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.
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:
- Solid plywood construction – maybe not worth the up charge for the cabinet boxes but certainly nice for the drawers and the end pieces that lend support to the base cabinets.
- Dovetail construction – open a draw and see if the corners look like two slabs glued or nailed together or if they are little interlocking pieces (much stronger).
- Soft close doors and drawers – when you push the drawer to shut it does it close all the way on it’s own? If you close a door, does it slam or is it quiet?
- Full extension pull out drawers – these let you see what’s in the back of the drawer.
- Trim molding – usually decorative but gives a nice finished look on both the top and bottom of the cabinets – the molding on the bottom hides the under-cabinet lighting.
- under cabinet lighting – if you have nice counters shouldn’t they be nicely lit? It helps to see what your doing when you’re cooking, too.
- A Lazy Susan – open the corner cabinet – is it just an empty box with dark, hard-to-get-to reaches or does it have a built-in lazy susan installed? Or a pull out shelving system so you can get to the items in the far corners when you need them?
- A pull-out dual trash can – usually under or near the sink. One bin for trash, one for recycling.
- Pull out pot drawers – these tend to be in the base cabinets and are fairly tall and deep so you can put the pasta pot inside. Some cabinets will have doors with pull-out shelves inside, which also work well.
- A pull-out pantry – these might be as tall as and next to the fridge and perfect for your dry goods or just in the base cabinet near the stove and only counter height – great for spices and condiments you use while cooking.
- Cutlery drawers – sure you could buy the trays but how about a knife drawer to protect your knives?
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.