The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

Follow my personal profile here on Google+ for LOTS of fresh content! Google+




Subscribe by Email


houzz interior design ideas

Follow on Bloglovin

Interior Design Blogs
Kitchen Design


Our webshop of handmade Scandinavian rugs and ceramics


Scandinavian inspired, warmly modern kitchens


Custom kitchen design by Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS

« The Secret To Making A Selection | Main | Beautiful Kitchens - Western Interiors »

Pardon My Dust - LA Times Remodeling Blog

I recently "met" (in a cyber sort of way) Kathy Price-Robinson, author of the blog, "Pardon Our Dust", seen in the LA Times. I was immediately struck by Kathy's "voice." It is a voice of reason in this wild and crazy world we call remodeling. It is a voice of knowledge about the remodeling process, which is exactly what Kathy Robinson-Price specializes in...the process. How to put one step in front of the other, to survive the remodeling process (intact.) Kathy talks about what consumers need to know, and interestingly, what they don't. I like Kathy's take on the process. She knows her stuff, and she pulls no punches! It's my pleasure to introduce you to Kathy Price-Robinson. Thanks, Kathy!

1. OK, I'm curious, why remodeling? Where did your knowledge or experience come from?

I started writing about houses as a fluke when another reporter at the Santa Barbara News-Press hated his assignment to write about a house a week and he asked me to take over the assignment. I love, love, love going into people's homes and writing about them. I wrote a weekly series for the News-Press for seven years (that's 350 houses!) and then moved my series to the L.A. Times in 1997. As for my experience, I'm a writer first, and a remodeling specialist second. I did grow up around construction as all my relatives were in “the trades,” such as plastering, lathing, masonry and carpentry.

remodeling.jpg 2. What do you want consumers to know about remodeling kitchens?

As you mentioned in your intro, I'm into the process of the remodel and helping people get through it. While an expert like you can help with layout and product selection, I like to help people understand that remodeling a kitchen is the most difficult, complex project there is. Perhaps because I am so into food, I want people to take more care when they figure out how they will survive without a kitchen for weeks or months at a time. How will they cook? How will they clean? Where will the refrigerator be? You cannot live on granola bars for two months. You need to eat fresh, nutritious foods, especially during the stress of a kitchen remodel. I think if people took better care of their needs during a remodel, they would have fewer emotional, mental and physical meltdowns during the process.

3. How should consumers put together/hire a team...architect, contractor, kitchen designer, interior designer?

For a kitchen, I suggest that the architect, contractor and kitchen designer work hand-in-hand from the very beginning. So many problems start during the “hand-off” from designer to contractor, and it doesn't have to be like that. The worst way to go about it, in my opinion, is to get bids on a completed design. What you could end up doing, if you are looking for the lowest bid, is hiring the company who left the most things out of the bid, only to add them in later as “change orders,” which will increase the costs. The better way is to decide the team you want to work with, and work with them from the beginning.

4. How can conflicts be avoided?

Communication is the key. Every meeting and phone call between homeowners and their team should be documented. Take notes. I also like the idea of a jobsite notebook where all notes are kept and the team members can leave notes for each other. Also, I suggest that homeowners get out and see all the materials they can in advance. Go to tile stores, and carpet stores, and kitchen shops. Plus, get a stack of magazines and ponder which kitchens you love and which you don't. You'll start to notice common denominators. From my experience, the homeowners who are happiest with their finished kitchen remodels are the ones who did the most upfront research.

Kitchen%20Remodeling%202.jpg 5. How involved should the homeowners be in the process, once it gets going? Can/should they just leave it all up to the experts?

That's a tricky question. It depends on how many issues remain unresolved when construction begins. A kitchen remodel typically requires so many decisions, and homeowners are not usually able to make all of them up front. If there is a well-thought-out list of deadlines for those decisions to be made — color selections, fixtures, etc. — and the homeowner sticks to the schedule, the job goes smoother. Some homeowners like to be involved and some want the pros to take over. I’d say it depends on the team.

6. What are your thoughts on green design/building?

I love this topic and we all must figure out a way to live sustainably. That means that we meet our own needs while not compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Obviously we cannot continue to pour pollutants into the air, water and land forever. We once thought the planet could take whatever we threw at it, but now we see that's just not true. Even in the farthest reaches of the wilderness, we find human-created pollutants have a negative effect on wildlife.

In kitchens, there are many ways to design and build green. We should probably not take as many items to the landfill, so items in the old kitchen should be retained when possible, or reused (old cabinets used in the garage are a great example), or recycled or given away. Then, you want to design the kitchen in a way that cuts down on the need for artificial light in the daytime, and that conserves water. And the materials that are “resource conservative,” as some in the green building field like to call it, are growing in number all the time. You can get some exciting counter materials, flooring, cabinets. And of course, we should all be using compact fluorescent bulbs, if only because they need changing so infrequently. I'm all for that.

7. What other projects are you involved in? Where else can we get a little bit of your wisdom?

Thanks for this interview, Susan. It has been fun. I think my blog is the best place to access my work. I do have a website, www.kathyprice.com, but I don't update it as often as I should. But that's my goal for 2008!


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (16)

Everyone hears about the chaos of remodeling - my suggestion is to set realistic expecations and timetables for completion. Use the 1.5 factor - it will cost more than you think, it will take longer than you think and some things will have to be done more than once. You'll have an easier time dealing with any issues that arise if you are realistic. I wholeheartedly agree with Kathy that communication is the key - not only with the contractor and workers, but with your spouse and family too! Remodeling costs are the best investment you can make for your home for long term value.

Richard Maize
Beverly Hills, CA

November 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Maize

Richard, you have a great point there. I will say that everyone, bar none, spends more than they think they will, and part of that is because once they get into the "world" of remodeling and discover new products and materials, the budget can expand. It happens to everyone.

And, yes, communication is the key, well put. A little patience, and some humor, helps too, I think. :)

November 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Thanks for the great interview and write-up, Susan. I hope your readers understand how lucky they are to have all your kitchen wisdom day after day. Your blog is a well of ideas and suggestions, and I visit often to get ideas for my own blog. I hope you don't mind! So, thanks again! And happy blogging.

November 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Price-Robinson

Kathy, thank you for that lovely compliment. I feel the exact same way about your blog. It's so reader-friendly, provocative, interesting, all good things. See you around soon!

November 4, 2007 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

This is a must read for anyone about to start remodeling their kitchen!

December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChainsaws

hpoefully its still her goal to update her blog for the year 2009!

December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterInsinkerator

i remember when my house looked like that... glad that is over and i can finally live in my home :)

January 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterInsinkerator

Also along the lines of "going green" in the kitchen. When we remodeled our kitchen we went with all Energy Star approved Bosch Appliances and we couldn't of been happier with the decision. They had the highest Energy Star ratings and we wanted to be as eco friendly as possible. Anyways, just wanted to add that, thanks for the good read.

Wow! I was truly entertained and educated by this interview you conducted with Kathy Price-Robinson.

I truly appreciate this post. This really informs consumers on what to expect during a kitchen remodel project. The more informed a consumer is, the better things are communicated and executed the project at hand.

March 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHawthorn, Inc.

As a retired contractor I appreciate this post. Most peaople dont understand the difficulties of a remodel. It's nice to have someone lay it out for them.

March 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

A remodel is not difficult if you have proper planning and know how to build. A lot of contractors don't get it.

Making a few changes to your storage space can really make a difference. I got really sick of looking at my old cabinets and closets. I also found that with our growing family we needed more storage space. So I needed to make the most out of different spaces in the kitchen, pantry and my young boys’ closets. Quite an operation, really. A mother of one my boy's friend had just got her boys' closet altered. I went around and had a look. I must say, he didn't have much space but they had really done well making the most out of it. So I contacted Closet & Storage Concepts, who they used, to see what they could do. It worked out great. We got a free consultation, altered some empty spaces into shelves and drawers, and re-organized the pantry with a few alterations. I recommend you visit their website, at www.closetandstorageconcepts.com for great ideas into re-modeling your kitchen pantry and storage spaces.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterClosets - Closet Systems

As a contractor, I have performed many kitchen remodels and all of these tips are things that contractors and home owners need think about during the remodeling process.

You want to keep contact with your client and contractor and make sure the job is being performed up to expectations.

December 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Wow, informative post! You even provide us some insights on green design, which I think, should be given much regard these days. This has been very helpful, thanks.

October 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterQueenie Michelle

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>