Remodeling my kitchen and powder room with Cardea Construction- an owner’s point of view

We started the process of redoing our kitchen last Spring, talking to Cardea Construction who had worked on our house before—replacing all the windows and redoing our siding.

We talked to Patricia, the owner and she gave us a book with a schedule of things we needed to think about and purchase ahead of time—layout, appliances, light fixtures, cabinets selection, counter tops, sinks, colors, backsplash, matching flooring, and other things.


I had spent the previous few months watching Property Brothers—and saw enough “white” kitchens to last a lifetime and that confirmed for me that I wanted dark cabinets that went with the rest of the woodwork in the house. I also spent a lot of time on Houzz looking at features and ideas for our cabinets. On top of that, we had spent some time with a kitchen designer, who we thought would be able to give us some “out-of-the box” ideas for kitchen configuration. Turns out, we like the U-shaped option best, a version of what we had, though a bit larger; it gave us the most in terms of work space and the flow I liked.

One of the first things we had to do to get ready was to drill holes in our soffits to see if they were essential—if they indeed were holding pipes. We wanted to remove as much of the soffits as possible so our cabinets could go to the ceiling. Turns out the soffits from over the door to the dining room through the inside wall of the kitchen were just there to match the rest of the room. We had the opportunity to remove at least half of what we had. We also decided to remove the cabinets that were over the peninsula to open up the space. Turns out that soffit did hold a little bit of piping, but a plumber was able to shorten the drain from the shower upstairs, and we now have a flush ceiling there.

Once we had the dimensions for the appliances, we went to pick out our cabinets. Lots of styles, suppliers, colors. Turns out there are framed and frameless cabinets, and we had to learn about that. Patricia went with us to Expo Cabinets, which gave us cabinets and with the flexibility we wanted. We went with a Michigan manufacturer; chose cherry wood with a burgundy finish. There was about a 6 week lead time on the production of our cabinets.

We picked out our counter tops (for bathroom also). This was a small problem since gray and white seemed to be the “in” colors, and not what we wanted. We have a Tudor-style home, so the dark cabinets and light bamboo floors did not say “gray” to me. We were thinking colors in the brown range. We finally picked out a slab from Cambria who manufactures a granite surface that requires almost no care (and we did pick out a slab for the powder room that actually was in the gray range).

Back at home, a month later, we started the deconstruction of our kitchen. Cardea Construction Co. was very helpful. We moved some of our old cabinets into our back hallway. We were able to store a lot of our food that we use on a regular basis in those cabinets. Cardea loaned us a two burner stove which went in the back hall on the cabinets, along with our microwave.

We moved the kitchen table and chairs into the family room and the refrigerator also. So the back half of our family room and back hall became our temporary “kitchen.”

Cardea broke down our cabinets, our pantry wall and soffits—and removed everything. They removed the wallpaper from the walls. They painted both kitchen and powder room. Because the layout for our new kitchen was larger than originally, and because our bamboo flooring did not go under the old cabinets, one of the first projects was to interlace the new flooring pieces with the old; luckily we could find similar bamboo pieces. And they did a marvelous job of that. We are just waiting for the sunlight to darken the wood to look like the rest of the floor (darkened over the last 10+ years).

Once the floor was down and the walls painted, the cabinets and appliances arrived and the construction phase started, all according to Cardea’s specifications and plans. Cardea Construction, and especially Phil, worked wonders. Our cabinets have a lot of glass fronts and sides, we have pullout drawers, a large “pantry” cabinet with spice racks, a file drawer, a lazy susan, a small book shelf and some other really neat storage spaces that we specifically asked for.

It took less than 6 weeks for the finished product—both kitchen and bathroom. We are thrilled. We’re keeping our old white refrigerator for a while longer, until it breaks down, but otherwise we are done and loving it.


Ready for a Kitchen Remodel?

kitchen10aRecently there have been a number of articles that have come out discussing the new trends in kitchen design. Since the kitchen is the hub of the home, it is appropriate that that is where our attention is turning. And we continue to find that kitchen renovations—which can deliver enhanced storage, better ergonomics, and energy efficiency – add to the value of your home, providing an excellent return on investment.


So what does Cardea Construction Co. and the industry are seeing for overall trends for 2014 are:

  1. Countertops that are not granite. Home owners are now looking at synthetic materials that are more consistent in color, less likely to damage, and have less waste. Check out:
    1. Formica- Yes, formica which comes in granite-inspired laminates, solid colors, and patterns. They are also low-VOC, low-formaldehyde countertop material (once made).
    2. DSC_0475sm-240x350

    3. Quartz – quartz is extremely hard and durable, with a glossy sheen. It is easy to clean, comes in a range of colors, and doesn’t require sealing or resealing. However, quartz is heavy, and it isn’t as heat tolerant as some other countertop options.
    4. Soapstone – Soapstone countertops are heat resistant, and scratches and scrapes can be etched away and are also stain resistant. However, soapstone counters do require maintenance in the form of regular oiling and buffing.
    5. Concrete– The concrete countertop is durable, scratch and heat resistant, and you can customize things like shape and texture. Negatives include the weight of the countertop and they are susceptible to stains and other damage from acids such as orange juice.
    6. Glass, including recycled glass– Glass creates a statement in your kitchen without taking away from your overall design. Glass is heat resistant and doesn’t stain easily, and because it is nonporous, glass counters tend to be very hygienic. The negative is that it can crack or chip, plus fingerprints are highly visible.
    7. Stainless steel—if you have (or are purchasing) stainless steel appliances — why not a countertop? They have the capacity to resist both stains and heat. They are nonporous, which makes them hygienic and easy to clean, but like glass, they too show every single fingerprint. Stainless steel can also be susceptible to dings and scratches.
    8. Lava stone comes in glossy sheets, though you can choose matte, and the wide variety of colors. Lava stone is nonporous, is almost impervious to stains, heat and scratches. But because it’s newer, it’s one of the more expensive options.


  2. Kitchen layout– No longer a closed off room, the new kitchen is more flexible, accessible, and integral to your home and entertainment. Your new kitchen can be tailored to your family’s lifestyle. Think in terms of convenience and “zones” when you look to remodel.
  3. Wood-stained finish on your kitchen cabinetry is coming back. No more lacquer finishes, though the wood’s stain is still covered with a layer of polyurethane for protection. Among the popular looks are glazed, distressed and whitewashed finishes, and this extends to the hardware as well. You will also see a growing number of open shelves and glass-fronted cabinets where your kitchen wares can be shown off. And instead of lining all your units up, we can stagger them and create a unique, asymmetrical, and, at the same time, convenient layout which can add interest to the space.
  4. devonshirek7abig-201x300

  5. Islands can create a focal-point status that’s more a result of style than of location; they can match existing cabinetry or provide an interesting contrast. More than a finishing touch to the kitchen and extra storage, it can become a pivotal design piece, an extra eating space, or a transition between two rooms.
  6. Flooring– lighter colored flooring is now in, also. Blond or soft brown can lighten up the whole kitchen, reflecting light up and setting off all the other colors in the room. They also hide scratches better than dark colors.
  7. Backsplashes are becoming much more than the 4” high borders that were required for moisture and grease protection. Now they can be any height, and are an important design feature in the new kitchen. Look to the materials mentioned for countertops, and to that listing, add ceramic tiles and mosaics.
  8. kitchen11a-300x166

  9. Don’t forget that built-in coffee center to pamper yourself.
  10. And while you are thinking about your enjoyment of your house and kitchen, lets include that wine refrigeration unit.
  11. Stove hoods—sculptural stove hoods are making a statement in your kitchen. But if you don’t want a statement, “hidden” hoods are also new.

Cardea Construction Co.has been helping clients in the Ann Arbor Area remodel their kitchens for over 25 years. Kitchen renovation is one of our favorite projects. You can see some of what we’ve done at kitchens/ and more in our portfolio pages.
kitchen16a-150x150Contemporary Kitchen Styles Gaining in Popularity, Professional Remodeler, Feb 2014
2014 Design Trends: Kitchen, Kitchen Expo, Dec 9, 2013
What’s In, What’s Out for Kitchens in 2014, Yahoo! Shine, Dec 13, 2013
10 Kitchen Remodeling Trends,
Top 10 Cabinetry Trends, Better Homes and Gardens