The kitchen is the “heart of the home” and as such it’s the room at the heart of most renovation projects. It’s fair to say that a new kitchen is the primary motivation for most renovation projects. There are multiple routes a homeowner can take in search of their dream kitchen. That factor alone accounts for much of the angst and confusion that accompanies the process – where to begin??


Most of the kitchen projects I take on are part of a larger renovation, often times including an addition. We’ll get to those, but let’s start with the homeowner who wants a new kitchen but is not embarking on an addition.

This approach to kitchen design is often referred to as “replace in kind” – replacing existing cabinetry and appliances without any major change in layout. More often than not the kitchen in question is on the smaller side and really doesn’t offer enough area to accommodate a major “rethink”. This applies to many condos and cooperatives, as well as the ubiquitous galley kitchen found in many rowhomes. There are many advantages to this approach – probably the number one being cost containment. Other appealing factors are a much shorter timeline (and associated disruption); a simpler permitting process; and much less risk of “unknown conditions”. An architect or 3rd party designer is typically not needed on a project of this scope. Working with a quality kitchen showroom can achieve a very positive outcome, without additional design fees.

Nothing is black-and-white, including the above scenario. I’ve done renovations like these because the owner wanted a bespoke solution. This has sometimes included custom cabinetry as well as fully integrated lighting design.


This scenario involves a more extensive renovation to fully address the source(s) of client dissatisfaction. That might mean an awkward layout; not enough storage or counter space; lack of accessibility, etc. The kitchen in question might offer enough space to provide plan alternatives, but often there is also adjacent space that can be incorporated. A great example of this is the “Mid-Century Reimagined” project. What was once a small enclosed kitchen became open to the re-designed surrounding living areas, as well as a beautiful outdoor space. It’s vital to look at space in its totality to maximize your return on investment. It’s called “bang for your buck” – it doesn’t necessarily cost more to execute a well thought out plan, but it does add value. When spaces are thought about wholistically, each space benefits from its connection to the other.


The third scenario involves an addition. This immediately elevates your project cost, so it’s important to know that your investment will be in line with the value of your property. An addition is an opportunity to “think big” and address more than a new kitchen design. It often involves adding additional space, or improving access to existing.

Embarking on an addition is an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking process. You should know going in that you will be making lots of decisions! Part of my job is to ease that burden by providing you with a range of ideas and product choices that reflect the detailed conversations we’ve had.


Most clients provide a budget amount they do not want to exceed. That’s very important information for an architect – we can advise from the get-go if your number is realistically aligned with your “wish list”. The good news regarding a new kitchen is the typically high return on investment. It can vary greatly by region, but a minor renovation will likely return greater than 80%. A more major project can return greater than 70% assuming the money was spent wisely.


Unless you’re planning to sell quickly, it’s not just about the dollars spent. It’s important to make decisions that reflect your priorities and lifestyle. The National Association of Realtors has created a “Joy Score” that reflects homeowner satisfaction with various renovation projects, and kitchens come out on top:

A complete kitchen renovation received a top Joy Score of 10. Ninety-three percent of those polled said they have a greater desire to be at home since the completion of their kitchen, and 95% said they have an increased sense of enjoyment when at home.

You might notice that I haven’t talked about specific “styles”. Gorman Architecture designs kitchens that are contemporary as well as transitional and traditional. The common thread is a commitment to solving problems, working within budget, and exceeding client expectations.