Two recently released national studies show the remodeling industry appears to be coming out of the slump brought on by the economic downturn. That’s good news for local firms as more and more people are considering renovations to their homes.

I contacted Ted Daniels, president of Daniels Design and Remodeling in Fairfax Station, to ask him about the local home renovation market as well as his thoughts on the latest trends in kitchen remodeling. He sent these responses to my questions via e-mail.

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released a report recently stating that the U.S. remodeling industry appears to be pulling out of its prolonged downturn. The National Association of Home Builders also said that remodelers are optimistic and expect slow and steady market growth. Do you agree? What has business been like for you lately and what do you expect this year will bring?
I strongly agree. Though we had been blessed with work throughout the downturn, it will take some time to return to the levels we experienced pre-2007; the industry is unquestionably on its way. The confidence our clients have in the future [economy] is high and [many] are making the decision to begin to invest in their homes again. We are anticipating a 14 percent increase in total business for 2013 and likely that again for 2014.

When it comes to renovating a kitchen, it seems like there are a million choices to make — countertops, backsplash tile, cabinets, flooring, appliances. How do you help your customers from getting overwhelmed by the process?

In this Falls Church kitchen renovation by Daniels Design and Remodeling, the cabinets are Wellborn Milan in two tones of maple, the perimeter countertops are Silestone Kensho and the backsplash tile is white subway with bluestone honed waterfall mosaic. (Bob Narod Photographer)

Beauty and function equally.  Everyone wants their kitchen to look like it belongs in a magazine, but it should still work in a way that meets their lifestyle and budget. The budget is always the most difficult component.
What are the latest trends in kitchen countertops? Is granite still the king?

In this Fairfax Station kitchen renovation by Daniels Design and Remodeling, the cabinets are Wellborn Hanover, the island is maple butcher block, the lighting fixtures are Pottery Barn rustic glass and the flooring is oak hardwood. ( Bob Narod Photographer)

Even more desirable is integrating appliances into the casework by facing the dishwasher and refrigerator with cabinet panels.  Designing the kitchen as an extension of the living space by minimizing the look of appliances is what most homeowners want today.
How about cabinets? What's the latest trend?

In this Centreville kitchen renovation by Daniels Design and Remodeling, the cabinets are Signature custom cabinets in a two-tone cherry with glaze, the countertops are Golden Green, the sink is a Rohl apron front and the lighting fixtures are Murrey Feiss. (Bob Narod Photographer)

Not as much as you might imagine — or the appliance manufactures would hope. Primarily we are considering the day to day lifestyle needs — a place for an iPad or laptop, TV viewing, etc. I know several appliance manufacturers have been developing systems for monitoring that could provide diagnostics to repair technicians, communicate when service was needed, and even more, however it has not proven interesting to a broad base of clients.
What’s the trickiest part of designing a kitchen?
Budget, fitting all the wants and needs into the space to a budget. With access to incredible images and design ideas available online and in magazines, the line between wants/needs and to what is affordable is very blurry. While these images are beautiful, they are often on the higher end of the budget range. That is why these homeowners, designers and professional contractors are having them professionally photographed and why they are published.
What advice would you give people considering remodeling their kitchen?
Unless you are planning to do the work yourself, take the time to find professionals who you feel comfortable with.  The most important part of the process is trusting those who are designing and building your project, so make sure that they are listening to you and are qualified to deliver what you need. Spend all the time needed in design before proceeding into construction. You should know every detail of your project and every expectation of your project scope. This is the only way to guarantee a fixed investment amount when the project is finished.
What is the typical cost of a kitchen renovation?

While we have completed kitchen renovations (assuming complete tear out, infrastructure changes and installation of all new products) from $30,000 to well over $250,000, the typical kitchen renovation budget falls somewhere between $60,000 and $110,000.