Manor House Design Process

The decision to remodel a kitchen is not a spur of the moment epiphany. Most of Manor House clients spend considerable time researching, investigating options and imagining the tremendous joy that will come with a completely remodeled space. Inspiration comes from varied sources ranging from home improvement television shows to a neighbor’s home make over. The journey from concept to completion is rarely as easy as what is depicted on reality television shows. As much as we would like a remodel project to take only few days or weeks at a budget that is a pipe dream, reality dictates that home improvement doesn’t work that way. Most home improvement shows are produced to inspire homeowners to make renovations and buy products featured on those shows. At Manor House Studio, we offer only the highest quality products so you will never regret your purchase.

1. Family Discussion

 Whether it be an upcoming family event, or a realization that the appliances will require replacement soon, the counter tops may be looking dingy, and the flooring has seen better days. The lore of the magazines depicting the white and marble fantasy are bombarding you at the check-out line and you wonder if it is possible to make your kitchen one of those dream spaces.  After all, if you are getting new appliances why not just paint the cabinets and get a new counter top? Then the snowball starts forming: I should get new flooring, I’d love better lighting, tile will be nice on my back splash, if I tear down that wall it will open into a less confining space, I can add an island where we can sit when friends visit and the kids/grandkids can do their homework there.  Need more ideas? A bigger window will be nice to let in more natural light, blow out the back of the house with an addition and then the space will be huge compared to what we currently have! I love our house and the neighborhood, I just don’t like my kitchen. Overwhelmed yet? This is the time to have the serious family discussion on what direction to take. Do you only patch and piece the areas that need immediate attention or do you remodel the entire kitchen and get what the family really wants?  Manor House Studio is equipped to handle projects like yours so when you decide a complete remodel is in your family’s best interest, you’ll know where to turn to pull all theses decisions and products together.

2. Consider a Budget

 This is not an area to skimp. Buying a kitchen is equal to purchasing a vehicle. The quality, features and accessories are what ultimately decides the price tag. When you purchase a vehicle (most families have two or three) you are probably thinking about driving that vehicle every day for 4-5 years before you trade it in on a newer model. When you purchase a kitchen your investment will need to last much longer and perform much harder 24/7 for the time you intend to live in your home. You will get a return on your investment when you sell your home but there isn’t really a trade in value that allows you to trade up to a trendier model. If you needed to buy a car that will last over 30 years, what will be the important items to shop for? Probably safety, followed by comfort, good factory finishes that will not deteriorate in a few years, a good mechanical system that will not require a lot of maintenance and a style that represents you and your family. What about a warranty? Who will provide service should you ever encounter an issue? When Manor House Studio opened its doors, we purchased all the files going back to 1964 from the previous business. We knew we wanted to work with Wood-Mode and Brookhaven cabinetry because they have a tried-and-true track record for durable finishes requiring very little service, and yet if we need additional cabinetry manufactured to match a project that had been installed in the 1970’s, we can send a door to the factory and they will match the existing door style, wood species, and customize a finish so nobody will notice you had added additional cabinetry 50 years later. Wood-Mode and Brookhaven are so confident you will not have any problems with your purchase, they give the products a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.  How many vehicles can you say that about? The professional designers at Manor House Studio can be trusted advisors when developing a budget. We help our clients determine renovation budgets that are not only realistic, but also in keeping with goals, aspirations and dreams. How much should you budget? That depends on the nature and scope of your renovation. At Manor House Studio, we anticipate a mid-range kitchen remodel will cost in the range of $35 to $65K, installed, excluding appliances. Compare this to a bath remodel where the cost estimate is $45K, give or take $10K for a small bath. You may spend more than $100,000 on a complete kitchen overhaul with structural changes, custom cabinets, stone countertops, top-of-the-line appliances, etc. How much is that shiny new truck?

3. Set-up an Appointment

 Get in touch with Manor House Studio and set up an appointment for an in-home consultation. The consultation typically takes an hour and is meant for the designer to become familiar with the space, take precise measurements, talk to you about any ideas you have for the new kitchen, take notes of your requests and wish list items, and look over the mechanical systems. Your designer will probably take pictures to assist in the design/estimating process. Once the designer has harvested enough information to get things started, they take the information into consideration and begin working on the new layout back at their office. Your designer will have a good idea of what materials will work well for your family and will select a few options so you won’t feel overwhelmed with decisions during your showroom visit. Once your new kitchen design is developed, the designer starts pricing everything included in the project. They price everything from cabinetry to demolition and trash removal so the estimate they present you will be as accurate as possible. When the pricing in complete, your designer will ask you for a time to meet at the Manor House Studio showroom to go over the proposed plans and show you samples of items that are included in your estimate. We realize people like to get multiple estimates and designs for large projects so we never pressure anybody into making quick decisions. This is a casual see-what-we-are-offering meeting and further discussion into layout, budget and design. If you want to look at additional cabinet and finish options, we will guide you through our newly remodeled showroom and share our knowledge of materials and how they perform.

4. Alterations to Your Plans 

After our showroom presentation meeting and after you have met with additional contractors/designers if you choose, you will have a pretty good notion of which designer and company you wish to move forward with on your project. At this point if there are any items you would like to address in further detail or if you would like to explore different material combinations, we will revisit your plans and finalize those decisions. We invest countless hours into preparing plans and estimates for your project. If we don’t secure your remodeling project, we lose all those hours of planning time.  That said, until we are ready to move forward towards a contract, we retain all the plans that are considered the intellectual property of Manor House Studio. You have no investment up to this point. We are confident that you will appreciate all the details we put into bringing you the best remodeling experience possible. Please Note: When selecting a showroom to partner with, make sure that the showroom is experienced with the type of renovation that you want.  Ensure that the installation crews and subcontractors involved on the project are licensed and insured and that the showroom has a performance record of staying within timeframes and budgets.  Ask for references. You can call to determine firsthand the quality and level of service that a showroom provides. Also when you do move forward with a design professional, they can be reached in person or they return your call in a reasonable amount of time and are prepared to answer any questions regarding your project. Be sure that terms, conditions and payment obligations are detailed in a written and signed contract. 

5. Finalizing All Those Details

 There are more parts and pieces involved in a kitchen than any other room in your home. There are various options for every one of those parts and every part is ordered by a code or model number, and model numbers and codes change on occasion by the manufacturers. Manor House Studio keeps up to date with these details even though errors can occur if you’re not paying attention. When we prepare a contract for your project, we have already investigated these codes and model numbers to be as accurate as possible. This is why we are reluctant to “spot quote” prices or add details that aren’t already contained in our proposals.  We are happy to supply materials for your contractor, however we need to be involved at the job site so we can assure your investment won’t end up with missed orders, restocking charges and timely delays.  

When Manor House Studio is involved, we are responsible for the final outcome of your kitchen project, even if we need to correct a problem that is our mistake at our cost. When we prepare a contract, we will include model numbers for some of the materials we intend on using.  Did you know some manufacturers make knock-off products specifically for box retail stores? Your long model number may have one letter or number that looks like a simple typo but it is actually a world of difference in the quality of that item. Why would they do that to their brand?  Sales from box stores are strong enough to offer a cheeper product line for a disposable market. Ever use a faucet that looks like metal but is really a foil wrap? Ever buy what you think is a quiet dishwasher to have it sound like a marching band is washing your dishes? Check your model number when shopping!

6. Ordering and Constructing:  

Manor House Studio represents high-end custom cabinetry by Wood-Mode and its price competitive custom Brookhaven brand. Both cabinets are manufactured in Kreamer, Pennsylvania (about 70 miles north of Harrisburg) using sustainably harvested woods and are built custom for you to our specifications. We are the sole dealer in a 5-county area of south central Pennsylvania, but our designers don’t limit their plans to only Wood-Mode cabinetry.  They are able to choose other custom cabinet manufacturers from workshops in several Pennsylvania locations to match desires, needs, and budgets of prospective customers

If you have made it this far with Manor House, you have decided that both the design and quality of the cabinetry are worth the investment for your incredible new kitchen.  Once you have decided on the type of cabinets and finish, Wood-Mode will place the order into production at their plant. The cabinets will be ready for delivery in about 8 weeks, give or take.  Selecting Manor House to perform your construction, our designer and project manager will also be ordering the other items required to construct your incredible kitchen. During the time between placing the cabinet order and actual work at your house, our project manager will keep you posted on schedules and other events to coordinate with you and allow for some planning during the time that your kitchen is being transformed.  While construction tools and techniques have improved over the years to control dust, there will still be elements of dust and inconvenience during the actual construction. Our project manager will keep you informed and manage the workers to comply with your expectations. While it is a nice wish to send you on a cruise during the actual construction, our project manager will need to consult with the homeowner about progress and any corrective actions should the situation arise. You may observe something that we can be adjusted or changed during construction that may be more difficult if waited until the end of work.  Frequently, our project manager will be advising you about how to remedy code violations that are uncovered during the remodeling process. Older construction usually requires updating plumbing, structural, or electrical changes. Home remodeling projects are like a ride at an amusement park – emotional ups and downs which we attempt to mitigate. At Manor House, we like to share our expectations by informing you of our recommendations, do it and then confirm it is done to your satisfaction! This understanding is the heart of the collaboration and partnership between Manor House Studio, your designer, the project manager and you, the homeowner that will help us create your new kitchen and make you proud to show off the kitchen, sharing with your friends that Manor House Studio did your work.

7. Have Realistic Expectations  

There is no such thing as a typical or problem-free kitchen renovation. Full-scale renovations are likely to leave you without a functioning kitchen for an extended time period. Our staff can offer guidance for creating a temporary kitchen or cooking area that eliminates the need to eat out or order take out for every meal.  Renovations are messy, so ask the Manor House staff what steps to take to minimize dust, dirt and other unpleasant aspect of the renovation process.

8. Enjoying Your Incredible New Kitchen 

The day will arrive when the kitchen is completed, newly organized and enjoyed.  All in all, it’s an exciting change in your life and you will be thrilled with the results in experiencing a new kitchen that satisfies for years, even decades. Just be sure to do your due diligence and choose your contractor carefully. By reading this post, you’ve already taken an important step in that direction by educating yourself as to the issues to consider and the decisions involved to achieve an outstanding project

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