Rochester Hills resident Marissa Palgut stands inside her renovated kitchen Jan. 8.

Rochester Hills resident Marissa Palgut stands inside her renovated kitchen Jan. 8.

Photo by Edward Osinski

Kitchen experts reveal how to make your home’s center flourish

By: Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published January 17, 2018


METRO DETROIT — Rochester Hills resident Marissa Palgut turned her older-style kitchen into an updated transitional one — and doubled the size to boot.

Her roughly 110-square-foot kitchen morphed into an estimated 220-square-foot space this past year when she renovated it. Her old kitchen had dark wood cabinets and a darker, more enclosed feel to it. 

Now her kitchen, one of the first things your eyes wander to, is bright and airy with pops of color from her teal tea kettle to the gray and white patterned fabric chairs situated at her L-shaped island in the kitchen’s center. Even her silver, embellished canisters lined along her gray herringbone backsplash vie for your attention. Suffice to say, her dream kitchen — where her husband, son, 2, and daughter, 8, gather to break and make bread — was a labor of love.

“Definitely the heart of the home is the kitchen — that is why we wanted it big,” she said. 

Redoing a kitchen can take your home to a new level. Yet choosing what style you want for your space should take into consideration how long you plan to live in your home, what styles suit you and your family’s needs, and your budget.

Mary Beckerman, a Realtor at Keller Williams in Commerce Township, said that workable space is a highly requested feature of kitchens, including countertops.

“Due to the fact that there is much more activity in the kitchen, and in terms of having people participate and sharing with cooking and eating, it just makes it a more pleasurable area,” Beckerman said. “We’re seeing double island counters making the kitchen bigger, extending it.”

She added that she is seeing dining rooms eliminated and making the kitchen bigger. That is what Palgut opted for.

Christine Ramaekers, co-owner and certified kitchen designer at MainStreet Design Build in Birmingham, said that her firm takes a project from concept to creation.

“And we build it in-house,” she said. “We’re pretty much a white-glove company.”

Ramaekers said that whatever kitchen renovations you do, make sure to use a reputable firm. She does not recommend hiring a company that is not in your area.

Palgut said that she and her husband chose a local company that has a good reputation, Rochester-based Dillman & Upton Full Service Home Center & Lumber Yard, when they began renovating their kitchen last January. Renovating took eight to nine weeks.

“As far as being without a kitchen — a good 6 weeks,” she said, adding that they moved their refrigerator into the living room and put banquet tables there too. “I used a portable electric stove to cook, a microwave — used a toaster, crockpot.”

Ramaekers said that her company works with a client on design and budget needs and does all of the selections with them.

Ramaekers said that about 80 percent of her clients go with colors like grays and taupes in their kitchens and select recessed-panel cabinetry.

“We’re still doing many different types of stone countertops, whether that is quartz, granite — all different types of stone,” Ramaekers said. “Our countertops are still showing in lighter finishes: whites and grays and creams and the lighter finishes of whatever stone they choose.”

Palgut chose quartz for her countertop because it is low maintenance.

“It is not porous, so we thought that was the way to go,” she said.

Palgut said that her transitional kitchen has clean lines and little clutter; she looked at for inspiration ideas.

“Once we did that, we knew we wanted a large island. … We wanted more counter space,” she said.

According to, a transitional kitchen encompasses a traditional design and the clean lines of contemporary style.

Others aspects include streamlined cabinets, typically made of wood; natural surfaces and countertops; streamlined tiles and backsplash in a grid pattern; simple accents; natural materials against manufactured ones; neutral colors; texture; and a touch of embellishment, such as decorative pieces.

Palgut’s kitchen accents include low-hanging Edison lightbulbs; sideways wall sockets — to complement her tile backsplash — and an industrial hooded stove vent.

Beckerman said that she is seeing a lot of Sante Fe-style kitchens with a Southwestern, rustic and modern feel.

Beckerman added that the No. 1 rule people should stick with when renovating their kitchen is keeping it “clean and open.”

“Keep it clean and open so you can have movement for people to work in it,” Beckerman said.

Ramaekers said it is commonly requested that islands be added into kitchens, and that kitchens have a larger footprint and walk path “so they work for today’s type of family.”

“Our kitchen needs are so different than when … most homes in metropolitan Detroit were built,” Ramaekers said. 

Ramaekers said that someone looking at hiring a design firm should do some research and talk to friends who have remodeled their kitchens.

Ramaekers added that you can DIY a kitchen for under $30,000, but you more than likely won’t find a full-service company to guide you through. But if you’re talking a complete renovation, MainStreet typically runs between $70,000 and $150,000.

“That is all-inclusive,” she said, meaning it includes design fees, new flooring, new lighting, new cabinets, new countertops and more.

Roland Russell, general manager of Menards in Warren, can talk cabinets. 

He said his store sells Klearvue cabinets, which let you change the face of your cabinets.

“It is cabinets that change with your lifestyle — not like the old-fashioned face frame cabinets ... you put in and can never change.”

Russell said that if you do change those cabinets, it is expensive, because you are changing the entire structure of the cabinet and not just its face.

He added that there are over 250 Klearvue cabinet configurations.

“They offer everything — not just for kitchens,” he said.

He added that the kitchen can change the entire look of a home.

“I love to cook, and my wife and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. … If you spend a lot of time somewhere, you want to make sure you love it.”

Ramaekers said that renovating your kitchen is also about considering where you are in life, such as if you are moving soon or staying in your home for years.

“I would think about those key points,” she said. “If you are looking at selling your house in two years, you are probably going to look at the value of your return on investment much more than if you’re going to stay in the house more than five years ... 10 years. ... Your return on investment is important, but your everyday life factors into that.”

Palgut, who plans on staying at her home for a long time, said that for her, the kitchen renovation was about being organized, doing research, and a bit more.

“Make sure you know what you like and what you don’t like, and (are) picking reputable companies to work with on the project,” she said.

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