Houzz Live Chat: Smart Investments for your Kitchen and Bathroom
Jeannie Nguyen
July 11, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Thank you for participating in our Live Discussion on Smart Investments for your Kitchen and Bathroom! The discussion should last approximately one hour, beginning at 11am Pacific time on Thursday July 11th. We’ve invited just a few Houzz exclusive professionals to take part, but since it is a public discussion forum, community members may jump in as well. Please welcome:

Kayron Brewer of Studio K B: http://www.houzz.com/user/studiokb

Robin Amorello of Atmoscaper Design: http://www.houzz.com/pro/atmoscaper/__public

Amy Britton of Artisan Kitchens: http://www.houzz.com/user/artisan

The format is as follows: We will post questions as comments to this discussion thread. Each question will be prefaced by the question number, for example “Q1)”. For every answer to a particular question, you should use a corresponding label to attribute it back to the question you are answering, for example “A1)”.

Remember to refresh your page to see new questions and answers. Have fun!

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Jeannie Nguyen
Hi everyone! Chat will start very soon. In the mean time, say hi and introduce yourselves! :)
July 11, 2013 at 10:48AM   
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
Didn't know Houzz did chats, awesome!
July 11, 2013 at 10:49AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
Hello everyone! So excited to do this!!
July 11, 2013 at 10:50AM      Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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Emily Hurley
Hi Everyone! Excited to hear about this one. My kitchen needs help. :)
July 11, 2013 at 10:51AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
Hi Everyone!
July 11, 2013 at 10:51AM      Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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Jeannie Nguyen
Just a few more minutes everyone!
July 11, 2013 at 11:00AM   
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Jeannie Nguyen
Let's get started!
Q1) How do you know when it is the right time to remodel your space?
July 11, 2013 at 11:04AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A1) A kitchen or bath remodel can be triggered by many things. Failing appliances or cabinetry, leaks, outdated finishes or a bad original design. Regardless of the reason, the right time to pull the trigger is when you have a solid plan in hand and are both emotionally and financially prepared to endure a remodel. It is an invasive process, but if placed in the right hands, does not have to be a bad experience on any level and will result in many happy years of enjoyment in your space.
July 11, 2013 at 11:05AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A1)
Many times it is the condition of the existing installation, ie : failing appliances or leaky showers that demand a remodel.

Also, I suggest remodeling when you have time to put into it and not on a tight deadline. Remodeling for a wedding or baby 3 months prior to the event is asking for much more added stress on everyone.
July 11, 2013 at 11:06AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
@Robin, you are right! It is important to be emotionally ready for a remodel as it does invade the homeowner's space and can be tiring and overwhelming at times.
July 11, 2013 at 11:10AM     
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Emily Hurley
I think I fall into the category of people that wait until things are falling apart, which is unfortunate!
July 11, 2013 at 11:10AM   
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q2) What is one common mistake homeowners make when trying to make smart investments for a kitchen or bath remodel?
July 11, 2013 at 11:10AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
I just got back from a job this morning that just finished after a year of planning. The homeowner is thrilled and really happy that she took the time on the front end to get it all right in the end.
July 11, 2013 at 11:11AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A2) The first thing that pops to mind is putting stone counters on inferior cabinetry that will ultimately disintegrate under the weight of the stone. It's a bit counter productive.
July 11, 2013 at 11:12AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A2) Mistakes are made and money sometimes lost when you don’t have a plan. A plan is not only the floorplan, but also includes ALL materials, selections and a budget worksheet and a goal time line. A plan will also help keep you focused and not get off track. In a kitchen or bath remodel, mistake can be very costly. It is good to invest in a professional to help guide you or take your hand through the whole process.
July 11, 2013 at 11:12AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A1 - When to remodel depends on, as previously mentioned, when things need to be updated, or when the homeowner is just tired of the current look. :-)

A2 - A common mistake is short sightedness instead of thinking of long term, and also proper planning.
July 11, 2013 at 11:13AM      Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
Amen!
July 11, 2013 at 11:14AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A2) It's a big mistake not making a master plan up front; hiring a professional is a great start and can actually save you money in the end.
July 11, 2013 at 11:14AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q3) In your opinion, what is the most “high maintenance” material used in kitchens or baths and what should you consider when thinking about selecting it?
July 11, 2013 at 11:16AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A3) While beautiful, I would have to say porous stones such as marble and soapstone. Before making your final decision, educate yourself on what the inherent issues and maintenance will be. If you're willing to be diligent, you'll be fine, but most clients that I work with are not fans of being a slave to their countertops.
July 11, 2013 at 11:17AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A3) Some stones – soapstones requiring oiling, and they can get scratched (can be sanded out and re-oiled). Also, marbles can be high maintenance….depending on your expectations of the material.
Living finishes – copper and zinc for example, can also be higher maintenance. Depending on your expectations of how the material should look years down the road, you may have a maintenance item on your hands or just let it change and embrace the patina and its character change.
July 11, 2013 at 11:17AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A3 Most definitely carerra marble. It’s very porous and requires a LOT of maintenance to keep it looking pristine. It’s highly popular but not very practical unless you don’t mind if it acquires ‘patina’, which can mean both stains and scratches! Many manufacturers have attempted to make imitations but, IMHO, none of them look like real marble.
July 11, 2013 at 11:17AM   
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Los Angeles Remodeling and Construction
(A2) I believe it's when homeowners use the DIY route for kitchen or bath remodels that require a professional who has experience, knowledge and quality workmanship.
July 11, 2013 at 11:18AM      Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
Some people LOVE the look of aged, patinaed stone or metal - it's such a personal preference!
July 11, 2013 at 11:18AM     
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Emily Hurley
I've been fantasizing about putting soapstone in my kitchen. Definitely something to think about! I just figured if it stood up to my high school chemistry class, it should do well in my kitchen.
July 11, 2013 at 11:20AM   
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A3) Yes, I always ask about a client expectations of performance on products to help guide them to the right selections for them.
July 11, 2013 at 11:20AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A3 - White marble and soapstone look great, but do require a lot of upkeep to maintain the look. We like to steer people towards Cambria quartz when applicable.
July 11, 2013 at 11:20AM   
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
Keeping soapstone oiled will camouflage a lot of sins, but you have to *keep* oiling it because it dissipates over time.
July 11, 2013 at 11:21AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q4) Any low maintenance materials in a kitchen and bath remodel that you can count on to last a long time?
July 11, 2013 at 11:21AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A4) Engineered stone, tile, glass, a "factory finish" on solidly built cabinetry.
July 11, 2013 at 11:22AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A4) Man made quartz counters – Cambria, Caesarstone, Zodiac, Cosentino, Silestone, Pental Quartz. These are great for both kitchen and bath countertops. Some of the manufacturers are offering the slab in thinner material, which could be used to clad a shower wall.
July 11, 2013 at 11:22AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A4 Most of the quartz countertops are extremely low maintenance. There are now porcelain tiles that look so realistically like wood that they will fool pretty much anyone on first glance – they’re great for areas where you’d love the look of wood but it’s not practical.
July 11, 2013 at 11:23AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
Our customers have great results with quartz.
July 11, 2013 at 11:25AM     
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Closet Classics of Andover
A4: My experience with granite countertops has been very high maintenance, very hard to keep up with, and any small fingerprints are so easily visible ! What do you guys think is the easiest countertops to keep clean and looking nice for guests?
July 11, 2013 at 11:25AM        Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
Closets - select something with a pattern to it - whether stone or quartz - solid or near-solid patterns show every last thing.
July 11, 2013 at 11:27AM   
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q5) How important is it to invest in “energy efficient” appliances and lighting?
July 11, 2013 at 11:27AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
@Closet Classic... Have you tried using a brushed finish on granite? It really takes care of a lot of the issues you mention
July 11, 2013 at 11:28AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A5 I find that most folks select appliances based on features, not efficiency, although it is much easier to find great appliances that are Energy-Star rated now.
July 11, 2013 at 11:28AM     
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A5) As a citizen of the planet and survivor of the recession, I think that this is something that we should all be looking at these days. The choices for lighting and appliances are wonderful and energy use is a feature that most of my clients are looking at when making their choices.
July 11, 2013 at 11:28AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A5) Energy efficiency is always a good thing.

For lighting, invest in what we know will be available in the future. I don’t use fluorescent undercabinet lighting as in a handful of years, we may not have options on purchasing the replacement bulbs. Check the types of lamps (bulbs) to see if it will be phased out in the next handful of years. If so, reconsider. LED lighting has really taken leaps and bounds over the last few years and prices have come down. The LED's last a great number of years, and don't take much to operate.
July 11, 2013 at 11:29AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A5 - This the only Earth we have (at the moment), we should be as green and energy efficient as possible. :-)
July 11, 2013 at 11:31AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
Kayron I have some bulbs in my showroom that have lasted for close to 7 years!
July 11, 2013 at 11:31AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q6) In order of importance, where are three places you would focus your dollars for a kitchen or bath remodel? Best bang for your buck?
July 11, 2013 at 11:35AM   
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A6) Saving money in the long run is always a plus!
July 11, 2013 at 11:35AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A6) Quality Cabinets – go with good construction to last as other things like countertops can be changed later if you want to upgrade. Hard to go the other way…..cheap cabinets and expensive counters.

A good layout – a well functioning kitchen or bath is important. If it doesn’t function well for you, consider making that change.

Quality installation - a bad installer can wreck expensive materials and a good installer can make budget materials look great!
July 11, 2013 at 11:35AM     
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A6) 1) A professional design. You can typically expect to get the wow factor when you are working with someone who has the experience and knowledge to layer in the details that every great kitchen or bath possesses. 2) Longevity- invest in the best quality cabinetry that your budget will allow. It is the costliest piece of the puzzle to replace. If done right the first time, you will save the cost of a full scale remodel before it should need to happen. 3) Interesting finishes (counter/splash/hardware) that reflect your personal taste and style.
July 11, 2013 at 11:36AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A6 Of primary importance and number one priority would be designing a functional layout. I tell my clients we need to get this absolutely right before we move on to material selections. Next would be carefully and thoughtfully selecting the biggest-ticket items which are usually cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and in a bathroom, tile. Lastly would be – make sure you select quality materials with an eye towards longevity in both construction and style
July 11, 2013 at 11:38AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q7) After the remodel, what should you do to keep the kitchen or bathroom in tip top shape?
July 11, 2013 at 11:40AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A7) Educate yourself on the best way to maintain the various materials that you have chosen and keep them clean!
July 11, 2013 at 11:41AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A6 - Number One, I would combine cabinets and countertops. They are looked at compositely and need to support each other physically and aesthetically.

Number two, would be tiling for the backsplash. It also aesthetically supports the look of the countertop and cabinet.

Number three, would be flooring. It is the literal support and foundation for the entire home.
July 11, 2013 at 11:42AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A7) Proper care of materials. Talk to your product suppliers about the care of materials – knowing what cleaners to use or not use is important.

Use the ventilation! Especially in the bath, having good ventilation can help keep the moisture down, which many times creates more maintenance.

Ask your contractor if a yearly "tune-up" is a possibility. Whether it is part of their service or for a fee, that would be a good thing to keep things looking great!
July 11, 2013 at 11:42AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A7 Keep it clean! Only use products recommended for the material you are cleaning. Cooking greases, oils etc can degrade finishes over time. Be sure to have adequate ventilation planned in to any kitchen or bath remodel because humidity is an enemy of wood and paint. Keep your granite sealed with a good sealer and do not use harsh chemicals on *any* surface – usually mild soap and warm water will take care of most anything.
July 11, 2013 at 11:43AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A7 - Seal properly everything that needs to be sealed, use proper cleaning practices. And, just thought of this ... take a lot of photos! First, it will show how things wear over time, AND it's an incentive to keep things clean. (I'm a genius!)
July 11, 2013 at 11:44AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Sometimes I think I'm a bit too strict with my cleanliness, at least I know it's for the best! :)
July 11, 2013 at 11:45AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q8) Is there any part of a kitchen or bath remodel you would consider “low or last priority”?
July 11, 2013 at 11:46AM   
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
My stone fabricator now uses a sealer that is guaranteed for 15 years! And - they will come out and re-seal if it fails before then.

There have been so many advances that maintenance is much easier than it used to be.
July 11, 2013 at 11:46AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A8) In my opinion, a successful kitchen or bath remodel is one that has given priority to each and every detail ahead of time. These projects are a layering process and if one piece is put on the low priority list, it will ultimately impact the outcome. Take your time in the planning to make sure that you have considered everything. Trust me, it'll pay of in the end.
July 11, 2013 at 11:47AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A8)
If you are prioritizing for budget reasons, then anything that could be easily changed out and upgraded at a later date would be on the low priority for me. If it is inside the wall, or built in permanently, then consider these your priority.

Backsplash for a kitchen – that can always be added later or accessories for a bath (but be sure to add blocking for accessories and grab bars).
July 11, 2013 at 11:49AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A8 It’s funny – I don’t think of anything as being ‘low priority’

It all has to work together to be successful at the end.
July 11, 2013 at 11:49AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Q9) What is your #1 money saving tip for beginning a kitchen/bath remodel?
July 11, 2013 at 11:52AM   
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A9 -
1)plan
2)Plan
3)PLAN

You have to know your bottom line, and if you are working with a designer, they need that info too. Time and money can be wasted going down the wrong paths so making a plan and sticking with it is actually the best money-saving device there is.
July 11, 2013 at 11:52AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A8 - "Low priority" is a hard one. Accessories like island surround stools, or breakfast nook cushions?
July 11, 2013 at 11:52AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A9) Plan ahead, hire a professional, have a plan and establish a budget.
July 11, 2013 at 11:53AM     
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A9) Cheap is Expensive... Look at value over price.... Let the professional you hired be your guide!!!
July 11, 2013 at 11:53AM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
A9 - Plan ahead!
Hire reliable contractors / businesses
Bundle products / services
Follow up!
July 11, 2013 at 11:54AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
Ok everyone, last question! Let's make it fun. :)
Q10) Have you remodeled your own kitchen or bath? Tell us about it!
July 11, 2013 at 11:56AM   
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Jeannie Nguyen
Post photos too, if you have any!
July 11, 2013 at 11:56AM   
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
A10) I have had my kitchen and master bath spaces designed for a few years, but have yet to get around to it! It'll happen, but for the moment, it's the typical case of the Shoemaker's barefoot children!
July 11, 2013 at 11:56AM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
A10) I remodeled a bath in a carriage house we owned. It was on an extremely tight budget. Cream and white checkerboard 6x6 in shower and cream and white checkerboard 2x2 on floor with pedestal sink. Adorable, fun bath. It was a remodel out of necessity since the former homeowner did the installation himself and used MDF under tile!!! Bad idea!
July 11, 2013 at 11:58AM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
A10 Not remodeling, but currently designing for new construction. It’s so difficult because I am used to editing selections for my clients but I have access to and knowledge of pretty much everything out there. And I love so many different styles, colors, periods, it’s hard for me to choose what direction I want to go in!

I do have the layout done and finalized, thankfully.

I’m the worst client I’ve ever had, LOL
July 11, 2013 at 11:58AM     
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Jeannie Nguyen
A10) I'm in dire need of a kitchen AND bathroom remodel, too bad I live in an apartment with no ability to do so. :(
July 11, 2013 at 11:58AM   
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
The carriage house bath was about 15 years ago in Atlanta.....so have no idea where the photos went to.
July 11, 2013 at 11:59AM   
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Jeannie Nguyen
THANK YOU to everyone who participated in this Live Chat! It was so much fun, and informative! Feel free to continue chatting amongst yourselves, and to get off topic. ;) We'll be back soon for another Live Houzz Chat!
July 11, 2013 at 12:01PM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
Obviously no photos as there is no kitchen yet.

Living vicariously through my fabulous clients at the moment.
July 11, 2013 at 12:01PM     
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
Well said Artisan! It took me 3-1/2 years to chose a color for my dining room!!! I do this everyday for others without any trouble!
July 11, 2013 at 12:01PM     
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Kayron Brewer, CKD, CBD / Studio K B
That was fun! Thank you!!
July 11, 2013 at 12:02PM      Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
I think it's an occupational hazard when you have access to everything.
July 11, 2013 at 12:02PM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
Isn't it hard, Robin? I have a totally sure hand when selecting for clients; for myself, I'm always dithering :-)
July 11, 2013 at 12:03PM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
I wanted a new bathroom sink, so I got a new cultured marble countertop just to showcase it!
July 11, 2013 at 12:04PM     
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CR Home Design K&B (Construction Resources)
One of the owners redid his kitchen with white marble countertops and Heritage Wood.
July 11, 2013 at 12:06PM     
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
Thanks for chatting everyone. It seems like we are all very much on the same page (not surprising, with 3 CKDs in the bunch)!
July 11, 2013 at 12:09PM      Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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Artisan Kitchens LLC
For folks reading this who may not know what a CKD is, it's the abbreviation for Certified Kitchen Designer.

Go here to learn more: http://www.nkba.org/Design/Homeowners/Certifications.aspx

I've been a CKD since 1993, so 20 years in the trenches!
July 11, 2013 at 12:11PM     
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Robin Amorello, CKD CAPS - Atmoscaper Design
I enjoyed the chat and yes, it does appear that we are like minded!
July 11, 2013 at 12:12PM        Thanked by Jeannie Nguyen
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