Q&A with Paula McDonald for New York Spaces

Design Dose

Kitchen and Bath Renovations

Q&A With Paula McDonald

Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors brings us: The 10 Most Important Aspects About Renovating Your Kitchen and Bath!


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Q&A With Paula McDonald

Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors brings us: The 10 Most Important Aspects About Renovating Your Kitchen and Bath!

by New York Spaces

Kitchen Renovation Company in NYC

The 10 Most Important Things About Renovating Your Kitchen & Bath

By Paula McDonald Design Build & Interiors

1. Renovating in Manhattan.

New York City: For those of us who live here, the pinnacle of our lives includes the sanctuary of our homes! And, in Manhattan, the task of renovating a residence to reflect this is daunting. Being in the right hands changes everything! And, the red tape is real. Whether you own a Co-op, Condo or Brownstone, it all starts and ends with creating final architectural plans for your proposed residence. You’ll also need building approvals, board approvals, possibly Land Mark Commission approvals and finally, the building permits before you can start construction. This process can be longer then the construction timeline!

2. Planning/Technical Filings/Approvals/Permits.

Planning is everything, and in Manhattan, it’s a maze of choices to finally get to the point of starting construction. Also, knowledge about the building constraints—can you move the bathroom or kitchen footprint? Can you add a washer/dryer? Are you able to upgrade your electric or not, and when? What kind of existing plumbing creates problems for your design plans? For example, you might have to break the ceilings of the apartment beneath yours to gut the bathroom. Structural elements, chases, risers are unavoidable and challenging. Or, you might find surprises behind the walls – like asbestos wrapped pipes.

Another important question to consider—How much can you do before you own it? Structural constraints, lot lines and much more—they are critical to the design! All these considerations must be included in the architectural and design plans. This can take as little as 4 months or much longer depending on the size and scope of the project before you can begin something.

There are different business models as well, different hats worn for architecture, interior design and construction. What suits your needs? That depends on the client. As a Design Build company, we integrate all the parts required as experts from beginning to end from design/architecture/expediting and filing for approvals and permits/construction and interiors. They all need to be present and accounted for to create extraordinary spaces, in the most expeditious way possible. The Design Build benefit: one point of accountability rather then three and faster timelines to completion.

3. Know what you must have—it drives everything!

Let’s start with space—how much do you really have in your kitchen or bath? Can you open the walls and expand the footprint? How do you gain space or storage or can you? What’s the compromise if you face a financial constraint?

Your wish list will be challenged by the size and configuration of the existing walls for your kitchen or bath. Knowing these basic things are requisites to successful design and best use of space. Where do you hide the microwave? Are you willing to consider small appliance sizes if your galley kitchen is less than eight feet long? Can you have a “curbless” shower? Vented Hood or Dryer? Can you have a central AC or HVAC system and how does that affect the space? New technology, docking stations & televisions in the kitchen need to be considered. Small spaces are far more difficult and challenging then any other to design and build in this city.

4. What is your design sensibility and lifestyle?

It is critical to become knowledgeable with design styles, and materials you might consider. Researching tools online are a fabulous source for the beginning. Also, Houzz, Remodelista, Apartment Therapy and others, are invaluable sources for refining your preferences as well as the shelter publications. You’ll need to create this “idea book” or list to facilitate working with expert. We work with our clients to educate and resource this information in the market to make it as easy, as it is fun!

5. What’s in a well designed/built kitchen?

A design plan and installation that transcends the “plan” but delivers the functional need and changes required to the existing structure and more!! A well designed/built kitchen is a transformation of the space that requires, in a contemporary design, less to become more. Ultimately the kitchen is as practical and perfect as it can be for the client’s lifestyle, it’s beautiful, and integrated architecturally with the overall space. Every detail is carefully crafted into the end result. The impact of the overall design should transcend the details, including light, color and texture of the space in a way that is cohesive with the spatial integration of the kitchen in the residence.

6. What’s in a well designed/built Bath?

As with kitchens, the devil is in the details. I think there is a simplicity in our current designs that is really difficult to achieve. With space being the largest constraint in most Manhattan residences, storage becomes a critical element as does function. Achieving the “spa” quality of design and feeling for any size bathroom is the key. It’s a tiny oasis to cleanse the spirit, and the goal is to create the environment for being
pampered and soothed in the tiniest of bathrooms. Achieving that is THE well designed/built bathroom for us.

7. Budget and reality.

You certainly need to research and check references of your selected professionals, and be sure you are comparing apples to apples. The Design Build (our model) is a comprehensive model integrating the various components into one whole. Design fees, Architectural fees, expediting fees, project management and construction contracts are all inclusive. Design Build is different than the traditional process, which requires different parties/contractors and separate management by the client (not integrated).

8. What every renovation, kitchen and bath needs.

Fresh design, timeless sensibilities, integrating smart technologies, creating a key focal point, and connectivity—viscerally and emotionally.

9. Appliances and Selections.

It’s the most important decision to see what you select in person. We always create sample presentations.
Go to the showrooms, and do not rely on online alone. Appliances require knowledge from the experts.
Your independent research and consulting with your professional are essential for achieving the best design and renovation possible.

10 Other important points.

We include Interior Design Planning and Color Consultations—essential for the perfect result!

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