Reston Town Center Kitchen Makeover Part 2:  When Best Laid Plans Go Awry

Reston Town Center Kitchen Makeover Part 2: When Best Laid Plans Go Awry

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Before embarking on any kitchen remodeling project, I caution my clients to prepare themselves mentally for unexpected glitches because, as the Scottish Poet Robert Burns has observed, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

I have yet to see a kitchen remodeling project that progressed 100% as planned, with no errors, miscalculations, mishaps or delays between the time the homeowner signs off on the kitchen design plans and project completion. Inevitably, there comes a point when I am reminded of another saying: “the road to good intentions is paved with hell.”

Remodeling “Hiccups”

Homeowners who accept that they will endure some degree of hell while their kitchen is being torn apart and made over can spare themselves unnecessary anxiety, panic, and sleepless nights during the remodeling process.

Our recent Reston Town Center kitchen remodeling project offers a case example of the kinds of things that can go wrong in the course of creating a beautiful kitchen that is a delight to live in and cook in. This was a complicated remodeling project that experienced its share hiccups and mistakes that we have successfully resolved. On a side note, I am happy to report that, despite the glitches and trials we encountered during the course of this project, our client’s neighbor was so impressed with the way this kitchen turned out that she immediately engaged us for her own kitchen design and remodeling project.

Human Errors Are To Be Expected

In this case, several independent and unrelated incidents contributed to construction delays. The list below is not meant to point fingers or blame anyone but rather to point out that all involved are human and, despite our best intentions, human errors are bound to occur in complex construction projects.

  1. The homeowner changed her mind about her initial under-cabinet lighting selection, after seeing another option she liked better during the kitchen demolition,
  2. Backordered decorative cabinet hardware,
  3. Cabinet installer mistake,
  4. Cabinet manufacturer mistake,
  5. Conflicting instructions from the Building Inspector and the Fire Marshall regarding the relocation of the existing sprinkler system, which was required due to the ceiling reconfiguration,
  6. My not being a bit more persistent in ensuring critical decisions were made on time,
  7. My not insisting more emphatically that the client’s request to change a particular design element would certainly present a problem for her later (i.e. I would have had to debate it strongly with her to make my point.)

Adjusting Manufacturer’s Specs

This homeowner insisted that the range hood bottom be placed 30″ above the cooktop, as recommended by the manufacturer. Although I always attempt to follow manufacturers’ specifications, to a “T”, I advised her — based on my own professional experience — that it would be better to place the hood somewhere between 33” and 36” (69” to 72” above the floor) to prevent taller people, such as herself and her husband, from banging their heads on the hood while cooking. She believed the manufacturer’s specifications should be followed. I relented and went with what she wanted.

Sure enough, after the hood was installed, she realized the wisdom of my original advice when she could not avoid bumping her head on the hood while cooking. Fortunately, we were able to raise the hood “box” up 3″ but that created a new requirement to shorten the panel above the mantel since the original panel was now too tall.

Pennville Cabinetry remade the panel (at an additional cost to the client) but now they made a mistake on the width. The purchase order and paperwork were correct, so I don’t know how that mistake occurred. Nevertheless, Pennville had to remake the hood panel a third time to get it right! 

This, Too, Shall Pass

This case example illustrates how kitchen remodeling projects can turn into a comedy of errors despite the best preplanning. The more complicated the project, the more likely it is that mistakes will happen — especially during the spring and summer “high season” for remodeling and everyone is working at full throttle to get the work completed on time. However, I can assure you that in all cases “this, too, shall pass.”

Here is one photo of where we were just five days after the cabinets were delivered. It shows Florian, the granite fabricator, measuring and templating the countertop.


Reston VA kitchen remodeling

As you can see, the hardwood floor has not been sanded or finished yet. Finishing hardwood floors should always be left to the end to avoid damaging them when appliances and cabinetry are brought in and installed.
You will note that the refrigerator (left) is installed, waiting for its matching cabinet door panels and handle. The decorative hardware had not arrived yet. The client and I agreed it would be best to look at sample hardware on site, after the cabinets were installed, to confirm her selection. That’s why the refrigerator panel is “off” for the time being.

Below are photos from early May.


reston-kitchen-makeover



kitchen tile backsplash

The floors have been sanded and finished—ergo the brown paper “protection” with blue tape on the floor. Tile and countertops are in; the countertop also had to be “lifted” up to the second floor with a crane. It was a bit nerve-wracking because this particular piece was very long, had a sink cut out in it, and also had radius curve opposite the sink cut out. A treacherous endeavor, but the crew was successful.

Decorative hardware was in. You will note that the refrigerator panel is not. We had a bit of a hiccup here; one of the installers drilled the hardware incorrectly so we had to send it back to Pennville. Cabinetry. (This is a reality in kitchen installation. It happens to everyone, especially when you have a crew that is truly task oriented.) Luckily, Pennville was able to repair it and ship it back within two weeks.

We are waiting for a few more pieces of molding we decided to add to polish off the final “look”. Stay tuned for final photos of this project, coming soon.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Reston Town Center Kitchen Remodel

Reston Town Center Kitchen Remodel

How do we get those cabinets and appliances up those very narrow stairs?

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designs, Northern VirginiaSeveral weeks ago I blogged about how to pick finishes for a kitchen. The kitchen referenced in that article is located in a large 4-story townhome right next to Reston Town Center in Northern Virginia. This townhome has extremely narrow staircases that do not easily accommodate the 100” tall oven and Sub Zero refrigerator cabinets the client wanted so that the kitchen could be “all that it can be”.

If you do not think ahead about entry and exit points for the delivery of new kitchen appliances, you can become quite unnerved on the day they arrive!

Thankfully, our careful advance planning prevented a panic attack.

Delivery Day

The cabinetry for this kitchen had been ordered 12 weeks earlier. Finally, the “big” day — delivery day -— arrived. I left early in the morning to drive directly to Reston, Virginia to meet the Pennville Custom Cabinetry truck and Brannock Built contracting crew.

Pennville Custom Cabinetry truck

Pennville Custom Cabinetry truck

Upon my arrival, the Pennville truck was there. It was a generous 43-foot-long tractor trailer truck equipped with “air ride” technology to ensure a safe, smooth, and secure ride for the kitchen cabinetry inside.

The first few cabinets were unloaded off of the truck. As expected, each was wrapped carefully with a its own blue quilted blanket for additional protection during transport. Nevertheless, as the cabinets were unloaded I still braced myself for possible damage just before examining them (a normal OCD trait of mine).

Thankfully there was no need to worry — after all, this was top-of-the-line Pennville Custom Cabinetry! Pennville cabinets take longer to engineer and build (right now, a 12 week lead time), but in the end, when you run your hands over the finish and view them in the sunny daylight, their exceptional high-quality construction makes them worth the wait. Pennville goes the extra mile to ensure that each cabinet is dimensionally correct and exemplary in its final form. In my experience, I have never seen a cabinet company with such high quality control standards. For discerning clients, Pennville cabinetry is always my top recommendation.

forklift

Forklift

So what came next? Well we knew that most of the cabinets could fit easily into the narrow stairway up to the kitchen. For the larger cabinets and 42″ Sub Zero refrigerator, we had planned to use a different, albeit unconventional, means to transport these into the client’s home. We used a fork lift-—this exact one:


Lazy Susan transport

Lazy Susan transport

The one cabinet we did not anticipate needing a forklift delivery method was…the square corner lazy susan! Glad we were prepared.

sub zero in windowNext, we brought in the Sub Zero refrigerator. Yes, it came in through that window.

Other large cabinets making their way through the window....

Other large cabinets making their way through the window….

Plus a few other cabinets . . .

These pictures document our how our advance planning prevented last-minute delivery issues. We examined all the steps and logistics that could present a problem during delivery, and by doing so, we were able to carry out this phase of the kitchen remodel successfully and with minimal stress.

Here is the contractor, Guy Brannock who, after everything made its way into the house, is very happy that all of our preparation paid off. Bravo Guy!

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished!


Stay tuned for the next phase: the installation process.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Selecting Kitchen Finishes: Which Comes First, Cabinet Color,  Countertop or  Tile Backsplash ?

Selecting Kitchen Finishes: Which Comes First, Cabinet Color, Countertop or Tile Backsplash ?

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

I liken the title of this article to the chicken or the egg proverb. During the remodeling process, most meticulous homeowners become stuck during the finish selections process. They assume there is a rigid mathematical formula that will deliver one indisputably correct solution to selecting the best cabinet, countertop and tile backsplash finishes.

There is a formula, but it is not rigid. It requires the homeowner to simultaneously “let go” while participating and seeking out lots of visual stimuli to achieve the desired end result.

 

Case Example

The story of my very discerning client, Kris, is a perfect case example.

Some history: I have known Kris for three years. Previously, she had engaged me for her master bathroom remodel which was completed early last year. She called me late last summer to say she was ready to redo her kitchen. She has a very high IQ and is extremely focused on all the details. She asks a lot of questions and challenges me on almost every suggestion I give her. She is my ideal client.

Our first design meeting took place on a beautiful sunny September day. While she and I sat in her kitchen, we explored her “inspirational” collection of magazine kitchen photos. Most of them had white cabinetry. You can imagine my surprise when she turned to me and stated, most emphatically: “I know everyone is doing white painted kitchens, and they are nice, but I don’t want to do white in mine. I want wood. What do you think?”

I pondered this question for 10 seconds, trying to sort out the contradictory message between the photos and her statement. I suggested that we explore both.

My theory behind the suggestion? When my client is on one side of the fence and may need to go the other side later (even if they think otherwise), it is always best see the both views from “each side of the fence.”

Since stained wood cabinetry was foremost on her mind (or was it– in light of all the pictures she collected?), we examined this option first. She did not want Maple (“too blah”). Cherry or Lyptus could be in the running as long as they avoided red tones. Walnut was also possible if it wasn’t too strong in its grain variation (unlikely).

Exploring Wood Stain Finishes

I pulled out my Pennville Custom Cabinetry sample blocks of Cherry, Lyptus, and Walnut stains. We concluded that:

  1. Cherry, definitely too red or if not too red, too dark.
  2. Ditto for the Lyptus.
  3. Walnut with a natural stain had the right tonality but the grain variation needed to be seen in full door sample.

Exploring Door Styles

cabinetry door styles and finishes

Brussels (L) and Helsinki (R) door styles

Next step: we chose the door style. It was a toss-up between the Brussels (left) and the Helsinki (right). The Helsinki style won because it had a little extra rail and stile detail that suggested “less transitional and more classic” in style.

Since we already had in hand the Helsinki door in the Cottonball paint that she would commit to above any other “white” paint, we only needed to order the same door in Walnut Natural stain.

Two weeks later, the Walnut door sample arrived (see below).

Conclusion: although the Walnut stain would work with her wood floor, the wood specie itself was too variable in its grain for Kris’ taste.

Cottonball paint became the hands down obvious winner. (See how quickly someone can jump — without hesitation — to the other side of the fence after this tried and true exercise?)

 

walnut door sample

Walnut Door Sample

One empty box was now successfully “checked”. Now onto the other selections: countertop and tile.

Which Comes First: Countertop or Backsplash?

Kris’ intro to our next meeting was in the form of another question: “Now, what am I going to do about the countertop? There are so many choices! How am I going to decide? And which comes first, the countertop or the backsplash?”

Here is where I want to emphasize something very important about the design process: Note Kris’ question “how”. The answer is: you have to let it “flow” by allowing yourself to become inspired by something you see.

Apropos of this philosophy, I replied, “No worries. Let us take the sample door to Marble Systems (a large granite and marble wholesaler in Northern Virginia ) and find out what inspires you.”

Amarone Granite

Amarone Granite

We met there a few days later, and explored every row of granite. We documented the slab names that caught our attention and inspired her. We then revisited each slab two more times, eliminating our “least favorites” or — with my input — ruling out those slabs that would not work. We finally narrowed it down to Amarone. We contacted our fabricator, Granite Design, and purchased three slabs to be stored until we needed them for install. Second box checked.

Selecting Tile for the Backsplash

Our next foray was into the world of tile for Kris’ backsplash. We went to a large tile showroom in Fairfax to scope out stone, porcelain, and ceramic. We brought with us the cabinet door and a slice of the Amarone granite. We spent a solid 3 hours looking, comparing, discussing, and envisioning possible combinations. The closest we came to finding something Kris liked was a crackle ceramic tile. Its texture felt right, but not the color. More disappointing: the palette of colors for this brand was limited. None worked.

At this point, some may think that this situation meant we were at an impasse and there was reason to become concerned. Not me. I saw this particular chapter as an important step in the right direction. Unfortunately, I could tell Kris did not see things the same way. She was frustrated and exasperated. She commented, “Oh no, I probably shouldn’t have picked this granite. It is doesn’t work easily with any tile!”

I replied, “No, not at all, this is sometimes the bump in the road we have to get over. We just haven’t found the right tile — yet.”

(Actually the term for finding the right tile is what I call the “it” factor”. We had not found “it”. But in my mind’s eye, I knew what would work — we just had to find “it”. For now, the box remained “unchecked”.)

We departed, and I suggested we let everything “percolate” until the next day.
I arrived home in the evening. In typical obsessive compulsive fashion, I opened my desktop’s web browser and typed in “crackled ceramic tile”. Within minutes, I found a place called The Complete Tile Company in New York City that offered a line called Vermeere Ceramics. I viewed the almost infinite color palette of the line. Now I knew it was just a matter of time before we found “it”.

Now, you may not believe in synchronicity, but I do. Ironically, that same evening, Kris sent me an email about one of her “inspire” photos, which I had not seen. The tile backsplash in the photo was by Encore Ceramics. More sleuthing confirmed that Encore could be sourced by Architectural Ceramics and it was essentially the same as the Vermeere collection I saw. We could get what we needed in our own back yard!

The next day, Kris went to Architectural Ceramics and, on her own, selected samples from Encore. There were several, and when she returned home, she concluded that some obviously did not work. However, one was close: Truffle.

I met her the day after to help confirm this choice. “Close,” I said, “But not ‘it’. I got back on Encore’s website and perused other colors. I suggested she pick out a few more from the palette she or I had not seen live: Grain, Beach, and Smoke. We met again. Without question, Smoke was “it” (see below). The final box was checked.

Tile Backsplash Selections

Tile Backsplash Selections

(A caveat: unfortunately website photos are not the way to go to make a final decision; they can only provide guidance.  The actual samples of these tiles was the only way to make our final decision.)

For Kris’ kitchen project we now have three major selections finalized with confidence. The cabinetry is in production. The granite is in safe storage with my granite fabricator. The tile was ordered yesterday. (An 8-week lead time unfortunately, but this is because it is “made to order” to ensure consistency.)

Lessons Learned

So what are the morals of this story? A few:

  1. Let the selections process flow. Use photos to get the spirit going. And if stuck somewhere, visit your supplier to see if you get inspired. Don’t get stuck in the “how” other than go out and start looking.
  2. If you are still unsure, call me!

Stay tuned for the next chapter when everything is installed with before and after photos.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Can Your Marriage Survive a Kitchen Remodel?

Can Your Marriage Survive a Kitchen Remodel?

Kitchen Remodeling Advice from Expert Kitchen Designs

How to Minimize Conflicts Over Kitchen Remodeling

I recently went on a ski vacation. At Reagan National Airport, before taking off, I performed my typical earnest search for the perfect magazine to entertain me while en route.

Because I love my work and am passionate about kitchen remodeling and kitchen design, I never succeed in keeping my vows to take a break from my profession while I am on vacation. That’s why I selected the magazine “This Old House” to read on my flight.


Turning the pages, I stumbled upon an article titled: Survive the Marital Stress of a Remodel. Ah, additional confirmation that I am not imagining the tension I sense among couples during the kitchen remodeling process!

Fast forward to my return from vacation: I met with my extremely nice clients who are remodeling a true-to-form Tudor home in North Arlington. The meeting’s purpose was to review and discuss the basic kitchen design I had prepared and presented to them before I left. Several telephone conversations later, the other half of the couple asked me, out of the blue: “Do you ever see people get separated or divorced during a kitchen remodel?”

I about fell over, as the article had been forefront on my mind and to hear my client utter these words seemed to be beyond coincidence.

Fortunately, my client confided that they were not on the brink of separating, but he was concerned about the health of their relationship because they were experiencing:

  1. major stress over trying to make so many kitchen remodeling decisions harmoniously,
  2. strong emotions regarding the power struggle over who should be “leading” or “following”, and
  3. different approaches in establishing a budget they both could agree on.

Thankfully, this couple possesses a high degree of emotional intelligence — which is a definite asset to bring to any relationship during a kitchen remodel.

So what are the lessons to be learned from this cautionary tale?

  1. When embarking on a kitchen remodeling project, stay focused and calm.
  2. When the tension rises — as it inevitably will — take a break, visit or revisit another topic, and come back to the more difficult topics later.
  3. Stay away from the “blame game”.
  4. Trust your kitchen designer. He or she wants you to be delighted with the outcome, so if you find yourselves really “stuck”, ask your professional kitchen designer for their opinion. He or she will steer you in the right direction.

Related Reading:
Can Your Marriage Survive Your Renovation?
How to Remodel and Keep Your Marriage Together


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, owner of Expert Kitchen Designs, has been happily married to Guy Brannock for seven years. Together, they have endured and survived their own trials and tribulations during their own home renovations. Sandra provides expert kitchen design services to discerning homeowners throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland and metropolitan Washington DC.

Reston Townhome Kitchen Remodel by Expert Kitchen Designs

Reston Townhome Kitchen Remodel by Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designs, Northern VirginiaIn September 2013, one of my top-notch renovation builders, Tom Miller of Miller & McIntyre, asked me to assist his clients, Cathy and Mike, with a kitchen design for their Reston, Virginia townhome. For years, Cathy and Mike had lived with what I call “a problematic kitchen,” where the existing layout does not function up to today’s kitchen design standards.

Built in the late 1970’s, the client’s townhome reflects the typical architectural style found in Reston. Casement windows and minimal detailing exist throughout the home. The dining room is open to the living area. The staircase upstairs and downstairs is open.

In contrast, the kitchen footprint offered little in the way of contemporary kitchen function. Too many entries into the kitchen eliminated the option of making the smaller wall spaces usable for any meaningful kitchen function. Also, a large 3’x2′ HVAC chase projected into the kitchen; unfortunately, the cost to relocate it would be exorbitant. There was one long wall that offered promise, although it was still too short to house all essential kitchen functions in compliance with NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) guidelines.

After our initial meeting, I left their home thinking, “How am I going to pull this off without doing a standard “pull and replace?”. (In case one doesn’t understand that term, a “pull and replace” refers to “pulling” the old cabinetry/fixtures/appliances out and then “replacing” them with newer models. In short, it is an easy way to improve the appearance of a space but it may not improve its function to the fullest degree. This is not a practice I choose to follow as it does not add as much value in the long run other than aesthetic improvement.)

I was not discouraged though, and I knew the answer would come when I started drawing a new kitchen design plan.

After a few hours drawing on my 2020 CAD, I was finally rewarded. I crafted a space that excited me, and I hoped would excite my clients and Miller & McIntyre just as much. Within a week, I met with everyone again and presented the new kitchen design to them.

They loved it!

Before and After

The picture below shows how one corner of their kitchen looked before we embarked on the kitchen remodel.

Reston Townhome Kitchen Before remodel by Expert Kitchen Designs Amissville VA

Reston Townhome Kitchen Before Remodeling

As you can see, the original kitchen had no functional space other than “clutter collection. The front door and kitchen entries were very close to one another. When homeowners and guests arrived through the front door, a cluttered kitchen greeted them front and center and there was no “foyer” where one could set down their umbrella or hang a hat.

Here is how the same kitchen corner looks after the redesign:

Reston townhome kitchen corner redesign

Same Kitchen Corner After Redesign

Can you tell this is the same corner?

Unlike its “ghost”, it is now clean, aesthetically pleasing and, best of all, functional!

How We Did It

First, we made two structural changes:

  1. We relocated the poorly placed existing kitchen entry five feet leftward, and
  2. We added a window on the sink wall to allow more light into kitchen.
Reston Townhome Kitchen Design

3D CAD Design by Expert Kitchen Designs

 

Reston VA Townhome Kitchen CAD Design

Townhome Kitchen CAD Design

The first change was essential. This made the “clutter” corner more functional and enabled us to easily install a slide-in electric range on the peninsula for a seamless look.

We also achieved one important goal in the kitchen redesign by equipping one side of the kitchen with a functional workspace,thereby relieving all the pressure to combine them all on one long wall. An added plus is that this setup allows the cook in the kitchen to converse with those seated at the peninsula, making the space not only functional but an inviting place to socialize as well.

Now that we relocated the cooking area, we could improve the opposite kitchen wall by adding a much needed window. This created a visually appealing focal point for the sink. Also, we anchored each end of this long wall with tall functional items (left to right):

  1. a narrow broom/storage closet and a 36” counter-depth french door refrigerator on one end, and
  2. a pantry with pullouts and microwave on the other.

What contributed to the finishes?

We chose Benjamin Moore “White Dove” with Brubaker Kitchens Cabinetry from Lancaster Pennsylvania.

The countertops were Soapstone.

We chose a very soft green for the walls, Sherwin Williams “Celery”.

Need an Expert Kitchen Design?

If you have a “problem kitchen” that needs a redesign, call me at (703) 801-6402 or email me at Sandra[at]expertkitchendesigns.com to discuss your situation. I can advise you on ways you can get the kitchen of your dreams! There is always a way to fix a problem kitchen with the right design.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Kitchen Design Trends in the Washington DC Metro Area

Kitchen Design Trends in the Washington DC Metro Area

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

As 2013 draws to a close, I took a few moments to review all of the kitchen projects I had designed during the past year to see if I could discern any noticeable patterns or trends. The kitchens I designed ranged in size from small to large for clients with modest to generous budget allowances.

The results are summarized below by category.

STYLE

– 50% Transitional
– 25% Traditional
– 25% Contemporary

CABINETRY CONSTRUCTION

– 20% Full Inset
– 75% Full Overlay
– 5% Full Access (European Frameless)

CABINETRY FINISH

– 50% White Paint
– 5% Other Paint
– 5% Paint and Glaze
– 40% Wood with Stain

APPLIANCES

– 60% Professional (Sub Zero, Wolf, GE Monogram)
– 40% Other (low to mid range)

APPLIANCES FINISH

– 75% Stainless Steel
– 25% Panel Ready

COUNTERTOPS

– 95% Stone (Marble or Granite)
– 5% Engineered Quartz (Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone)

BACKSPLASHES

– 100% Tile

FLOORS

– 80% Wood
– 20% Porcelain Tile or Stone

Interesting results. Over this past year, I have noticed clients choosing simpler, more transitional styling while choosing to express themselves through complex or interesting textures in their flooring, countertop, or backsplash tile selections.

Interesting to compare my observations to this recent Washington Post article about kitchen design trends.

Stay tuned for 2014 trends. My instincts are that the trends in 2013 will remain strong in 2014.

Selected 2013 Kitchen Remodeling Projects by Expert Kitchen Designs


Giuliani Kitchen


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

The Latest and Greatest Appliances: Kitchen Remodeling Trends and Tips

The Latest and Greatest Appliances: Kitchen Remodeling Trends and Tips

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Dennis Trigg, Kitchen Appliance Expert

Dennis Trigg

A few weeks ago I contacted Dennis Trigg , Appliance Specialist at Ferguson Enterprises in Chantilly, Virginia. He graciously afforded me some time to answer a few questions I had about the latest and greatest on appliances.

First, a bit about Dennis. He has been working in the appliance industry since 1988. He is a gastronome in every sense of the word as he cooks from scratch every day and uses only the freshest ingredients. He is often so excited about his culinary creations that he sends pictures of them to his friends. And, from my perspective, if you get the chance to meet him, you will no doubt come away thinking: “Wow, he truly is an appliance “guru”.

For the Homeowner Shopping for Kitchen Appliances: What Comes First?

When asked, What is the most important thing (or things) that a homeowner should consider when shopping for appliances? Dennis had the following suggestions.

  1. Establish a realistic budget. This will help you shop more efficiently for what you want and need.
  2. Consider your cooking style: Do you cook every day or just once a week?
  3. How many people live in your home and what is the size of your kitchen?
  4. What type of kitchen do you have presently? What do you like or dislike about your current kitchen?
  5. What kitchen appliances do you want to have and why?

What Drives the Cost of Kitchen Appliances?

Often, homeowners do not understand the factors that affect the cost of kitchen appliances. For example, why is a Wolf gas rangetop more expensive than a Kitchen Aid?

Dennis states that kitchen appliance prices are driven by the production and materials costs, volume of appliances being sold, and the level of technology built into the product. For example, a smaller volume company might have higher production and materials costs than a company with a huge volume of sales. Companies that sell in large volumes may also have a larger R&D department.

Brand name also plays a part: luxury brands come with a luxury price because the materials incorporated into the product are of a higher quality.

The Evolution of Kitchen Appliances

Dennis believes that in 5-10 years we will be seeing more “smart” technology built into kitchen appliances, such as user-friendly Droid or IPhone controls and WiFi-enabled self-diagnosis features that can alert you when a problem arises or service is required. This would help ensure that maintenance and repair issues are addressed in a timely manner before significant damage occurs.

Cooking appliances will be equipped with apps that allow you to monitor the cooking mode from your phone. For example, if you have a beef roast in the oven, and you need to make a quick trip into town for another errand, you could “connect” to the temperature probe with your phone while you are away and, if needed, adjust the oven’s temperature setting remotely.

Stainless Steel Finishes: Are They Going Out of Style?

The fate of stainless steel finishes has been hotly debated in the media. For years we have read or heard, “stainless is going to go out of style.” From my viewpoint, stainless continues to be a dominant finish selection for almost every appliance. Dennis agreed with me that stainless steel will never go out of style. He noted, however, that there is an upturn in the return to “color” for appliances. Because homeowners are remaining in their homes longer, they wish to “personalize” their space with customized color choices. Some homeowners are choosing to have one appliance piece in the kitchen, such as the oven range or refrigerator, “stand out and make a statement with color.”

Consumer Reports: Yay or Nay?

Consumer Reports “is a a good guideline and reference to start the research,” says Dennis. But in his opinion, and mine, Consumer Reports and similar publications will never beat the expertise of an educated local appliance professional who can guide you through the selection process and be available to consult after your purchase if service needs or other issues arise.

Induction Cooking Technology: The Biggest Leap in the Industry

Dennis and I agree that the biggest leap in the appliance industry in the last 5-10 years is, “The return of induction cooking technology in the North American market!”

A big thank you to Dennis Trigg from Ferguson Enterprises for taking time out from his busy schedule to help educate homeowners everywhere.


Related Articles

Kitchen Appliance Trends Favor Flexibility, Energy Efficiency and Smart Technology
Celebrity Kitchens
Induction Cooking: Pros and Cons


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

How to Choose a Kitchen SInk

How to Choose a Kitchen SInk

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designer

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designer

When you begin to think about your kitchen remodel, is the choice of kitchen sink foremost in your mind?

If you are like most people, probably not. Because kitchen sinks are associated with the unglamorous “dirty work” of cleaning up after meals, kitchen sink selection is often done casually, as an afterthought. After all, it is just a sink, right?.

Au contraire! Any sink will not do. In fact, lots of dirty dishes later you, the homeowner, may find yourself regretting your hasty and ill-informed decision, thinking “I wish I had known. . . .”

When I develop kitchen design plans with my clients, I always ask early in the planning process: “What kind of sink do you want?” The response is usually a standard, “Oh, I don’t know . . . I guess a (fill in the blank) type sink.”

Immediately, I begin my “let’s talk about sinks” discussion. The style, function, and size of the kitchen sink are all elements of kitchen planning that my client may not have considered. After we have this discussion, I have found that it sometimes takes clients a few weeks to thoroughly weigh all the options—concluding later that they had no idea this was something that took more time than a few minutes to decide.

If you are about to invest in a sink, and don’t know where to begin, watch Mick de Giulio explain how he designs beautiful and functional kitchen sinks:


Clearly, Mick has considered all the activities that take place in and around the sink — activities that we rarely consider when selecting a sink for our home.

So keep this in mind when you make your kitchen sink purchase, as you may find one or more options out there that will make your “sink duty” a much more enjoyable experience.

And if you must spend a few more dollars to get what you want, I promise you that the first time you use your sink, you will feel they were dollars well spent.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Kitchen Cabinetry Cost Comparisons: Why Do Some Kitchen Cabinets Cost More Than Others?

Kitchen Cabinetry Cost Comparisons: Why Do Some Kitchen Cabinets Cost More Than Others?

Kitchen CabinetsOne of the most common questions I encounter when homeowners are researching kitchen cabinetry options and establishing their kitchen remodeling budget is, “Why does this kitchen cabinet cost so much more than that one? What accounts for the difference in cost?”

I always remind my clients that the difference in price among cabinet manufacturers is directly related to the quality. Period.

I recently ran across an illuminating article on Cabinetmakerfdm.com written by Mark Goldman, President and Owner of Pennville Cabinetry. Pennville is one of my favorite kitchen cabinetry manufacturers. This article will help you understand the details and factors that distinguish extraordinary kitchen cabinetry craftsmanship from ordinary stock cabinetry. It is recommended reading for any discerning homeowner who is weighing the decision to spend more versus less on their kitchen cabinetry — especially if you are planning to live in your home for a long time after the kitchen remodeling is finished.

Click Here to Read the Article: Why Do These Cabinets Cost More?


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Kitchen Cabinetry Installation: Choose Your Installer Carefully for Best Quality Outcome

Kitchen Cabinetry Installation: Choose Your Installer Carefully for Best Quality Outcome

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

A few weeks ago, I spent a day seeing the completion of two high-end kitchens. Both kitchen projects had cabinetry by the same manufacturer in essentially the same style. The homeowners of both kitchens were very much involved in the entire design process, and cared about the outcome. However, there was one major difference between the two kitchen projects: Installation quality — and, more than likely, what the builder and/or homeowner were willing to pay for the installation.

Below are two photos of the first kitchen, with the superior installation quality. Note the careful execution of the decorative toe valance installed under the Thermador refrigerator (left).

Superior Kitchen Cabinetry Installation Quality

The second kitchen may look fine to the untrained eye, but the installation elements were less tidy, even though some of the design elements were less complex than the first kitchen. I could see that the installer failed to follow the tiny details spelled out in my kitchen design plan that would have made the “difference”, even though I had reviewed the installation plan with the cabinet installer beforehand and invited them to call me if they had any questions.

As a professional kitchen designer, it concerns me when the installer does not take the time or care enough to perform to the same high standards as I witnessed in the installation of the first kitchen. The second kitchen’s installer’s allegiance was to the builder because the builder was the one paying him to do the job.

This now brings us to a very important point for the homeowner to understand:

In the first kitchen, the homeowner paid more for the installation with a reputable high quality builder. The photos above illustrate a crisp and clean result.

In the second kitchen, where the installation was subcontracted out by a smaller, less-known builder, I initially quoted installation by my experienced “perfectionistic” installation crew for the homeowner/builder. However, the client or the builder (I’m not sure which) chose instead to assign the cabinetry installation to the builder’s own “framing carpenter.” Ultimately, and unfortunately, this homeowner paid the “price” for a somewhat substandard installation.

Kitchen Cabinetry Installation Quality Affects Final Outcome

As you can infer, the subject of who will be responsible for installing kitchen cabinetry can be a contentious one for kitchen designers, installers, homeowners, and builders. From the kitchen designer’s viewpoint, installation quality is responsible for 50% of the outcome — meaning, how pristine the kitchen will look — so it is imperative that the installation be done as carefully and painstakingly as possible.

In contrast, the installer’s ability to carry out all tasks is governed by:

  1. How much experience he has (how complex/easy is it for him),
  2. The amount of time he has to complete the job, and
  3. the amount he is being paid. The builder’s and/or homeowner’s objective is to get the job done as fast as possible, at the lowest cost, and at the highest quality.

Project Management Triangle: Cost/Benefit Tradeoffs in Kitchen Remodeling

Project Management Triangle kitchen remodelingFor the cabinetry installation aspect of the project, this leads us to the topic of the Project Management Triangle.

This triangle reflects the fact that the three properties of the kitchen installation are interrelated, and it is not possible to optimize all three – one will always suffer. In other words you have three options:

  1. Install a kitchen quickly and to a high standard — the most expensive option.
  2. Install a kitchen quickly and cheaply — and sacrifice high quality.
  3. Install a kitchen with high quality at the lowest possible cost — which will take longer.

So, if you are homeowner who is undertaking a kitchen remodel and the topic of cabinetry installation has not been discussed, now is the time to do so. Ask a lot of questions and perhaps ask to see an installed kitchen completed by the contractor. I also recommend inviting an experienced kitchen designer to accompany you and assess the quality of the installation for aspects that only a trained eye will see.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Budget-Friendly Arlington Condo Kitchen Remodel

Budget-Friendly Arlington Condo Kitchen Remodel

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Mara and Suzanne are returning clients of Expert Kitchen Designs who wanted to update the small kitchen in their Arlington condominium before renting it out. I was first introduced to them several years ago by one of my favorite home building contractors, Eric Pilka of Oakmont Homes.

To stay within their budget, we implemented kitchen upgrades that did not require major structural changes. We improved the kitchen layout and installed new kitchen cabinetry, appliances, countertops, sink and faucet.

After renting out their condo, Suzanne and Mara purchased an open-floor planned home in Alexandria, Virginia that was well-suited to their contemporary/mid-century modern taste in design.

The only downside to their new home was the galley kitchen. It was pedestrian in all ways: cheap white cabinets and appliances and an ordinary laminate countertop. The one positive feature of the kitchen lay below the nasty vinyl flooring: here we discovered well-worn oak strip flooring that could be refinished to enhance the existing space.

Since I had a established an effective and congenial working relationship with these clients in previous kitchen remodeling projects, we were able to proceed smoothly with the new kitchen design project. I began as I always do by asking lots of questions to identify their goals and objectives:

  1. How long do you plan to live in this house?
  2. What don’t you like about the kitchen now?
  3. How much do you want to spend to get what you want?

We determined that they wanted the kitchen to open up into the dining/living area. I worked on the CAD drawings and provided a few perspectives to show them what the space would look like with two walls eliminated and other walls painted with their chosen color scheme.

Below are two renderings done with my 2020 CAD in a “live” perspective:

Arlington VA Kitchen Remodel CAD Drawing

The view above is taken as you stand in the dining room. On the left side, we eliminated the back and end wall to allow for deeper counter space with a small overhang for casual dining. On the right sink wall side, we eliminated the end wall.

Arlington VA Kitchen Remodel CAD DrawingThe view to the left is what you would see from the living area. This was designed after Mara and Suzanne had indicated they wanted a Soapstone countertop, and that the overhang on the living room side should be minimal. They also weren’t sure about the white subway tile. I left it out in this last rendering.

Once we were agreed that we had a plan that Mara and Suzanne loved, we could move forward with calculating all costs associated with the project. As I have said many times before, design is first and foremost to cost estimation of any kitchen remodeling project.

Now, Eric Pilka of Oakmont Homes had the scope and structural requirements he needed to proceed with construction. Eric determined weight-bearing loads from the walls we wanted to remove, then had supporting beams engineered for these walls. He also had a defined plan that allowed him to accurately calculate all costs for this kitchen remodeling project, which eliminated unpleasant cost-overrun surprises later.

After we determined all cost elements, agreements were signed and all systems were “go,” full overlay construction cabinetry by Dura Supreme in Classic White with the Craftsman Panel was the cornerstone.

The oak floor was uncovered and refinished. Soapstone countertops were installed. And the coup de grace was the marble backsplash in a subway tile pattern installed expertly by Eric’s tile installer.

Below are a few pics of the final outcome. See how they compare to my perspectives above…

Arlington VA Kitchen Design

Lighting Fixtures Arlington Kitchen DesignI selected the perfect lighting fixture (right) that allowed the entire counter-space to feel open and flowing without a “geometric” light just hanging over the large countertop.

We still need to repaint the walls. I always advise clients to postpone repainting walls until all elements, fixtures and finishes have been installed, as they will influence how light is reflected in the kitchen. Take some time to observe the colors in your kitchen at different times of the day and then decide see which colors suit you.

In kitchen design and remodeling, advance planning, accurate costing and patience pay off—– always.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

This Week’s Inspiration: “Kitchen Centric” by Mick De Giulio

This Week’s Inspiration: “Kitchen Centric” by Mick De Giulio

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Yesterday I had an appointment with another kitchen designer in Northwest D.C. It was a collaborative appointment, mainly to discuss the planning of his new showroom. He lived in London for twelve years and has resided in D.C. for the last three years. He remains inspired by the kitchens he designed in the U.K. because they were more efficient and lent themselves to the way we all tend to live naturally.

I arrived at our meeting in the middle of a soft light rain, parked my car, and walked into his still unfinished showroom space. Progress so far included a high gloss tile floor and primed walls waiting to be painted. A red coffee “conference” table was surrounded by four white leather Mid-Century modern chairs. On the table were three or four kitchen books, one of which caught my attention immediately: Kitchen Centric, by Mick de Giulio.

kitchen centricOne turn of the page of his new book reminded me of why he so inspires me. He has the “X Factor” among kitchen designers. To illustrate further– per his direct quote from his website:

Design Philosophy

I believe a great kitchen has a magic to it that transforms the physical room into a feeling. People are drawn to that kitchen, and they may not know why. The kitchen sings.

It is my job to write the music. I may call myself a kitchen designer, but what I really do is orchestrate and conduct the dreaming process.

I listen to my clients, absorb, and then jump aboard their excitement, sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always steering that energy into both tangible and intangible – a kitchen that feeds the soul.

– Mick De Giulio

This is exactly how I feel about kitchens and service to my clients.

If de Giulio’s words captivate you as they captivate me, and if you would like to entrance yourself more, visit Mick’s website: www.degiulio.org

Or better yet, pick up his new book: Kitchen Centric. De Giulio’s kitchens are nothing less than stellar — and as an added plus, no nonsense.

Great design need not be complicated. However, it sometimes requires a bit of not going with the “typical”. And if you open up your mind, you might be surprised what will greet you in your dreams for your new kitchen.

Isn’t dreaming and being open to magic what life is all about?


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

7 Reasons Why You Should Hire Expert Kitchen Designs for Your Kitchen Remodel

7 Reasons Why You Should Hire Expert Kitchen Designs for Your Kitchen Remodel

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designer

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designer

Throughout my life, in everything I have undertaken, I set the bar high. And when I achieve my goals, I move on to the next one without much grandeur or self-promotion.

This morning, after thinking about it, I decided to jump on the self-promotion bandwagon by listing 7 reasons you should hire me as your expert kitchen remodeling advisor / designer. But before I list the reasons, here is an email I received last week from an interior designer (clients’ names concealed for privacy purposes):

Sandra-
Thank you for passing on your updated website. You are one talented lady !!!! It was an absolute pleasure to work with you on the “_____” kitchen and bath project. I am so looking forward to our winter project with the (name withheld).

Thank you for being such a wonderful addition to my business. You make my job so easy!!!!!
Have a great weekend.
Kelley Astore
http://www.kelleyastoreinteriors.com

This interior designer is talented, smart, and very particular about details (all requirements to be successful in the remodeling business). She did not know me at all prior to the “M___” project, which involved a complex full house remodel. Throughout our collaboration on the kitchen remodeling project, she told me repeatedly, “You should get a gold medal! You are such a hard worker. You helped the M___’s understand what they were getting in their kitchen remodel. The amount of detail you have provided to them is impressive.”

She understood, as a colleague in the business, the value I brought to the table that made the kitchen remodel proceed smoothly while minimizing stress and providing peace of mind to the homeowner.

So, if by chance you are considering or evaluating kitchen designers for an upcoming kitchen remodeling project, here are 7 reasons you should hire me:

  1. You will save time and money in the long run. The expert planning I provide for you will eliminate inefficiencies and mistakes from beginning to end.
  2. I never push or pressure my clients to make hasty decisions. I am nurturing and practical-minded. My passion and mission is to make the design and remodeling process, as well as the final outcome, enjoyable for you. Together, we can create wonderful memories.
  3. I can help you clarify, identify, and prioritize your kitchen remodeling goals and dreams. And, I can help you make your vision a reality while staying within your budget.
  4. My husband, Guy Brannock (Brannockbuilt.com), is a Class A Contractor with 30 years of experience. He, as your contractor, and I, as your designer, will manage all the details of your remodeling project to ensure it proceeds smoothly and that you get what you expected and paid for. Since we are a husband-wife team who are together 24/7, you can rest assured that the designer (me) and the builder (Guy) will be communicating with each other to ensure your project is managed properly. So even when you don’t “see” us working, we are working.
  5. Guy is a perfectionist when it comes to finish carpentry and installation details on all levels. With Guy in charge of installing your cabinetry and appliances, you will have peace of mind knowing that the installation will be done correctly with full attention to every detail. Guy is an absolute sweetheart, patient and gentle with our clients. They love him!
  6. I offer access to top quality cabinetry with direct pricing (think Mercedes E to CS Class at a Toyota price point) which can save you 20 -25% on the cost of cabinetry. Why? Because I have no showroom overhead costs to cover. I can offer the same quality of cabinetry as you will find in a prestigious kitchen showroom in the Washington DC area at better than “contractor pricing”. And, if your needs fall into a less expensive category, I also have access to such cabinetry at contractor pricing.
  7. I am flexible. If you prefer to obtain your cabinetry, appliances and fixtures through your own suppliers and/or work with your own builder/contractor, you can hire me “a la carte” to design your kitchen. As noted above, when you hire me to design your kitchen, you will be working with an experienced expert who will help your kitchen remodel proceed smoothly, review and manage the details to minimize your stress, and give you greater peace of mind.

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Prep Sinks and Cleanup Sinks — Why You Might Need Both

Prep Sinks and Cleanup Sinks — Why You Might Need Both

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

With few exceptions, the question: “Should I include a prep sink as well as a cleanup sink in my kitchen?” always arises when planning kitchens for my clients. Many clients are confused about the purpose, and need for, a prep sink as well as a cleanup sink. Most of us grew up with a single sink in the kitchen, so the idea of having or needing two sinks is novel. Back in the day, a second sink in the kitchen, by most middle-class standards, would be considered a bit odd or excessive.

So — to lay to rest concerns and confusion about this topic, I thought it would be helpful to reference NKBA’s guidelines on prep sinks, with some input from my own experience. Assuming we wish to plan on having both types of sinks in the kitchen, let us begin by specifically explaining each sink’s purpose.

Purpose and Placement of Cleanup Sinks

The purpose of the “cleanup” sink is pretty straightforward; some refer to this sink as the “main” sink. However, the term “main” (in kitchen design “lingo”) is not accurate, as it suggests that the sink is all-purpose when, in fact, it serves only one purpose: cleanup of pots, pans, dishes, and whatever else. Typically, the cleanup sink is placed slightly away from the cooking and food storage areas of the kitchen. The cleanup sink no longer functions as the third boundary of the traditional “work triangle” because it is not required for prep work.

Purpose and Placement of Prep Sinks

The prep sink is intended to be used by the cook to wash and prep produce, fish, poultry, pork, or beef. It also can serve as a “pot filler” for pasta or as a water source for other types of food preparation. Ideally, it should be located near the cooking and food storage areas so that the cook can access it easily. If possible, there should be ample room to one side of the prep sink for workspace. NKBA guidelines recommend a space that is at least 36” wide and 24” deep. If this is not possible, keep in mind that we have the ideal and then what is available given space limitations. What’s most important is that you, as homeowner, are comfortable with the sink’s placement and that its placement helps, not hinders, your cooking tasks.

Additionally, and sometimes inadvertently, the prep sink’s location may be closer to the family room or breakfast area. In this case, the sink can be useful for other purposes, especially if one adds an InstaHot water dispenser to it. A cup of hot tea no longer requires that one refill the kettle and waste precious energy heating the water for its preparation.

Two Sinks are Better Than One

If space allows, having two separate sinks with distinct functions is always preferable to only one. This allows for a more open feel in the kitchen with less traffic jams in the two sink areas, especially in today’s busy world.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Ageless Kitchens and Your Kitchen Remodel

Ageless Kitchens and Your Kitchen Remodel

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

The title of this article has two meanings–both important and relevant to all who use the kitchen.

First, for all homeowners, nothing is more rewarding than living day-to-day in a kitchen that feels “timeless” in style and aesthetic. Imagine a kitchen, maybe the one you have now, that you enjoy today — if it had been designed with this goal in mind. Fast forward 10 to 15 years and imagine that you have that same feeling and appreciation for your kitchen. This would put your kitchen into the category of “ageless”.

The second meaning relates to the actual ages of family members and friends who use the kitchen. “Ageless kitchens” are enjoyable to be in and work in, regardless of one’s age or physical abilities and limitations. Wouldn’t it give you peace of mind to know that, if you wish to stay in your home for years to come, you will be able to work in and enjoy your kitchen without limitation?

Achieving these two objectives is best accomplished by enlisting the expertise of a professional kitchen designer as early as possible in your kitchen design or remodeling venture.

Here is what I advise clients who want to have a classic, ageless kitchen that will withstand the test of time:

  1. Keep it simple—the less elaborate the details, the more likely years from now no one will think the kitchen is “dated”. Less is more.
  2. Stick with a neutral color palette. Yes, some might think that this might be boring — but you can always punch up the color interest by accessorizing using your favorite colors. As an added bonus, the neutral color palette will make accent colors “pop” even more.
  3. Invest in decent appliances and ensure the space allotted for them will support future replacement down the road.
  4. Invest in all plywood construction built cabinetry whose finish is top-notch by industry standards.

Kitchens that can be used by all, regardless of their physical ability or disability, are designed according to established Universal Design principles. Considering that, by the year 2020, over 20% of the world’s population will be over the age of 65, it is wise to pay attention to Universal Design Principles when designing or remodeling kitchens.

Important Universal Design Principles for Kitchens

  1. Work aisles in the kitchen should be 42” (for one cook) to 48” (for two cooks)
  2. With perpendicular walkways, one should be a minimum of 42” wide.
  3. Allow for knee space somewhere in the kitchen at a work center (sink or cooktop)
  4. Incorporate easy-to-access below counter storage for heavily used items.

Additional Resources

For more information on Universal Design in the kitchen and throughout the home, read: What is Universal Design?.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Planning and Collaboration: The Key to Kitchen Remodeling Success

Planning and Collaboration: The Key to Kitchen Remodeling Success

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

I just received Home & Design magazine’s “Late Spring” issue. I always enjoy opening it and seeing what has debuted lately in the DC/Metro area. What caught my interest this month was the article “Fresh Start“, offering great insight into the reincarnation of a 1950’s split level home in Mclean. The project’s outcome and the tale told therein should be heeded by all homeowners considering the undertaking of a remodeling project.

The photos reveal sequences of tranquil spaces throughout the home; all elements, as can be seen in the photos, take on a fresh airy feel, with each room’s transition into the next as seamless as the one before–including a comfortable relaxed kitchen (my expertise, of course.)

So, besides the beautiful pictures (all illustrating that these particular homeowners love the color blue), what caught my interest? The following excerpt, which echoes perfectly what I embrace when working with my clients:

“The renovation process was remarkably smooth, which Leggin (the architect) and his clients attribute to the seamless collaboration of the design team early on. ‘They met every two weeks for six months to discuss the vision for the plan,” says the husband. ‘It was a totally collaborative process.”

Bingo. They began early. They included several design experts. The homeowners engaged themselves fully with the experts, thereby ensuring that the end result was what they wanted.

To read the full article, “Fresh Start: A Talented Design Team Transforms a Mundane McLean Split-Level,” click here.


Sandra Brannock has designed beautiful and functional custom kitchens for clients throughout Northern Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC region. For more information about Expert Kitchen Designs services, call Sandra direct at (703) 801-6402 or email sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.

Induction Cooking: Time to Reconsider?

Induction Cooking: Time to Reconsider?

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Typically, when I ask my client what type of cooktop or range they will be using, the response is either electric or gas. Few clients realize that there is a third option that is worth considering: induction.

History of Induction Cooking

Induction cooking has come a long ways since 1933, when it was first introduced in the “Kitchen of the Future” at the Chicago “Century of Progress” World’s Fair. Fairgoers witnessed the miracle of “cool heating” using electrical power that required much less energy than standard electrical cooking appliances. For years thereafter, attempts to perfect induction cooking units continued in the U.S., but alas, the induction cooking units were plagued with problems and U.S. manufacturer units went off the market in 1999.

Regardless, Europeans and Asians pursued induction cooking research and development (R&D) due to their concern with energy conservation. Ultimately, their efforts paid off and led to a breakthrough in U.S. commercial applications in restaurant kitchens. As a result, chefs began to recognize the benefits of induction cooking. Through word of mouth and experience, early adopter home cooks began to embrace induction cooking as well.

Benefits of Induction Cooking

Induction cooking offers many benefits, including:

  1. Instant and precise cooking as with gas
  2. No wasted heat
  3. Cooler kitchen because of #2 above
  4. Safety — the cooktop is cool to the touch immediately after use.
  5. Universal design compliant — induction cooktops are thin and can be inserted so that knee space is available underneath without any interference.
  6. Ubiquitous installation -— runs only on electricity
  7. Easy to clean

Induction Cooking Drawbacks

Induction cooking may pose some possible drawbacks, but these are easily overcome as described below:

  1. Cooking vessel has to be made of magnetic material. So if a magnet sticks well, not loosely, to the bottom of the vessel, that vessel works with an induction cooktop.
  2. Noise. Sometimes the actual cooking process produces noise through the cookware because it is not top quality —- the interior pieces of the cookware can rattle. Easily remedied by investing in quality cookware.

For more specific information about induction cooking not addressed in this blog, check out this article:

induction cooking explained

Additional information about the pros and cons of induction cooking can be found at:

TheInductionSite.com/proandcon.


Sandra Brannock has designed beautiful and functional custom kitchens for clients throughout Northern Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC region. For more information, call Sandra direct at (703) 801-6402 or email sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.

How to Choose the Best Kitchen Cabinetry for Your Kitchen Remodel

How to Choose the Best Kitchen Cabinetry for Your Kitchen Remodel

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designs, Northern VirginiaKitchen cabinetry usually accounts for a significant portion of any kitchen remodeling project. As a professional kitchen designer, I often educate clients about kitchen cabinetry basics: what to look for, and what to avoid, when selecting new kitchen cabinetry.

Too often, homeowners assume that a cabinet box is “just a box”. This is erroneous thinking that can lead to costly mistakes and inevitable disappointment with the final outcome of your kitchen remodeling project.

There are major differences among cabinetry manufacturers that the uneducated consumer will not easily detect. In kitchen remodeling, as in other aspects of life, the fact is — to quote a very worn out cliché — you get what you pay for.

The jargon of kitchen cabinet manufacturing can be intimidating. Do not let manufacturer jargon deter you. By educating yourself about kitchen cabinetry fundamentals, you will soon be able to “speak the language” that will help you make a sound purchase decision.

The Four Main Elements You Must Understand About Kitchen Cabinetry

There are four main elements you must understand before selecting and investing in your new kitchen cabinetry. These elements are:

  1. Cabinet Construction — framed and frameless construction consist of box and drawer box construction, and hardware operational mechanisms.
  2. Door and Drawer Styles — includes the actual detailing and construction of the door and drawer front.
  3. Wood Species — from basic to exotic veneers — the latter being the most expensive.
  4. Finishes — for toughness and durability, especially in the kitchen, the quality of the finish cannot be overlooked.

Cabinet Construction

When cabinet manufacturers refer to cabinet construction, they refer to two categories—framed and frameless or full access. Framed cabinets are most common in the US. Within this category you can choose, in order of least to most expensive:

  1. Standard or traditional overlay
  2. Full overlay
  3. Inset

Frameless (or full access/European construction) cabinets have no face-frame to the opening; the 3/4″ sides of the box define the opening. We often see this type of cabinet construction in contemporary or modern settings.

Installing frameless cabinets is more involved than installing framed cabinets, which can result in higher installation times to get your frameless cabinet into its proper position. Therefore, it requires a skilled and experienced carpenter to install this type of cabinetry.

Box Construction

Whether framed or frameless in style, cabinets are “boxes”. However, the materials and joinery used in their construction vary greatly among manufacturers. You may be familiar with terms such as particle board, MDF (medium density fiberboard), and plywood construction. Plywood is considered the best form of construction for a cabinet box. However, some manufacturers offer high quality MDF at a lesser price than plywood. Particle board is considered one of the lowest quality materials.

Drawer Box Construction

Drawer boxes, not including the hardware attached, come in three basic forms.

  1. Laminate/stapled
  2. Solid Wood Sides/Plywood bottoms/Staple or Dovetail
  3. Metal

Laminate kitchen cabinet boxes are least expensive. Over time, with heavy use, they fall apart.

Dovetail constructed cabinet drawer boxes reign supreme over stapled cabinet construction. Some manufacturers build a better drawer box than others by using a ½” plywood bottom. The drawer box bottom is what supports the weight of items placed in the drawer box. One of my manufacturers often demonstrates the quality of his drawer box by turning it over and literally “jumping” on it with his 200 pounds of weight! Now that is a drawer box meant to last a very long time!

Metal drawer boxes are just that. They are more popular with European manufacturers who, as an example, may use Hafele as their drawer box supplier.

Obviously, if you want a long lived product you will prefer the higher end drawer box construction.

Hardware Mechanisms

These are purchased by the cabinet manufacturer for various uses including, but not limited to, door and drawer opening mechanisms and internal accoutrements. BLUM and GRASS are popular hardware systems. Hafele, Richelieu, and Rev-A-Shelf offer internal convenience items for storage. All cabinet manufacturers rely on these “third parties” to enhance their cabinetry’s functions

Door and Drawer Front Styles

Doors and drawer front style components and proprietary details are too numerous to illustrate in this short article. Within the specific category of framed or frameless construction, your kitchen cabinetry costs will vary widely depending on these factors:

  1. Flat or recessed panel door styles cost less than raised panel door styles.
  2. The more detail a door has, the more expensive it will be.
  3. Doors that are thicker than a standard 4/4″ door (i.e. a 5/4″door) will cost more.
  4. The quality of the door and drawer front depends on whether it is made “in house” or purchased from an outside supplier. Higher quality manufacturers make their own doors and drawer fronts, as a general rule.

Wood Species

Another element that affects price is the wood species used for the cabinet: Oak, Maple, Cherry, Lyptus, Mahogany, Hickory, Birch, Ash, Alder, Knotty Pine, Walnut, Chestnut — these are all “wood species” derived from trees. Supply, demand and quality govern the specie price. For basic wood species, it is safe to assume that:

  1. Oak, Hickory, White Birch, and Knotty Alder will be the least expensive.
  2. Maple is next in the hierarchy.
  3. Cherry cabinetry will cost about twice as much as Maple cabinetry.

Also, within each species, there are tolerances or grades assigned –ranking the quality of the wood. If you are particular about the way the wood specie will “look” in its finished form, be wary of cheaper manufacturers’ quality—the outcome is entirely different than that of a higher quality manufacturer.

Finishes

Finish is one of the most important aspects affecting your cabinetry’s appearance and quality. If you talk to any carpenter who makes cabinetry or furniture, he or she will tell you that finishing may be most time-consuming and challenging component of the cabinet production process. The sanding process, attention to detail, and finish elements must be top-notch if you want your cabinetry to be the kind of high-quality investment that will endure for generations to come.

What do you need to know before making your cabinetry selection?

First, use your eyes and hands. What you see is what you get: A first rate finishing process costs more because the cabinet manufacturer has invested a large amount of capital in human and equipment resources that will pay off in future years.

Comparing finishes across the board in terms of cost (from least to most expensive):

  1. Stain wood finishes.
  2. Add 5-15% to the base price if you want additional accent or glaze applied to your cabinetry.
  3. Add 10-15% to the base price for straight painted finishes (on paint grade material, maple or birch), depending upon the manufacturer. Also, be sure to understand the difference between a lacquer paint finish versus an “opaque” or “color tone”stain”. The latter is not a paint but often passes as one under the consumer’s radar. This type of finish will not endure and will “rub through” over time.
  4. Add an additional 15-20% to the base cost ff a glaze is added to the paint,.
    5) A multi-step process which includes distress, patinas, or anything with an artistic one-of-a-kind appearance will add anywhere from 30 to 40% more to the cabinet price.

Now that you have this information, you will be better able to make a well-informed kitchen cabinetry purchase decision with which you will be happy for years to come.

Of course, there is always more to learn, but now you have everything you need to know to steer yourself in the right direction.

If you would like more information or advice on your kitchen remodeling project, call or email Sandra Brannock, (703) 801-6402, sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.

Kitchen Cabinetry Finishes 101

Kitchen Cabinetry Finishes 101

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

As a professional who works with various lines of kitchen cabinetry, I find the biggest indicator of cabinet quality is its finish. Obviously, finish affects overall appearance. But more importantly a superior finish, in substance as well as form, testifies to the manufacturer’s quality standards. A superior finish adds longevity to the life of cabinetry–not just a few years, but decades of use withstanding moisture, chemicals, food splatters, and bumps and scrapes. In summary, it stands up to the test of time—which is the most rigorous test of all.

Finishes Typically Found in Kitchen Cabinetry

Finish is an extremely complex topic. In order to get an in-depth professional opinion, I called Bill Adams, a finishes and coatings expert and representative of Accessa Coatings Solutions in Indiana. Bill used to be professional finisher (technical applicator) at a very high end custom cabinet manufacturer—so he understands the finish process for kitchen cabinetry. When he began to answer some of my very basic questions, I found myself thinking: “Wow, there is a lot more to finishes than I thought.” Regardless, Bill was able to convey the information for me in layman’s terms–for the sake of keeping me from having to write a Tolstoy novel. So here we go.

For kitchen cabinetry, there are essentially four kinds of chemical finishes, from least to most superior in quality— NC and Pre-Catalyzed Lacquers, Post Catalyzed Conversion Varnishes, and Polyurethanes:
1) Nitrocellulose Lacquer
2) Pre- Catalyzed Lacquer
3) Post-Catalyzed Conversion Varnish
4) Polyurethane.

Nitrocellulose Lacquer is considered an “everyday” type finish–inexpensive and cures or dries easily. There have been some improvements in this finish since its invention in 1921, but is it is still considered by the “pros” to be in the lowest end of the spectrum in quality for the following reasons:

• Tends to conform to the surface below it showing any imperfections of the substrate (Lower Volume Solids)
• Scratches and wears off easily (interacts with other chemicals/materials)
• Tends to yellow over time.

Some cabinet manufacturers use this finish because of its low cost and quick curing time.

Pre –Catalyzed Lacquers offer a step up when compared to straight Nitrocellulose Lacquer. The “pre” catalyzed version is called such because the catalyst is added into the mixture before it is sold to the end user, it is ready to use and requires little preparation. Additionally, it has a longer shelf life and requires less professional expertise for its application, when compared to Post Catalyzed Conversion Varnishes. Although superior to straight Nitrocellulose Lacquer, most have quality limitations such as a lower volume solids ratio (15-20%) and a tendency to yellow (not curing “water white”) so its performance is not as superior as the next step up.

Post–Catalyzed Conversion Varnish is often higher in cost per gallon when compared to Pre-Catalyzed Lacquer. It has a higher volume solids ratio of 30% to 45% thereby providing better coverage, build and fill and creating a better chemical barrier against wear and tear that stands the test of time. For cost and benefit that is the most noticeable in the industry, most would say it is the “go to” finish for high quality.

Polyurethane is another finish, often applied on items that take a beating from the elements. This finish is costly in dollars and time, and requires more safety / risk considerations. Post Catalyzed Conversion Varnish and Polyurethane’s protective qualities are so similar overall that the benefits of polyurethane (durability vs. cost and time) can be considered by many manufacturers overkill for kitchen cabinetry.  Therefore, for most discerning clients, Post-Catalyzed Conversion Varnish would be considered the ideal product to use for high end kitchen cabinetry finishes.


Sandra Brannock has designed beautiful and functional custom kitchens for clients throughout Northern Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC region. For more information, call Sandra direct at (703) 801-6402 or email sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.

Top 7 Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Top 7 Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designs, Northern VirginiaFew events are more disruptive, stressful or costly in life than remodeling one’s home. In my career as a professional kitchen designer, I have observed, assisted with and managed numerous residential kitchen remodeling projects throughout the Northern Virginia / Washington DC region. Here, in no particular order, are the top mistakes I see homeowners making when embarking on a kitchen remodeling project:

1) Not having a plan.

A kitchen remodel is a multidimensional process that requires far more advance planning than most homeowners realize in order to proceed smoothly.

Elements that must be considered and decided upon beforehand include:

  • who will be using the kitchen,
  • how will they be using the kitchen,
  • designing a floor plan that will support workflow patterns,
  • optimal configuration and placement of appliances and cabinetry,
  • product selections, fixture selections, color and finish selections, and
  • coordinating delivery and installation with multiple suppliers and workmen.

An expert kitchen designer understands all the elements that go into a planning a successful kitchen remodel and can save you considerable time, money, stress and headaches throughout the remodeling process.

2) Not being educated about the product

Just as you wouldn’t pair running shoes with an evening gown when dressing up for a special event, the cabinetry, fixtures, appliances and other elements of your kitchen remodel should all be of similar style and quality.

3) Not understanding the impact that appliances have on design

Appliances drive the kitchen design, period. Serious consideration should be given to what appliances will go into your kitchen, why they are there and where they will be placed, or you may later regret your choices.

4) Not understanding the importance of lighting

Lighting is key to everything in your kitchen remodel. The sun’s changing angles throughout the day and the seasons and the way the sun reflects in your kitchen will affect the look and feel of your space. I have seen too many clients commit to finish selections only to discover after all is installed that the color they thought was “beige” looks “pink” under the kitchen’s actual lighting.

5) Not understanding cabinetry construction.

All boxes are not created equal. Cabinetry construction affects its longevity. The cabinet’s finish is another important aspect of a cabinet’s quality. Examine both the construction and the finish of your cabinet selections to ensure your satisfaction with the final product.

6) Not subscribing to the “less is more” theory”

Kitchens do not have to be elaborate to be beautiful. When in doubt, do less, not more.

7) Not committing to a budget range.

This will most certainly get you into trouble. Homeowners are often reluctant to confide their true remodeling budget to the professionals assisting them. They may not be sure of their budget or they may not feel comfortable entrusting that information to the professionals who will be managing their kitchen remodeling project. If you are uncertain how much you should budget for your kitchen remodeling project, ask a trusted professional kitchen designer to educate you about your options.

Knowledge is power. The more knowledgeable you are about your remodeling options, the more likely you will make informed and sound decisions.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.