Making the Right Kitchen Cabinet Choice

Making the Right Kitchen Cabinet Choice

Selecting new cabinets can be a big expense when remodeling and may account for as much as 30%-40% of your kitchen renovation budget. They set the design style for your kitchen and you’ll have them for years. But how do you know what to choose? At Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, we’ve been helping clients with kitchen design for decades. Here is a basic guide to the different quality levels of kitchen cabinets.

Traditionally there have been 3 common categories of cabinets; stock, semi-custom, and custom. With the explosion of cabinet companies and their high-priced marketing departments it’s become increasingly harder to decipher what exactly you are being sold. Seems everybody is a semi- custom or custom cabinet these days. When all else fails one rule still holds true; You get what you pay for! There is no magic bullet, cabinets are all built using similar technology and raw materials. Just because a cabinet has “wood construction” or “dovetail drawers” doesn’t guarantee a quality cabinet. There are still a lot of shall we say questionable practices out there such as over representing quality, so there is no substitute for working with a reputable designer or contractor. We will try and give you a guide to get you started so you can go in with a good idea on what is right for you whether you’re in Algonquin, Lake In The Hills, Carpentersville or in West Dundee, IL.

Stock cabinets

Stock has become a bad word; traditional stock lines have begun calling themselves semi-custom. We prefer to keep it real, stock doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality. Stock cabinets can be a very good choice for your kitchen remodel depending on your wants and needs.

Stock used to mean exactly that, in stock, cabinets you could stop in and take home or at least get in a couple of days. They were assembled and finished, put in a box, and stored on a shelf somewhere. With the advent of just in time inventory, customers demanding more options, and the problems of storing that amount of cabinets, “stock” doesn’t really mean stock anymore. We use the term “stock” as more of a price point description. Outside of a few vanities at the local home center, or the more recent trend of unassembled cabinets imported from overseas, most cabinets today are made to order.

The lower end of the stock category is not designed for a lifetime of use, they are focused for the apartment and flip house projects. Because of the lower-quality materials and hardware, they may not hold up well under daily use for the long-term. Be wary of low-cost lines that seem to offer a lot of options or modifications, they may sacrifice quality to keep the costs low. Also watch for the imported “RTA” (ready to assemble) cabinets in a box. Some may say “Made in the USA” when they really mean “Assembled in the USA”. How these are made or under what standards is almost impossible to confirm. Remember the high formaldehyde content in some imported flooring from a few years ago??

At the upper end of the stock category you can find a reasonably well-built cabinet, but they may lack many options or finishes. If you can design around their limitations, they can be a solid choice for your project and offer good value vs cost. Stock cabinets will typically come in 3” width increments and a few height choices. They may allow limited depth modifications.

Semi-custom cabinets

Semi-custom is the most popular choice when it comes to cabinets. Unfortunately, that popularity also makes it the hardest to navigate. Everyone wants to be considered semi-custom. It has that; “it’s a nice upgrade, but not too expensive” feel. Be wary of cabinets labeled “semi-custom” but with limited choices. To many cabinets that really belong in the Stock category will label themselves as semi-custom. Semi-custom will also have a large price variable. Not all lines are equal in quality and the more options the higher the cost.

With true semi-custom cabinets, you will get significantly more style and finish choices, allowing for a more custom feel to your kitchen. Some may also have the capability of custom finishes. They should come with high quality soft close hinges and glides standard. Semi-custom also should have the ability to give you almost any size cabinet down to at least ¼” increments in width, height, and depth. This allows for a better fit in the kitchen with less blank fillers. The fit and finish will be better than lines in the stock category.

Semi-custom cabinets come in a large range of quality. Furniture grade plywood construction should be at least an option, if not standard. However, don’t automatically disregard a cabinet that uses a high quality MDF or assume if plywood is used it guarantees quality. There is low quality plywood also. Most of the imported ready to assemble cabinets use plywood because it’s lighter and weight means everything when shipping across the ocean. Furniture grade MDF is more stable than plywood and is used a lot in frameless style construction where construction tolerances can be tighter, even in some high-end lines.  

Custom cabinets

Custom cabinets are the most expensive option, however many items that are options in semi-custom may be standard or come with a minimal cost in a custom line. A semi-custom kitchen with a bunch of options may cost as much or more than a custom kitchen. A custom cabinet may be the best choice especially if you are looking for that truly unique space. The fit and finish here is top shelf.

With custom cabinets, the sky’s the limit. Choose an exotic wood, invent your own custom door style or finish. Any special features can be included since they are being designed and built just for you. 

Be wary of small local cabinet builders that will meet the dictionary definition of “custom”. However, they may not be using the best finishes they tend to break down in relatively short order. Look for their warranty, usually a good indicator. A quality custom or even semi-custom cabinet line will carry a lifetime warranty against defects. Are they going to around in a few years if you have any problems? Cost, another good indicator, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

At Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, we provide our clients with the highest level of service to help them get the very most out of their kitchen remodel. From up-front planning and consultation, through design and construction, to the day you begin using your new kitchen, you can rely on Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home to guide you every step of the way. Call us today at 847.844.1900 if you live in the Barrington, Elgin, or Crystal Lake areas, and you can begin creating the perfect kitchen or bath for your home!

How much will my kitchen remodel cost?

How much will my kitchen remodel cost?

The kitchen has become the center of activity in the home. No wonder it is one of the most popular rooms to remodel. When embarking on a kitchen remodel it is important to have a realistic idea of the cost. Kitchens are often the largest investment you will make in your home. With so many elements involved; cabinets, appliances, flooring, countertops, lighting, ventilation, etc., the kitchen is much more complicated than a bedroom or living room to remodel. Determining an exact cost without site visits, design, and selections is difficult at best. Below we will try and give you a guide to help determine a budget for your kitchen remodel. At Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, we’ve been guiding our clients through the process of remodeling their kitchens for decades! 

Kitchen Remodel Budget Ranges Around Chicago

Here is a basic description of what is included in different levels of a kitchen remodel and how that applies to different sized kitchens. Design, labor, materials are included. Appliances, permit fees, decorative light fixtures are not included.

Basic Kitchen Remodel:                                                                                                                                        

This will freshen up your kitchen without making any major changes in the physical space. 

A basic remodel uses the existing cabinet and appliance layout. Existing or entry level flooring, stock cabinetry, keep existing soffits, in stock standard granite countertops, entry level sink faucet & hardware. No electric or plumbing relocation.

Mid-level Kitchen Remodel:                                                                                                                                      

A mid-level kitchen remodel is a step up in both price and quality. Upgrading the look and function of your space while keeping an eye on the budget. 

It can include layout changes within the existing space, refinish or new hardwood flooring, semi-custom cabinetry with more drawers and interior storage features, expanded stone countertop options, removal of soffits, undercabinet LED lighting, addition or relocation of recessed ceiling lighting, ceramic or porcelain tile backsplash.  

Luxury or Dream Kitchen Remodel:                                                                                                                                   

Luxury is just like it sounds, where you are after that truly special place. Form and function rule the day.

A luxury remodel includes wall removal to expand or relocate the kitchen space, new hardwood or tile flooring, custom cabinetry, upscale finishes, door styles, and moldings, exotic granite or quartz countertops, undercabinet, above cabinet, and in cabinet LED lighting with programmable remote, extensive ceiling lighting, porcelain or stone backsplash.   

Courtney Burnett with Dave Fox design build remodelers

Appliances for Kitchen Remodel

You will notice that appliances were not included on the budget examples. The range of appliance type costs can skew the budget of any size or level of kitchen. Below are some appliance packages that you can plug into your budget of choice above.

Kitchen Remodel Considerations

Understanding your budget

The above estimates are just averages and can vary on many factors such as the age of the home, what you find when opening the walls, discovering that wiring isn’t up to code or finding rot or mold from a leaking dishwasher or plumbing from an upstairs bath. Be sure to allow for the unexpected, especially if you are remodeling an older home.

Everyone has a budget, large or small. When we ask the question, “What is your budget?” the overwhelming answer is, “We don’t know”. Hopefully, the above examples will help you start to answer that question. Understanding what is most important to you and what you want to spend will make the process move along much more comfortably.

Other kitchen remodeling resources

A fantastic resource to help start establishing a budget is remodeling magazine’s Cost vs Value report.  It provides a good look at what costs are averaging nationally and in your area for kitchens or any other home improvement project.

A lot of other factors can influence what you spend on a kitchen remodel. The size of the space, the value of the home, and your neighborhood are just a few. The internet is littered with cost estimates and calculators. Many have “too good to be true” estimates with little to no information. Be wary of ones linked to services asking you to sign up at the end.

Know what your priorities are

Decide what is most important to accomplish with your remodel. Bring your list when you meet your kitchen designer. Tell them what you are looking for and what you think your budget is. We help clients understand how all these items impact the budget and help them understand their tradeoffs and their options.

The kitchen really is the heart of the home. We provide our clients with the highest level of service to help them get the very most out of their kitchen remodel. From up front planning and consultation, through design and construction, to the day you are able to begin using your new kitchen, you can rely on Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home to guide you every step of the way. Call us today at 847.844.1900 if you live in the Barrington, Elgin, or Crystal Lake areas, and you can begin creating the perfect kitchen or bath for your home!

Exciting Kitchen Design Trends for 2020

Exciting Kitchen Design Trends for 2020

At Jim Keller Kitchen and Bath & Home, we are constantly looking at what’s new and interesting when it comes to kitchen design. The kitchen used to be a after thought, stuck in the back and closed off from the rest of the home. Now they are the center of activity, the gathering place, the entertainment center of the home. If you are thinking about a kitchen remodel, here’s are few of the latest trends and ideas that we are seeing.

Color in the Kitchen

White kitchens have been popular for a long time and they are still the most requested finish. Adding some color too an island or accent piece is a great way to make it your own. Using wood for and island has long been a staple but now were seeing contrasting paints moving in. Blues and greens that have the feel of nature are becoming favorites. Cabinets manufactures can match fan deck colors from your go to paint supplier or even come up with a custom color just for you!

Photo Credit Trim Design

Backsplashes are another way to bring color into the kitchen. The 3×6 white subway tile is being replaced by colored glass tile and other non traditional shapes and finishes

Another way to bring color into your kitchen and provide a focal point are brightly colored appliances. Appliance manufacturers like Viking, KitchenAid, Bluestar and others offer a range of colors – even custom color matching in some cases!

Photo credit Bluestar

The Warmth of Wood in the Kitchen

While wood never completely went away in the tidal wave of white, it has taken a back seat for a while. However there are some new trends appearing. Wood is making a comeback! Wood accents in glass cabinets really warm up the painted white. Walnut and dark hickory are the new cherry and oak. Distressing and glazing can bring that antique furniture feel to a hutch or island. Wood counter- tops, maybe with a live edge really add that finishing touch.

Inset cabinets

What is old is new again! Inset style cabinetry can be traced back to early construction methods used by artisans. The door and drawers are “inset” into the face frame of the cabinetry creating a flush look to the cabinet. Partial inset, a newer version of inset, allows the doors and drawers to sit slightly proud of the face frame leading to a more transitional style. Inset is very versatile, with its many options it can give you that farmhouse look or a more formal style. Inset cabinetry is a great way stand out from the crowd and get that high end kitchen look and feel. Careful though, many manufactures are starting to add inset to their lineups but most still build using the traditional individual cabinet construction method. This requires double “stiles” and a visible seam between each individual cabinet. Inset done right requires gang built construction minimizing seams and those extra stiles.

Matte finish quartz

Matte finish quartz has really come on recently. Manufacturers like Cambria and Silestone are introducing matte versions of their colors. The matte marble look is particularly popular. Matte eliminates most of the reflections of its glossy counterpart. Undercabinet and overhead light reflections disappear. Matte countertops create a rich look and also help set your new kitchen apart from the crowd.

Photo credit Cambria

These are just a few of the exciting kitchen trends we are seeing as we head into 2020. Hopefully you find this helpful and informative. Please share with your friends. If you are thinking about remodeling your kitchen, give us a call us at 847.844.1900 or send us an email at If you live in the Barrington, St. Charles, Crystal Lake or surrounding areas, we can begin creating the perfect kitchen or bath for your home!

5 High-End Kitchen Countertop Choices

5 High-End Kitchen Countertop Choices

While granite has been the most popular countertop option throughout the years, it’s made its mark on the design world and is now being taken over by newer high-end materials. Although it’s still a popular option, you have many other choices to consider for your kitchen countertops.  

Are you aware of which countertops are trendy that will add a great deal of style to your space?

We have installed many luxurious and high end countertops for many families in Barrington, Inverness, St Charles, IL and more, and that’s why we have gathered five high-end kitchen countertop choices that you could display within your own home to create that perfect space. If you would like to learn more about these countertop design trends, be sure to continue reading or contact us:

  • Two Countertops Are Better Than One. Why have just one countertop when you could have two? Instead of highlighting one material in your kitchen, you can combine two different materials that complement each other and create versatility in your space. Some choose to break up the large expanse off their central island as a way to define its multiple functions. For example, your preparation area can showcase a sleek quartzite or marble, while a finished walnut can warm up your seating area for a stunning combination.
  • A Timeless Classic. If you want your kitchen to stand the test of time, have it showcasing a black and white appearance. You can update your space but still have it complementing some architectural roots. A timeless style of white cabinets paired with black countertops provides a bright yet edgy appearance. Incorporating a honed finish, or matte look to your countertops showcases a more muted finish with little shine, or maybe you would prefer a glossy quartz with marble veins. There are so many options to match your tastes even when it’s just black and white.
  • Precious Stones. You have the opportunity to add a great deal of style and beauty to your kitchen with the use of precious stones. You can have your countertops in all stone for a truly luxurious appearance. You can also make your kitchen one of a kind by incorporating precious stones, which adds dimension and gives an eye-catching appearance. Popular choices include jade, rose quartz, blue agate, even copper.
  • Marble. If you are searching for a countertop material that has been a kitchen countertop staple for years, then look no further than marble! Extremely durable, marble is sure to not only make a beautiful statement throughout your kitchen but hold up for many years to come. Marble is a popular trend for islands and lately many choose to waterfall the marble vertically down to the floor instead of using flat countertops, for a more sophisticated statement. From black to white, you can discover the perfect color of marble to complement your personal taste.
  • Brazilian Blue Stone. Have your kitchen highlighting a one of a kind appearance by choosing Brazilian blue stone for your countertops! This unique material will create your countertops to be a focal point within your space. Pair yours with shaker-style white cabinets and you will create a bright and welcoming kitchen that everyone will certainly enjoy.

Luxurious kitchens should present a high-end appearance! As the heart of your home, you want your kitchen to be a representation of your personal style and taste. These are just five of the luxury countertops options that you could choose to present within your own home and we would love the opportunity to speak with you about your design ideas for your kitchen.

Are you ready to install high end counter tops in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago? If so, please contact us here at Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, as we would be pleased with the opportunity to help you. 

Top Kitchen Design Trends of 2019

Top Kitchen Design Trends of 2019

2019 is another year to refresh your cooking space with new trendy kitchen remodeling ideas. Whether you are planning to remodel your kitchen or get inspired for a simple refresh, there are some trends to consider for 2019. Having remodeled several kitchens over the years at Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, we know how being up to date with design trends makes a difference when considering a kitchen update. That’s why we have gathered some top kitchen design trends of 2019 to inspire the design of yours. If you are all set to discover what these trends are, be sure to continue reading:

  • Open Shelving. You likely have beautiful China or dishes within your kitchen. So why keep their beauty hidden away? You may want to consider open shelving. This is a great way for you to add even more creativity to your kitchen space, as you can have your bowls, plates and glasses on display. Whether you choose to highlight glass shelving, metal or wood, you can guarantee that your kitchen will showcase a lovely sense of style with open shelving!
  • Mixed Metals. If you feel as though every detail throughout your kitchen must match, that trend is being bucked in 2019. In fact, mixing your metals will have your kitchen showcasing a unique style! So when choosing your kitchen faucet, cabinet knobs, drawer handles and even light fixtures, consider a variety of metals to add some uniqueness to your space.
  • Seating. When you think of kitchen seating, the standard table and chairs most likely come to mind. However you can amp up your seating by featuring creative arrangements. Furniture benches for example are an ideal way to add some style to your kitchen and customized banquette seatings are also becoming increasingly popular for common areas like the kitchen, where families and friends spend time together.
  • Appliances. Innovative appliances continue to become increasingly popular and it’s all about smart kitchen ideas and appliances. As technology continues to evolve and enhance our daily lives, many appliances and gadgets are being made to suit that purpose for kitchen designs. From smart screen display fridges to remote light controls, there are plenty of tech updates to take advantage of to be more efficient in the kitchen.

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and your kitchen deserves to showcase a great deal of style! These are just a few of the top kitchen design trends of 2019 that you may want to consider when thinking of updates you’d like to make to your cooking space.  If you are looking to design or update your own kitchen with an experienced kitchen designer, we’ll be more than happy to assist. Contact us at Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, as we would be pleased with the opportunity to help create yours!