There is a plethora of home improvement shows on these days, just scan through any number of channels like HGTV, TLC, Bravo, etc. and you'll find a number of "contractor reality star personalities" walking through renovations, flips, and new construction processes. Don't get us wrong we love some of the inspirations and the whole world seems to be in love with those Property Brothers these days, but an interesting conversation with a client we are currently in mid-renovation with right now got us thinking...is reality TV setting up unrealistic expectations for real renovation projects?
This particular thought started off with a casual conversation that started with "Wow if people really knew what they were getting into and what all was really involved!" So much of what reality TV and a lot of kitchen and bath company advertising seem to reflect is a "quick-fix" solution. Yes, those charismatic twins might talk about being able to remodel an entire home in 6 weeks, but what you don't see on the show is the crew of 30 people that came in to do that work while they were off promoting a new home furnishing line on QVC. We hate to burst your bubble but that's not a reality especially for your project budget!
The reality is there are a lot of moving components that are involved from the time you go through the fun part of picking finishes, cabinets, and appliances to the time we hand over a beautiful new space to you, and the behind the scenes action is not so glamorous. A major component starts with the demo process and what we uncover; some contractors might look over the structure, plumbing, electrical, ventilation, etc. issues that have aged or may not be up to current code. At Grand Kitchen+Bath we won't ever proceed with a project by just putting a bandaid on something or patching it up, knowing it's only going to create a problem down the road. In an area like Tampa Bay with a number of aging and historic homes, this is very crucial. There are a lot of things that we look at as we get into a project that might uncover harsh realities, but we do it to make sure we are starting your renovation on a solid foundation that will be a solid investment for years to come.
It's important that you understand the realities before you begin your remodeling project and that you don't have a contractor that gives you lip service with deadlines or a budget that seem too good to be true. The reality is an intensive kitchen or bath remodel can take 12 weeks or more. It's a far cry from the 6-week whole house renovation we see on TV, but again that's not reality. When you are ready to take on your next renovation and are looking for an upfront contractor and design firm, call Grand Kitchen + Bath, we promise to always design your dream space while setting realistic expectations!
In celebration of Women’s Small Business Month, we sat down with the majority owner of Grand Kitchen + Bath, Julie Burch to learn how Grand Kitchen started, how the business has changed and the opportunities and challenges that exist for a female entrepreneur.
How did you and Richard get into the business in this industry?
When we first started Grand Kitchen + Bath I was still working a full-time job for a steady paycheck and working at the showroom as a side hustle. Designing is essentially a form of merchandising, and I had a retail merchandising background, so as the business really started to grow it just made sense that I use my background to integrate into a larger ownership role in the business. When we started GKB we just did cabinets; as the business grew so did the products and services we offered, adding on countertops, tile, lighting, fixtures, sinks, etc. We now offer over 500 products in our portfolio, which was easy to learn as we added them, but now it can be a little daunting for someone new to come into.
Most small businesses start with the owner deciding they don’t want to work for someone else and essentially go into business to give themselves a job. We did just that; we decided we didn’t want to be working for someone else through to retirement, so as the business grew, we also grew our staff, so it became about leading a business and hiring other people as part of the team. This way, I could really take charge of managing the client process while Richard maximized his talents in Design. We feel we had an advantage; we got into this business without being taught so we didn’t know any rules and that allowed us to experiment. Now, 3 showrooms later, here we are.
What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Recruiting the right talent. Along the way, I’ve learned you can’t ask enough questions; you can’t dismiss your gut instinct. No matter how many questions you ask, no matter what a person’s qualifications or how recommended they come, the early red flags your gut picks up on usually lead to bigger things down the road you’ll wish you’d paid more attention to.
Have you had any mentors or coaches along the way?
We’ve had a couple coaching opportunities along the way, most notably getting involved in Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership. The formula is adaptable to every type of business. We’ve worked with local entities that helped get us into the coaching world, but we needed to go deeper and EntreLeadership is very good at educating and coaching for businesses whether they are transactional, or service based. The way they maximize technology and the network of other business owners gives you a great support system to share and learn from each other in addition to the resources from the Ramsey team. It’s a cohesive comradery of everyone helping everyone else.
Pros and cons of being a female business owner in 2019?
Compared to the rest of our industry, we are an interesting mix, because we have a bit of a hybrid with the interior design business and the construction side, where many just do one or the other. The construction part of the industry is of course still very male-dominated while it’s safe to say interior design has been a female-dominated industry for decades. Kim and I are really devoted to managing the people and client-side of the business along with the merchandising side. Realistically, this works better as most of the demographic we deal with is female and often they relate better to other females as a major decision-maker and homeowner.
Tips for women wanting to start their own business?
Think about it very carefully. I think we really learned a lot the hard way going by the seat of our pants. If you want to get into business for yourself, I can’t stress enough to really think about it and be realistic. You need a business plan from the beginning, a vision and a roadmap of how you are going to get there and what it’s going to take, financially, mentally, and physically. We sort of lucked out that we jumped in and it eventually all came together as we were self-taught. There are a lot of resources out there these days for small business owners and I can’t stress enough to really tap into those; many of the small businesses we’ve seen not make it in the past 15 years since we started GKB, not having a clear plan was probably one of their first downfalls.
I would also recommend utilizing your network and take advantage of programs out there designed to help promote women-owned businesses. I know funding can still be a barrier for women who want to launch their own business for example so there are a number of resources from agencies like the Small Business Administration, The National Women’s Business Council, National Association of Women Business Owners among many others that can help connect you with the resources that might help you take the next step.
What motivates or encourages you?
Wine! All kidding aside, a good motivator for me daily is to have happy homeowners; they put a great deal of trust into us to invite us into their homes, tear apart something, and then create something brand new that they will love. Just the other day, working with a client, I pulled some materials together that they never even dreamed of putting together and they were totally gaga over it! That’s what gets me out of bed each day, the ability to do that and knowing that many of the clients we’ve worked with have become close friends. Our projects can take a great deal of time, and there is no better compliment than when that project is complete, that we’ve created not only an amazing space for them, but we’ve also built amazing friendships along the way.
One of the biggest challenges in creating your dream kitchen is deciding on which finish to use. What makes it even more difficult is that there's no customary instruction to selecting easy care finishes or materials. Likewise, there are numerous rules and styles when working with a professional. Without a doubt, every project is different and requires a special touch.
However, most professionals will agree that there are certain guidelines to follow when creating a perfect kitchen to fit your needs. For instance, easy maintenance and preventing fingerprints from showing are critical factors when deciding on the ideal finish. In truth, many people feel that an easy clean up on appliances is a major feature to have in their dream kitchen. There are also other factors to consider when designing the ideal home kitchen.
Stainless Steel Finishes
One of the most popular finishes is stainless steel. This is because there are several features that make it an outstanding selection. For instance, stainless steel is quite durable with a very strong structure, is simple and easy clean up on appliances plus easy maintenance and is environmentally friendly. Stainless steel will also blend in with most cabinets and décor.
Drawbacks to stainless steel can include that it is no longer original or unique and could be considered boring, it is prone to fingerprints, and most stainless steel appliances are monotone with a stainless finish on the appliance and the handle.
Black Stainless Steel Finishes
Black stainless steel has many features such as easy care finishes, minimal to no fingerprints when compared to regular stainless steel, and has contrast options like a black stainless steel appliance with stainless steel handles.
The cons are few but worth noting: limited consumer color testing, a new product with limited models, and there can be color variations, depending on the manufacturer.
Black appliances are a great way to add depth to a kitchen. When working with a professional, they can suggest different ways to mix and match but still have a modern look. For instance, black appliances pair well with stainless as well as various color cabinets. In addition, black finishes tend to be more cost effective and easy on the budget.
White finishes make a kitchen look bigger and brighter and, in fact, they have the ability to make a kitchen feel larger as well. White finishes are classic and have a clean ambiance and shine. It may seem like you clean often to keep the surface shiny and sparkling, however this is well worth the rewards of a sunnier and larger space.
Slate finishes are more popular with consumers who like a warmer touch instead of the cold feel of stainless steel. Slate has a metallic look but also has a warm matte finish. In addition, the earth tone of a slate finish pairs well with a variety of colors and materials.
What is more, slate finishes are resilient to fingerprints and smudges, are versatile with earthy tones, look amazing against white cabinetry and are well-tested by consumers with high ranks. The biggest downfall of a slate finish is that it does not pair well with the shine and polished look of stainless steel.
Black Slate Finishes
About the time black stainless steel appliances became popular, black slate finishes were introduced. Unfortunately, black stainless steel took the limelight. However, black slate is quickly making a comeback in many contemporary kitchens.
Black slate features the same exceptional stone matte finish plus stainless steel handles for a nice contrast. Black slate appliances are also available through most manufacturers and come in a variety of styles. Black slate’s other benefits include resilience to fingerprints, a great contrast with white cabinets, it has rich and warm tones with a matte finish, and both contrasting and matching handles are available. By the same token, black slate has a few drawbacks like limited availability and being difficult to match it with stainless steel.
Color finishes are quite popular for a modern look and contemporary décor. The ingenuity definitely makes a statement giving your kitchen the “wow” factor. However, color finishes are not for everyone. Keep in mind that when an appliance goes out it may be difficult to replace. Also, color appliances are generally more expensive than other finishes and styles. However, it is always worth it if it's the look you desire.
Work with the experts
Deciding on the best finish for your kitchen is a personal choice. However, if you find the process a bit challenging, your best option is to work with a professional. They will know what is best to suit your needs and desires when it comes to designing your dream kitchen.
An outdoor kitchen is the place to host family, hold big events, or simply cook outside and enjoy the warm weather as much as possible. There are a few tips listed below that explain what an outdoor kitchen can do for you, and you will discover that the outdoor kitchen can completely change the way you manage your home and your meal schedule.
1. What Is an Outdoor Kitchen? An outdoor kitchen is a fully-functioning kitchen that sits on your deck, on your patio, or by your pool. Everyone has their own way of setting up their outdoor kitchen, but these kitchens are no different from what you would see inside. The kitchen usually has a large countertop, stove, and oven. You can have a full fridge installed or you might have a mini-fridge placed under the counter. You might have a full bar set up with an ice chest, and you could have a blast chiller installed if you want a place to keep your cold desserts.
2. Why Would You Install an Outdoor Kitchen?
Everyone who installs an outdoor kitchen will find that they like cooking outside because they are not as concerned about making a mess. You can enjoy the Florida weather while you are cooking, and you can even lie down in a lounge chair while certain things are simmering or baking.
3. The Outdoor Kitchen Makes Things Easier The outdoor kitchen makes your life that much simpler because you can move your entire party outside. There is no need to walk in and out of the house, and you will find that you can fill the air with the smell of your cooking instead of sitting inside the house where the kitchen made everything a little bit too stuffy. You can easily wipe down and sweep the kitchen when you are done cooking, and you can spend more time outside.
4. The Kitchen Adds Real Value to Your Home The kitchen adds value to your home and backyard because it is not a common item. Most people do not have a kitchen sitting just outside their home, and you will entice more people to come over for gatherings because they want to see what the kitchen is like. The outdoor kitchen cuts down on the need for an excuse to go outside and grill because you can cook everything in this space. Plus, an outdoor kitchen is an installation that people will pay a premium for when it comes time to sell the house.
5. Hosting Is Easier The outdoor kitchen makes things easier because you can have your whole party in one place. It is very easy for you to bring people over, to cook for them in a public space, and watch over your food even while you talk to your friends or sit by the pool. You could even put something in the oven that you know needs to bake for half an hour, and you could jump in the pool while you wait for the timer to ring. You could get in the pool while someone else is cooking, and you could even shout a recipe from the pool or your lounge chair.
6. The Outdoor Kitchen Is Designed to Stand Up To Bad Weather The outdoor kitchen will stand up to poor weather, and it comes with a special cover that will protect the kitchen from wind and rain. The appliances can be locked and closed, and the cover will keep debris from damaging all your appliances. Plus, you can use any furniture in this space because you will have more area around the kitchen itself; an outdoor kitchen is much easier to sit in while people are cooking.
7. The Outdoor Kitchen Helps You Serve Everyone The outdoor kitchen makes it easy for people to serve the whole group. The countertop that comes along with your outdoor kitchen makes it easy for you to set up the buffet style meal that you plan to offer. Because of this, you can invite a lot of people over who can easily access the food that you have made. People who are hosting events inside have a hard time with the buffet arrangements because there is only so much room. Plus, you can set up a bar outside with your outdoor kitchen that does not get in the way. Wheeling in the cart for making drinks is much easier when you have extra space to work with.
Conclusion The outdoor kitchen that you have installed on your deck or patio could greatly benefit your lifestyle, change how you entertain, and allow you to enjoy the weather a lot more. You could set up a kitchen outside that allows you to cook everything you need for a big party, and you will find that the kitchen can double as a wet bar, allow you to serve all the food you just made, and will give you easy access to the pool. Enjoy the weather more this summer by cooking in an outdoor kitchen.
You can remodel your home with help from a contractor, but you need to know how to choose that contractor. You must be sure that you have found professionals to remodel the house that will listen to what you want. Contractors can do a full renovation inside the house or you could have a simple addition done; subcontractors can install tile or flooring or help with plumbing. Here are ten things you need to know when choosing your contractor:
1. The Contractor Must Have A License
The contractor must have a current license and they must be licensed to do any specialty work that they offer. This means that a plumber has a plumber’s license, the contractor has a contractor’s license, and the company has a license to do business in the state. This is a very simple thing to check as it is public information. If you are not getting this important information on your contractor you could come across someone who will do you wrong.
2. They Should Do Free Estimates
The company should do free estimates to remodel your home. A company that will make a full sketch of what they plan to do for you or makes a full invoice that explains expenses is a good company to go with. You can save a lot of money because the company may trim the estimate to make your job much more cost-effective. You should get more than one estimate so that you get the best deal.
3. They Should Use Good Products
You need to look through the products that the company offers and they need to offer you a chance to look at the materials that they will provide to you. These companies should ensure that you have signed off on anything that might be a problem for you. You get to approve all the things that are used on your home and you will be in a place where you are doing the right thing for your home without compromising your safety.
4. They Work On A Schedule
The company should work on your schedule and you need to be sure that you have given them a schedule and they have agreed to it. You may want to have your remodel done for a big family gathering, getting ready for the holidays, or getting ready for the summer season. Make sure that you have the right plan in place with the contractor for the remodel so that you can be confident that the work will be done on time.
5. They Will Check In With You
You need to check in with the company often so that you know they are doing what they said they would do. The company will give you reports on what they have done and they will make you feel much more comfortable with the progress that you are making. You will be told when all materials are in and they will tell you how they are doing as they do the construction. If you cannot get in touch with them or they are not reaching out to you, they are not worth your time and your money.
6. They Are Friendly
The contractor and staff should have a professional and friendly demeanor. They should be willing to give you explanations of everything that they do and they need to have someone in their office that will talk to you when you call. No one wants to work with a company employing rude staff and it will be very hard for you to have a good feeling about the job if the people doing it are disrespectful to you. The second you find a problem, you will start to wonder if they did a good job on anything.
7. They Have Good Reviews
You can learn a lot about these companies by checking out their reviews. The company should have good reviews online and you need to call their references to find out how they do their work. You will never have to wonder if they will finish the job in the right way.
8. They Send A Large Crew
You should not work with a company that only sends one guy to do the job. You have to be sure that the company you hire will send a large number of people to get the work done quickly. You also have to remember that you can get the best possible work done when all the right people are there. You will not have to wait to see the work done.
9. They Offer Discounts
The best company will drop its prices on certain jobs through programs and discounts. These discounts make it easier for you to save money.
10. The Company Can Come Back
You need to have access to this company in the future to do touch-ups or service on the things they have installed. Make sure at the beginning that they have a follow-up program in place.