Indianapolis kitchen remodelers aim for timeless design
by Jackie Norris
With a chipped enamel sink, peeling laminate countertops and builder-grade cabinets, Dale and Denise Oberholtzer's kitchen was a 1980s flashback. The Indianapolis residents knew they had to stop living in the past.
"Everything looked dated," Denise says. "It wasn't a happy place, and we dreaded preparing meals."
Michael Teipen, owner of highly rated Kitchens By Teipen Inc. in Greenwood, Ind., says following certain remodeling trends can date your kitchen, while adhering to lasting styles will keep your kitchen fresh for years to come. A timeless look also will prevent you from more expensive updates in the future — as well as appeal to potential buyers when you're ready to sell. "We make a concerted effort to create kitchens that look as though they could have been done any time in the last 50 years," Teipen says.
To achieve a lasting design, Teipen and other experts say to pay attention to your home's style and architecture. "If you live in an Arts & Crafts home, carry that design theme throughout the kitchen and use natural materials," says Sandi Perlman, owner of Blue Ridge Design in Indianapolis. She recommends hardwood flooring and choosing oak or cherry cabinetry with simple lines, and says earth tones for the countertops and decor are key. "These tones have been used heavily in the past and outlive the trendy colors like avocado or pink," she says. "Natural colors make people feel comfortable."
Staying true to an older home's design doesn't mean foregoing all the amenities. Stainless steel appliances are an enduring trend, as well as appliances covered by wooden panels that creates a seamless look. "Most refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, warming drawers and other under-the-counter items can have panels added," says Kristen Zwitt, designer for Kitchens By Teipen. "This allows these modern features to be hidden with the rest of the layout and blend with the cabinetry."
Sacrificing space and functionality shouldn't be an issue either. "Many older homes don't have kitchens large enough for more than one cook," Zwitt says. "You can remove walls and open the space up to have a better working kitchen."
Lack of space was an issue Indianapolis members Chris and Debbie Everett tackled when they hired Perlman to remodel their kitchen. They not only wanted to increase the value of their home, but make the space more usable and accessible. They had Blue Ridge Design take down two walls and create an open kitchen, dining and great room area. "It's great for entertaining and helps us communicate with one another," Chris says. "It was a seven-month project. Having Sandi guide us along the way really absorbed all of the potential headaches. It was definitely worth what little hassle the project caused us. Now we have a beautiful space we use more than any other area in the home."
While a kitchen remodel is time consuming and costly — averaging $25,000 to more than $60,000 according to the experts interviewed for this article — the payback is worth it. Remodeling magazine's Cost vs. Value report for 2008 and 2009 says Indianapolis residents can expect to see as much as a 69 percent return on their investment.
The price tag for a kitchen renovation can add up quickly, but with wise decision making, the products you choose could save you money in the long run. "There's a green aspect to buying quality cabinets and countertops," says Nancy Barbee, owner of Cabinetry Ideas in Indianapolis. "When you buy a higher quality item, it won't be necessary to replace it in a few years."
Kitchen design experts say no matter what your style, your kitchen can reflect your personality and still have staying power. To make a big impact, integrate a unique tiled backsplash or a customized furniture piece used as an island into your remodel. "Like a great orchestra, a kitchen is composed of many instruments," Teipen says. "This includes the cabinetry finish and style, the countertop color and shape, decorative hardware, flooring and more."
Zwitt says she once had a client who brought in a picture of a kitchen with all aqua cabinets. To ensure that the client's personal style was reflected, but without compromising the timeless design, they stained most of the cabinets a dark wood and pulled in the aqua color in a hutch. "You can also let your personality come out when choosing paint colors," Zwitt says. "As long as you don't go too far out there."
When designing a kitchen, form should always follow function. "We've recently been through a period of design preceding function," Barbee says. "This is starting to change. The lines of the designs are getting much cleaner." Teipen agrees and says he designs to fit what his clients want, how they work and their needs — then comes the aesthetics. "Much family stress can be reduced or eliminated by good design," he says. "It's a great personal investment that adds to the value of your home and the pride of ownership — when you walk into your new kitchen, it should be inviting and not challenging."
The Oberholtzers, who spent $30,000 on their remodel, are proof a kitchen can be inviting and functional, and still have timeless appeal. "Our old kitchen was too small and just didn't work," Denise says. During the four-month remodel last year, they added enough cabinet space to store all their kitchen gadgets, granite countertops, a tiled backsplash and stainless steel sinks. "It feels so warm and comfortable now," Denise says. "We love spending time in our kitchen, even if we're just fixing coffee in the morning."