View Mobile Site
  • Home
  • Marketplace
  • Community
  • Gas Prices


Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Stylish kitchen upgrade in Saugus

Scott and Vanessa Wilk have learned valuable tips during their ‘simple’ kitchen remodeling project

Posted: March 20, 2009 8:52 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2009 4:30 a.m.

The open floor plan gives the Wilk home in Saugus a modern, sophisticated feel. The peninsula "island" seperates the kitchen from the rest of the house. The ceiling in the kitchen was also raised.

View More »
The dream goes something like this: I step into my dark kitchen in the early morning, snap on the light and - voila - the house-beautiful elves have visited me during the night and totally redone the room. To the sound of angels singing, I observe that the nicked-up linoleum has been replaced by beautiful tile, the crummy counters are now glistening granite, there is a stainless steel sink and matching appliances and the wood of the cabinets - well, it pulses with the very glow of life.

And, of course, you know, the elves have done the dishes, too.

Like me, do you hate your kitchen, or just mildly dislike it? Do you block the doorway when guests try to go there, or park a cookie jar in front of the light switch so they can't turn the lights on and get a good look around? Is it time for a kitchen remodel?

According to, a minor, mid-range kitchen remodel will recoup 79.5 percent of its cost in increased home value (2008 average). With a major mid-range remodel the recoup goes down a little bit, to 76 percent. Still, that's a very good return on an investment - if you are going to stick around and enjoy your remodel for a few years. And, when it does come time to sell your home, an attractive kitchen could very well help it sell faster.

However, there are many pitfalls and things to consider with a kitchen remodel. Just ask Vanessa and Scott Wilk of Saugus. They've been through it.

"We know people who are considering staying in their home, looking to make it as livable as possible, Vanessa said. "We want to help."

Seemed like a good idea
Vanessa explained that the Wilks often entertain in their late-1980s-built home and that guests just naturally seem to gravitate toward the kitchen.

And it wasn't that they were embarrassed by their kitchen, it's just that it didn't accommodate large numbers of guests well.

"The whole idea was to make it more comfortable," she said.

And so, the Wilks stepped out onto the thin ice of a kitchen remodel. The work began on the last day of May, 2008.

"It was supposed to be done by July 8," Scott said. Instead it was mid-September before it was "mostly done."

Oh, yeah, and they were probably $30,000 over budget. That's because they kept finding more things to do.

"Remodeling is like plastic surgery," Scott said. "Once you start you can never stop." And he added, "We were just doing our part to keep the economy moving."

Little big plan
"My first idea was to have a gigantic kitchen island," Vanessa said. But their contractor, helped change her mind, as that would have left very little room in the kitchen.

"I don't think we could have fit three chairs around it," Vanessa said.

Instead, the Wilks chose to remove the kitchen island completely - and replace it with a "peninsula" coming off a wall on the outer edge of the kitchen.

Other changes included removing a pantry and "pushing the wall back" where it had been. "We gained eight inches of space," Scott said.

"We raised the ceiling and removed the fluorescent lights," he added. This gained them eight inches of vertical space - however, they ran into a bit of a problem.

They found out that the ceiling over the kitchen sink contained a drain pipe for the bathroom upstairs. Thus they couldn't raise the ceiling there.

But, in the end, this all looks to be part of the design, with crown molding accenting a lowered rim of ceiling around the kitchen.

The Wilks installed a new tile floor, light brown in color. "Always get dirt-colored floors," Vanessa said. "They don't show dirt."

More projects included a new kitchen sink, granite counter and peninsula tops and a white brick-patterned backsplash around the counter. The fireplace was redone as well. They continued the tile into the home's entryway, which led to redoing the stairs and bannister.

"You keep adding onto it," Vanessa said. "‘We're already spending this much, what's another $500?' Whatever your budget is, you're going to blow it."

One of the changes that the Wilks did not foresee, and one that breaks Vanessa's heart, was the removal of three panels of sliding wooden shutters along the glass doors of the family room. "They took up too much space," Scott said.

The shutters were replaced with very attractive drop-shades that complement the decor well, but the Wilks still miss their shutters.

"It's amazing what you will do to save three inches here, eight inches there. Size matters," Vanessa said.

In addition to the guidance provided by their contractor, the Wilks employed the services of a designer Kristine Crowder.

One of the many excellent suggestions she offered, which the Wilks followed, was to replace the dining table in the kitchen with one having a glass table top. "It gives the appearance of more space," Scott said.

Romantic inconvenience
"When we first started, we didn't realize they'd gut the place," Vanessa said. "It looked like Hotel Bagdad," Scott added.

During the remodel, the Wilks used their upstairs bonus room as their kitchen, with a mini-refrigerator, wet bar and coffee pot. "It was romantic at first, but after awhile it gets old," Vanessa said.

Lessons learned
As they say, there is nothing like experience, and the Wilks learned some lessons the hard way. From this they offer two important suggestions:

Tip #1: Our number one tip is to hire a decorator - even if you think you are a decorating diva," Vanessa said. "I can't tell you the difference it makes.""Hire someone who knows what they are doing," Scott added.

They went on to explain that their designer's ideas always turned out better than their own, even though they didn't always think they would. And Scott added that your designer can get you designer discounts. "You can make up a lot of their fee with these discounts," he said.

Tip #2: "Our number two tip is that you are never done when you think you are," Vanessa said. "You say, ‘Oh my gosh, we've got to do that, or that,'" she added.

Only one in charge: Additionally, the Wilks agreed that they were very happy with both their contractor and their decorator, but there has to be an overall boss.

"Always be sure you have one person in control." Scott said. "Our biggest mistake was not to. Our contractor had sub-vendors and our designer had her own people. Our floor guy was mad at the wood guy.... Just go by the recommendation of your contractor.

They (the sub-contractors) know each other and work well together."

What's next?
The Wilks are enjoying their remodel these days and so are the guests they entertain. And they agreed that they've already gotten past any of the difficulties they endured. "Doing a remodel is like birthing. After it's done, you forget the pain," Scott said. But he was quick to admit he'd never given birth.

"I'm glad we did it and happy with the result," Vanessa said. "We're not planning on going anywhere soon."

"We'll do the outside next," Scott said. But he admitted that "when" depended on the economy.

These days, as the Wilks get out and about, their stories of remodeling strike a chord with people they meet who have been through similar experiences. "We're in a special club," Vanessa said, "Those who remodel."


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...