Kitchen Remodel

Parent Q&A

Simple kitchen remodel Aug 5, 2021 (4 responses below)
Kitchen Designer for Partial Remodel? Mar 15, 2021 (3 responses below)
Kitchen remodel - what would you do differently? Feb 3, 2021 (11 responses below)
Looking for recommendations for total kitchen remodel Jun 21, 2020 (2 responses below)
Light kitchen remodel without a contractor? Dec 7, 2019 (5 responses below)
Kitchen Remodel: contractor or architect or ?? Mar 10, 2019 (4 responses below)
Simple kitchen/bath remodel Nov 6, 2018 (3 responses below)
Kitchen appliances/fixtures/countertops Oct 2, 2018 (4 responses below)
Kitchen and bathroom remodel costs Apr 1, 2018 (7 responses below)
Kitchen remodeling Feb 27, 2017 (2 responses below)
Partial Kitchen Redo Jul 23, 2016 (1 responses below)
Contractor Recommendations Needed for Kitchen Remodel Jun 21, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • Simple kitchen remodel

    (4 replies)

    We're hoping to do a simple remodel of our kitchen to update countertops, cabinets, sink, etc, but without changing the layout. We aren't really into design or coordinating with contractors, so we'd love to find a designer interested in helping coordinate the process. It would be great to get suggestions for designers from people who have undertaken similar projects before. Thanks!

    RE: Simple kitchen remodel ()

    I highly recommend Kyoko Jackson of Yumi Interiors ( She did exactly this when we did a simple remodel of our kitchen - she's lovely to work with. 

    RE: Simple kitchen remodel ()

    Brett Foken at Decorotation Interiors remodeled our kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and hallway last year. She and her team are amazing and I am so happy with all their choices. They are a full-service design firm so will work directly with your contractor and manage the process from end to end. She will even help you find a contractor and be a part of the bidding/presentation process.

    RE: Simple kitchen remodel ()

    If you are doing a simple remodel try Granite Expo (I've used them many times, very satisfied, HomeDepot (work will be acceptable) or Ikea.  There are very few people doing simple remodels in the Bay Area due to all of the recent wild fires.  The insurance companies are paying top dollar and they have followed the money.  This is the worst time to do any remodeling right now.  Wood prices 3 to 4 times what they were 2 years ago, same with metal prices.  If you can wait, you'll be able to get more done for less.

  • Kitchen Designer for Partial Remodel?

    (3 replies)

    I've done a full kitchen remodel before, but the kitchen in our current home just needs a "facelift." Does anyone have experience working with a kitchen designer for planning a minor remodel like this? We can't change the layout due to structural issues and the wooden cabinet boxes are in great shape, but I need help on color and material choices for repainting/refacing doors and changing out counters and tiles. Ideally I'd like a designer who could make those suggestions, create mock-up designs, and give us budget estimates. Thank you!

    I am in the process of doing a kitchen facelift right now, working with Cillesa Ullman: (510)390-3176 I would highly recommend her! We remodeled 21 years ago, and lately the kitchen has seemed dated. Our cabinets are in good shape, and we like them. So we kept the cabinets, but we had the old granite counters and backsplashes carefully removed and replaced with quartz and tile. She redesigned the island to make it smaller and more functional. It is starting to look like a brand new kitchen. Cillesa did all the drawings and brought samples of counters and tile to me, so the process has been quite easy. Good luck! It's amazing what you can do with just a few minor changes. 

    Hi--our project is not finished yet, so I can't really speak to the final result, but designer Tiffany Shraeder-Brown ( has been wonderful to work with. My sense is that she will provide whatever level of design services you are looking for. She has helped me choose the arrangement of cabinets (our cabinet boxes needed replacing anyway), the door style, color, countertop, backsplash, light fixtures, etc. She will narrow down the infinite choices for each of those things to a few options that make sense based on your own style and what works with your house. She definitely thought of a lot of details that would not even have occurred to me. She has relationships with suppliers and contractors, and a really good sense of timelines and budgets. She can help you with design and also execution of your project. I decided early on just to put my faith in her and I have no regrets! I am chronically indecisive, and Tiffany has been really helpful to me in this regard. She is communicative and organized. 

    Highly Recommend Kyoko Jackson of Yumi Interiors - - she did exactly this type of facelift with our kitchen and i'm thrilled with her work and suggestions.

  • I have never remodeled before and now have the opportunity to create a brand new kitchen! Super exciting but also totally overwhelming. My question is specific- if you remodeled your kitchen and had to do it over again what would you do or not do?  I don’t have a great ability to visualize things which makes it tough. Any advice appreciated! 

    We used IKEA cabinet frames with Semihandmade brand fronts and love it. IKEA has a tool where you can input your room dimensions and design in their program. Their cabinets are really sturdy and you can easily install yourself and using semihandmade gives lots of options for a more high end finish. 

    Also highly recommended induction stovetop. So much more efficient and clean than gas. 

    Oh my gosh so many thoughts! It was such a fun experience to redo our kitchen, but I learned a lot along the way. Here are a few of the top things.

    1. Make sure that the builder has a clear understanding of the vision BEFORE demo. We left town for a couple weeks during demo and came back to a closet in an awkward place with a new electrical panel in it (made no sense as the stacked washer dryer would cover the electrical panel, making it inaccessible). We had wanted what looked like a seamless wall of cabinets, including one for the washer dryer. 

    2. Get nice cabinets. We got Ikea boxes with Semihandmade doors. The doors look fine, but the boxes inside look pretty bad. I wish we had just spent a little extra to get nice ones.

    3. Hire people who know what they're doing. Possibly ask to see examples of their work before deciding. We didn't get to the hood over the stove or the backsplash tile til later, and we hired a handy man to install them. I didn't have bullnose tile, but he said it would be fine to use grout on the edges...definitely looks janky. He also used grout between the tile and the counter which quickly started crumbling. I think it should have been a more flexible material. And for some reason he put small bits of moulding all around the top of the hood and tile (it goes up to the ceiling). It looks really weird and doesn't match the rest of the house. tldr - just hire someone who knows what they're doing.

    4. This is super specific, but go for deep bench seating if you build it. We put in a little kitchen nook with storage benches. The benches are 18" deep, which is fine on its own...but not deep enough when you add pillows behind your back! 

    5. Gas ovens aren't the best. Didn't know that til we got one! Gas stoves are awesome. Electric ovens are better.

    Ok some things I love:

    1. Cabinet with doors that slide back. It holds our toaster oven, blender, and a tea/coffee station. I love that it keeps things organized and out of view when we're not using them.

    2. Narrow cabinet for pans and cutting boards. Very handy.

    3. A couple stand out design features -- blue heath tile (from their discount shed -- highly recommend!) and dark green base cabinets. Most of the kitchen is quite neutral, but I like having a couple things that pop.

    Hope some of these are helpful! Good luck and enjoy!

    I've done it.  If I did it again, I WOULD search for just the right contractor; do your due diligence and find someone who is a good communicator, organizes and schedules their time well, is honest, skilled, and licensed.  I WOULD splurge for useful details like pull-out drawers in cabinets, lazy susans, and soft-close drawers.  I WOULD choose solid stone countertops, and find space for a second, smaller sink!  I would NOT go for expensive, custom cabinets if the same style is available cheaper from a big-box store.  I would NOT pay for the custom beveled edge on the graniter countertops - no one really notices that in the long run.  Choose form and function over purely aesthetic upgrades.  Have fun!

  • My house was built in 1910 and the kitchen has never been updated (other than the adding of electric and appliances).  I have lead paint on cabinets that don't shut and a barely functional place to prepare food. I am looking for recommendations for a contractor to update my kitchen and available to start this summer. I have a one year old who is starting to walk and I am eager to get those lead cabinets out of the house! Thanks in advance for your recs! 

    Contractors are busy right now because anyone stuck at home who has any disposable income is doing every project they can think of.

    But. My best friend got together with a contractor from Wisconsin who's moved out here to be with her -- I was VERY reluctant to hire him because of the possible strain, if I wasn't satisfied, to my friend's and my relationship. He turned out to be aces. Older guy, can do ANYTHING, and has a monster work ethic -- can get stuff done f-a-s-t, and is a perfectionist, an appealing combo platter. He just redid cabinets and counter tops in my kitchen, as well as painting, tile -- you name it. He also has tasteful design ideas. I don't think his license is valid in CA, but for what you describe, you may be looking for a high end carpenter anyway. (And getting permits right now is a nightmare.) I recommend him because not that many people (other than, well, me) know about him yet! You are welcome to come over here and look at his work, if you like, appropriately distanced and masked, of course. His name is Mark Griffin, his number is (510) 612 0790, and you can tell him that Leslie said you could look at his work...

    We had our bathroom and kitchen remodel done by Bay Area Pacific Construction, and from day 1, Emanuel and his team were incredible! Remodeling is not easy, but they were able to take the worry right out of the equation. They were honest and prompt with everything from beginning to end, every call, text or email was answered immediately. My wife is extremely detail oriented, and we could not be happier with the finished product. We highly recommend Bay Area Pacific Construction. Their phone number is 510 484 5765 and email admin [at]

  • We're considering doing some work in our kitchen - not a full remodel, but knocking down a wall, potentially building an island/peninsula we could sit at, maybe replacing a dishwasher. We'd like to get ideas for how it could look and how to maximize storage (after losing the cabinets in the wall we'd knock down). Would it be crazy to hire a designer/architect to advise on those issues, and then coordinate the rest of the work ourselves without working through a contractor? Has anyone done a similar project and come away with people you'd recommend we work with? Our assumption is that buying the supplies ourselves and working directly with the builders/plumbers/etc would be a lot of work but potentially save a lot of money. 

    You are right that working as the general contractor yourself will save you money. Although you said it's not a full remodel, knocking down a wall and building an island involves moving around structure of the house, so you'll need to get permits and manage different trades people. It is a full time job trying to schedule and manage all the trades, permits, inspections, and a million other designs related decisions, etc...If you have never done a remodel before and your budget allows it, it's better to hire a GC to do the work.

    There is no scenario in which taking down a wall does not count as a significant remodel, even if you are retaining some of the existing kitchen elements. Do you have enough construction knowledge to know whether the wall in question is load-bearing? If you don't, don't even contemplate doing this yourselves. Taking out a wall will require patching or replacing flooring. Is there electrical in the wall? Plumbing or other utilities? Do you know? Do you know what building codes apply? Are you planning to get a permit?

    It is certainly possible for homeowners to act as their own general contractor and coordinate tradespeople for specific elements of the work. But it is a lot of work and it takes knowledge and experience to do well. Inexperienced DIYers make mistakes like putting refrigerators too close to a wall so that the door won't open fully. Or you can't open the drawers in the corner because they run into the hardware of the drawer that's at 90 degrees. An experienced kitchen designer can avoid some of that, but other stuff is contractor specific. If you make mistakes, fixing them could eat up any savings you gain from acting as your own GC. 

    I know the perfect person for your project. I highly recommend Marco Florian, he has great skills on everything related to construction (carpentry, panting, tiling, plumbing, etc). He has done numerous jobs in our home including remodeling our kitchen and two bathrooms. The kitchen remodel involved tearing down a wall and building an island. Marco always goes the extra mile to make sure his customers are satisfied and his rates are very reasonable. He is very creative, reliable, polite, good nature man. You can reach Marco at 510-301-5629 or marco.a.florian [at]

  • So we just made our first home purchase and our current kitchen is super cramped and small. We want to open the space up by tearing down some walls but because there are multiple walls involved, I want to make sure we do not damage the structural integrity of the home. I wanted to know what people recommend!

    Could we go directly to a contractor who is familiar with kitchen remodeling? I feel like an engineer would need to be consulted so my gut is telling me to hire an architect. However architects are expensive... I am at a total loss! Please help!!!


    Hi a reputable contractor will tell you if you need a designer )doesn’t have to be an architect) or an engineer.

    You don't necessarily need to hire an architect. Any decent Contractor should be able to determine which walls (if any) are load-bearing and will need structural engineering. If you go with a bigger outfit for the contractor they might already have engineers they work with for situations like that.

    I recommend talking to my kitchen designer, Lisa Cannelora of Cucina di Cannelora. She'll know what you need and be able to provide plans to use with a contractor. Look at her website: She did an amazing job in my weird kitchen.

  • Simple kitchen/bath remodel

    (3 replies)

    We are thinking of doing a simple remodel to our kitchen and bathrooms. We would not be changing the layout of the spaces, but just replacing countertops, appliances, sinks, maybe painting cabinets and potentially floors just to make the spaces a bit more modern/to our taste. We are challenged when it comes to design and also don't have the time to coordinate everything ourselves. I'm trying to determine who the right person is to hire for this kind of project - someone to give us design ideas and then coordinate the actual implementation. I would love any suggestions from folks who have done something similar.

    RE: Simple kitchen/bath remodel ()

    If you need design ideas, Pinterest is the place. Put together a board that you both use to pin ideas. After you have made your decisions, you can hire a contractor. 

    RE: Simple kitchen/bath remodel ()

     We finally found a contractor you can trust !!!. Bay-Full Construction did a FANTASTIC job on our kitchen and guest bathroom. John was helpful and available throughout the entire project and was always eager and happy to answer our questions.His team was very meticulous and clean.You can call him at (510) 265-9399 or email bayfullconstruction [at] luck! David.

    RE: Simple kitchen/bath remodel ()

    I am an extremely happy customer. I found all aspects of my project to be done with professionalism ,care and good workmanship. My bathroom was completed ahead of schedule ,the workers were on time each day and cleaned up well after themselves. The collaborative aspect made the job go smoothly. I highly recommend Bay Full Construction.

    cel :(510) 265-9399 or email: bayfullconstruction [at]

  • Kitchen appliances/fixtures/countertops

    (4 replies)

    We are getting ready to do a kitchen remodel and wanted some advice on where to go to look at/buy things.  These are some of things we are looking for:  an induction drop in stove top, an oven, counter depth fridge/freezer, a single basin stainless steel sink, fixtures, and a quartz countertop.  The BPN advice for recommendations are a little dated.  If anyone knows of a good show room or store to go to and shop for these things, please let me know.  Also if you have suggestions or advice on any of the items we are looking for I welcome any advice. 

    I have used the following suppliers over the years several times and have always been impressed and pleased with the quality of the products and service. Both have been in business for many years and treat their clients well. For countertops: Sullivan Countertops in Emeryville at 510-652-2337 (Closed Monday). For appliances of all kind: Galvin Appliance in Albany at 510-527-2244. Both locations have a showroom where one can look at the products available.

    We had a good experience with Galvin Appliance on San Pablo in Albany. Stay away from Custom Spaces on Solano. Horrendous, inept service!

    We did this 3 years ago and remain super pleased with the results. It's such a great investment that pays dividends every day of the week.  

    Here are some deets:

    Scope: we had a wall removed as well as a chimney that had been boxed in.  This changed our galley style kitchen into an open plan with a big island.   Added 2 skylights, extended the hardwood floors out; resurfaced stairs; replaced pony wall with pickets; added sheer wall; new cabs, appliances (kept our Bosch DW), and surfaces.  Our look is transitional-glossy white, birch, Carrera marble.  We looked into the very cool Semi-handmade for custom veneers for our Ikea cabs, but stayed with the stock finish.

    Architect: at first we thought we didn’t need one, but we were happy that we used Kathy of Sogno Design in Berkeley.  An architect can help you make simple but important, pivotal decisions.  They really can help your contractor.  Almost: we asked her for a rec. on some small puck lights to place inside the light wells of the skylights. She came up with some beautiful $200 fixtures.  For something we a- rarely use and b- rarely see?  Natch.  My contractor found a pair of LED lamps for $27 from Home Depot.  Done.

    Range:  We did a lot of searching online, including Remodelista, and The Gardenweb, I think it's called, which has since been absorbed by Houzz.  Like here.  I did a lot of searching on Chowhound to decide on our slide-in induction range (GE PHS-920).  It got good reviews online, and we've been pleased with it.

    Sink:  Blanco- from Amazon.  32".   Pretty tight corners (1/8” radius?)- not industrial, but quite sharp corners for a more modern look. I think this is it, but we def. didn’t pay so much- more like $250.

    We got a Brizo (Delta) faucet- OMG I spent so much time agonizing over this and Grohe and Hansgrohe.  I checked Ashby Lumber for these.  Ended up getting the Brizo from Amazon.  We also have some faucets where I work and I knew we wouldn't like them- they didn't have aerators --> splash.  The web is amazing- I didn’t think I could find this again- but here’s MORE than you ever ever wanted to know about faucets.

    Surfaces: Since we saved on cabs, we splurged a little for our countertop and backsplash and got marble.  We used Sullivan Countertops, who've been around a long time. They're not the cheapest, but they have great service and do good work. They also do quartz (our 2nd choice) and other types of stone and engineered materials.

    Fridge: For our counter-depth fridge we got a KitchenAid.  Again- I think I chose it from Gardenweb or Chowhound.  We went to Airport Appliance at first but got steered to Friedmans in WC. Got our range there too.

    And somehow we found the name of a good salesman to go with- Jason Bodnar. Not sure if he's still there, but I would seek him out. I think he used to be at Airport. It was helpful to have someone you could continue to work with.

    We had a lot of fortunate outcomes that seemed to result from no planning at all. One was that we had enough marble to do a waterfall effect off our island. Also we chose a square (not convex) fridge- matches the rest of the look.

    DM me if you’d like to talk more about this.  I hope you have as an awesome a project as we did, and that you’re as happy with your results.

  • Kitchen and bathroom remodel costs

    (7 replies)

    Question regarding house remodeling: We recently bought a house in the East Bay and would like to update the kitchen and bathrooms before moving in. We wouldn't be moving walls or changing wiring/plumbing but require significant updates. We reached out to an architect that a family member used in SF who gave us estimates that were $75000 for the kitchen and $20000/each for the two bathrooms. Meanwhile, our realtor mentioned that he knows some good contractors that can get all of this work done for less than $50,000. There seems to be such a big difference between these two estimates that we are not sure what the average rates in the Bay Area are. We would like to have some modern updates done but do not have too big of a budget and so I have two questions for the group:

    - What is the cost of an average kitchen or bathroom remodel in the Bay Area?
    - Does anyone have an architect that they can recommend?

    Thanks so much for your help in this regard

    You can try Houzz to see if they have statistics on average costs.  The bigger issue is finding people to do the work - most of my contractors have stopped answering the phone for new inquiries, they are just too slammed.  

    As for bathrooms, we recently completed one bathroom remodel and are working on bathroom number two.  Your cost will completely depend on (1) whether you are comfortable serving as the general contractor for the job (usually requires being present on a daily basis, knowing who to hire, and lining them up so there aren't any horrific gaps in the timing), (2) what is actually behind your walls, and (3) how fancy your finishes are.  Do you want radiant floor heating?  Do you want a name brand toilet?  Do you want a rain shower head and a hand held shower?  Do you want the exposed plumbing look? 

    Our recent master bath remodel cost around $25k.  I lined up the contractors myself (plumber, electric, tile, shower glass, wallpaper) and sourced all the materials myself (usually at contractor discounts).  Our tile was fancy-ish, our sink/shower fixtures were middle of the road, and the medicine cabinet and lights were on the cheaper end.  We did remove a tub to create a walk-in shower.  But the big unknown expense was 2 days of subfloor and framing repair since the previous owners decided not to use a waterproof backer in the shower.  You never know what you're going to find once you start demo...

    For our second bath, we're using same contractors and keeping the sink and tub.  We are getting a new tile shower surround, tile floor, toilet, and sconce.  We also needed to replace some old galvanized pipe with copper.  All-in will be about $10-12k.

    Also, I wouldn't assume that you can avoid plumbing and/or electrical work.  Unless you are keeping the sink, toilet, tub/shower, and all lights exactly the same, plumbing and electrical are almost always needed on some level.  It is also worth it to correct any code issues while you have the walls open.

    I did a very superficial kitchen remodel a few years ago for about $20k.  New wood floors, new sink, resurfaced and painted existing cabinets, new quartz countertops from Home Depot, new can lights and pendants, and new range and fridge from Sears.  Backsplash was wainscoting (tile would have added another $3-4k).  My understanding is that the code has changed to the point where it is basically impossible to avoid new electrical updates on a kitchen remodel.   If you can avoid new cabinet work, then you will be able to keep the budget low-ish.

    I'm not sure if an architect is required if you are not moving walls?  Perhaps you mean a kitchen designer?  Either way, you're probably looking at $3-5k for that person, easy.

    Hi - we remodeled two bathrooms and our kitchen before we moved in two years ago for roughly 50k total. We did a very minimal kitchen update though - painted cabinets and kept everything in the same place but swapped all the tiles, appliances and countertops. We removed a wall as well.

    Bathrooms were more extensive remodels, though we kept everything mostly in the same place, which kept the cost down. I also purchased a lot of the supplies myself (tiles, countertops) to save on upcharges.  

    Good luck!

    Hello. I don't have recommendations for the area, but I would recommend reading this book first, or something similar:

    Remodel Without Going Bonkers or Broke
    By Jim Molinelli

    I am planning a remodel in the next year and feel so much more confident about what to expect, and from who (architect vs contractor vs design build companies) after reading it. It's quick.

    Good luck

  • Kitchen remodeling

    (2 replies)

    Hi, I’d like to remodel my kitchen and I’m looking for recommendations for a contractor who can do some nice finishing work such as countertops , cabinets,painting.,etc...

    Ideally not expensive.. Any suggestions?

    Thanks, Kristen

    RE: Kitchen remodeling ()

    Hi Kristen,

    I highly recommend George Catalin. He seemed very skilled, hard working, attentive to detail and I find that he gives a better price than other contractors I talked to. I just bought a house and I had him help me with a lot of different remodeling because I saw he did a great job for a friend of mine and the price was good. He remodeled the kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms, and I was very impressed with the result. He put modern countertops and cabinets. I think that above all, I really appreciated he was modest, very hard working and not letting any detail half done. I would hire him again.

    Take a look at his website for photo samples. Good luck!


    Phone: (510) 695-4119

    RE: Kitchen remodeling ()

    Hi kristen, 

    I would try calling a few local paint/building stores for recommendations. I work at East Bay Paint Center and we always have recommendations for painters and a few general contractors. Usually we also know who may have openings in the near future. 

  • Partial Kitchen Redo

    (1 reply)

    I want to redo part of my kitchen. I need to replace the sink, some lower cabinets and install a dishwasher. I want to do something interesting, keeping with my kitchen's eclectic style and don't want a "cookie cutter" look. Does anybody know a designer/contractor/architect who would be available for a consultation? It's a small job, not a complete remodel, and I have someone who could do the labor. I'd love to find someone who has imagination and knowledge to help me envision it.

    RE: Partial Kitchen Redo ()

    Hi, My sister remodeled her bathrooms and did a partial remodel on her kitchen.  She used Cass Morris Color and Design to help her choose counters, tile backsplash, tile floors and showers, cabinets, and paint colors. My whole family loves the results! They also got her discounts on the tile and paint. The website is and phone number is 510-524-1726. My turn next!

  • We're planning to remodel our kitchen and are looking for a reliable and affordable contractor.  We like our existing layout, but want to replace our cabinets, counters, and lighting.  Any recommendations would be much appreciated!   We live in Berkeley.  Thank you!  Hilary

    Drop by Custom Kitchens at 6634 Telegraph. Wonderful designers, reliable, trustworthy. Really top notch--they are not cheap but you get what you pay for!  They've done my kitchen and bath in my 850sq ft workmans cottage and it is better than perfect. 

    Jeff Pratt just made a beautiful kitchen for us out of a near-unworkable space. If you want pictures, email me at Lesliebdixon [at] He is a delightful, honest person, reasonable, and meticulous.

    Don't know if he's available, but his number is 510 812 8086.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions See Also More Reviews for Design/Build Professionals Kitchen Furnishings & Equipment

2013 Recommendations

Remodeling our kitchen for under $40k

Jan 2013

We're interested in remodeling our kitchen, but not in a $100k solution! Anyone have any recent recommendations for design-build contractors that are happy to work with Ikea cabinets (or similar)? hoping to come in well under 40k

Andy Frasheski is the perfect guys for your project. He has done IKEA and Home Depot kitchen remodels recently. We have a couple of properties and he has remodeled our kitchens and bathrooms. He is very clever, creative and resourceful. He has great designing ideas and suggestions. Andy has a great eye for detail and solves problems effectively in a very creative manner. His rates are very reasonable. Andy can be reached at 510-644-3711 or afrasheski [at] Ana

My contractor did a great job installing ikea closets in the master bedroom, it was not easy because it needed to be adjusted to the space. We were so happy we hire him to do the master bathroom ( it turn out gorgeous ) so he can work with ikea or high end products. He is creative, knowledgeable and honest. Just tell him your budget and concerns from the beginning , if you want to see pictures, let me know I could ail you some, you can also see his website . His name is Piotrek Krasnowski (520) 333-1566 Mariedda

We have a wonderful contractor that we have used for multiple projects since we bought our house in Orinda 8 years ago. He has fully remodeled our master bath, our hall bathroom, remodeled our downstairs with new lights, new floors and removal of walls. Just this month he has installed French drains and installed pediment trim on all of our doors and windows upstairs. He and his crew are professional and punctual and about half the price of other more high end contractors. He is also extremely nice and easy to talk to. We plan to use him for our kitchen this summer (yes our house needed a lot of work!). His name is Elias and he lives in Oakland. He can give you my number as a reference. He came referred to me by my friend in walnut creek and most of his business is word of mouth. Elias Sanchez 510-219-2651 Orindamom

I cannot recommend Marius Construction enough. I have a 1910 Craftsman that was a dilapidated but loveable mess when I bought it. I have been having to do work on it slowly but surely for years. My main problem early on, was finding someone who understood I am not made of money but I want quality work. I must have suffered through 6 contractors until I came upon Marius. He is the 8th Wonder of the World when it comes to honesty and hard work. His work is that of an artisan, yet he understands a budget. When he makes a contract there are NEVER any overrruns. He also is good at suggesting ways to save money, such as you yourself going down to get parts at Sincere Hardware, etc. I don't want to say there is no finer craftsman at the price, because that denotes a lack of complete dedication. There is very simply no finer craftsman out there AND he understands and is happy to work with all varieties of budgets. You can find him on the web, he has YELP postings, and older BPN postings. Please be sure to give him a call before you finalize any plans. You'll be happy you did. suzymc

If you are planning on using Ikea cabinets I highly recommend calling Alin with Bay Area Pacific Construction at 510 484 5765. I got to him through a BPN recommendation on Ikea cabinets and I couldn't have been happier with the decision I made. They are very meticulous in their work, paying a lot of attention to detail, very clean- respectful of our home and very polite; also all the inspections have been passed without a problem. The bid/estimate I got from Alin was a lot less than expected (I got 5 estimates from different companies). I cannot recommend them enough! Greg

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

Want to update my kitchen

Sept 2012

I've been wanting to update my kitchen for years. Our house is a modest post-WWII wood house with a galley-type (rectangle) kitchen, so this will not be a high end project. I'm looking for materials that are durable, serviceable, easy-to-keep-clean, aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly (at least low or no VOCs) and affordable. Clean lines, nothing visually overbearing or too busy.

Have you bought cabinets from Home Depot? They have a partnership with a third party that seems to use eco-friendly wood. Did you use Home Depot installers or hire your own contractor?

If you didn't use Home Depot, where did you source your cabinets? I don't want to get mine from the shops that import from China because I'm concerned that they use VOC-based finishes, and the ones I've looked at don't make a broom closet in the size I need.

I'd like to hire one person to install the cabinets, counter tops and new sink because it will make my coordinating/oversight job easier. Have you worked with someone who is skilled, reliable and responsible, good communicator, kind and charges a fair price? The person could be a great handy person who has done these jobs effectively, or a small contractor. I prefer not to deal with a firm or large company. Thank you for your input! Barbara

Just a warning: although we've bought satisfactory materials from Home Depot, the times we've used their contractors (or from the now-defunct Expo Design Center, which was associated with Home Depot), we've been very unsatisfied with their work. Sloppy floor installation, materials taking months to be delivered, boxes of tiles delivered with more than 50% broken (resulting in more wait time), etc. I would use a different contractor. Karen

I am a licensed General Contractor in Berkeley, and for the past three years since moving here have been fortunate to have plenty of work from nice folks who can afford somewhat upper-end materials and craftsmanship. I also have done some remodels from people who worked from a very modest budget, and who therefore insisted upon using IKEA brand kitchen and bath cabinets and flooring. Huge mistake. I shall never agree to associate with that brand again. Floor materials warp and delaminate, kitchen and bath cabinets disintegrate, and customer service is terrible. If parts are missing from the small hardware packets, as was the case several times in my experience, you will be charged for replacements. The Ikea product looks good in photographs, and the engineering and design concepts are actually quite innovative, but the materials used in the products are a landfill waiting to happen. If you wish to have inexpensive cabinetry in your home, I would absolutely recommend Home Depot or Lowe's.. or, for that matter, a salvage yard... over Ikea. hyp.nosis

I highly recomment Flo Simon 510 536 3124 . He worked for us last May and did very nice work on our kitchen and bedrooms. He works very clean and did great prep work on all the woodwork, I would definitely hire him again. Wendy

Small Kitchen Remodel

June 2012

We are contemplating a long overdue kitchen remodel and would love to receive recommendations for a reliable, competent contractor or a crew. Ours is a very small kitchen, so this will be a relatively modest-budget project. Ideally, we would like to have this done at the end of June or the beginning of July and need someone who can complete this as quickly as possible (without compromising the quality of the work), as this is our only kitchen and we prefer to avoid eating take-outs for weeks. anon

If you are in/near Berkeley, you should come see our kitchen. Truly. We were in precisely the same situation last fall. Tiny ugly run-down kitchen, unchanged in over 50 years. Lowell Hicks (licensed contractor and longtime friend) turned it into a showplace, faster than predicted and under budget. We could not be more pleased.

Lowell has done work for us a dozen times over 20 years, ranging from built-in furniture to turning a basement into a fine apartment. Often in dealing with contractors (or handymen), out of (1) skill, (2) reliability and (3) good price, you get to choose any two. With Lowell, it is all three, every time. He's smart and clever (member of Mensa), as politically correct as can be: he typically donates most or even all of his profits to a children's medical center in Honduras or a nunnery in Tibet.

My wife and I recommend him highly, and you really are welcome to come look at what he did; we're near Shattuck and Rose. He's at (510) 612-9988, or fcleffer [at] John

I know a wonderful careful, responsible contractor for your kitchen remodel. I know him well because he used to work form my dad remodeling kitchens and bathrooms in my dad's rental property in SF and Berkeley for two decades. It's quite rare to find a contractor like Michael Smith who stays on the job and actually does the work himself. So many of them leave less skilled workers the whole day on their own and just come back to pick them up when the day is done. Michael has been working in construction and remodeling for over 20 years, speaks English perfectly and has very high standards. You won't have to wait around while he disappears on another project. He does careful, conscientious work and finishes when he predicts he will. I cannot recommend him highly enough. Michael P. Smith Construction Co. phone (415) 601-5385 (415) 312-9666 Christine

Existing kitchen makeover and ceiling moulding

May 2012

My partner and I have a 1940's craftsman and the original kitchen cabinets we like, but would like some thoughts on how to improve the workings of the drawers and shelves without replacing the cabinets. We are also thinking of adding crown moulding, but don't have any idea what type or how to install. Any recommendations? Craftsman Owner Seeking Craftsman

Hi there, I have used Baha from JB Construction for my various projects. He is reasonable, knows what he he doing and can tell you what you need to do. He is reasonable in pricing compare to other contractors. You can email him at powerlabor [at] or call him 510-735-4052. The best way to reach him is through e-mail. Maksuda

Over the past 18 months, we've used Jeff White (OTOB - On Time On Budget) for our home and rental property renovations and repairs. Over the last 15 years, we've worked with many contractors and handypersons -- and it's amazing the excuses we've gotten for unreturned calls, not showing up when scheduled, incomplete or shoddy work -- or invoiced for significantly more than the original estimate with little or no warning. Jeff is extremely easy to work with, responsive, affordable and best of all -- he shows up when scheduled. We referred Jeff to a friend who wanted to upgrade her apartment with crown moulding, baseboards and paint in less than a week. Jeff and his crew were able to complete her project on time and on budget! You can reach him at 510.928-5559 or jeff.white.tgi [at] pm

I highly recommend Carl Gaard! I was in a similar situation where I couldn't afford to entirely overhaul my 1912 kitchen cabinets, but I wanted to modernize them for functionality while enhancing their vintage charm. Carl hand-built and installed beautiful wooden gliders to replace the lower interior shelves--at a very reasonable rate. Now my cabinets look great, hold so much more and are a pleasure to reach in and out of! He repainted the interior and exterior of the cabinets a fabulous color and took into account the colors and feel of the entire space. He also lined my old drawers with new laminate, so they just look and feel so much cleaner and more modern; easier to keep clean too. Carl also made some other great changes like building a wine rack inside one cabinet. Then he installed gorgeous moulding throughout the house, with an artist's and historian's sensibility for a moulding and trim color that truly fit the home's period and makes the place just shine. Carl also gave me excellent color advice for painting. He is a true craftsman and artist. Now my old house sparkles, and it was for a small fraction of the cost of a full remodel. Carl is also honest, reliable, and completed the work in a short time. He can be reached at: 510-410-6812 -- carlgaard [at] -- Kelley

Kitchen Update - How to proceed?

May 2012

Thought I'd query the helpful BPN community before trying to proceed with a kitchen update. My husband and I have not made any improvements to our kitchen in the past 12 years, and now the gas range and dishwasher need to be replaced. We do not have the means or desire to do a major kitchen remodel, since we hope to sell our house next year and wouldn't recoup the expense.

However, we would definitely like to make some improvements to our kitchen, since we need to replace two appliances (with new mid-range priced ones). We were thinking of refinishing the existing cabinets, improving the lighting, and possibly building more cabinets to match the existing ones. I've never liked our existing granite counter tops but assume it would be too expensive to replace.

Do we just need to find a good contractor for this kind of work? I'm assuming that we don't need a kitchen designer or architect, given the small scope of the project and our $10-12K budget. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, since I have no experience with this kind of thing. Is our budget even realistic? Thanks so much! Sharon

Sears Home Improvement. Good quality, reasonably priced, 3 week job. We went through the same thing last year, not having the means to invest a ton of $. 4 bidders came out: 2 bids were at $80k and 10-12 weeks, 2 bids were at $20-25k and 3 weeks. Sears also had this deal going for 24 months 0 interest, AND rebates. We went with Sears, (I should tell you that the year before we used Sears for our windows, and it was a positive experience, which is why we used them for our kitchen). the crew was great, on time, every time, cleaned up, thorough job. We timed it so that we received our rebates to use toward our kitchen appliances (we bought our dishwasher at Galvin's). We did new counters, cabinets, sink, faucet, dishwasher, frig, floor, electicical, plumbing. Sounds like you're just looking at cabs and counters. One cabinet had to be customized to fit our 1938 original kitchen, but we really didn't want to break down any walls, and keep the original footprint. It took them about 2 1/2 weeks, from start to finish, having a full crew in daily. No horror stories, no headaches, no pain. They did what they said they'd do to our full satisfaction. Good luck! Love the result and the bill! Happy w/Sears

I highly recommend our builder/contractor Colin Groth. I posted a while ago to recommend him for deck work, but by now he has also done a lot more for us - including knocking down an interior wall and vastly improving the layout of our house over a weekend while we were out of town!!!

He is licensed, bonded, insured, etc., but most importantly my wife and I have been extremely happy with his work - in particular in using/re-using existing materials and generally taking a 'green' (but also the most cost-effective) approach. He has done various upgrades and remodels to our home, including a new porch and deck, earthquake retrofit, opening up a wall, upgraded kitchen surfaces/cabinets and appliance venting, converting a closet to a children's bedroom (!), lighting, wiring and more...

He's sometimes very busy but I suggest trying him to see if you can schedule a meeting with him... His e-mail is colin.groth [at] Dan

Inexpensive kitchen remodel

Sept 2011

I have a small kitchen that needs a total remodel - new cabinets, maybe a floor, counters, appliances, fixtures. I am on a real budget and need to do something like IKEA, or maybe Home Depot. Unfortunately, I don't have any DIY talent! Ideally I'd like someone resourceful who can do design, working with inexpensive products, perhaps rather than a cabinet maker. With such a small space I love the clever efficiencies of IKEA products, but I don't love the wood colors. Prefer painted cabinets. Anyway, looking for someone inexpensive and creative! I looked in the archives, but the info is dated. Has anyone had any good experiences recently? Thanks Sarah

Andy Frasheski is the perfect guys for your project. He has done IKEA and Home Depot kitchen remodels recently. We have a couple of properties and he has remodels our kitchens and bathrooms. He is very clever, creative and resourceful. He has great designing ideas and sugestions. Andy has a great eye for detail and solves problems effectively in a very creative manner. His rates are very reasonable. Andy can be reached at 510-644-3711 or afrasheski [at]

We're in the process now, and like you didn't have $80k to spend on a kitchen remodel. So i'm happy to share my research and info with you.

Home Depot: less expensive but they subcontract all the work out. Product good, takes a long time, and if you have problems, home depot releases themselves of liability, which means you have to contact the subcontractor yourself.

IKEA, cute stuff, but we've hit and miss with them. We bought nice bookshelfs but they were cheaply made and didn't wear very well. I imagine a similar experience with kitchen cabinets.

We decided on Sears home improvement. We tested them with our windows and they did an amazing job. No glitches, they were in and out, reasonablly priced, cleaned up, all working well. The installers work for Sears, so no worries about the subcontracting issues, and it's safe to say that if we have any problems in 5 years with our kitchen, Sears will still be in business, unlike an independent contractor. Good luck! sears customer

We have used Jackie McKay, a licensed architect to help us on a project. Her design was thoughtful and we were definitely on a budget. Our project was not a kitchen, but when we saw Jackie this weekend, she told us about her latest project working on an Edwardian Kitchen remodel. The clients were definitely on a strict budget, but she was enjoying helping them find quality products and doing an aesthetic design. She said she has found good alternatives to Ikea cabinets. Jackie is fun, artistic and very responsible. Tell her Sue and Allan recommend her. 415-401-5406 Jackie McKay (lives in the East Bay) Sue

We used David Holsan for an Ikea kitchen remodel about a year ago and are happy with the results. It took about a week for a complete remove-and-replace job on our small kitchen. We had a different person do the floors. My main suggestion to keep costs down is to do lots of thinking/planning/researching and don't get into tearing down walls or changing the layout too much. We went to him with a strong idea of what we wanted (using the Ikea kitchen planner tool available on their site), and David is very familiar with Ikea kitchen products and had some good suggestions about modifications to our plan. Ikea has lots of painted cabinets - we used the white ''Applad'' variety. David's email is info [at] . happy cook

I just had my kitchen remodeled by Dan Martinez Construction. ( I was willing to live with a 1922 kitchen rather than face a remodel - all I heard were horror stories. But a friend of mine had great success with Dan so I called him. OMG! I didn't know there were decent, honest contractors out there!! Dan is wonderful, his entire crew is great. Now a financially strapped friend is having him do a very frugal repair of her 1906 kitchen. I got my cabinets at IKEA and he told me what things I could do for myself to save money. I can NOT do plumbing or electical but I could buy my own lights, etc. This is not a huge company; you will get to know everyone's name. Sharla is in the office, number is 510.893.0485. Ernie, the foreman, is this easy going guy who somehow keeps a million details in his head. My demolition guy found hardwood under my old linoleum and I added 3 days of time to my job because I wanted to keep and extend the hardwood. Ernie explained my choices and just switched gears to my new plan. I totally trust these guys -- and a year ago I didn't think it was possible to feel this way about a contractor. Get this: they finished on schedule! I KNOW! I don't believe it either! Happy with my gorgeous kitchen!

Hi , Doing a project on a specific budget has two main parts: a) material b) labor;

a) Material: Home Depot and/or IKEA are not necessary the cheapest cabinets you will find. Actually, HD is quite expensive. I have good resources to get good cabinets at a good price. These are cabinets I use on my own properties.

b) Labor - getting the cheaper hourly laborer does not mean it will be the cheapest final product; and the flip side of that coin is that getting an expensive contractor does not mean you are getting the best. Just a reliable contractor who has done countless projects, on budget, will save you lots of $. G.

We recommend Augusto Bituin (call him 'Augie' for short) to remodel your kitchen or bathroom. He is a skilled contractor and he is able to do small and large projects. Over the last 10 years, he has expertly remodeled 5 bathrooms for us in 2 very different types of homes (one mid-century/one 1920's craftsman). He is able to do it all - tiling, electrical, plumbing. In addition, he resurfaced our ceiling, patched walls back to new, and painted exterior and interior spaces for us. He has also done similar work for our friends. Augie takes pride in his workmanship which is always detailed, quick, meticulous and very neat. His recommendations and suggestions are pragmatic and practical and flexible. His pricing is very reasonable and fair - that is one of the many reasons why we always go to him. Call him directly if you need work done! He has clients in San Francisco, South Bay and the East Bay. Augie 415-793-4137 EL EL

Reliable contractor for kitchen remodel

June 2011

We'd like to remodel the kitchen in the home we recently purchased, and need to find a contractor who can help with cabinets, floors, countertops, etc. There are other parts of the house that need help too, and we're hoping to find someone who can work within our budget so that we can get as much done as possible. Mark

We have wanted to remodel our kitchen for years now. We had no idea where to start or what to do. Custom Spaces remodeled our friend's kitchen and we really liked what they did. When we went in to meet Catherine, she was very helpful. Her extensive knowledge and excellent design sense reassured us and gave us the confidence we needed to make all the right decisions (with her help!). She was very patient as we looked things over again and again before finalizing. We made numerous trips to the showroom asking for advice and always found the answers we needed and samples to take home and see how they might look in our house.

All of the recommendations Custom Spaces made were very professional, knowledgeable, and the lowest price!! We shopped for a better deal, but found out that we didn't need to. Their showroom is one-stop shopping and we loved being able to go there and find beautiful, affordable cabinets and other materials to put in our home. They have everything we wanted and what we saw in books, they ordered for us if they didn't have it.

Next was the construction! They decided to take on our project themselves. Their general contractor Daniel and his brother Jason were great! They were trustworthy and very reliable. They also tried to be as accommodating as possible - minimizing in every way the amount of inconvenience during our remodel. Daniel left my kitchen sink intact until he absolutely had to remove it. At the end of each day he'd move my plug in stove back into place so I could still cook! We are SO happy with our newly remodeled kitchen!! pls go see it on their website. We could not have done it without Catherine & Dan and Custom Spaces!! We have referred them to many of our friends already and would most certainly use them again! DD

You should give Rolander Construction a call. I had them do my kitchen and master bathroom last year. They've been in business 30 years and can take care of everything. You mentioned budget? Ask Brad or Dick, they both believe in service and should have tons of ideas. Their number is 510 339-3655. Good Luck! Adam

We just finished a kitchen remodel (and small addition, and half bath) with Jamie Carlen and his crew. I highly recommend them--good attention to detail, gave us a fair bid and kept within the budget. aw

I know a great contractor I have used twice and I wouldn't think of using anyone else. He did a lovely addition for me, and did kitchens and baths for some of my friends. We all think highly of him and his efficient crew. He is reasonably priced and very good to work with; also he's a savvy problem solver. Company is Bowser Construction and his name is Skip Bowser. Tel. 510- 815-7131. Feel free to mention my name. Good luck, Lynn W.

I would strongly recommend Kirsten Elliott the owner of Elliott Build for a kitchen remodel. Kirsten has done 2 kitchens, 1 bathroom and a bunch of other work for me and she's terrific. She's a licensed contractor and has considerable experience with kitchens. She is reliable, has great design sense and is a pleasure to work with. Her number is 415.377.9009. Website: call me if you have any questions. T.

Just had some work done on our house and wanted to recommend Thomas Clark as a contractor. He was totally fair priced and really easy to communicate with and very professional! His number is 510 547-1740. jennifer

Carl Gaard single-handedly fully renovated my own 1896 Queen Anne Victorian some years ago. He is experienced at matching newer construction with older homes. He did everything from redesigning my kitchen (with custom cabinets) and bathrooms, to replacing my windows, repairing my siding, and matching the paint colors. He was especially good at solving my small space and storage problems. He is a gifted designer, with a great sense of color. He even mixed his own colors, when they needed tweaking. He knows how to work within a budget. He can be reached at 510-410-6812. Elissa

We would like to recommend you Bay Area Pacific Construction. They did a wonderful work on our kitchen remodel. We have done a lot of remodel projects over the years, but none have come close to this project in terms of being a positive experience. They provided direction and support when it was needed during an extensive kitchen remodel. You can contact them at 510-484 5765 or online at Stuart & Jess

Handy man/contractor recommendation. I highly recommend Travis Eaton for small jobs such a cabinet repair, porch remodeling, as well as more complicated work such as foundation and drainage. He is hardworking, very reasonable with his rates, and has a fine aesthetic to his work as well as great suggestions for a better look if you are open to hearing his opinion. Travis Eaton can be contacted at (925)899-7438. Happy return customer

I would like to recomend Mike Trifan of Elco Bay Area 510- 427-8370 LIC 830793 He is a general contractor and has saved our kitchen remodel! We started with a very disreputable contractor that demolished the kitchen(the easy Part). He was supposed to have it completely ready to install the cabinets with clean fresh walls and floors and none of it was ready. He cut in illegal overhead lighting on our old knob and tube system and didn't even finish taking up the floor or re-texture the plaster walls & ceiling, remove wall paper, he was contracted to move the plumbing to the proper new locations and much much more and once the job proved to difficult he just left! Here I was no kitchen torn to bits the electric he attempted was not to code, no permits had been pulled. I called Mike on a recommendation from a friend and he was also listed here on BPN. He saved us! He started by putting in the proper new electric from the box, through the walls into the crawl space all according to code and permitted and cleaned up the mess the other contractor left when we needed it most! He has been a genius! He really knows how to work in my old house(1939) and how to bring it up to code, we find him extremely knowledgeable and honest. He and his crew have been so respectful and clean up after each day of work. I have had many many people talk to me about putting lighting in our dining room in the last couple of years and NO estimate for the job has come close to understanding the scope of the job able to do what mike did! We are so pleased with all of his work! The old lath and plaster walls are retextured and beautiful! They did a great job and I can't wait to see the back splash they put in on Monday! Call Mike he is an amazing reli overall contracable contractor! kimberly

Call Sorin Feraru with Feraru & Associates Building and Design. He just finished a major remodel for our house. He is reliable, trustworthy and very professional. And you get all that at a reasonable price. Sorin took care of our remodel from beginning to the end and worked along with us as a consultant. He always talked to us and answered his phone, or called us right back. Things went smoothly and the remodel was finished on time. Sorin's crew builds dust barriers in the house so the dust doesn't spread to the part that was not remodeled. Also they left the job site clean at the end of each working day. We highly recommend Sorin Feraru. Please call him at 510-228-7366 or go to his web site

I would like to recommend Carl Gaard as a contractor for your kitchen. Carl just finished our kitchen and it is an amazing transformation. The space feels twice as large and we did not remove any walls or expand the room in any way. It was Carl who came up with the design and handled all the work including, all the lighting, installing of appliances, (even a washer dryer that was not previously in the space), building a soffit, installing new doors and refurbishing some very old windows that now look new. He did the back splash, installed the new sink and faucet, garbage disposal and water purifier as well as some very detailed carpentry work. Carl is reasonable, practical, easy going, a design guru, strong, calm, and a pleasure to work with. He can be reached at 510-410-6812 Mel

We recommend contractor Dane Moore---Moore Construction and Remodel-- for home projects. He does everything from small jobs& those deferred home maintenance tasks to major remodels. He's done a beautiful job remodeling our kitchen, which was far more than that actually. He also put in new stairways, a hallway, opened up a blank wall with a sliding door and window, put in attic access, even fixed cranky doorknob problems: all sorts of things our house had been waiting for. Wonderful carpentry, easy to communicate with, even-tempered, funny, creative, flexible, reasonable rates, great project management. We did this all without an architect so Dane also contributed largely to the design. Contact info: arlosacat [at] or 510- 908- 5306 ~~love my new kitchen ~

Help! Need complete kitchen remodel on a budget

May 2011

SOS! My design sensibility says Bulthaup while my budget, sadly, screams Ikea. I need to tear my kitchen down to the studs, and then wholly remodel (new cabinets, counters, floor, appliances, etc.). I'm a true cook, love to entertain, and we spend a lot of time in the kitchen as a family (baking, etc.). But I'm in a small Oakland bungalow and can't justify an enormous investment. Plus, busy work schedules don't allow much time for DIY to offset the cost. Am hoping for an experienced, reliable end-to-end kitchen remodeling resource (contractor? design/build?) who has a great sense of design, understands the challenges of a limited budget, can offer creative options for cutting expenses or making tradeoffs, and can ensure flawless execution. Any great recommendations? Thanks!

Hi Stephanie, I recommend you talk with Jay Cravagan at Canyon Design/Build (formerly Federal Building Company) at 3630 Park Blvd, Oakland 94610, phone: 510-482-0300. The designers and builders there are fabulous, and are especially tuned into designing and building to your budget. The have worked on our house, and I have done structural engineering for their clients who need that as part of their projects. Good luck with your kitchen! - Josh

I highly recommend you check out Custom Spaces on Solano Ave in Albany, Catherine and Dan have a wide range of price points and great ideas about how to deliver an excellent result within any reasonable budget. I designed my layout at Ikea and seriously considered their cabinets until EVERY contractor I spoke with told me not to! They look good for a short period but do not last. Installation is a nightmare (missing parts are common). Any water problems and fiberboard (which also off-gasses Formaldehyde) might as well be paper towels. I got customized, Formaldehyde-free plywood boxes with hardwood doors and veneers for a great price. I sourced and bought my countertop/backsplash, sink, fixtures, lights, drawer pulls, cabinet door glass, and appliances myself, and hired my own crew for installation, all of which saved me a lot of money. Catherine& Dan were helpful throughout and helped resolve problems when one veneer arrived damaged from their supplier. Five years later, I still have a gorgeous kitchen that could easily have cost 2x as much. Good luck! Terry

Kitchen Remodel - Design and Contractor

April 2011

We are considering remodeling our kitchen (my once in a lifetime chance for a new kitchen!). We need a designer and a contractor. Has anyone worked with Custom Spaces recently? Other suggestions? This job in somewhere in between a face life and new construction, and we need to start soon. Once in a lifetime

We used Kitchens of Diablo (in Danville) for our kitchen design/remodel. We were very satisfied. The design process was great and the workers and workmanship were top notch. The project was done on time and budget. The owner is a general contractor who does the work. The old kitchen was gutted. --Happy Cooks

We did a kitchen remodel in 2009 and had a great experience with our contractor, Bob Jones of OMB Remodeling. He was awesome to work with and a true professional. He was on time and reliable and stuck to his budget. Bob was reasonable when it came to change orders and did not try to overcharge. Now that it has been 2+ years since completion I can say that his work holds up. Nothing has broken, come apart, of failed in any way. He worked with a small group of subs who he knew personally, but the rest he did himself. The cabinets were hung beautifully and he even dealt with our wavy walls. His number is 925-382-0925. He is based in Antioch, but came to our home in Alameda with no problem. The project took six weeks just like he said it would. Andrea

We recently completed a major kitchen remodel of our Albany home. We havenC,bt worked with Custom Spaces before, but would recommend Keri at Bay Area Cabinet Supply in San Leandro (510) 483-8818. She did a great job in designing our kitchen and helping to select our new cabinets. For the actual remodeling work, we hired Spitzley Construction. It was a pleasure working with Joe Spitzley, the owner, throughout the process. He and his team were very professional, courteous, and efficient. They gladly addressed all our questions and concerns, and accommodated our accelerated move-in schedule. Joe was willing to work within our budget and his bid and invoices were detailed and clearly presented. You can reach Joe at (510) 841-2185. Matthew

We used Rolander Construction and Carlene Anderson of Anderson Design to do our Kitchen and couldnt be happier. Everything looks great and the contractor was great to work with. Call Dick Rolander at 510 339-3655. And Good Luck with your job! Adam

We are just finishing our kitchen and family room remodel (and small addition) and can highly recommend our architect, designer, and contractor. We used the team of Michael Albrecht (architect) and Becky Hatt (designer) of Haus Design (510-526-9191, or They do jobs of all sizes around the Bay Area. Michael really helped us fit all the elements we needed into our small space, and all of the contractors we interviewed were very impressed with the detail and thoroughness of his plans. (We had no trouble going through permitting.) Becky helped us find design solutions that were compatible with the style of our house while incorporating some elements that were unique to our vision. I also highly recommend our contractor, Jamie Carlen, and his team (510-970-7977, or They've got great skills and attention to detail and aesthetic. They also were very respectful, kept everything clean, and stuck to the anticipated budget and time schedule. Our project has gone very smoothly, thanks to these enthusiastic and supportive teams! AW

I recently remodeled an super dank kitchen using Jesse Rozay and his crew from Zeus Design Build. Jesse's done work for me in the past and has a great eye for detail. I most appreciated his knowledge on a wide range of green materials and he is super transparent on cost estimates, either full contract package or time and materials. We worked hand in hand through multiple designs. We also worked out which items we would tackle ourselves and which he and his crew would do. Email me if you'd like to get photos of the remodel. Jesse can be reached at jesse [at] or 510.390.1245. Good luck. christine

You may want to check out this Berkeley-based firm - - the website includes examples of residential and kitchen remodels. Fran

I highly recommend our general contractor Tom Wright at . He worked with us to design an amazing bathroom for us and is currently working with us to create a kitchen of our dreams. He does fantastic work and we love working with him. Tracy

Call Sorin Feraru at 510-228-7366.He is head and shoulders about the crowd, and can help you with the design as well.He just finished a project at our house which involved design.He provided us with the full package of design, plans and construction, which is great because it really makes a difference when the contractor, designer and engineer are a team and communicate one with another.It sure saves you the headaches.As for the construction, every single detail was great. The greatest part was that we could reach Sorin whenever we had questions, he always picked up his phone or called us right back. You can check some of his work at

Addition and kitchen remodel in Walnut Creek

Feb 2011

Hello. We are in the beginning stage of an addition and the possibility of knocking out our fireplace to make our kitchen bigger. We have a ranch style home from the 50s in Walnut Creek - Lakewood area. We would love any recommendations from an architect/home designer to a general contractor. Another question we have is cost of construction with basic finishes. Also what kind of costs should be allocated to permits and drawings? Any insight/advise would be appreciated. We need to live in the house during the remodeling. We need expert advice/ideas/tips on the best course. Thank you so much Clueless

I have been using Joe O and have been very pleased. carleigh

You couldn't find a better interior designer than Kathy Bate, who lives in Walnut Creek. She specializes in kitchen and baths, and has done numerous projects for me and my neighbors. She is great to work with and is very creative. You can take a look at her website: Good luck with your project! Yvonne

I have a recommendation for a contractor for your addition and kitchen remodel. California Rebuilders does very meticulous work. (510)843-1800. One word of caution, just so that you don't get sticker shock - contractors and remodeling projects are expensive. Part of the reason is that the cost of workers compensation insurance has escalated. The cost of materials has escalated partially due to the increase in gasoline prices. The redwood we bought to rebuild a 40 foot bridge 2 years ago would cost us 25% more if we did the same job today. On the other hand, now is a good time to hire a contractor because there is not that much work for them due to the economy. You need to be careful though because the lowest estimate is not always the best estimate. You also (usually) get what you pay for. Architects are expensive and sometimes you need engineering drawings as well. The architects may design something that the builder cannot build in the real world so they have to do something somewhat different to make it work and that could add to the expense. So it all depends on the project. Kitchens themselves seem to be particularly costly because cabinetry, plumbing and electrical are all on the high end of building expenses. anon

Hi, We've remodeled our kitchen and put additions on the house while living there with our young son and it was completely manageable. But planning was very important. For the kitchen, there was about a week of doing dishes in a basin in the bathtub and we didn't have access to our stove for about a day. But it wasn't bad, we ate out a bit and had a microwave in another area of the house. I left with my son to visit family during the week of sheet rock work because even with plastic containment walls, the dust can be irritating to the lungs. If you can get a trustworthy contractor, it is a great idea to schedule a week or two of family vacation around when the kitchen is totally unusable or during that sheet rock stage. Be sure to work with an architect who can speak to BUDGET as well as design. You may even want to get a contractor involved a little earlier during the planning stages to put in some ballpark numbers on how much this detail would cost, this counter top choice vs. another, or this roof line vs. another, moving a sink vs. keeping in the original location, etc.-- All of those choices can change costs dramatically (as well as the feel and design of it). My husband is an experienced contractor and has remodeled and put additions on our house for the past ten years, all while we were living at our place and raising our child from infancy during that period. His planning around our lives made it smooth and we have a totally custom home. For one addition, we did all of the work or the added space before we broke into the connection to the main house. That kept it very separate from the living area in terms of noise and dust, until the last possible moment when they framed in the connector door. If you want expert advice, and a reliable estimate, you could try my husband's company, caroln

It will be difficult to get any useful numbers for the cost of your construction, permits, and drawings as those sooo depend on what you are planning to do, but the contractor you are choosing might be able to give you a very rough ballpark number. Speaking of which, I would love to recommend our fabulous contractor, Andrew Sonnemann of Sonnemann Construction (925-457-7710) who did a complete remodel of a 1920 fixer for us a year ago. We have since hired him back and recommended him to our friends. Andrews work is absolutely meticulous and of the highest quality. We were on a very tight budget but his level of attention to detail just makes everything look amazing. We too were living at the house for part of the time, and he and everyone on his crew was extremely polite, nice, respectful everyone from owners, children to pets. Because of the age of our house, we needed lots of specially designed solutions, and Andrew never tired thinking them up for us. He never gave us a 'that can't be done' reply, its always 'let me think about that'. He never tired explaining things to me so that I could make the most informed decisions. Conveniently, his father happens to be a great architect, and an extremely reasonably priced one too, which came in very handy as it turned out that they needed to work together on a few problems along the way. All in all, we will never need to look for another contractor again :-) Happy Home Owner

With no doubt, Sorin Feraru is the contractor you're looking for. I know he covers also Walnut Creek area. Sorin can help you with the whole project, including planning and designing. He guided us through the entire process of adding to our house and remodeling part of the existing one. We've been through a remodel a few years ago and I know what a trouble can be having to be the messenger between the architect, designer and contractor, but with Sorin everything went great. I know who I'll hire for my next building project. You can reach Sorin at 510 228 7366.

In the past we have done a couple different remodeling projects including kitchen, bathroom, laundry and a new addition on our home in Berkley. Throughout each project we could not have picked anyone else to make the whole situation go any easier. We hired Bebe Construction who is a licensed general contractor located in Castro Valley. Him and his crew worked very hard in completing each project and were always on time each day. Throughout the project my wife and I had many questions in which Bebe was very reliable in answering all questions and also provided us with help in finding better deals for the finishing work. I could not add any more on how great everything turned out, we would definitely recommend on using Bebe Construction and his crew for additions or remodeling projects. bebeconstruction [at] and (510)566-6685 Jeff

I recommend on using Bebe Construction because of his highly skilled crew and fine work. He remodeled the kitchen and bathroom in our home, installed new hardwood floors and also added a new roof. The projects went fairly quickly, passed all the inspections the first time so everything went rather smooth. I was very happy with the estimate and bid that I received from Bebe and most of all it was well worth every penny. If anyone needs any remodeling done to their home I would go right ahead and contact Bebe Construction. If anyone has any questions give him a call 510 566 6685 and his email is bebeconstruction [at] Good Luck! Liz

We have done our kitchen remodeling project with our friend JB Construction, License #908631 They are very helpful and professional results. And it took they only couple of weeks to comepletely redo the whole kitchen in our house. Best contractor we had to deal with. Contact by e-mail: powerlabor [at] Cristina

Hi, I can highly recommend Hometelligent, Inc., headed up by Silvio Dobrovat. They have helped us with projects both large and small. Silvio works with you to find good solutions that fit your budget and I've been particularly impressed with his responsiveness. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend him if I didn't believe in him. His number is 1-925-383-8163. a satisfied homeowner in Albany

Kitchen Remodel - Seeking Words of Wisdom

June 2010

Hi, We are at the beginning stages of a kitchen/family room remodel. We are currently working with an architect who we really like and so far everything is going well. We hope to start the remodel in the summer of 2011. We have a 1954 ranch house in Orinda and we are trying to move it toward a more ''modern'' style with a slightly artsy/funky/utilitarian vibe (which suits our lifestyle & personality). I've always lived in homes with very defined spaces except for a few years in college when I lived in a warehouse. I love the open feeling of a kitchen that flows into the dining room and has sight of the living room and family room but before we bust down the walls and go for it I'm wondering if there are some down sides I don't know about that are worth considering. We don't own a lot of ''stuff'' and I don't think that will change, but I do worry about seeing everything and hiding mess/clutter in the kitchen. We are thinking of moving from a kitchen with 4 walls to one with just 2 and a large island. We are considering placing the sink in the island.

If you can share your thoughts on this set up - especially if you did a remodel where you didn't have an open layout and then created one - how do you feel about the change? Is there anything you would do differently? Along these same lines I am leaning toward using a lot of open shelving with cabinets below but open shelves above. Again, I'd like to hear from people who have this set up and either like it or don't. Finally we will be creating a pantry. I am torn between a large walk in vs a more shallow one with sliding doors to access walls of shelves. Feel free to share your thoughts pros/cons. Thank you so much for this feedback! We've never taken on a kitchen project & we are very excited but also nervous! All words of wisdom re remodeling like this are welcome, thank you. Remodel in my future!

My wife and I just remodeled the kitchen and bath of our rental apartment. The place needed extensive work, however becuase it's a rental, we were on a tight budget. Rather than calling a general contractor, we called Juan Jose Garcia at Handyman Bay Area, who had done small repairs for us in the past. He re-tiled the kitchen and bath, re- tiled the shower, prepared us for granite installation, rebuilt a deck, installed new appliances and fixtures-- essentially a full remodel. He gave us detailed, accurate estimates for each part of the job and never charged a penny extra. I highly recommend him. Handyman Bar Area: Cell (510)260-4893. Email: jjgsp [at] Dakota

We were in a very similar situation when we bought our fixer-upper: The kitchen was a dark box with U-shaped arranged cabinets -- lower and upper! I wanted to open up the space, turn it into an L-shape for easy access to the dining and living areas and a more open feel, and I wanted to install floating wood shelves. I was very nervous about whether I would end up with enough storage, especially since we had been spoiled with ample space in previous rentals. I started by writing down how much cabinet space I had previously used for what (e.g. one upper for plates, 3 uppers for food...). That helped me figuring out how many cabinets I would need. I was able to put in an upper cabinet over the fridge and pantry cabinets next to the fridge -- this solution makes the fridge area look like a unit rather than a freestanding fridge, and provides me with lots of storage. I was also able to tuck three pull out cabinets on top of each other into a wall that the kitchen shares with the bathroom which stores away all sorts of canned food and spices. For bulky pots and pans I am using the lower rack of an antique butcher block that also doubles as a freestanding island. For the dining area I bought a beautiful antique buffet or sideboard (off Craigslist) where I can store linens, glass, plates, silverware and other items to set the table. Best of all, the setup really works, we ended up with enough storage and easy access without everything being squeezed. For ideas, I found the Kitchen Design book from Sunset (the same ones that publish the magazine) VERY helpful as I did not want a traditional or a modern kitchen, but just something really simple. I love the idea of a pantry to pack away all the clutter but just could not fit it in. Our kitchen now is not cluttered even though there is so much open space because I was able to find enough places to tuck in storage solutions. You have a nice little project ahead of you -- good luck and have fun :-) D.

We did this last year. We knocked down 2 walls separating our dining room and kitchen, and now have a ''great room''--living, dining and kitchen. We also created an island. Your questions--If you don't like seeing a lot of clutter, consider 2 things--NOT having open shelving, unless you are true minimalists and obsessive neat freaks. Go with doors, as least glass-fronted ones, with decorative glass (there are dozens--many very cool). Maybe pick a special place (above a window, in an awkward corner...) to put 2 or 3 open shelves. Secondly, create an eating bar in your island that is about 6'' higher than the workspace. Our island countertop is 24'' deep like the rest of the counters, and has a 16'' deep bar on top, which is not only wonderful for extra seating and conversations with the cooks, but hides countertop clutter when we are in the dining area. Our designer told us most islands nowadays are flat, but we rebelled, put in a raised bar, and are sooooo happy we did. Pantry--we put one in a 6'' deep recess of wall. It's floor to ceiling, 5 feet wide, with 6 doors. And only 6'' deep so everything is visible and nothing gets lost. Sink--we put a small one in the island and big one on a wall. LOVE having 2 sinks. Take your time, trust your gut, pick what you like. Have fun! Berkeley mom of 3

I went out and interviewed a couple contractors before I hired anyone to completely remodel my kitchen and bathroom in my 1960s Danville home. After interviewing and researching I choose Bebe Construction. First of all the bid that was given couldn't be any more reasonable for the amount of work that was done. He was very reliable about being on time and answered all the questions that I had towards the remodeling. During the remodeling process he let us know where we can pick up material at a cheaper price which actually helped us save some money. In all my wife and I could not be any happier on how the kitchen and bathroom turned out. I would definitely recommend on choosing Bebe Construction for any type of job that is needed to be completed. You can contact him at Cell: (510) 566.6685 or E-Mail: bebeconstruction [at] Bob

How exciting for you. I live in Walnut Creek and we recently built a home and did just what you are talking about regarding the kitchen. We have a large kitchen with (two walls) a large island (we have a second sink in the island w/ disposal). Our dining area is in the same area as the kitchen and then it opens to our great room. We love it because this is where everyone hangs out! I have two little ones too, so it is nice to be able to watch them while I am cooking etc... We don't have ''open'' shelving or cabinets, but what is open I do get crazy with the piles of ''stuff''. Our pantry is closed cupboards with the large pull out drawers (love it!). You are more then welcome to come take a look or I can send you some pictures. Regards, amy

just a few thoughts Open shelves: Remember we do have EARTHQUAKES around here. Whatever you put there will fall (and break?) one day. Also, consider how often you will use/wash the items that go on the open shelves, because kitchens do tend to get dusty/grimy.

Open plan: If you are the type who can keep things picked up and neat looking, I think these look great. I find that when I cook, the kitchen clutters up, especially with the multi-course meals I make for company. I didn't want that all visible to guests from the dining room, so we opted not to open up our kitchen when we remodeled. Also - It's not clear from your post if you have kids, and if so, how old. If you don't (or just have babies), know that things will likely get messier for a while kids are toddlers-teens.

I love my walk-in pantry. It's not so big, but it holds items in a variety of sizes, including some bulkier things (step-stool, vacume cleaner, a small cooler that we use often, etc.), as well as packaged foods. You may have other places for those bulky things, but the pantry works for us.

One more suggestion - if you haven't already discovered it, check out the kitchen forum at LOTS of discussion of pantries, layout, and every imaginable detail of kitchen remodels. Enjoy your new kitchen! R.K.

We just moved to the area and our kitchen was just terrible. So we looked on-line and got references for Bart McCoy. I have never in my life met anyone that knowlegable about kitchen/bath plumbing repair and remodel. He was totally friendly and made sure I understood everything we talked about. He gave me a price up front and for FREE. We schedualed the job, he showed up as planned and did the job exactly as he said he would. Not only that he charged us LESS than he estimated, call him you won't be sorry, we sure weren't. His number is 510-289-1402 or 510-350-7093. Erik

If you're looking for a kitchen remodel contractor, there is this guy that we had for our kitchen remodeling in a old Berkeley house.His name is Luca Adamache. We have been very pleased with him and the quality of the work. We felt very confortable to have him around and handle the project from start to finish. He is a licensed general contractor and when we interviewed him we saw few projects of his done in past and he can do so many more from foundations to rooftops. He is specialized in remodels, additions, new constructions, bathrooms, garage conversions, basement conversions, decks, finish carpentry and many more. His craftsmanship is excellent and his rates are reasonable. What made us feel safe with him is that he is a Certified Renovator by the EPA, too. If you hire him you won't regret it ! He can be reached at 510-427-0585. Stuart

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

We need our kitchen / bathroom remodeled

Dec 2009

We're looking to remodel our kitchen and bathroom and have talked to a few local contactors. Our first choice is Kathy Kovell with Big Red Construction in Lafayette. Has anyone used this company? We've heard great things about her business philosophy and the quality of work she performs. Two of our neighbors have highly recommended her. Anyone know anything about Big Red Construction in Lafayette? Jean

Seth Melchert (company: Master Builders in Oakland) has done both kitchen and bathroom remodels in our home. I highly recommend him. He and his crew are reliable, honest, very skilled, and personable. A kitchen remodel is disruptive to the routine of a household, and Seth made every effort to minimize the mess and disruption. He will get your job done well, and in a timely way. Master Builders-510-654-2746 laura

We recommend Augusto Bituin (call him ''Augie'' for short) to remodel your kitchen or bathroom. He is a skilled contractor and he is able to do small and large projects. Over the last 10 years, he has expertly remodeled 5 bathrooms for us in 2 very different types of homes (one mid-century/one 1920?s craftsman). He is able to do it all ? tiling, electrical, plumbing. In addition, he resurfaced our ceiling, patched walls back to new, and painted exterior and interior spaces for us. He has also done similar work for our friends. Augie takes pride in his workmanship which is always detailed, quick, meticulous and very neat. His recommendations and suggestions are pragmatic and practical and flexible. His pricing is very reasonable and fair - that is one of the many reasons why we always go to him. Call him directly if you need work done! He has clients in San Francisco, South Bay and the East Bay. Augie 415-793-4137 EL

We recently finished up a 474 square foot 2nd story addition/remodel to our home in Alameda and contracted with Canivet Construction of Berkeley . The work included a full kitchen remodel and new bathroom, in addition to two bedrooms/new second story. Guillaume Canivet performed very high quality work at a reasonable price (we received 4 bids for the work), in addition to making our project as green as possible. He is currently pursuing a green-point rated remodel through Build it Green and we may be the first in Alameda. Guillaume's background is finished carpentry so he does pay attention to all the details including finish work, he even saw things I did not as an environmental engineer. His work and crew stand out and he also came in within 5% if the original estimate at the end of the 4 month job. He finished a month ahead of schedule and that makes a big difference when you are moved out and renting with small children! He is a pleasure to work with and really takes the time to listen and understand what is important to the owners in the project. I strongly recommend Canivet Construction be considered if you are planning any sort of remodel/addition.

Kitchen remodel - want to remove a wall

Oct 2009

I am interested in remodeling the kitchen to create a new floor plan. I want to remove a wall and a closet that juts into the kitchen. I don't know if these walls/closet are load bearing. Do I use a structural engineer? -a novice remodeler

Yes, we just did the same thing (removed an L-shape wall) and hired a structural engineer. If you're getting permits, they can draw up detailed drawings to take to the permitting office. If not, they can draw up ''unofficial'' drawings, much cheaper, for you or the contractor to work by, just so you know you're safe in case of an earthquake. a Berkeley mom

Try Greg Watson Construction 510-223-1541 office; 510-453-5638 cell. I have used him several times; everything from bathroom addition with new plumbing and electrical and foundation work to small repairs and painting. He's the BEST! He is so honest and reasonable and easy to work with. And he likes to get in and get the job done; no running several jobs at once, leaving you wondering when the heck he'll be done or when he's coming back. Great guy! Joan

Try Andy Frasheski, I highly recomend him, he removed a wall in our house that divided the kitchen area from the living/dining room to make it a great room. He has wonderful ideas and is great at problem solving. He did such an amazing job, that words are not enough to describe the good quality of the work. Andy is trustworthy, reliable, and he always picks up his phone, or calls you right back if he misses the call from you. Please contact him directly (510) 644-3711 or afrasheski [at] Ana

I use Eric Laul at 5109329876 cell, or email at EricLaul [at] He is licensed and do very good remodeling, kitchens, baths, decks, doors, dryrot, drywall and esp good at plumbing. Kenny

Contractor for kitchen remodel

June 2009

Looking for some kitchen remodel bids: need cabinet refacing, green-type counter tops, flooring, farm sink... etc. Anyone have current rec's for a good team who works fast and on budget? In Emeryville and (almost) ready to go! Louise

We hired Sorin Feraru, a general contractor to complete our addition and kitchen remodel.Sorin and his craftsmen team were polite, on time, organized.They kept the house clean throughout the entire project.I highly recommend this company for any remodeling and additions you might need.Sorin was very reliable during the entire process, he is also trained as an engineer and has an excellent eye for interior design.He helped us choose colors, fixtures and finished materials for our kitchen (free of charge), he offers this complementary to his customers if you ask for.He always answered his phone (even on evenings and weekends), and had really great ideas for our remodeling.He made suggestions and saved us money on the long run. You can reach him at 510 228 7366 or check his website Robert

Andy Frasheski was recently recommended for a kitchen remodel, and I have a different opinion, based on experience working with Andy on a bathroom remodel in my home. I agree that Andy is personable and funny. The quality of his work did not leave me laughing once he was finished. Here is a partial list of some major problems in our house resulting from Andy's work: plumbing leaks under both sinks and the shower, uneven floor tile, uneven shower tile, glass shower enclosure installed outside tile resulting in serious water damage, sloppy finish work, finish work never completed, etc. Water leaks caused permanent damage to cabinetry and required expensive repairs to plumbing, ceilings and walls. Beware! learned the hard way

Editor Note: Andy Frasheski's response is posted here in accordance with BPN's negatice review policy :

Reading this anonymous negative posting regarding my work has left me deeply saddened as I remember it very clearly and very differently than described here. I did not even have a contract with this client and I was just helping my friend Jim for a very short few days so my involvement was minimal. The downstairs ceiling was seriously damaged before we even started the work and the client assumed that it was due to the old bathroom upstairs but I determined that the water was leaking in under the exterior door which had no flashing at all and was obviously the source of the leak. I never did any repair work to the ceiling below and was told we will deal with that when we get around to remodeling the entire kitchen. I never did any plumbing at all let alone under two sinks which I never saw so I can only assume this was done by someone else as we left the job way before this stage. I never saw a glass enclosure and anyway I never install those but always subcontract those to a reputable glass company like Berkeley Glass. I have had this policy for twenty years now. I never did any finish work as I was gone long before this stage and I did drop in to see Jim doing his part of the plumbing only to see what a great job he had done to make this difficult situation work and his water test plus official inspection passed with flying colors on the first visit by the city inspector.

My reputation is all that I have so I value it highly and need it to be impeccable to get future work in order to feed my family. I have never had a dissatified customer in over twenty years of remodeling and I intend to keep it this way.

Why this BPN member would post such a false negative review of my work is beyond my comprehension, but then again, I cannot comprehend why one human being would deliberately harm another or go to a war.

I have a negative review of my own and so does Jim to post about this client but I will not do so as this is not me.

I am not cowardly posting this without my contact information so any and all are free to contact me by phone: 510-644-3711 or email: afrasheski [at] if you have any questions. Thank you for your patience, Andy Frasheski Lic. # 375046 Ps. Feel free to check with the contractors state licensing board and also with Yelp.

Contractor for Small Kitchen Remodel Needed

May 2009

We're looking for somebody to help us with our kitchen remodel, specifically demo of the existing cabinets and floor, then floor and back splash tile work. We'll be doing Ikea cabinets ourselves, and will likely seek a separate contractor for the countertops (although we're open to one person doing the whole thing). It's a pretty small kitchen, galley style and about 8' x 8' or so. Might really be a job for a handyman, but we'd love to hear suggestions for somebody who could get it done on budget and on time. james

We looked around a lot when we did our kitchen. We ended up using Haven Builders. Owner Rick Patterson, 510-978-1786, is super smart and efficient. He has a guy that does concrete countertops if you are into looking at that as an option. Best, Kelly

I highly recommend Andy Frasheski; he is honest, reliable, very creative, easy going, funny.....I can't say enough great things about him. Thru the years he has done all kinds of jobs for us, since remodeling our kitchen and bathrooms to build a fence, re-paint,etc.....anything you need to repair or build. Anybody I know that has used him, doesn't uses anybody else. We also liked the fact that he is licensed and insured. You can call him directly at 510-644-3711 or Ana

I highly recommend Greg Ward of Smart Building. He has helped 2 of my friends on 2 seperate projects. They both really like him because he finished project as promised, he made them feel the projects were important to him as they were to the owners regardless of the size of projects, they were very satisfied with the quality of the project. Greg is a very nice person and very easy to work with. His email is Greg [at] Good luck Lan

I highly recommend Andy Frasheski to you. He did our kitchen remodel last summer, and he was really great to work with. We were very cost-conscious, and he was happy to work within our constraints. He and his crew were easy to work with, communicated with us about any issues as they arose, and they were fast! His phone number is 510-644-3711. Give me a call if you have other questions about his work. Good luck! Sarah

Contractor for kitchen remodel

Feb 2009

We are planning a kitchen remodel in our home in Piedmont. Can anyone recommend a good contractor? Thanks. Nicole

The contractor for our kitchen remodel was Gene Paletta / Paletta Builders. You can contact Gene at sunkyng (at) or (415) 377-0356. He is experienced working with higher end homes and the extra/special care that is required. Does a great job minimizing the dust and disruptions during the remodel, is meticulous about details, and is also a great communicator, something that many contractors are lacking! Good luck. Brenda

Hi Nicole - I would highly recommend you contact Cameron Habel of Habel Construction -- (510) 531-4090. We have used this company for numerous remodels on homes in the Oakland Hills and Orinda, and have found them to be the best contractors/builders. They are highly reliable, artistic, reasonable and above all honest! The workmanship that went into our kitchen remodel was amazing -- in fact Cameron Habel won a design/remodel award for our kitchen in 1996. Moreover, Habel Construction was recently rated to be the #2 company by sf.gate -- though in our book, they are number one! Good luck and have fun with the remodel - Bekki

Try Mike Costello at Costello Construction ( He's based in Montclair and does a lot of work in the Piedmont/Montclair area. He and his staff were all very professional, great craftmen, neat, friendly -- everything you'd want from a construction crew working in your home. Happy Customer

I'd recommend Rick Patterson at Haven Builders. He's done a couple of jobs for us and is finishing up a complete bathroom remodel right now that I am in love with. Everyone that he subcontracts with has been a pleasure to work with and also thinks very highly of him. You can reach him at (510) 665-9777 and rick [at] Also email me with any questions if you'd like. Ruth

You should try Yvonne Kettels of She Custom Building 510-520-0295. She remodeled our kitchan and did a great job. (Also has built us fences, built-in shelves, and a window seat.) Yvonne has also worked for many friends and families at our school. Everybody happy with her work. She is very experienced and responsible, and works w/green materials when possible. Has good ideas and is creative. - Best of Luck

Hi Nicole, I read your posting and had to respond. I too had a kitchen remodel done about 3 years ago, and we used Lawrence Construction. They are an honest, company that provides excellent workmanship, on time and on budget. We couldn't be happier. Take a look at their website, and give them a call. Very happy customer

I highly recommend Paragon Remodel ( I have a 2/1 in rockridge over the past 1 1/2 years Rebecca has built a new bathroom (gorgeous), rebuilt our kitchen from the studs and found the space within our house for a family room. She's honest and completes the projects on time and on budget. She and her crew are pleasant and personable. They cleaned up at the end of each work day as well. I couldn't be happier. Good luck! brenda

I highly recommend Andy Frasheski, he has done numerous jobs in our house including remodeling our kitchen and adding a bathroom. He is reliable, very creative and easy to work with. You can contact him directly 510-644-3711 Ana

Call our fabulous contractor Tom Judt! He just did a major remodel for us, including the kitchen- he does beautiful work (and on time and in budget too!). He'll come up with a plan for you to fit your budget- he has great suggestions of where to get fixtures, etc. and is creative at working in the features that you already have. And he is a perfectionist- your kitchen will be gorgeous! Tom is the nicest and does it all- tjudt [at], 510-852- 4560. Give him a call and get it done! Good luck! Kris

Hi Nicole, I highly recommend Constantin from C G Builders. He remodeled my entire house including the kitchen. It is very easy to work and communicate with him. He is a problem solver. He is tidy. His prices are adapted to the current economy. He was really patient with me till I decided what I wanted. He also gave me several suggestions regarding my project. You will never hear loud music or foul language during your project. He didn't do any damages to rest of my property. You can contact him by email info [at] or by phone at (510)305-5680. diana

I have a fantastic contractor who just did a kitchen remodel for us this summer! His name is Matthew Gibbs and his number is (415)652-2665. Our kitchen came out beautifully, it is now functional and inviting. We receive almost daily compliments about it! Matt was able to work within our budget, did it in the time he said and was just so nice to work, he is professional and friendly. His attention to detail and artistic eye shows in the finished kitchen. He was able to help deal with space issues in creative ways. He and Santos(his helper) were very respectful of working while as I was home and eight months pregnant at the time. They cleaned up everyday, so we could still use parts of our kitchen throughout the process and did not leave any mess when they completed the job. I am so glad we did the work, and could not be happier that Matt was our contractor. We have actually hired him since to do other work for us since. With Matt we actually enjoyed the remodeling process! Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions. Cara

Hi, I would like to recommend Matt Whalley of Whalley Construction. He is a licensed general contractor and has done several projects for us including a kitchen and bathroom remodel, and a redwood fence. He was extremely patient and flexible when it came to helping with the design (we moved a couple of walls) and was able to suggest several suppliers. He knew exactly what the procedure was when it came to picking and ordering supplies and the approx. time of their arrival, and was more than happy to work around our schedule since the cabinets, appliances and countertop all arrived at different times ( all were special order). Overall, he did an excellent job on our house, he has always been very pleasant to work with and always took time to answer all of our questions. He can be reached on 925-366-6199 or through his website at Kristina

Hi Nicole, My kitchen remodel was just completed in December. We hired Larry Guillot and were very pleased. This was our second project with Larry. He also did a small bathroom update for us a couple of years ago. The project came in on time, on bid and we love our new kitchen. The best thing about working with Larry for us is that we trust him. He's easy to reach, easy to communicate with, and if he says he's going to do something, he does it. As homeowners, we've had seven total contractor jobs and the two we've done with Larry have been by far the best. Larry can be reached at Larry Guillot larry [at] 707-965-3299 Larry has my permission to provide you my personal information if you'd like a reference from me over the phone. RB

We highly recommend Matthew and his brother Darren Whalley (matthew [at]; 925 366-6199; They built a 100 foot fence and gate for us and we liked their work so well that we asked them to do our kitchen remodel. They are skilled and experienced structural builders and were a joy to work with on the ''design'' issues. No item was too small for them to fully consider--we all brainstormed on light & switch placement, cabinet placement, etc. & we took all their suggestions on the major structural issues involved with a 70 yr old house. They worked well with all the other contractors & delivery people & paid attention to every detail. They worked neatly and always did what they said they would do, were always on time, & for a reasonable price. Really, we could not have asked for more. We would have them back in a heartbeat. R & V

I recommend Jeb Bunker. I've just finished a kitchen remodel project with him in Walnut Creek. He was a real partner in the project, did great work, and went out of his way to make the client happy. He ENJOYS his work and it shows. Take a look at his web site ( ) and give him a call 925- 260-7579. Bill Engelhardt Engelhardt Architecture 415-572-8895

Hi NIcole, we hired Sorin Feraru, a general contractor to complete our addition and kitchen remodeling.Sorin and his craftsmen team were polite, on time, organized.They kept the house clean throughout the entire project.I highly recommend this company for any remodeling and additions you might need.Sprin was very reliable during the entire process, he is also trained as an engineer and has an excellent eye for interior design.He helped us choose colors, fixtures and finished materials for our kitchen (free of charge), he offers this complementary to his customers if you ask for.He always answered his phone (even on evenings and weekends), and had really great ideas for our remodeling.He made suggestions and saved us money on the long run. You can reach him at 510 228 7366 or check his website Robert

Kitchen remodel homework

Sept 2008

Our kitchen designer has recommended 3 contractors, Alex Avalos, David Dinh, and Steve Vorkoeper/V.B. Construction. Does anyone have any experience with any of them? We are doing an older house, staying as close as possible to a 1920's feel. We are buying our own cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Has anyone used any sources that they were very satisfied with, or not?

We just finsihed a remodel of our 20's bungalow, including the kitchen. Our contractor was Tom Judt (510-852-4560; tjudt [at] and he did a spectacular job (on time, in budget, lovely work) making sure all of the trim details matched the existing features, as well as doing some restoration as he went along. He's not one of the folks you asked about, but wanted to share his info anyway b/c I was so pleased with how our house turned out.

We used Armkea for cabinets (they have a little showroom in Berkeley on University and then out by the coliseum in Oakland). We did off the shelf cabinets from them, they're very pretty, nice quality, and they customized the inside for us.

Ended up doing counters through Home Depot b/c I liked the Silestone better than anything else- but if going for Corian, I wd recommend Parkmead Countertops, and if granite- Armkea has a nice selection or take a look at Granite Expo in Emeryville across from Home Depot on 40th.

Appliances- we ended up getting the big ticket items at Western Appliance, b/c they were the most willing to work out a deal with us. Their selection isn't as large as Airport Appliance, and if you want to go high end try Gourmet Appliance Outlet off of Hegenberger. We didn't really find anything fantastic at Sears Scratch and Dent, but I have friends who swear by it. Also, w/all of the housing activity- lots of folks are stripping their recently done houses and selling fixtures, cabinets, everything- it's worth looking at Craigslist.

Anyway, recently been there, done that! Good luck- it's so great once it's done! kris

For what it's worth, I'm thrilled with our recent kitchen remodel, done by Andy Frasheski. The work was done on time, on budget, and Andy is a very kind, helpful and resourceful guy. If the other contractors you're looking at don't pan out, I'd very much recommend calling Andy (510-644-3711). We bought all our cabinets from Walker Lund Cabinets in Oakland ( and our counter and backsplah from Import Tile in Berkeley. Good luck! Sarah

We did a kithen plus dining room remodel last year with Jim Davenport as the contractor. It was a big job and the final result was outstanding. Jim has a great crew. Everyone was skilled and courteous. Our house was always swept up. There were never any loose tools or nails for our kids to step on. His subcontractors showed up on time and finished quickly. Most important, Jim really helped us make many critical decisions regarding design and construction questions that came up unexpectedly during the process. Jim submitted the most competitive bid for our job and his work was excellent. Brad

Contractor for Kitchen Remodel

Oct 2007

This last spring we used Paul Lashley to remodel our kitchen and found him to be friendly as well as efficient. He had a quality team and reliable sub-contractors. We are very pleased with our kitchen and highly recommend Paul. His numbers are: 510-910-1028 cell and 510-243-6640 home Sarah

I'm posting to recommend a fabulous person who does many home repairs and remodel work, but specializes in kitchen and bath remodels. We recently had both our kitchen and bath remodeled in West Berkeley by Paul Lashley. Paul was really wonderful, did great work, and made many very good design recommendations along the way for us to consider. Paul is really enjoyable to work with and really thinks through the whole process, keeping you up to speed on exactly whatms happening all along the way. He does or oversees all the work himself, and primarily works with two others guys q a finish carpenter and a plumber. All three are top-notch and incredibly nice. They were really a pleasure to have around and we always felt they were being completely open and honest about everything along the way q no surprises. Our projects were done together and came in on budget and on-time. We get glowing compliments whenever we have guests over. Paul is a master electrician, and does jobs large and small q I highly recommend his work. Paul Lashley 510.910.1028 jv

July 2007

I highly recommend Marc Shure of Shure Design and Construction for kitchen remodels. Marc redesigned and remodeled our kitchen earlier this year and did a terrific job. Throughout the project he worked closely with us to make sure that we got exactly what we wanted and clearly understood the reasons behind the choices we had to make. Marc is thorough, conscientious, and does excellent work. Although he is a finish carpenter by trade, he is a general contractor with thorough knowledge of all aspects of construction. His cabinetry is beautiful as is his finish carpentry. His design for our kitchen made the space much more functional without tearing out any walls (which is what we wanted) and retained the character of a bungalow kitchen. Marc's business telephone number is 510- 540-1952. Carl

We just had a very good experience remodeling our kitchen, due to our excellent contractor McCallin & Moseley. Tim McCallin and Jeri Moseley did almost all of the work themselves, and are both skilled and conscientious professionals (and members of the Carpenters union). They helped us figure out some design issues, and gave us good advice about what we needed and what we didn't need. The kitchen looks great, as they are meticulous in implementation of plans. We had a problem with an uneven floor, and Jeri and Tim actually re-laid the floor when they were unhappy with how it looked at first. Their bid was competitive, and they have all the insurance and that kind of stuff. In addition, they were very easy to have around the house, and they did their best to help us live comfortably in the house while the work was being done. They also worked with our travel schedule to make sure we were out of the house when the worst of the work was being done. We are very pleased with the job they did and wanted to recommend them to others. You can reach Tim McCallin at 510-760-0596. Jenifer

June 2007

We've a baby due in July so don't have time for a complete kitchen remodel of a very old 50's style with the stove hood on the ceiling type! I do want to give it a little face lift before the baby comes. We're not looking for high end work but someone honest who does good work at a reasonable price. Any recent first hand experience with a contractor who service the El Cerrito/Richmond area? Thanks much, LK

Patrick Ridge of Ridge Builders did such a great job renovating my 1950's kitchen that I have to keep recommending him. He is reliable, smart, honest and fun to have in your house. He is in the El Cerrito/Richmond area. I am sure he will do an excellent job on your kitchen because his work ethic will allow him to do nothing less. He can be reached at 510-701-5093.

Paragon for kitchen remodel?

March 2007

We recently took the plunge and bought a house that badly needs a kitchen update. We're thinking of using Paragon Remodel, and would love to hear from past clients. Was your experience good, great, mediocre, nightmarish? Any info will be greatly appreciated. first-timer

We used paragon remodel for a bathroom remodel and a partial kitchen remodel. The bathroom work was extensive, the layout was changed from the original, so all the water pipes needed to be moved. We were pleased with the results, the tile came out beautiful. Also I do have to note that they did a really, really good job of keeping down the dust, unlike another remodel project in our laundry room that we had done prior. The work in the kitchen consisted of new appliances and a new countertop, not a complete remodel. As far as referances, we did follow up on all three that the contractor gave us everyone had good things to say, and several were people from their website before and after photos. So I would recommend them. If you have any other questions email me. Amanda

I had a good experience with Paragon Remodel. Rebecca has lots of good design ideas and is very easy to work with. Her subcontractors generally were good too. Her prices are very reasonable - we got several bids and hers was not only the lowest, she was the best contractor I talked to. She is a stickler for keeping the remodel area clean. Whenever the crew left for the day everything was left remarkably neat with dust confined to the actual work area, not flying all over the house. The only thing I'd be aware of is how many other jobs she has when she's doing yours. I guess there isn't any way to control this, but she got pretty distracted by the end of my job because of all the other work she'd taken on. For example when some plumbing came in with a wrong piece she tried to fix it with a rubber band instead of taking the time to get the correct piece. Just watch out for things like that (which I guess you'd have to do with any other contractor) and I think you'll be happy working with Paragon. Satisfied Customer

Feb 2007

Mike Wilson just completed a major kitchen remodel, and wemre extremely satisfied with the entire process and outcome! We had a small kitchen and adjoining laundry room walls, ceiling and floors gutted down to the studs. Mike combined those spaces into one large, bright open kitchen. This involved wall removal, structural beam installation, creating new window and door openings, new outside siding, etc. Mike works independently and did much of the work himself. He supervised the entire project and any sub-contractors brought in, e.g., for major plumbing and major electrical work.

His carpentry and drywall work are impeccable. He kept the project on schedule and within budget. In particular, we appreciated his detailed project estimate spreadsheet which covered every single aspect of the remodel. Mike also provides invoices on a regular basis which detail all work completed and associated cost and materials making it very easy to track one's budget during the remodel. Any surprises (there are always some) were dealt with head on and the time/cost impact of any changes we requested mid-project were discussed in advance and documented before proceeding.

Mike's rates are very competitive, and he is pleasant to deal with and a good communicator. He took great care to answer any and all questions during the remodeling process and is very honest and reliable.

Please contact Mike at (510) 559-3461. Rafi

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Dec 2006

We are starting the process of remodeling our kitchen in Oakland and are looking for a reasonable general contractor. To save on costs, we would like to take care of all the initial planning ourselves, e.g. architectural drawings, ordering cabinets, counters, appliances, etc., then have the contractor take charge of the actual remodel. In essence, we would like to general contract the planning part of the remodel ourselves, then hire a general contractor to oversee the actual work, including hiring out the subs etc. Has anyone remodeled their kitchen this way and if so, what was your experience like, where you able to save costs? Are there any recommendations for a good, but reasonable, general contractor who will be agreeable to this plan? Any advice is appreciated! Brooke

We just had our kitchen remodeled by a great contractor, Sorin Feraru. Here is his contact info: Sorin Feraru. office[at] ferraru_2000[at] 510- 228 -7366

We contacted him in late August and asked him if he thought he could have the entire remodel completed by October 31, my due date w/ #2. He said barring any unforeseen complications or excessive rain, he'd be finished on time. From the first day he demoed to the last day he came to our house was slightly over 3 weeks. We ordered the cabinets ourselves (and knowing what we know now, we wished we had consulted w/ him first because we had problems with the vendor and aren't particularly pleased w/ the quality of what we ordered), ordered the dishwasher and disposal from a company in Chicago, order the granite from a Granite Expo, etc. We already had our stove, hood and fridge. As long as we had elements on time to match his timeline, he was happy to have us do all the running around for what he was installing. The only things he got himself were plumbing and electrical items that he didn't feel comfortable with ''rookies'' picking up correctly.

As to how ''reasonable'' he was... I can't attest to that since we decided to go with him early on in our search. He was punctual returning emails and phone calls when other contractors we called acted as if we were lucky they even bothered to return our initial phone call. He seemed reasonable to us - plus he is licensed and came with great recs from BPN already. My biggest fear was the never ending remodel and we got a beautiful kitchen 2 days before our daughter was born.

If you'd like to see pictures or ask me specific questions, please email me directly catherine

We have done multiple remodel projects over the years, and the best contractor, hands down, is Big Red Construction in Walnut Creek. It is a women-owned business; Kathy Kovell is the owner. She is incredibly professional, and a joy to work with. Big Red is not cheap, but you get what you pay for: meticulous work, on time, on budget, reliable subcontractors, excellent communication. We felt so comfortable with Big Red that we left for Eurpope for two weeks in the middle of our kitchen remodel; our confidence in the contractor was well placed. The resulting kitchen is gorgeous, and any little problems were fixed immediately, no questions asked. Their phone number is (925) 210-1953
Love Big Red

Tiffany Skau has been doing amazing work for us and she can truly do just about anything. She has fixed our old plumbing (I do mean rusy old....) underneath our sink, installed a new dishwasher, rewiring it in the process. She is doing electrical work for us as well. She has been in the contracting business for 15 years and is now striking out on her own. Her prices are more than reasonable, she is a truly honest and great person. I'm so glad we found her. Finally, someone who can help me with anything! Including putting up a towel rack.(She is training other female assistants too!). Call the Women's Construction Collaborative and Tiffany will give you a great estimate and do an honestly good job. 415-369-2704 Molly

Sorin Feraru with Feraru & Associates Building and Design is very knowledgeable; he did a few projects for us in the last few years and we're very happy; we would definitely like him back if more work was needed at our house. His number is 510-228-7366. Oh, and he also has a great website - Cindy

Sept 2006

We are planning to remodel our kitchen and at least one bathroom and need some recommendations for contractors. Sarah

Our kitchen was remodeled with new electrical, cabinets, counters, appliances, tile, flooring etc. and we still like our contractor! Scott Meadows will return your phone calls. He is located in El Cerrito although his cell is 415 724-3778. He helped us do the project ''green'' and we are very pleased with the result. We appreciated his artistic background when it came to color decisions and the smallest details of the work. He communicated with us regularly and did the work right! Nancy

If you are having ANY tile or stone work done in your kitchen, bathroom or patio, I can highly recommend Nicole from Ascension Tile. Here is her email address and phone #. Bashezo Nicole Boyd [ascension22[at]]. 510.469.6252 Her work was very professional and meticulous. She is reliable, hardworking and creative. She and her helper Martha were always courteous and friendly to our two curious little boys. They always consulted us when necessary and they even did a great job cleaning up at the end of each day. They worked in our new bathroom by tiling the floor, walls and around a window. They also installed a marble floor. It looks awesome! We couldn't be happier with our choice. I could email you a photo of our bathroom, if you are interested. gay

Upgrade kitchen before selling condo?

Dec 2006

We will be putting our SF condo on the market soon (moving to Berkeley!) and a realtor we consulted advised us to buy stainless steel appliances for our kitchen before selling it. It is a victorian flat with a remodeled bathroom and is a nice place except for the kitchen. The kitchen is crappy. It is a nice sunny room but has ugly 60's cabinets that were obviously removed from another apartment and slapped into ours, hideous yellow laminate countertops that are peeling in some spots, decent but very basic white appliances, and an awful layout. What the kitchen needs is a total remodel, which we are not going to do. Doesn't it seem like a waste to put any money in the kitchen when the buyer is clearly going to want to start all over? And if we do get stainless steel appliances, it looks like buying the cheapest models of everything will cost a total of about $2,000. But won't that look cheap too? Yet it seems even crazier to spend $5,000 on a viking stove or whatever because it seems unlikely we would recoup that investment. Any advice? Thanks! anon

I think you are getting bad advice. (Are you sure you are happy with the rest of the advice this person is giving you about the sale?) Putting brand new stainless steel appliances in a worn kitchen will just make the kitchen look worse.

As long as your appliances are in decent shape and look OK, don't worry about the color. Use your money to give the kitchen a nice facelift that will help it sell much more easily than swapping out the appliances.

For far less than that $2000 and a weekend of sweat equity, or a bit more money to a good handyperson you can get a very nice looking kitchen. Paint the walls, replace the cabinet hardware and paint the outside of the cabinets if they are chipped or scuffed or particularly dark and ugly, replace the curtains or blinds with nice inexpensive stuff from Ikea, and install a new stainless steel sink and new faucet and put down a new laminate countertop. Throw in a new, bright light fixture if needed and a new peel and stick floor and you basically have a nice looking if nothing fancy kitchen. For a bit more money you can hire a company to reface the outside of the cabinets (replacing doors and putting trim on the exposed cabinet face outside the doors).

Then price it competitively to reflect the fact that the kitchen is nothing fancy. Buyers who care about having a real gourmet kitchen won't like your kitchen, so they will either pass it up regardless of the appliances or be glad to save enough money to do it themselves later they way they want it. Everyone else will be happy with something that is clean looking and functional, especially if it costs them a bit less than it would otherwise Stainless steel is overrated

Before I sold my house in Berkekely last year, we had to make a similar decision. The bathroom was in terrible shape and the kitchen looked crummy but was all useable. We wanted to get top dollar, so we contracted the work ourselves, found a wonderful carpenter and plumber and handywoman. We did some of the work ourselves like demolition, removing windows and the 1950s dishwasher. In the end, the all-new bathroom looked fantastic with middle of the line but quality fixtures. All we did to the kitchen was replace the dishwasher and flooring, and paint it completely. I figured I would hand the house over in operating order and let the next owner make their personal decisions about re-doing the kitchen best of luck

Hi: I'm a realtor in the East Bay, rather than in SF, but here are my thoughts:

1. Your realtor in SF should be someone with a VERY good sense of the market, and someone you can trust regarding key issues like this. If it's not clear to you right now that new appliances are the way to go--that is, the argument doesn't ring true, then I'd ask the realtor to give you a better explanation, or think about shifting realtors. You'll need to have confidence in your realtor, and it doesn't sound like you're there yet. More discussion and interaction may get you there.

2. In this mixed market, sometimes there's no clear and easy answer. That's tough for sellers, but I think it's important for realtors to be straight on this. ''Let's go look at what your competition looks like now at this price point; let's see what THEIR kitchens look like; let's see how long that quite comparable unit takes to sell; and so on.'' Sometimes saying one doesn't know for sure actually increases the level of trust.

3. Here in the East Bay, the condo market is really quite slow, and I can imagine advising new appliances. It's definitely the case that certain buyers like/expect ''granite,'' and ''stainless steel'' in ads. I like GE Profile because they are good value while still punching the SS button. But location, charm, and so on all enter into it so much that advising from a distance like this is really useless.

4. In situations where I don't think new appliances make sense (often in ''creeping incrementalism'' cases like yours--new appliances means new cabinet fronts and countertops, which means new paint, which means then the flooring will look dated and out of place), I try and turn the negative into a positive.

For instance, I've sold beautiful vintage condos in Oakland with the argument that we're not touching the kitchen--it's usable for now, but the BUYER will get all the upside value benefits from renovating, in addition to getting the kitchen THEY want. Plus, the buyer gets to decide WHEN they pay for that upgrade-- now, when they are scrimping to make the downpayment, or next year, when they can afford a bit more (though if you make improvements now, they can essentially ''finance'' the added cost in their mortgage at low rates over 30 years. Next year, they might not have enough equity for a home equity line yet, and would pay more in interest if they need to borrow.)

The Dec. issue of Realtor magazine has an annual feature that rates the return rates on investments of various kinds in various metro areas. I'm at home rather than the office (email me if you'd like the details for SF), but generally the return rates here, in contrast to other metro areas in the country, are positive--about 125% of cost invested, on kitchen remodels.

But again, you need to work with a realtor who can convince you of the logic of their arguments and advice, based on comparable homes, market trends, and so on. If you're not there yet, you might want to talk more and build on that relationship, or shift to a new one. Best, Maureen K

March 2006

For those members who have recently made posts looking for bathroom and/or kitchen design and cabinetry, and remodeling of old spaces, I recommend you visit the new location of Custom Spaces easy to find on Solano Ave. at Tacoma (1603 Solano), 510-526-7333. We have used their services for a bathroom remodel (custom cabinet and tile installation) and a custom kitchen corner bench (banquette) and know them to be extremely professional with a keen sense of how to transform a space with just the right colors, cabinets, fixtures and look that you want. When doing such projects, attention to detail is key and that is their specialty as far as my husband and I are concerned. Go check out the striking kitchen design in the window of their new shop. They have a kid zone too!

March 2006

I'd like to recommend KitchenWorks for kitchen remodeling. We recently moved into a mid-century house with an original kitchen. The layout was decent, but the dHcor was beyond terrible. We considered several options for redoing it, but decided on KitchenWorks because they could give us what we wanted at the price we were willing to pay. They give you an exact price at the beginning, and that's what you pay. I was relieved not to get stuck with extra costs down the line. They refaced the cabinetry, gave us all new doors and drawers, built a new bank of cabinetry and a pantry, put in granite countertops, etc. From start to finish it took them 3 weeks, which was a big deal with kids in the house. Our kitchen is unrecognizable. We used Manon Demers as our design consultant, she was fabulous-easy to work with and very helpful with design (800-464-2234 x 482). Check them out-they'll come to your house and bring examples of what they do. Website is Please tell them Sara and Carey sent you. If you have questions or want to see pics, let me know. Sara

Do-it-yourself kitchen facelift

April 2005

we are in the process of giving our approx 50 yr old kitchen a much needed facelift. we are hoping to retile the countertops, put wood floors down and paint the oak cabinets. we are ultimately hoping to remodel this kitchen but our budget is keeping us from doing such a remodel just now. i am writing to ask if others have done similar kitchen facelifts and if the results were pleasing to you. we are quickly learning that one project always seems to lead to the next and the more money you spend in home rennovation, the more you save in the long run. however, we just want a kitchen that looks nice for ourselves and for entertaining for the next 5 years or so. what changes have you made and did those changes make an impact in your space? thanks in advance for words of encouragement and caution.
kitchen facelift much needed

Your facelift plans sound a lot like what I am just finishing up in my kitchen. It's taken over a year (I had another baby along the way) and most of it has been in place for a while, I just have to finish up the last painting. I had hardwood floors put in and a few additional outlets added near the countertop. I built-in a table, retiled the countertop, replaced the faucet, repainted my cupboards with decorative trim, and plan to paint the walls next month. I have spent less than $3000 on the entire project. I LOVE the changes to my kitchen! It is a much nicer place to be in now and more functional. We will be in this house for another 3-5 years. I am very happy that we did this now so we can enjoy the kitchen. It doesn't have to cost a lot to make a big difference

In response to the person who inquired about doing their own kitchen facelift, I think it's a great idea. We did a minor face-lift of our 60's kitchen - we replaced all of the cabinet hardware (hinges, knobs) and painted the cabinets. It looks so much better! And didn't cost much either. Yana

Budget for kitchen remodel

Oct 2005

Having just returned from the Rockridge kitchen tour I'm convinced that everyone out there doing a kitchen remodel must have at least double the budget we would like to spend. Would anyone out there be willing to share (anonomously even) what they've spent on a kitchen remodel, total? It looks to me that everyone is spending a six figured sum - am I right? don't have 6 figured sum to spend on a kitchen!

Dear How: About 4 years ago I spent $24,000 on a total knock-down kitchen remodel that I designed myself, (took over a year of planning, replanning, researching materials, doing the drawings for the permits--you don't need any special talent, just patience!) I saved money by (1) designing it myself, (2) getting the permit myself, and doing the drawings, necessitating a total of 3 or 4 visits to the permit counter, saving the money a contractor would charge for that, (3) acting (somewhat) as my own general, so that if there were tradespeople needed, I hired them directly, saving the mark-up that general contractors would build in, (4) buying all the materials myself, flooring, tiles, applicances, etc., everything except raw building materials like sheetrock and nails, saving again a contractor's time (but ask for your carpenter's contractor number so you get the discount), (5) researching the least expensive, but still decent, materials, (6) being very conservative on cabinets, it's amazing how much money can be sunk into those things, really, tens of thousands! You don't need granite countertops! I used corian for the counters, maple cabinets with white laminate inside, hardwood floors, sliding glass door from V, simple appliances (not the $3000 range/oven, not the stainless steel stuff) that I shopped for at the Sears outlet in Hayward (I think). People who saw it all commented on how great my kitchen looked. We've since sold the house and I miss that kitchen! raissa

Minor and affordable kitchen upgrade

Feb 2004

We are planning on completing a very minor and affordable kitchen remodel; no changes to the layout of our existing floorplan. However, we are planning on putting in newer appliances, adding a dishwasher, putting in hardwood flooring and exploring options for countertops and cabinetry (reface vs new cabinetry?)
1) Since our needs are specific and we are not making any changes to the floorplan, aside from putting in a dishwasher in place of existing cabinets, should we still seek out a kitchen designer? If yes, any recommendations? (info is a bit outdated)
2) Any recommendations on a contractor; can contractors also complete electrical needs?
3) Any recommendations on affordable places to purchase granite countertops and how much does it cost per foot?
4) Has anyone done research on refacing vs purchasing new cabinetry and the pros/cons in terms of cost/time and wear?
Thank you! New to this remodeling process

I am just finishing a major remodel and have a friend who is doing one more like your description. Here is what I have learned...
1) I would not recommend a kitchen designer. You really only need a contractor. You are not really designing a new space, you are updating and replacing your existing kitchen.
2) I don't have a recommendation for a contractor, but contractors can and should complete all the work even if the subcontract the work.
3) I know two families who used Fineworks Marble & Granite. They have prefab slabs and cut them to size and install them. They are fast and quite a bargain. My friends have been very satisfied and their counters look great. Fineworks is at 2098 Merced in San Leandro. (510) 895-9891
4) My friends researched new cabinets or refacing. Since their cabinets are solid wood and the configuration has basically stayed the same they chose refacing as the less expensive option. Their cabinets were just completed and they are very happy with their decision. They feel they have better cabinets (because most new cabinets are pressed board or plywood) and they got the look they wanted.
Though you didn't ask, my friends minimal kitchen remodel (with new GE Profile appliances and wood floors is costing them about $40K. Best of luck Karen

We just did a similar remodel, and although we did some of the work ourselves, I can answer some of your questions.

I don't think you need a kitchen designer if you have a good idea of the following:

Color scheme (appliances, cabinet & floor finishes, countertop) ''Look'' (modern, country, etc) for cabinet doors, handles, etc. Features of appliances you want most Changes to lighting, additional outlets, etc. If all of this sounds overwhelming, a kitchen designer might be helpful.

Refacing vs new cabinetry: Pros of refacing: costs about half what new cabinets do (for our small kitchen the refacing estimate, excluding countertops, was about $12,000). Apparently takes much less time (my understanding was the process is generally completed in about a week). You do get new doors on the cabinets (so if your old doors are beat-up it doesn't matter). Cons of refacing: Pretty limited number of places do it (the only one we found that did hardwood veneer facing, rather than the melamine-type, was Kitchen Works).

Pretty limited number of finishes available; we wanted oak with a red rather than yellow finish, and it simply wasn't available. You can't change anything at all about the cupboard layout. For example, if your dishwasher is not exactly the same size as one cupboard, and you would need to add a small cupboard to fill in space, or replace a neighboring cupboard with a smaller one, you really can't do this.

About granite countertops. Home Depot Expo's prices are not the best, nor are KitchenWorks. There's a place down on Hollis St. in Emeryville -- can't remember the name right now -- that had much better prices. Costs $50 - $100 or more/ sq ft, depending on the granite you choose; plus extra for backsplash and edging. If you want cheaper but still nice you might consider SileStone, a product that's over 90% crushed granite, and filled with epoxy, so it doesn't have to be sealed (granite does). Karen

To the person working on the kitchen remodel and on buying new appliances, I'd recommend going to Monti Sowsawat at General Appliance and Kitchen, on Shattuck between Dwight and Blake. If you buy appliances from them, you get a major discount on kitchen design, and I'm sure Monti could give you good advice on whether to reface existing cabinets or get new ones. Prices are pretty reasonable there.

2003 & Earlier

Good design/build firm for kitchen remodel?


Can anyone recommend a good design/build firm for a kitchen remodel? I have checked the archives, but I am interested in talking to others. Also -- going with a design build firm seems easier (is that right?) but is it also more expensive? please reply to bryson

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