Category Archives: Kitchen and Bath Advice

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

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.



Living in your small Philadelphia kitchen

yellow kitchenThe typical Philadelphia kitchen is small, on average less than 10 square feet. So how do you make the most of this space?

The most obvious solution is to use every inch. The most efficient way is to redo your kitchen to have a professional kitchen designer lay it out with special attention to storage. However, if you are not planning on spending $10,000+, what are your options? You can still retrofit your old cabinets with great new storage options. Here are some ideas:

1. Pull out shelves. While technically these might use up more space than plain shelves, the ability to see what is in the back of the shelf overrides this negative. You can’t use what you can’t remember you had.
2. Trash bins in the cabinet. Many of us can’t take a cabinet and make it a combination recycling and trash cabinet, however, we may not be utilizing our under sink storage. You can put a rollout bin to the side of the pipes and make it easier to hide the trash.
3. Many kitchens have dead spaces in the corners. If you are lucky enough to have a cabinet that extends into that area, many manufactures offer up the option of putting in pullout shelves to better use that space. Again if you can see it and get at it, the more likely you will be to use it.
4. There are about 10-20 different ways you can divide up a drawer. Look at each of your drawers and decide what you want in it and there is a special insert to better store those objects, from cutlery, knife blocks, plates to pots and pans.
5. Spices are hard to keep organized. This can be done with a drawer insert or attachment to the door of a cabinet. If you have an entire cabinet devoted to spices, try a pullout (I love pullouts in case you have not realized).
6. Another underutilized space in your kitchen is the backsplash. Instead of putting your cooking utensils in a jar on the counter or in a valuable drawer, consider investing in a backsplash system that hangs them up. Many systems also have places for knives, spices etc.

Now I have just touched on a number of possible ways to perk up your storage space in our “cozy” Philadelphia kitchens. To get more ideas please go to these manufacturers’ websites. These are the ones we use and know they are cost effective and reliable. Hafele is an upper price point with metal and wood finishes, . Rev-a shelf has a lower price and finishes more likely in heavy duty plastic, One final option is Richelieu that is another moderately priced option,

If you have any questions, please let us (Teknika) know…call us, email, facebook, or comment here. We like to be reachable.

How Much Will That Philadelphia Kitchen Cost? Step 1.

By Amy Meade of Teknika Design Group                 February 27, 2012

house money images

A big chunk of the cost is up to You.  What do you need?

Because there are so many elements, products and aspects to a Philadelphia Kitchen remodel, basically so much of everything, budgeting can be difficult. However the true secret is to start with you.

The first step on the way to your new Philadelphia kitchen is to determine realistically what type of consumer you are. We all know there are tradeoffs between sweat equity and dollar outlay and a Philadelphia kitchen renovation is no different.  We all want to be sure that we get the most for our money so you need to know yourself first.  Read the descriptions below and see where you fit.  You might need to adjust your budget expectations, but in order to get the best Philadelphia kitchen for you, with the least amount of stress, you need to be honest with yourself.   Each of these categories has their own pros and cons, there is no right or wrong. However by figuring out who you are early in your kitchen renovation process, time and money will be saved in the long run.  There are three aspects to a Philadelphia kitchen remodel and consumers contemplating this need to decide which they want to do and in which step if any, they want to hire professionals to complete.  These steps are: 1. Design, 2. Project management 3. Construction.  All of these steps overlap and they need to be well integrated.

So what type of Philadelphia Kitchen Consumer are you? 

The first type is the DIY (Do it yourselfer) – Your have the skills to design manage and install the entire Philadelphia kitchen project.  You also have the time to perfect those skills that might need a little tweaking.  You enjoy searching the internet for information on products and going to stores to find out all you can about what is the right product at the right price for you.  You are not fazed by the risks of doing it all by yourself or the increased time it will take to do the design and construction by yourself.   The challenge of getting it right the first time moves you.  You will design your Philadelphia kitchen project, buy the materials and furnish most, if not all, the labor. Organization is the key for you.


  • You will save about  5-30% of the non installation project cost in not hiring a designer
  • You will save about 10-20% of the installation cost by not hiring a project manager
  • You will save about 25-35% of the construction cost by not hiring a professional contractor.



  • It will take you longer to complete the project (on average 75% longer).
  • Your design will not have the benefit of a professional’s training or experience which could add your project’s cost.
  • You will need to wear 2 hats while installing, the contractor and the project manager which can be complicated and time consuming.


The second category is the BYOC (Be your own contractor) – You do not know how to design your Philadelphia kitchen, nor do you want to learn.  However, you love to gets your hands dirty.  You want to do the installation. You have either done a Philadelphia kitchen installation before or you have helped all your friends.  You will also act as your project manager since your organizational skills are tip top.  You will be the contractor and the project manager on your Philadelphia kitchen project. You will make all other decisions and purchase all products.  You will also get the bids for those parts of the job you cannot do (such as the countertop or even the electrical or plumbing) and you will manage those subcontractors while on the job.



  • Depending on the designer you choose, you will get the benefit of their education and experience so the quality of your design will most likely match your needs.
  • You will save about 10-20% of the installation cost by not hiring a project manager
  • You will save about 25-35% of the cost of hiring a professional contractor.



  • It will take you longer to complete the project (on average 50% longer).
  • You will need to wear 2 hats while installing, the contractor and the project manager which can get complicated and time consuming.


The final category is the HAP (Hire all professionals) – You have no desire or time to attempt to do the design, project management or construction on your Philadelphia kitchen project.  You believe that these are complicated jobs best left to professionals.  Selecting a professional firm or individual to be responsible for your project is a big decision; you are going to be “living” together for quite some time. Many Philadelphia kitchen design firms are able to do not only the design, but the project management and the construction.  Make sure you research and interview several. Just because your neighbor or family member chose someone does not mean their choice would be a good fit for you. All professionals have strengths and weaknesses so find out all you can. Inquire about the size and scope of their previous projects and check out the references provided. Be clear about your expectations and assess if they can realistically be met. Ask open-ended questions and assess the responses. You can also split the tasks between a design firm and a contractor you know.  Be sure to make it clear who will be doing the project management.  Do not assume the contractor will be since his job is to install, it will take his time to make sure all the subs (countertops, glass, tile etc) are delivered on time and deal with any changes that might happen.  Some contractors are skilled at this and others, it just adds to the time it takes to get the project done.



  • Because you are hiring professionals you should save in time and even money because the designer will be able to point you in the direction of a product that will save money and still serve its required purpose.
  • The design will be as you want it and should be easy to adapt to from the first day.
  • The construction should go smoothly as the project manager and contractor work together, especially if they have done so before. This is the benefit of hiring the design firm to do it all.
  • The time involved with the entire job should be significant.  It can take as little as 6 weeks from demolition to putting your plates in your new cabinets.



  • You will spend anywhere from 10-60% more by hiring professionals.  However you will probably save in money on individual products as the professionals can point out savings you would not know.



Based on an article by Max Isley on December 01, 2011,