The Challenge: When my fiancée and I got engaged, we were living in a condo on the beach. It had great views but space was very limited, especially given our lifestyle. With two dogs and my fiancée working from home, we were in desperate need of more space.
We had our hearts set on a dream neighborhood—a desirable area in our coastal community with an ideal location, spectacular views and a sought-after school district. There was just one problem – there were no properties for sale.
Then, we discovered a house for rent. The spacious three-story single-family home even had a basement and a mother-in-law suite. Built in the mid-80s, it was not exactly suited to our needs, but we decided to move in. When the owner agreed to sell, we jumped at the opportunity (and the great price!) despite the fact that the property would require a major remodel.
My fiancé had tackled small remodeling projects in the past and, as luck would have it, his close friend is a respected builder in the community. With our friend’s help, my fiancé and I decided on an extensive DIY remodel. We lived in the house during six months of heavy construction, and worked closely with our builder over the course of a year to completely transform the house. Nothing escaped our touch: we re-roofed the entire house, installed board and batten, re-painted the exterior, painted all interior walls, installed all new flooring, replaced all of the windows, upgraded the plumbing, added a myriad of energy efficient features, and re-landscaped the grounds. We also took on more complicated projects, like walling in the screened porch and transforming it into a walk-in closet off the master bedroom, constructing a wraparound deck, and building a second garage for our golf cart. Needless to say, wedding planning got pushed to the backburner.
Even though we accomplished a lot without the help of an architect or a designer, we knew our limits. When it came to the kitchen and the bathroom, we decided to do the smart thing and seek professional help. All of the other projects had us stretched so thin, that in order to save our sanity – not to mention our future marriage – we knew we needed to outsource these complex and crucial spaces.
|The Process: Walking into Kitchen and Bath Design Studio, we had very clear ideas about what we wanted and needed. Devotees of Houzz.com, we had used the site as our primary resource for inspiration. We could clearly articulate our style, our color palette, and our preferences. In fact, we had already selected certain materials, finishes and products, including our appliances. In our case, bringing a design professional on board meant having an expert project manager who could bring a depth of knowledge we didn’t have. For example, we knew that the ordering process for cabinetry, in particular, is complex—one has to specify measurements, materials, finishes, edging, hardware and more. I didn’t want to make a mistake and throw our remodel schedule off track. Knowing I could count on professionals to order, receive, and coordinate the intricacies of the install process for our kitchen and bath helped me sleep better at night.|
|Indeed, working with our design team was a breeze. The first thing they did was come to our house to measure the space. Then they went back to the studio and designed a few different layouts so we could choose the one we liked best. When it came to details, their expert knowledge came in handy more than once. For instance, because we live right near the water, there is a lot of humidity and moisture. The original kitchen cabinets had buckled as a result. To prevent this problem from occurring again, our designers recommended Cabico for their moisture resistant cabinetry. We loved seeing all our options in person – the floor models in the showroom are fantastic; in fact we used a showroom bath model as the inspiration for our own bathroom. Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you see it, and a designer can expose you to options you might overlook on your own: at one point we were discussing our cabinets, and our designer pulled out a sample to show us what our edging would look like. She said not to pay attention to the light blue color and finish of the sample, because they weren’t the ones we’d picked out, but it was too late. We immediately fell in love with the color, and changed our design plan as a result. It was the kind of happy accident that could only happen in the presence of an experienced, professional designer.|
|Our bathroom also benefited from the talents of our design team. One designer actually created a custom wave design, using tile in shades of turquoise and blue. It reminds us of the beach and perfectly reflects the relaxed vibe of the North Carolina coast. Because the tile was custom-designed, it had to be cut to very specific measurements. The tile installer that Kitchen and Bath trusted with this task did an amazing job and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.|
|The Result: Kitchen and Bath Design Studio took charge and did exactly what was needed. They handled all the tiny and terrifying details involved with a major kitchen and bath remodel, from ordering materials to coordinating deliveries to installation. Watching the designers work, we realized that creating a new kitchen is like a puzzle, a true step-by-step process. It’s creative and fun, but it’s also uniquely challenging – there are a thousand ways to mess it up. With Kitchen and Bath Design Studio, we were able to focus on all of our other projects and participate in the fun part of designing a kitchen and bath, while leaving the tedious details to our design team.
In addition to the big projects that our design team tackled, their attention to less obvious features has made our kitchen so much more special. Our trash is hidden under the sink in a perfectly sized drawer. We splurged for soft closing hinges, a luxury we can’t imagine living without now that we have it. And the stunning light blue cabinetry color we stumbled upon is one of the design elements everyone notices first. Finally, we have more functionality then we ever imagined, and for two people who have remodeled every inch of their home, that’s saying a lot.
|The Final Word: Working with Kitchen and Bath Design Studio was an incredible experience. Our designers were helpful, their work was fantastic, and the whole process was smooth and easy. After a year of upheaval, remodeling our house from top to bottom, we now have a home that we can live and grow in for a long, long time—and my fiancée and I are still happily engaged. Furthermore, our kitchen and bath are so picture-perfect; they’ve both been featured in a magazine. Now that’s what I call a fairytale remodel! I’m grateful for Kitchen and Bath Design Studio’s help; my only regret is that I can’t hire them to plan my wedding, too! Though I have to admit – after all the work that went into our home, we’re probably going to elope so we can go straight to living happily ever after.
–Christy Coltrain and Cale Lewis