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Kitchen remodeling: Renovating the heart of the home |

Kitchen remodeling: Renovating the heart of the home

Many consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home. It is where food is prepared, meals are shared and where families, friends and loved ones come together to enjoy conversation and laughter.

Contemplating what changes to make to a kitchen can be a daunting task. From the color scheme and layout to the appliances and accessories, the choices for kitchen customization are virtually unlimited.


According to professionals from throughout North Central West Virginia, the kitchen is often the “make-or-break” room that can determine whether or not a perspective buyer chooses to buy a home.

According to Noel Houze, the owner of Preferred Surfaces of Morgantown, most homes are bought based on the buyers’ impressions of the kitchen.

“The kitchen will sell a home,” he said. “If they don’t like the kitchen, they’ll either walk away or want money off of the selling price.”

Houze, who estimates he has worked on over 20,000 kitchens in the course of his career, said he has seen an increased emphasis placed on the importance of kitchens and kitchen designs in recent years.

“The focal point of the home is becoming the kitchen now, where it never used to be,” he said. “The kitchens in new homes today are open. People sit around the island in the kitchen rather than sit around the living room. The trend today is to put in a bigger island with overhang and stools.”

In fact, many modern homes are being designed without a formal dining area, Houze said.

“Even in renovations of older homes, they are removing walls to get that open look and to be able to get a bigger island in,” he said.

The desire for open, spacious kitchen designs stems from both the internet and the popularity of home improvement television shows, Houze said.

“Everything is coming from the internet now,” he said. “You have all of these websites and these do-it-yourself shows on TV that are really pushing the market. Most design ideas are coming from internet research.”

Robbie Shaw, a sales manager at Bad Lizard Granite and Quartz of Clarksburg, said he has also seen an uptick in customers requesting kitchen designs based off of what they’ve seen on reality TV.

“A lot of it is just what’s popular on television,” he said. “A lot of people do watch the home improvement shows, the HGTVs and things like that.”

These shows are helping to spread trends that were previously particular to a specific region, Shaw said.

“Those trends have been very popular out West for a long time,” he said. “Now those trends are starting to make their way over to the East Coast. We’ve catered our inventory and what we carry for our customers to view based on what we’ve seen in our area and what the demand has been.”

Before the rise of house flipping shows and Pinterest inspirations, most kitchens were designed primarily for functionality, with only cooking in mind, Houze said.

“Back then it was a kitchen with an L-shaped counter along the perimeter,” he said. “And very few homes had islands back in the day. You went in your kitchen and cooked your meal, and then everyone gathered in the living room or the dining room.”

Houze’s company, which averages two to three kitchen remodels per day, sometimes completing as many as 18 projects in a week, specializes in stone and granite countertops.

According to Houze, replacing the old work surfaces in a kitchen with modern materials is always considered a good investment.

“The Realtors are telling me that you gain 100 percent of your investment back on stone if you’re looking to sell,” he said.

With the majority of the jobs his company undertakes, the clients are simply looking to refresh the look of their kitchen, Houze said.

“With most people, they’re looking to upgrade their surfaces to get rid of the old ’70s or ’80s look,” he said.

In terms of contemporary styles and hues, the current trends favor more muted, solid colors, Houze said.

“Right now the grays and whites are big,” he said.

Trends in kitchen design tend to remain in vogue longer than more fickle markets, like fashion, Houze said.

“I think these trends are here to stay,” he said. “We’re getting orders for huge islands now — we’re actually measuring one that’s about 12 feet long now.”

An island that size can comfortably seat at least eight people, Houze said.

Bad Lizard, which also specializes in countertops and surfaces, is home to West Virginia’s largest indoor gallery of full stone slabs, Shaw said.

“We supply granite, quartz, marble and soapstone,” he said.

While granite remains a very popular material for kitchen surfaces, quartz is beginning to gain popularity, Shaw said.

“Granite has always been the most popular. Being in rural West Virginia and granite being a natural stone, granite gives you more of a natural appearance,” he said. “But quartz is on the rise in a pretty quick way. We’ve done more quartz lately than ever.”

Many people ultimately decide to install quartz after first considering marble, Shaw said.

“A lot of people are looking for a Carrera marble-type of look, but they don’t want the maintenance of natural marble, because it’s very soft,” he said. “So that’s where the quartz lines come in. You can duplicate or replicate the look of a real Carrera marble without the maintenance and upkeep.”

The most common requests he hears from customers are also for kitchens in shades of white and/or gray, Shaw said.

“We’re seeing a lot of white countertops and a lot of gray cabinets,” he said. “People are trying to get away from the browns, golds and earth tones. They’re going more towards a more modernized, contemporary type of look.” n

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