Trends in Home Renovations: Open Kitchens

When considering a home renovation, the possibilities are endless! Renovation projects, especially kitchen renovations in Fairlington, can be a huge undertaking. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bob DeLong, owner of DeLong Home Improvement, to talk about his experience with kitchen renovations. DeLong has been a homeowner in Fairlington since the original conversion in 1977 and has worked on over 600 Fairlington properties! He has also “flipped” 5 Fairlington homes, adding high-end renovated kitchens. All five of their Fairlington projects had multiple offers and were under contract within days!

What are some of your most requested kitchen renovation concepts?

  • Our most-requested kitchens are open concept, island kitchens, which make the kitchen the centerpiece of the main level and the focal point of family life. And, the island design is great for entertaining as well.
  • White cabinets continue to be the number one choice by our homeowners; with granite, quartz or marble countertops, most often in a white-grey blend. That said, we anticipate more people requesting two-tone kitchens, with dark blue or black base cabinets.
  • Another trend is that hardwood floors in the kitchen has largely replaced tile as the homeowners choice. In Fairlington, the new hardwood floor can be stained to match what is in the adjacent living & dining rooms.

How have kitchen renovation trends changed over the years?

Ten years ago the majority of homeowners were selecting wood-stained cabinetry – the color “Espresso” was new on the scene and very popular. While homeowners were updating the kitchen with all-new elements, most were keeping the original floorplan, or opening up a partial wall. Today most of our kitchens are total gut remodels, taking the kitchen down to the studs – new floorplans, new beams, more square footage, and more storage.

What do you think is influencing this change in design?

HGTV continues to exert a tremendous influence on all aspects of remodeling.

How much does a full kitchen renovation typically cost?

Second to the real estate mantra, “location-location-location,” kitchens are what sells homes. For a first-class kitchen and a fast sale, sellers should plan on spending $30,000-$35,000, depending on the floorplan. The homeowner’s product selections also drive the price.

What has been your biggest challenge in renovating a Fairlington kitchen?

Fairlington homes are very well-constructed, but it is clear that during the original wartime construction in the 1940s and then the condo conversion in the 1970’s, there was pressure on the laborer’s to get the job done. And, during the war years, there were shortages of various materials. This led to some shortcuts, or jury-rigs, and what today we all refer to as the “Fairlington quirks.” Thus a contractor doesn’t know what might be found behind the walls when demolition begins. Even models with the same name are NOT necessarily identical. So any given remodeling project may present unique challenges. Plumbing is often a challenge due to the fact that some fittings just aren’t made anymore, and many units have connected plumbing in the kitchen. The fact that the 7 neighborhoods have different regulations governing remodeling is a challenge, in that what is allowed in one neighborhood may not be allowed in another – the variance process. The time involved is also another challenge. Once homeowners decide to remodel, they need to allow enough time to meet with and select a contractor – who should be licensed and insured. We handle the variance and building permit process for our clients, but not all contractors do, so homeowners may need to budget extra time for that. Some projects may require an engineer or architect, and lastly, one should allow a lot of time for product selections – simply because there is so much to choose from that it can be overwhelming.

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