Angela and Joseph Enrico had planned to redo their Oceanside kitchen, but, with two daughters in college and an adult son living at home, they had planned to wait -- until superstorm Sandy forced them and legions of other Long Islanders into a room makeover.
"The damage was horrible," says Angela Enrico, interior designer and owner of A. Sofia Interiors. "We had water in the kitchen and adjoining family room."
She says 3 inches of water entered the house and receded overnight. "Our daughter walked into the kitchen and slipped," Enrico says. "That's how we knew there had been water."
The biggest changes she made when she redid the kitchen were features that added functionality. They included a new glass-paneled door to the pantry area, a microwave drawer and an appliance garage to hold such things as the coffee maker and toaster.
She says Joseph, who works for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, likes to have everything out on the counter.
"I like everything put away," Enrico says with a laugh. "After 25 years of marriage, he knows that everything is going to be put away."
She also has a more convenient work area. "Before, the microwave was over the stove," Enrico says. "Now, I open a door and there it is."
Another innovation is the height of the granite island. She lowered it to table level.
"If I had room for a table and an island, I might have kept the island at the usual height," Enrico adds.
She says most people don't use a separate island enough and that stools are usually more comfortable for children than adults.
RULES TO RENOVATE BY
Planning a kitchen renovation can be stressful. Ingrid Tenzer, owner of Cerene Interiors in Massapequa Park and vice president of communications for the Metro New York Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association trade group, offers these tips for making the process a little smoother:
1. RESEARCH WHAT YOU LIKE AND DISLIKE. Collect examples of things you like and want from showrooms and magazines.
2. KNOW YOUR BUDGET. Starting with a lower-priced appliances may be the way to go because they are easier to replace than cabinetry, countertops and floors. "Don't sacrifice quality when it comes to your cabinets and countertop," she says.
3. FIX WHAT DOESN'T WORK IN YOUR CURRENT KITCHEN. "Is the dishwasher in the wrong place? This is the time to fix that," says Tenzer.
4. BE TRUTHFUL WITH YOURSELF ABOUT HOW YOU USE YOUR KITCHEN. "Do you entertain once a month or once a year? Do you cook dinner every day, or is this more of a show kitchen?" Tenzer says.
5. IS YOUR MAKEOVER FROM THE STUDS UP OR JUST A FACE-LIFT? "There is not always the necessity to rip everything out or expand," Tenzer says. "Maybe you just need a better layout."
6. NOT ALL CABINETRY IS EQUAL. Construction and materials can make a big difference in price, Tenzer explains. "Is it plywood, Melamine or particle board?" Tenzer asks. "Are the drawer glides undermount or on the sides? Undermount glides are stronger and more expensive."
7. WHICH BELLS AND WHISTLES DO YOU REALLY WANT? Soft-close drawers are standard on higher-end cabinets but upgrades for less-costly ones. Cost is determined by the material, finish, wood species, construction and door style, she says.
WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU?
Designer Angela Enrico, owner of A. Sofia Interiors in Oceanside, isn't an advocate of snap decisions when it comes to remodeling a kitchen. "Visit different cabinet sites on the Internet and showrooms to determine what you like," Enrico advises. "Eventually, you'll look at the pictures of what you like and they'll all begin to look the same, and that's how you know what you want."
Most showrooms will allow customers to take home sample doors to live with for a few days. This is a great way to find out if mahogany is too dark or that beadboard is no longer your idea of beautiful.
Enrico says the kitchen is not necessarily the place to indulge your love of trends. "Granite is classic, which is why you see it so often," Enrico says. "Poured concrete may look nice to you now, but how will you feel about it in five years?"
She also adds that lighting in a new kitchen is important, saying that you have to keep in mind both function and style.
Most important, though, is deciding if the kitchen is just a kitchen or should it have other functions. "Do your kids study in the kitchen or is that where you pay bills?" Enrico asks. "If so, do you want a built-in desk area? Do you want a bar area for entertaining?"