Sunday, May 25, 2014

DIY or Professional? When it Pays to Pay a Pro

For many homeowners the cost of a kitchen remodeling project is prohibitive. As we've noted before, remodeling projects nationwide range from a relatively "minor" investment of $18,856 to a "major" investment of $54,909. A homeowner can expect to pay 10-25% of a home’s value for a high-quality kitchen remodeling project.

To cut costs, many homeowners choose to perform DIY renovations. In theory, a DIY renovation is a fabulous idea: a thrifty and handy homemaker can make a lasting kitchen upgrade at a fraction of the cost. If you possess professional skills and an abundance of free time, a DIY project might be your best choice.

Most DIY homeowners understand that kitchen renovation work is laborious and time-consuming. However, many DIY homeowners neglect the importance of technical expertise--the DIY craze has convinced many homeowners that renovation is as simple as following "Five Simple Steps to a New Kitchen Floor."

In fact, renovation is not as easy as "Five Simple Steps..." Blood, sweat, and tears can only get you so far. Without a great deal of technical know-how you're DIY project might be doomed from the start.

At MKBD, we've talked to many homeowners who have started DIY projects only to abandon the work halfway through. Most of these homeowners are determined and capable, yet they lack the technical know-how to solve unexpected problems.

We've seen crucial design mistakes, cut power lines, and water pipes spewing water. And all of this costs money--the precious money the DIY homeowner hopes to save!

Some DIY jobs are easily accomplished and some are best left to to the professionals.  To save you some hassle, we've compiled some simple tips below. Hopefully, these tips will help you save some money by answering a simple question: Should I DIY or call a professional?

DIY or Professional?

Kitchen Cabinets

The work of building and installing new kitchen cabinets is best left to professionals. Here (from the National Kitchen and Bath Association) is just one example of the technical expertise required to properly install kitchen cabinets:

"Once the base kitchen cabinets are lined up and connected, your contractor will be able to tell what kind of "shimming" may be needed on the walls and floor. A shim is a narrow wedge of wood that works much like a matchbook placed under the leg of a wobbly table in a restaurant. If your floors or walls are at all ‘wavy,’ as is the case in many older homes, shimming will be necessary."

Does this make sense to you? If not, make sure you call the pros. 

However, you can easily perform your own kitchen makeover by simply painting your old cabinets. Just prepare yourself for some hefty lifting. Each cabinet must be removed before painting. Then, once you’ve removed the cabinets, clean each cabinet with a sponge and soapy water. Next, sand the cabinets, then apply your primer. When the primer is dry, paint the cabinets with several coats of your new color, allowing the cabinets to dry after each coat.

For this Main Line project, MKBD created custom-made maple kitchen cabinets

Kitchen Floors

While the installation of a new kitchen floor does require some technical know-how, the biggest investment is sweat equity. If you want to install your own kitchen floors, prepared to work! Ripping up old flooring requires tremendous amounts of time and effort.

Thankfully, you can cover a kitchen floor with as many as three layers of new flooring before any removal is required. Just ensure that the new installation covers a smooth, clean surface. And remember to clean and vacuum your old kitchen floor thoroughly; any debris might later appear through the surface and damage your new floor.

And, of course, before you begin, make sure you get a precise measurement of your square footage. You don't want to purchase more flooring material than you need!

The verdict? If you're ready to work hard, and you can simply cover your old floor with a new layer, a DIY floor installation might be reasonable.

However, if you must rip up your old flooring, or if you want to install a specialized floor material like ceramic tiles or wood, we suggest contacting a professional.

In this North Wales, PA project, MKBD installed butterscotch wood floors. Wood floors are best left to the pros.
Install Appliances

The installation of a new appliance is rarely as simple as plugging the appliance into an outlet.It should go without saying that any electrical or plumbing work should be performed by a professional.

Electrical outlets should be properly grounded and installed according to code. And believe it or not, plumbing is often the most complicated element of a renovation. Just ask DIY Advice:

"Plumbing is the most complicated aspect of most bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects. Plumbing must conform to building codes to prevent dangerous and unhealthy conditions. The National Uniform Plumbing Code applies generally to the entire country.

You also must follow local codes, which may be more stringent. When planning your project request information about local plumbing codes from your local building department. Have the plans approved before starting work and perform all work to the satisfaction of the inspector. Draw a detailed plan that includes a list of all materials."

For these reasons, MKBD suggests leaving the installation of appliances to the professionals.


FREE Kitchen Appliances with any Full Kitchen Remodeling Project 

At MKBD, we partner with our customers to provide competitive prices. And now, for a limited time, we’re leveraging our buying power to offer you a tremendous deal: FREE kitchen appliances with a full kitchen remodeling!

To qualify for this offer, you simply have to schedule a FREE, no obligation kitchen design consultation—a value in itself! During our brief consultation, we will help you draft the kitchen design and layout of your dreams. Best yet, all consultations include a FREE, no obligation estimate. Call now to take advantage of this limited time offer: 215-355-474.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to Choose the Best Kitchen Remodeling Company

Mistakes happen. This is an inevitable truth of life and kitchen remodeling. Two keys to minimizing the cost of mistakes, in life and remodeling, is proper planning and a studious devotion to detail.

And yet, as the old saying goes, "the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray."

Unfortunately, this saying is true of many kitchen remodeling projects--both large and small. To borrow another popular phrase, "the devil is in the details," and this is precisely the reason many projects fail--both D.I.Y. projects and professional.

In theory, working with a professional kitchen remodeling company should help you preclude any major renovation mistakes. At MKBD, however, we've heard from too many upset clients--clients of other, so-called "professional" remodeling companies--to say this is true.

Our purpose in stating this is not to toot our own horn, but to warn homeowners about the danger of choosing a inexperienced or unproven company.

Of course, at MKBD we do like to toot our horn. We're proud of our experience: we've served our customers in the Greater Philadelphia area since 1982. And we're proud of our work: we routinely refer new customers to our previous customers for feedback. We want to make sure a potential client feels good about hiring our company.

However, we believe MKBD is successful exactly because we understand the value of proper planning and a studious devotion to detail. And if you're thinking about your own kitchen remodeling project, we urge you to practice this same formula in choosing a remodeling company. Neglecting this formula just might be the single biggest kitchen remodeling mistake.

With proper planning and attention to detail, you can choose a professional who truly values his or her work and your home. To help you avoid this mistake, we suggest the following steps to discovering the best remodeling company for your next project.

This Shaker-inspired kitchen is just one of many projects in MKBD's designer portfolio. Make sure you ask for a company's portfolio (#5 below). No portfolio? That's bad news.

1. Do Your Homework

To begin your search for the perfect remodeling company, talk to other homeowners who have recently performed kitchen remodeling projects. You might also browse the Internet for local reviews. You could also ask trade organizations or the Better Business Bureau. Look for companies with impeccable credentials and honest reviews.

2. Choose Your Suitors

To borrow yet another famous phrase, "Don't put your eggs in one basket!" You might LOVE one special company, but once you've done your homework,  we suggest choosing three or four potential "suitors." It's important to speak to different companies so you can get a feel for prices, how each company communicates, and any potential issues with each company. Even if you do end up choosing your first love, you'll be more convinced you made the right choice.

3. Interview Your Suitors

This might seem obvious, but the most important step in choosing a remodeling company is the interview. After your interviews you will likely have a much better sense of who you like--and who you don't like.

4. Ask for a Portfolio

Any kitchen remodeling company worth its salt, even new remodeling companies, should have a quality portfolio. What if they're so new that they don't have a portfolio? Well, this is a good reason to exclude a company. If they don't have a portfolio, you're better off working with another company. You don't want your kitchen to a companies first ever project.

Before & after pictures can be particularly helpful. In this Fort Washington, PA kitchen, MKBD removed the entire kitchen, down to the studs, and built the new kitchen from scratch.

5. Ask for References

If you've narrowed your choices to two or three companies, references can be a great way to get the inside scoop. Ask all companies for references, and when you speak to the referees ask pointed and sincere questions.

About MKBD:

A passionate commitment to customer service distinguishes MKBD from its competitors. Every member of our team is guided by one goal: to provide every customer with a pleasant and stress-free remodeling experience. We understand that your time is precious and your ideas unique. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve all of your kitchen or bathroom remodeling dreams.

What makes MKBD unique?

• Our Experience: Over 25 years in the remodeling and construction industry

• Our Talented Team: Interior designers with a commitment to your ideas and a construction team that takes care to make your remodeling experience quick and stress free

• Our Dedicated Service: We never use subcontractors on any project; each project receives a dedicated project manager from start to finish

• Our Guarantee: All work is licensed, insured, and warranted (PA, NJ and DE)

If you're interested in interviewing MKBD for your next remodeling project, please call: 215-355-4747. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

MKBD Exclusive: FREE Appliances with Your Kitchen Remodeling Project

A kitchen remodeling project is a serious investment. According to the nationally respected site, Remodeling, remodeling projects nationwide range from a relatively "minor" investment of $18,856 to a "major" investment of $54,909. In general, a homeowner can expect to pay 10-25% of a home’s value for a high-quality kitchen remodeling project.

If you're working on a strict budget, accounting for all the elements—cabinets, floors, countertops, and appliances—can quickly become an exercise in compromise. Depending on your budget, if you want to install your dream hard wood floors, you might need to opt for a less-expensive cabinet material, like plywood. Or perhaps you'll have to forgo your beloved ceramic backsplash for your even more beloved ceramic countertops.

At MKBD, we work to hard to ensure that our clients can afford a dream kitchen--without compromises. This is why we're currently offering FREE kitchen appliances with a full-scale kitchen remodeling project (more on this deal below).

In this major MKBD project, a 48" Sub-Zero refrigerator complements a Wolf cooktop,  double ovens, and a built-in microwave, proving that a seamless design is as important as the appliances!

Why FREE kitchen appliances, you might ask?

Why not FREE kitchen floors or cabinets or countertops?

Well, here's a little remodeling secret: most kitchen appliances are dramatically overpriced, and when homeowners shop for appliances they're subject to mark-ups--mark-ups that MKBD is not subject to. With our extensive industry experience as well as our connections with premier appliance manufacturers and distributors, we've learned how to procure the best appliances at the best prices--and we pass the savings to our clients.

MKBD also understands how to match each client with the best appliances for his/her lifestyle. Today's appliances come with an array of added features--features you might not want or need--and of course these features boost the price. So we partner with our client's to make sure they're not paying for needless bells and whistles.

Finally, we believe that the true value of a kitchen remodeling project is the expert craftsmanship. Appliances are made in industrial factories by nameless workers. Your new kitchen floors, cabinets, and countertops, however, will be built and installed explicitly for you by expert craftsmen familiar with your unique needs.

If you're interested in sourcing your own kitchen appliances, we recommend choosing the best for your needs. Do not pay for what you do not need--or event want!

This Old House has a helpful article for those looking to cuts costs without compromising quality: "The (Don't Get Burned Kitchen Remodeling Guide."

If you want to save yourself the hassle of haggling for the best prices, take advantage of MKBD's exclusive offer: FREE appliances with any full-scale kitchen remodeling project. Please see our details below!

For this project, in Hatboro, PA, MKDB installed custom Shaker cabinets, simply painted, to complement the Viking oven and range.

FREE Appliances with any Full Kitchen Remodeling Project

At MKBD, we partner with our customers to provide competitive prices. And now, for a limited time, we’re leveraging our buying power to offer you a tremendous deal: FREE kitchen appliances with a full kitchen remodeling!

To qualify for this offer, you simply have to schedule a FREE, no obligation kitchen design consultation—a value in itself!

During our brief consultation, we will help you draft the kitchen design and layout of your dreams. Best yet, all consultations include a FREE, no obligation estimate.

Call now to take advantage of this limited time offer: 215-355-4747

Sunday, May 4, 2014

How to Choose the Best Lights for Your Kitchen

The installation of efficient and ample lighting is a key element of any kitchen remodeling project. Unfortunately, homeowners and kitchen remodeling professionals alike often overlook lighting in favor of the big-ticket renovations: new floors, appliances, and cabinets.

The result? Too many homeowners toil away in dim kitchens with inefficient lighting. To avoid this problem, of course, you must prioritize lighting from the beginning of your project. At MKBD, we understand: proper lighting is a crucial element of a well-designed kitchen layout. We recommend installing kitchen lights with your full-scale kitchen renovation.

Like floors, appliances, and cabinets, the kitchen remodeling industry offers seemingly endless lighting options. To narrow your choices, we suggest focusing on lighting that is both fashionable and functional.

Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the lights! It simply does not make sense to spend your entire remodeling budget solely on big-ticket items. Lights might not be your biggest expense (thankfully), but they might just be your most strategically important expense.

So save some money for the lights.

And if you're looking for knowledge, check out MKBD's illuminating tips below!

For this Bucks County project, MKBD installed multiple layers of light (from recessed lights to elegant pendants and more) to illuminate each aspect of the new kitchen.

Recessed Lights

Recessed lights should provide the bulk of lighting for your kitchen, so the strategic placement of recessed lighting is a crucial design element. To illuminate all prep and cooking areas, professional kitchens might employ an abundance of bright recessed lights, but a home kitchen requires a degree of subtly. To avoid the industrial feel of a professional kitchen space, opt for several strategically-placed recessed lights instead of one larger light.

In the above MKDB project, the homeowner chose to install recessed lights directly over the center of the cooking action: the oven and surrounding prep space. We love this choice. We routinely advise new customers to consider a similar lighting option.

Of course, you'll want to adequately light your prep and cooking areas. Yet perhaps you'd also like the ability to soften the lights for entertaining. If you wish, you can control the intensity of recessed lights by installing a dimmer.

Recessed lights do not add appreciable expense to a kitchen remodeling project. However, just remember, since the lights are so high, you might need to purchase a ladder or stool to change the bulbs! Unless, of course, you're this guy.

Pendant Lights

The above kitchen also utilizes elegant pendant lights. Low-hanging pendant lights can contribute a relaxed contemporary feeling to your space. As such, they're best reserved for your kitchen's entertainment zone: the bar (as in the example above); or perhaps the kitchen island.

When searching for pendant lights, you might become bewildered by the options. At MKBD, we guide our clients to simple, yet elegant pendant lighting solutions that utilize unobtrusive cables to anchor the lights to the ceiling. If you're feeling more extravagant, however, you might choose a chandelier-style light anchored to the wall with decorative chains.

For this MKBD project, we installed three beautiful pendant lights over a granite counter meant for serving drinks and entertaining.

Cabinet Lights

Cabinet lights can provide subtle enhancements without appreciably changing the lighting scheme of the kitchen. They also function perfectly as "night lights" for those who like to sneak to the kitchen for a midnight snack.

In most home supplies stores, cabinet lights are generally referred to as "under-cabinet" or "above-cabinet."

Under-cabinet lights softly illuminate your counter-top cooking areas. You might install overhead lights above your cooking areas for broad illumination, but under-cabinet lights can offer a more precise spot of light for the tedious (or joyous, depending on your view) work of peeling and chopping onions.

Above-cabinet lights create an extra layer of light on your kitchen wall or ceiling. By softly illuminating certain aspects of the space, above-cabinet lights can enhance the warmth and beauty of a kitchen. 

AT MKBD we often use the same fixtures for both under-cabinet lights and above-cabinet lights—both provide similar enhancements to different elements of the kitchen.


If you're planning to remodel your kitchen, talk to the experts first. MKBD is currently offering a FREE Kitchen remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

Let's talk lights, and more!

Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at