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Our Remodeling Your Kitchen Experts

Vern Yip

Vern Yip

Designer for TLC's hit show "Trading Spaces"

Shared by First30Days View Profile»
Susan Serra

Susan Serra

Certified kitchen designer and NKBA member

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Janice Anne Costa

Janice Anne Costa

Editor of Kitchen and Bath Design News

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Janice Anne Costa on Kitchen Makeovers

Janice Anne Costa on Kitchen Makeovers

In the world of interior design, Janice Anne Costa is a voice to be trusted. The co-author of Everything and the Kitchen Sink: Remodel Your Kitchen Without Losing Your Mind is also the editor of Kitchen & Bath Design News, the industry’s leading magazine. Costa has been interviewed about design trends by publications and news outlets across the country, including CNN, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the LA Times. This well-respected expert contributed some of her insight on how to keep control during a kitchen remodel.

What are some of the greatest concerns people have when remodeling a kitchen?

Budget and time. Sometimes there’s a concern about resale value. But I’ve always believed that when you buy a house, it’s for you. Live in it. There is an actual measurable psychological difference in people who are happy in their kitchens—they are happier in their relationships. You are investing in your lifestyle, your happiness and your relationships. It’s the best investment you can make.

How can people keep from getting too stressed during the remodel process?

You have many elements that cause stress–a lot of factors can’t be controlled. For example, you don’t know what’s behind your cabinets until you pull them out. Then there are the elements you can control, like being realistic about your do-it-yourself capabilities, about what you can and can’t do. Recognize that any timeline is tentative. Find the right person to do the job, whether it’s a contractor, designer, or yourself and your spouse. Do your research and make design decisions in advance, and be committed to them.

The biggest thing you can do is design for how you live. If you have dogs or small children, don’t put glass on cabinet bases or use high gloss surfaces that show fingerprints. Everything looks beautiful in the showroom, but how will it work in your house? Set up a coffee pot, microwave or anything else you may need on a daily basis. Remember your pets, so the fish doesn’t die because nobody thought of the dust or the cat doesn’t get out. If you plan, you have a lot less panic at the time.

What fears do people face in the first 30 days of planning a kitchen remodel?

Some of the fear is cost. A remodel is almost always going to cost more than the estimate. Prepare for that by deciding what you really want to spend, then get an estimate that is 10 to 20% less than that, to give you an allowance. There is also the fear of having strangers in your home. Don’t just check the contractor on the Better Business Bureau; talk to other people, ask if they were uncomfortable or found people in other rooms of the house. If contractors won’t give you other clients’ names, don’t use them. You have to have some kind of a connection with your designer or contractor. People are afraid they will be pushed into things they don’t want—get everything in writing. Find someone who is going to respect what you want. It’s your house, and you have to live in it.

People also have the fear of chaos in the house. Your home is your personal space, and you have to be comfortable. Create safe zones in your house just for you. Talk about the real issues. Some don’t mind handing over a key to contractors, others do. Figure out what your comfort level is.

How would you describe a safe zone?

Most contractors will put up a plastic barrier to contain the dust and give you some privacy, a place you can get away from the noise. A safe zone may be upstairs or in a separate area of the home, or someplace else like a quiet restaurant once a week. It needs to be separated from the contractors, to have your privacy and not feel like you’re “on.” The contractors have heard everything—they’re not interested in your family’s conversations—but it can feel like someone’s listening all the time.


What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

I think change is part of helping you become the person you are meant to be. It gets you out of your comfort zone to help you grow. It’s a healthy, normal part of life.

The best thing about change is…

...it takes you to exciting new places and opens the door to exciting new opportunities.

What is the best change you have ever made?

The best change I've ever made was to rescue a dog that most people would have deemed "unadoptable." Not only did I gain a wonderful friend and companion, but I learned enormous amounts about dog training and socialization, "unleashing" a new passion. I never cease to be amazed how one seemingly inconsequential decision ("Okay, I'll take the big shepherd-y looking dog with the sad eyes") can alter the course of your life.

For more from Janice Anne Costa, visit Kitchenbathdesign.com.

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