services 07.10.03

Kitchen and Bath Renovation

"There's nothing you can do with my kitchen" is what Clare Donohue often hears when people call her to do something with their kitchen.

They've called the right person. Ms. Donohue's company, One to One Studio, 347.452.9594, www.121studio.com, specializes in kitchen and bath renovation, as well as storage solutions and color consulting. (If you're considering a renovation, Ms. Donohue's website is a wealth of concise, straightforward information, particularly as it relates to process and costs ? see the 'fees' and FAQs sections.)

Having worked as a decorative painter, color consultant, and as an art director producing renovations for various DIY magazines, Ms. Donohue knows her way around a job ("contractors can not lie to me," she says) and around the particulars of New York City renovations. And she gets rave reviews for her ability to combine artistic and technical skills. Here's how she describes the steps involved:

THE PROCESS
1. The Initial Consultation
All projects begin with an initial consultation, which normally lasts 2 hours and for which there is a fee of $250. We discuss your wish list, budget, and personal style. You will be provided with a 4-page questionnaire to complete. Finally, rooms are photographed and measured.

2. Review of Plans
We consider floor plans, elevations, design details and materials. A scope-of-work memo and rough budget are outlined.

3. Choosing Materials & Fixtures
You may explore the options on your own or
We can visit showrooms together, or
You may review re-edited samples at home.

4. The Pre-Construction Meeting
We meet with the general contractor to review plans, schedules and address any concerns.

5. Site Visits
I periodically stop by to review progress and assure a quality installation.

THE COSTS
"Most people have no idea what renovation costs. It's really expensive. Even the simplest kitchen job can be expensive ? the size of the kitchen has nothing to do with it (in smaller kitchens, for example, you may have to get custom cabinets). Figure $35,000 and upwards is really what's needed."

Why does it cost so much? "Labor is just so expensive in New York City. And liability insurance doubled after 9/11." Add to that: restricted work hours, winding service entrances, slow elevators, parking costs, and the cost of hauling debris. To compensate, though, Ms. Donohue points out that "some of the most talented craftspeople in the world are based in New York City."


Even though a kitchen or bath renovation is rarely a Zen-like experience, Ms. Donohue's expertise and attitude can help smooth over any rough spots. And as she points out, "There are a ton of really good options these days, cool new appliances and materials. It's a fun time to be doing this."
DOING IT FOR LESS
Ms. Donohue says, "There are ways to make it work. For instance, if your kitchen budget is $25K or less, your best bet is to explore home centers and places like IKEA that have in-store design services. Anything you can do yourself saves money. If you are not the do-it-yourself type, try and find a handyman whose rates are below-market, possibly your super, or someone who is new to the field. You may not get a top-notch job, and it may take longer than usual, but you may be able to fit your budget."


Christopher Street

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