2010 Nov 1st

If A Kitchen is the Heart of a Home in Hoboken, How do You Know if it’s Healthy?

Chef’s Kitchen, Gourmet Kitchen, Upgraded Kitchen – What Does It Mean?

These phrases are tossed around frequently in the real estate world.  I was out with some buyers this weekend looking at Hoboken condos and something they said made me realize how little many first time Hoboken home buyers know about what makes a truly upgraded or luxury.  Having just completed my 4th kitchen renovation, (which turned out beautifully by the way) I thought I would share with you some of the features buyers should be looking for when examining Hoboken condo kitchens because simply saying in the listing description that it’s a “chef’s kitchen” does not always make it so.

Today let’s talk about cabinets –

These come in three basic flavors.  Are the ones you’re seeing fully custom like Plain & Fancy or Rutt,  partially custom like Kraftmaid or American Woodmode, or no-name builder basic stock cabinets?

The basic differences are that in a fully custom kitchen the entire cabinet box, door and trim is manufactured just for one specific kitchen site.  Every inch of space can be useful – important in Hoboken’s small kitchens.  The dead giveaway that cabinets are custom is when you see what are called fully inset doors.  These doors have external hinges and the doors are flush with the face of the frame of the cabinet box.    If you look at the photo you can see the face of the drawers are flush with the cabinet around the drawers.  The hinges of the doors can be seen on the outside of the doors, too.  inlaid cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets come in a variety of sizes, widths usually increasing in 3″ increments.  After a kitchen is measures a plan is drawn and the cabinets selected are ordered.  There will most likely need to be some filler to make ends meet and that means wasted space and sometimes unsightly blank spaces, depending on who and how talented your kitchen designer may be.

Stock cabinets are pre-assembled and in stock at the big box stores and the kitchen discount houses you see along Tonnelle Ave. and Route 22.  They offer few options and come in limited sizes.  Much of the lower end new construction or gut renovations use these.

What Should You Look For?

Here is a checklist of some other cabinet features to look for:

The more special features a kitchen has, the more it is worth.  It also makes your life easier and more efficient if you like to cook.  Next time we can take a look at appliances, finishes and floors.

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  1. Hobo

    Good list, but there is no such thing as “solid plywood”. It is a bit of an oxymoron since plywood consists of many wooden layers glued together. I agree that plywood is certainly better than a particle board.

  2. Craig

    After reading this I still don’t know what the difference is between a chef’s kitchen or gourmet kitchen. My cabinets are shaker style cherry wood with 3 or 4 of the features Lori lists and I am quite happy with them. The builder chose well.

    That said, it’s not a wise investment to go too crazy with custom made cabinets and such. You’re better off emphasizing high-end countertops and appliances, as those are the things buyers notice and desire foremost. Other than the color of the cabinets, most buyers mostly care about granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Few care whether the cabinets were custom made by Plain & Fancy or Rutt. Most have never heard of either. But nearly everyone associates luxury with high-end appliance brands such as Sub-Zero and Viking. Spend the money where it shows most.

  3. Andy

    Craig, I agree. I’ve been looking to re-do my kitchen and spoke to several of my neighbors who have similar units that redid their kitchens recently. The cost for custom everything can be absolutly rediculous given the sq ftg of a typical Hoboken apt kitchen. Most people can get away with mid level cabinets that have nice fronts w/ some of the features Lori suggests(lazy suzan or drawers inside to get at hard to reach sections). However, Stainless and Granite(or marble) are what a buyer is most keen on and layout. I for one am a big proponent of keeping a very open layout to make the kitchen appear bigger. That is what sells in my mind. It can have all the bells and whistles in the world but if it feels like a galley on a ship I’m not buying.

    Does anyone have any good contacts they would recomment for my kitchen reno next year?

  4. Lori

    Sorry – my terminology was not great. Yes, plywood is layered wood. I meant plywood (which is an upgrade) is better than particle board which is standard.

    I think that in a tough market like today’s if you can distinguish your property from every other property out there (and many of the newer ones have S/S & granite) it will help justify your asking price. You don’t have to go overboard with full custom but I’d take nice cabinets over a Viking stove or SubZero any day. (I have a SubZero and can’t stand it.) Do Vikings have self-cleaning yet? They didn’t used to when I was shopping 11 years ago. Consumers are becoming more educated all the time thanks to things like HGTV. Every detail that sets you apart from the competition is an advantage when you sell. But you do want to spend your dollars wisely. My pet peeve are the sellers who put granite and new appliances into a kitchen with ’80 formica cabinets – you know, the off-white ones with the strip of wood trim on the bottom.

  5. Craig

    Viking does indeed now make a self-cleaning model – the VGSC line. I’m actually not a big fan of those high-end brands like Viking, Wolf, and Sub-Zero, because they tend to have poor reliability and repair records in Consumer Reports. You’re better off with the high-end lines of the mainstream manufacturers – Whirlpool’s Kitchen-Aid and Electrolux (Fridgidaire’s parent) are examples.

    It’s okay to make upgrades to distinguish your property, but not so much that it’s too high-end for the neighborhood. Upgrading your finsihes to the point where you have the sole $800k condo in a building of $500k condos is unwise.

  6. Tiger

    KitchenAid is fantastic! I have KitchenAid appliances and absolutely love them! Especially the range, not only does it look sleek, it actually makes me a good cook and God knows I’m not. That thing has an ‘Easy’ wizard program that automatically adjusts temprature and time. It also self-cleans, but I didn’t try this yet as I don’t really cook that often and clean the oven using traditional means :-)

    I have bought extended warranty on my appliances, you never know!

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