confident am I that these predictions for Philadelphia kitchen designs will come true?  Pretty confident.  We know that technology will continue its march and start including more and more product categories.  Where I am not positive is that the economy will continue to improve.   However based on past history as to the cyclical nature of the economy, it is a pretty good bet.  To see current green products please go to Teknika’s products web page at  You can also see information on current ways to make your renovations “green” at

Newest Trends in Philadelphia Bathroom Remodeling

Everyone is always interested in the newest trends in Philadelphia Bathroom Remodeling.  Currently there are 3 trends we are seeing.  The first trend is already in Philadelphia, but the options continue to expand as the technology improves; this is the use of therapy in bathroom. The second and third trends have started in Europe, so we should be seeing them here in Philadelphia in the next year or so.  They are stacked vanities and strong colors in the bathroom, specifically lime green.

Technology in the bathroom includes color, water and sound therapies.  For a few years Philadelphia bathroom remodeling projects have been seeing chromatherapy which is color therapy.  Your tub or shower allows you to focus on one color or on multiple colors to invoke different moods, for example, green is calming and provides relief.  Chromatherapy is usually used with hydrotherapy.  Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, has been in use for years by physical therapists and now you can get the benefits at home.  It now involves more than just the shower head.  It can be the rain shower, body massage heads or the shower head with multiple stream choices.  In the tub it can be the choice of an invigorating massage tub, soothing air bubbles or even effervescent bubbles.  Finally, you can also have your choice of tunes in your bathroom.  Your music, podcasts, news can be played through your bathtub with your MP3, smartphone or tablet.  You can even have the water in your tub vibrate to the beat of the music.  How cool is that?   For more information on these bathroom therapies, Kohler’s website has some great examples at


Other trends in Philadelphia Bathroom remodeling are coming to us from Europe.  This includes the use of strong colors in the bathroom.  The most significant seems to be lime green.  We are seeing this in cabinets and in tile as well as paint color.  It is usually paired with white.


The final trend out of Europe is stacked vanities.  This takes the idea of a floating vanity one step further and actually separates the vanity and the sink.  The vanity can be directly under the sink or off to the side which than allows the vanity to double as a bench. For more ideas for your bathroom remodeling project please see Teknika’s website at  Or for any remodeling project you can find more information at


Color Trends in Kitchen Cabinets


What are the 2013 color trends for kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia?  There are actually the very same as the rest of the country.  In Philadelphia, we are sometimes just earlier adapters since we are a major city.  Larger cities and their environs always pick up on new trends faster than their country counterparts.  Below are the color trends in kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia. What is really interesting is that many of the trends in kitchens and baths are also seen in the major fashion magazines and on the runways of major clothing designers.

  1. Emerald.  This is an emerging trend meaning we are just starting to see it in kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia.  This was the pantone color of the year so we are seeing it in kitchens, bathrooms as well as in clothing.
  2. Tangerine.  This color trend has been around for about a year and is continuing.  Again this color is also big in fashion.
  3. Turquoise.  This is another emerging color trend.  This was the color of 2013 for a different color institute.
  4. Yellow.  This is a newer trend and is just starting to be seen in kitchens and baths.  Pale yellow walls have always been popular but now we are seeing a wider range of yellows on the walls and in cabinetry.
  5. Gray.  This trend has been around for at least 2 years and is expected to continue for at least another 5 years.  What is great is that gray in combination with emerald, tangerine, turquoises  and yellow looks wonderful
  6. Tangerine and Blue.  These colors are on opposite sides of the color chart and so they go great together.  This is an emerging trend and not for the faint of heart.

It depends on how fond you are of these colors for your kitchen as to how much of an investment you want to make in them.  Obviously the greatest investment is cabinetry followed by the backsplash, your appliances (often the range), then your paint color and finally just accents.  In your Philadelphia kitchen you have the option to use any of these color trends or none of them.  You can create your own color trends.  To see great examples of some of these trends for kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia please see our website at  or go to to see a great variety of options.


Kitchen Remodeling Design: Who do You Hire?


Who do you hire when you need a professional to do your kitchen remodeling design? Typically there are 4 possible options including architects, kitchen designers, interior designers and contractors.  Let us look at all the options in detail as to how each professional is in relation to doing kitchen remodeling design.




  • Understand how the kitchen fits in the whole house, including the architectural style
  • How door and replacement windows styles blend with house
  • If there are any issues with structural integrity, they can answer
  • Highly trained


  • Expensive
  • Not as experienced with the details of kitchen and bath design and products


Kitchen/Baths Designers (Educated Professionals)


  • Specialize in kitchen and bath design and products
  • Have special education in kitchen remodeling design
  • Can offer advice on all kitchen and bath products and often provide them
  • Able to manage renovation from start to finish, including construction so you don’t need to
  • Can be used as a check system to be sure construction is done well


  • Cost


Interior Designers (Educated Professionals)


  • Understand and can recommend comprehensive style for the entire house, including kitchen and bath
  • Can guide you through all your purchases for your home, often will go shopping with you
  • Knowledgeable about all possible styles and current trends


  • Cost
  • Do not specialize in kitchen or bath design or products
  • Often do not keep up with changes in technology in appliances and cabinetry storage options.


Contractors (Licensed)


  • If you are not planning to DIY it you will need a contractor and can just deal with one person on your entire project
  • Experts in construction
  • Many specialize in kitchen and baths
  • Can coordinate the renovation project (construction, deliveries etc.)


  • No specialized knowledge of kitchen and bath design or products, cannot recommend and narrow products for you
  • Do not have the resources to purchase products
  • Who will check to be sure the construction is up to code and deal with any issues with your contractor

As to a recommendation, I would hire an architect if your kitchen project involves structural changes.  A kitchen designer is necessary if you are doing any kind of kitchen renovation.  They can be a great value, even with the additional cost since they can save you thousands in design, product or construction mistakes.  Interior Designers are a great addition if you have other design projects to do in the house and finally a contractor will be necessary for your renovation.

To find out more information about kitchen remodeling design please see the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) website .  For further information kitchen remodeling, please see Teknika Design Group’s website . To see a recommended list of questions for kitchen designers see .

Tips for Philadelphia Bathroom Remodeling

Below are tips to make sure your Philadelphia bathroom remodeling project are trouble free.  If you need more information please go to our website .

  • Experts agree the place to start is with your budget.  In general you have 3 options, totally DIY, partial DIY and finally Expert only.  Each option gets progressively more expensive in terms of money but less so in terms of time and effort spent.  However, I think the real key is as you go from DIY to Expert, the risk of horrible mistakes becomes less, so be really honest with yourself.  How much if anything do you want to do, especially if you are doing a major remodel?


  • Your budget is also controlled by the scope of the project.  Again I like to say there are three possibilities.  There is the least expensive option which can make a big impact, changing just the hardware, wall color and maybe the fixtures such as the showerhead/tub and sink faucets.  The second level would be to change everything in the bathroom including the cabinetry, tile and plumbing fixtures such as the tub/shower and sink.  Finally the most expensive option would be to change everything and move it all around, which involves changing plumbing, electrical and even walls.


  • Items that are often overlooked in  Philadelphia bathroom remodeling or deemed unimportant  are:

1. Ventilation.   If your bathroom is not adequately ventilated it can get mold and mildew.  The size of your bathroom dictates the CFMs needed for your space.  See for more details.

2. Lighting can make a huge difference in the looks of your bathroom as well as how you enjoy your bathroom.  You will need dimmers to relax or brighter lights to shave or put on makeup.  To prevent shadowing of your face install lights at face level.


  • Another thing to think about when doing bathroom remodeling (any type of remodeling) is the environment.  Going green will help with utility bills (plumbing and lighting fixtures) and your breathing (low VOC paints).  It can be as simple as reusing a vanity to save more space in a landfill.


Hope this helps with the sometimes daunting challenge of Philadelphia Bathroom Remodeling.  To get an idea of style, please see the attached link to Teknika Design Group’s website,

Kitchen Cabinets in Philadelphia: What to Look For?

One of the problems in buying kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia or any other place is that it is tough to know what you are getting.  What is the difference between kitchen cabinets?  They look similar on the outside, but there is such a range of prices.

What makes up a cabinet can help guide us through the cost differences as shown by the illustration below.


Most of the cost of kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia is what the cabinet box is made of and most of the time it is engineered wood.  100% wood is not optimal since it expands and contracts with the moisture in the air which can cause warping.  Now there are all different terms for engineered wood: plywood, MDF, particle board to name a few.  None of them are better than the other.  What does make a difference is the grade of the engineered wood.  It can go anywhere from essentially paper and Elmer’s glue to furniture grade.  How do you tell, often the price will tell you.  The old adage, you get what you pay for often applies.  The exceptions to this rule are often the very high end, imported cabinets where you are paying for the name and the cost of importing to the US.

Another thing to look for which affects kitchen cabinet cost is the ability to customize sizing and type of cabinet.  The more you can customize the more expensive the cabinet.   Customization often means optimizing storage space and this is often one of the most important criteria for kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia.  Unfortunately our city kitchens are often small.

The rest of what makes up the expense of cabinetry are the door style, which cabinet manufacturers often charge extra for.   Do not forget the extras in the cabinet such as pullout drawers.  The hardware on the cabinet can also be an extra cost.  Excellent hardware such as those drawer glides and hinges made by Blum and Hafele have longer guarantees (often for life) and include automatic closing and full extension drawer glides.    Finally the finish of the cabinet, is it a stain, paint, special veneer.  This also affects the cost.

The easiest way to maneuver your way through this maze of kitchen cabinets in Philadelphia is to find an experienced designer.  They can better explain the differences between any kitchen cabinets you are interested in.  For questions to ask a potential designer, please refer to the list of questions on our website, .   If this article leads to more questions, please email me or post your question(s) on Teknika Design Group’s Facebook page:   To learn more about Teknika Design Group’s products please go to our website, .

How to Find Kitchen Remodelers in Philadelphia


image photo : Construction Contractor with Tape Measure


So how do you find reliable and cost efficient kitchen remodelers in Philadelphia?  There are a number of ways.  One obvious way is through referrals.  Who have your friends used and liked?  The pros of this method are that you will know that the kitchen remodelers in Philadelphia are at the very least courteous, timely and clean.   The con is that unless your referral has contracting knowledge you cannot be sure if the remodeler they hired knew what they were doing.  I have had friends who raved about their contractor but when I looked at their job the contractor had mangled their cabinets and did not know how to handle basic plumbing.   They ended up getting a subpar job and even though they were happy they might encounter problems sooner rather than later or the job took longer than it should have.

Another option is to go online and use a service such as Angie’s list  They have many kitchen remodelers in Philadelphia.  Here again, if the contractor got rave reviews at least you know that their service was timely, there were no obvious issues and they were courteous.  Again what makes me nervous is that the contractor could be great but who knows if they are hiring sub-contractors for jobs and if they are not rigorous in their hiring, who can say from job to job the experience will be the same.

My suggestion is when you are looking to hire kitchen remodelers in Philadelphia, I would ask if they use the same group of contractors or do they bid their jobs.  If the Architect/Designer uses the same group of contractors then they will have a lot more pull than you do to insure that each job is perfect to the trained and untrained eye.  Architects and designers are more experienced in their field inspections and can recognize if a job is taking too long or the work done is not up to par.  If this happens, they can usually rectify the situation without even bothering the homeowner.  Picking a contractor from a pool of contractors we use on a regular basis is what my company, Teknika Design Group does.  We have had to discontinue use of contractors if their standards slip, but overall since we give our contractors multiple jobs, they work hard to make us and our clients happy.

Having said that, I would still get recommendations and check the contractor’s record on line to make sure there are no consistently awful reports.    So while finding kitchen remodelers in Philadelphia is not easy, it pays to do your due diligence upfront.  Please go to for questions to ask a contractor.

Kitchen Remodeling Design Options: How To

How do you as a homeowner best prepare your kitchen remodeling design?  There are 2 ways:  you can do the design yourself or you can have a professional kitchen designer do the design for you.

To do your kitchen remodeling design yourself, there are numerous kitchen drawing programs on the web.  Some are free and others require an investment.  The free versions include Google Sketchup .  This program is relatively easy to learn but does not have the specialized tools needed to adequately design a functional kitchen.   Another free option is offered by retailers such as Ikea,  While this planner is better at designing a functional kitchen it is difficult to use.   The other drawback is that as a consumer you are limited to that retailer for purchasing your cabinets.  Among the pay for kitchen remodeling design software, SmartDraw  is popular and easier to use, with three options from $147 to $497.  It also provides its own “Dummies” book.

The second option is to have a professional kitchen designer execute your kitchen remodeling design.  The disadvantages to this option are that you can pay quite a bit more than you would on any software program and you will probably be obligated to buy the cabinets or at least the design from the designer.  The advantages are that if you go to an experienced designer (ask many questions before you commit), you will get a tailored kitchen remodeling design specifically for your taste.  For examples see .  A qualified, experienced designer will also take into account the cost of installation when doing the design and the guidelines set forth by the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) for a more user friendly kitchen.  It will also take a lot less time.  To see more about our design process go to .

What is the best way?  It comes down to budget.  If you can afford a professional kitchen remodeling design, then that is the way to go, both in terms or time management and mistake prevention.   However, if your remodeling project is on a very tight budget (less than $10,000 for the entire kitchen), I would start learning kitchen remodeling design software.