How to choose your kitchen cabinets with 3 easy decisions

kitchen remodel mclean va , kitchen cabinets and countertops Arlington Virginia, and Kitchen remodeling contractor in McLean VA

How to choose your kitchen cabinets with 3 easy decisions

Do you find yourself in the thick of a kitchen remodel with a seemingly endless amount of options? Do you want an island, a pot hanger? What about a gas or electric stove? Finally, how do you choose your kitchen cabinet style?


Table of contents

Your style mattersHow will you use your kitchen cabinets?Are you going to be hosting guests?Are you going to be up for midnight snacks?Do you enjoy cooking meals?Stick to quality materialPlywoodMedium Dense Fiber (MDF) o ParticleboardFinding the right contractor


I had a friend in Alexandria, Virginia who contracted to remodel her kitchen, and when it came to the kitchen, she had to make decisions on her cabinets, tile, countertops, flooring, lighting, and appliances. She was very overwhelmed by the variety of everything.

You don’t have to be overwhelmed. Explore Kitchens can make selecting your kitchen cabinets easy with these three decisions.


Your style matters

Did you know that your kitchen is often the first thing a guest sees in your home? What kind of impression do you want to leave?

There are three main options when it comes to kitchen cabinet style. Your decision will speak to your personality. You should also consider the style of your house architecture before choosing your kitchen cabinet style.

Are you modern?

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If you are looking for a cabinet style that makes a kitchen unique, the sleek look of a slab cabinet door with stainless steel pulls will meet your need. They also feature solid colors with no wood grain. This is a unique look that may fade in the next decade.

Are you classical?

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Suppose you are more into the classic kitchen cabinet style. In that case, we recommend looking for cabinet doors with ornate molding or glazing that emphasizes the door’s details. You can match this style with more traditional metal hardware like bronze.

This look will be sure to catch the eye of guests who enjoy homemade pizza.

Or are you somewhere in between?

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I couldn’t commit to the modern kitchen style’s bold look, but I also was not into the classical look. A safe decision is a transitional style such as a shaker or raised panel.

This look is a safe and timeless option for your kitchen remodel. It goes well with patterned stone countertops.


How will you use your kitchen cabinets?

A poll by Morning Consult indicates a new trend with people who are now working remotely spending 46% of their time in their kitchens.

How do you want to use your kitchen? Are you going to be hosting guests? Are you going to be up for midnight snacks? Do you enjoy cooking meals?

Answering these questions will help you make some functional decisions with your kitchen cabinets.


re you going to be hosting guests?

When hosting dinner parties, you want to be sure to have plenty of cabinet space for entertainment dishes, trays, serving bowls, etc. You might also consider a large island if you can with your area. I went with a 4’x8′ quartz countertop island with five base cabinets.

Do you have fine china to show off? You should get some wall cabinets with glass inset into the door to display for your party guests.


re you going to be up for midnight snacks?

If you are like me, you sometimes wake up hungry in the middle of the night. And who hates it when your vision goes blind after turning on the kitchen light after sleeping a few hours?

The recent trend in kitchens is in-cabinet lighting. Sensors that light up your cabinet or drawer when you open it.

And if you need light only for the kitchen island, Explore can provide pendant lighting perfect for your late night cravings.


Do you enjoy cooking meals?

One of my favorite pastimes is cooking. Right below my stovetop is a wide drawer of spices organized and ready to implement.

My point is placement is vital when it comes to choosing your kitchen cabinets.

Place the dishwasher by the sink. The silverware drawer next to the dishwasher.

Your kitchen’s three points should be within a pivot of your feet: stove/oven, sink, refrigerator. A kitchen layout like this makes your kitchen easy to use and enjoyable.


Stick to quality material

Of course, you want kitchen cabinets that last. There are multiple different materials that you can choose to use.



Plywood is one of the premium options for kitchen cabinets. This material offers a strong and stable cabinet that will last a long time. We recommend using solid wood on the face frame.


Medium Dense Fiber (MDF)

MDF is an engineered wood product that is made from wood fibers pressed and bonded together. This material is highly susceptible to water damage and is really heavy. Nicks or scratches are hard to repair with MDF.



Particleboard is also a compressed wood fiber material. It is most used in bookshelves or desks. Particleboard is typically covered with a layer of melamine, wood veneer, or vinyl laminate. This

material is not a good material to use in kitchen cabinets. It is more susceptible to water damage than MDF, and it is also hard to repair nicks and scratches.

Overall, the highest quality material is a combination of plywood boxes with a hardwood face frame.


Finding the right contractor

The last piece of the puzzle with selecting your kitchen cabinets is finding the right contractor to design, supply, and install them.

You need a contractor to trust your budget with, a contractor that will listen to your needs. Explore will make your dream kitchen come true. Start with a FREE 3D model!


Read More: 

How to Measure Your Bathroom Tiles

Blum cabinet door hinges

Who do you choose to remodel your kitchen?




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Top Tips for Renovating Your Kitchen during COVID-19

The last 18 months have been incredibly tough for everyone. As the pandemic took hold, we have all had to spend more time at home. For a lot of homeowners, this has highlighted the need for a bit of a revamp through the property, and renovating the kitchen is one of the most common requirements.

However, upgrading your kitchen is a big task, and as demand has increased, it has meant many contractors are now incredibly busy. This demand has also created a shortage of raw materials, which means remodeling your kitchen in northern Virginia can be a costly project.

This shortage has meant building materials and kitchen appliances are costing higher than normal. This means homeowners could now be looking at anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the size and materials used. The majority of this cost will likely be split between cabinets and appliances.

Work with a proven contractor

While it can be a big investment, one of the biggest regrets homeowners have is not spending enough money on their new kitchen. With interest rates so low, taking out a loan could ensure you get the kitchen of your dreams. However, working with a respected kitchen installer in northern Virginia, like our team here at Explore Kitchens, can also help you to save money.

A professional contractor will not only be able to guarantee the very best installation and materials but also the most affordable prices. Working with wholesalers ensures they are able to get the best prices and products, while their designers will help you to maximize your space. However, with so many companies on the market, finding the right contractor can be tough.

When finding a contractor, the first thing that you should do is to thoroughly review their referrals. This can be done by speaking with existing customers or friends and family who might have used them or by reading independent online reviews. Where possible, you should also see their work in person, either at a former client’s home or in a showroom.

Another top tip when finding a contractor is to make sure you feel comfortable with them. They will be spending time in your house, so you want to ensure you are happy to be around them. You should also be wary of any contractor who is too eager, with demand at an all-time high, someone who is available immediately should be seen as a red flag.

Top tips for renovating your kitchen

If you are looking to transform your kitchen, then you want to ensure that you are creating as stylish of a room as possible. To help you, we have taken a closer look at the hottest trends for your kitchen:


When it comes to renovating your kitchen, your countertops should be one of your first considerations. One of the best materials to use is quartzite, which is a beautiful natural stone that offers similar styling to marble with the durability and resistance of granite.

Quartz or Dekton are another great choice for countertops. Not only are they affordable, but they are also highly functional and low maintenance. If you do decide to go for a natural stone countertop, then make sure you review the full slab, and not just a sample, to ensure you understand the complete pattern.


Another major factor of your kitchen interior is the flooring. Wide-plank white oak is one of the most popular choices at the moment, thanks to its durability and aesthetic appeal. While this style of flooring looks fantastic, the high demand is seeing prices rise, so if you are more budget-conscious, then consider waterproof vinyl planks as these are far cheaper.

Kitchen appliances

No kitchen would be complete without the latest appliances. There are many different manufacturers on the market, covering every possible price range. Speaking with your contractor will help you to ensure that you are able to get the perfect solution for your budget and your design.

Appliances are a major part of your interior, so they should be chosen before the design is finalized. When selecting your appliances, you should consider the space you have available and also the requirements you need in your kitchen.


Cabinets are not only a functional addition to any kitchen, but they are also a great styling solution. For those looking for an affordable solution, then laminate cabinets are a popular choice, and technology has come on significantly in recent years, making sure they are highly durable and aesthetically pleasing.

Another very popular addition is the use of frameless cabinets, which can help to increase storage space by up to ten percent. While floating cabinets are a stylish choice, they do require more maintenance when cleaning and can look cluttered.

Working with an experienced kitchen installer will ensure you are able to find the perfect cabinets for your needs, style, and budget. Good cabinet design requires in-depth expertise, and it is the minute details that help to bring the entire interior together.


Of course, one of the most significant aspects of renovating your kitchen is the space you have available. You want to ensure that room meets your requirements and gives you the freedom to cook and entertain friends and family.

Whether it is choosing a kitchen island, a breakfast bar, or multiple storage areas, make sure you discuss your requirements with your designed to ensure your kitchen meets your needs.


Finally, when choosing the design of your kitchen, it can be very tempting to follow what you see online. However, these fast trends might look great now but can quickly become outdated. That is why you should always engage a professional designer, as they will be able to create the perfect and timeless style.

Looking to renovate your kitchen?

If you are looking to renovate your kitchen during the pandemic, then Explore Kitchens is here to help you. Working across northern Virginia, including McLean, Fairfax County, Arlington County, and beyond, our experienced team can help you to create your dream kitchen.

Utilizing innovative design and the highest quality materials, we guarantee the very best kitchen installation services possible. Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team today!

Top Tips for Renovating Your Kitchen during COVID-19

Top Tips for Renovating Your Kitchen during COVID-19



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Ferguson Partners on Career Training Program

NEWPORT NEWS, VA — Ferguson, LLC, the Newport News, VA-based distributor of plumbing supplies and related products, has partnered with a leading organization in an effort to “rebuild” the skilled trade pipeline, the company announced.

Ferguson and Explore The Trades, a nonprofit organization whose aim is to recruit individuals to the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical trades, has unveiled a partnership to “introduce the skilled trades to a new generation,” Ferguson officials said.

“Our country urgently needs the next generation of plumbers and HVAC technicians to build and maintain our aging infrastructure,” corporate officials observed. “However, lack of investments in education, training and the skilled trades over the last 30 years created a labor shortage, driven by an exit of baby boomer retirees.

Ferguson and Explore the Trades have partnered to create “Explore The Trades Skills Lab Built by Ferguson” – a program that “will provide support to career and technical education high schools across the U.S., as they establish new plumbing and HVAC career pathways,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson committed $300,000 to the partnership and will assist primarily with products and tools for teaching and training, while Explore The Trades will tap into its network of contractors to serve as advisors for aspiring plumbers and HVAC technicians, program organizers said.

“Teaming up with Explore The Trades and its extensive network of experienced contractors is the success factor in this program,” said Melissa Hazelwood, Ferguson’s senior manager of sustainability. “We are excited about educating young people and encouraging them to embrace the artistry and ingenuity that comes from engaging their minds with their hands to build, craft and construct the future.”


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NAHB Urges Action on Supply Chain Bottlenecks, Tariffs

WASHINGTON, DC The National Association of Home Builders has renewed its calls on Congress and the Biden administration to help ease building material supply chain bottlenecks that are stunting housing affordability by eliminating trade barriers and seeking solutions to port congestion and major delays in truck and rail transportation.

Testifying before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations, NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke this week told government lawmakers that disruptions in the building materials supply chain that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic are having “a disproportionate” impact on smaller homebuilding firms.

“Without large economies of scale, small businesses generally cannot negotiate bulk discounts on lumber and other key building materials,” said Fowke. “The effects of this uncertainty trickle all the way to the (prospective) homebuyer, many of whom have balked at projects due to unexpected price increases.”

According to the Washington, DC-based NAHB, historically high lumber and building materials prices continue to serve as “headwinds” for the U.S. housing sector, significantly impeding housing affordability.

“From steel mill products and plastic piping to cooper pipe and wood windows and doors, prices are up dramatically year-to-date and are exacerbating the growing housing affordability crisis,” Fowke said, suggesting that the Biden administration address two fundamental problems.

“On the trade front, until a long-term solution can be reached, Congress and the administration should temporarily suspend duties on a wide array of imported building materials and goods, from Canadian softwood lumber to Chinese steel and aluminum,” said Fowke. “In addition, policymakers must continue to aggressively explore solutions to ease building material supply chain disruptions that are causing project delays and putting upward pressure on home prices.”

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KBIS, IBS Health & Safety Guidelines Updated

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ A revised set of health and safety protocols, including COVID-19 vaccination requirements and/or proof of a negative coronavirus test result, have been issued for the 2022 Design & Construction Week (DCW), the annual three-day event that encompasses the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the International Builders’ Show (IBS).

The National Kitchen & Bath Association, which owns KBIS, and the National Association of Home Builders, owner of IBS, this week released the revised protocols for DCW, set for Feb. 8-10 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. The guidelines, effective as of Oct. 11, apply to all attendee and exhibitor registrants for both KBIS and IBS, and are subject to revision, event sponsors noted.

“The safety and wellbeing of our attendees, partners, exhibitors, site workers and staff remains our top priority, said DCW organizers, adding that they are “working with our vendors, partners and the Orange County Convention Center to…deliver a safe and productive environment in which to conduct business.”

“As we get closer to returning to an in-person event, we continue to update our health and safety policies based upon current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Florida and local Orlando health authorities, event organizers added. “We will continue to monitor their recommendations and will update relevant information as needed.”

Among the following health and safety protocols to be adhered to are the following:

n All registered attendees and exhibitors will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within five days of attending the show. Two types of negative tests are acceptable: polymerase chain reaction, referred to as “PCR” (also called diagnostic or molecular), or rapid antigen test (also referred to as a “rapid test”).

n Any one of the following will be accepted for entry (when accompanied by a valid government issued photo ID): electronic proof of a negative test result through a show-management approved app, or a printed or digital copy of negative COVID-19 test results, written in English, that indicates the type of test administered and includes the name of the person in question and the date the test was administered. Per CDC guidelines, negative COVID-19 test results are valid for five days, meaning that the negative test must have been completed no earlier than Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in order to be accepted for entry for all three show days. If an individual is unable or unwilling to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination prior to entry will suffice.

n Show attendees, exhibitors and others will be required to wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status when riding on an official show hotel shuttle and when indoors at the OCCC from move-in through move-out and at other show related venues.

n U.S. domestic residents will be considered fully vaccinated if they have completed two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. International travelers who have completed full regimens of vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be considered fully vaccinated.

Show management said it is “continuously monitoring guidance from the CDC and state/local health authorities” and reserves the right to adjust the shows’ health & safety protocols “as relevant recommendations and tradeshow industry standards evolve.”

“Guidance related to large gatherings relative to COVID-19 and associated variants continues to change,” DCW organizers said. “What will remain constant is the commitment of the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) and NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and to the health and safety of attendees, exhibitors, partners and staff at our shows.”

Additional details regarding the health and safety Policies for Design and Construction Week can be found at:


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Beauty, Function & Wellness Blend in the Latest Bath Accessories

As homeowners look to their baths as an escape from the hectic world, function and beauty take the lead in design. However, the urgent craving for wellness is also having an impact on the elements of the bath. What were once luxuries, such as towel warmers and statement-making accessories, are now an integral part of the overall aesthetic of peaceful pampering.

Here are some of the hottest trends in bath accessories right now.

Organization has taken a giant leap forward, with storage shelves and towel storage becoming key elements of the design.Finishes are still trending warm, with matte blacks and all shades of gold leading the charge.Safety and accessibility continue to be top of mind, and items such as grab bars and shelving provide their services in very stylish ways.Open storage is becoming much more popular, and shelving on walls and in vanities and showers is adding extra space for decorative and functional items.Decorative accessory finishes have moved beyond metals and now include powder-coated paints, as well as stone and wood for a touch of nature.Saving space and using every inch of the bath continues to be important, and those demands are being answered by smaller-sized accessories, individual towel warming rails and wall niches.

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Appliance Shipments Continue Climb Through Q3

WASHINGTON, DC — Reflecting continued gains in new construction and residential remodeling, domestic shipments of major home appliances continued their year-long upward climb through the third quarter of 2021, despite a modest July-through-September downturn, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers reported.

According to the Washington, DC-based AHAM, a July-through-September decline of 2.4% compared the same quarter a year ago was not enough to thwart an overall year-to-date gain of 16.0% in major appliance shipments compared to the same nine-month period in 2019.

Year-to-date shipments through the third quarter of 2021 totaled 66.7 million units, compared to 57.5 million units shipped in the third quarter of 2020, AHAM reported.

Gains through the third quarter were posted in all key product categories, including food preservation (+17.8%), cooking (+12.6%), kitchen cleanup (+9.1%) and home laundry (+19.1%), the trade association said.


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SEN to Host Four-Day November Business School

CHARLOTTE — SEN Design Group, the Charlotte, NC-based buying group and business education resource, has begun accepting registrations for its industry-specific Business School, to be held in-person Nov. 8-11 at theMART in Chicago.

The four-day event, sponsored by Custom Wood Products and Bridgewood Cabinetry, is aimed at empowering owners and executives in the kitchen and bath industry with business management tools aimed at growing their businesses, according to SEN.

“The Business School is the kitchen and bath firm owner’s opportunity to move the needle in their organizations. It’s a truly transformational, poignant program that brings industry owners and partners to the next level,” said Dan Luck, SEN Design Group’s senior v.p.

“The program covers critical topics to maximize returns, master financials, leverage marketing strategies, improve personnel relations and implement proven methods to quickly and profitably grow kitchen and bath businesses,” Luck said.

According to SEN Business School, attendees “will develop strong strategic planning skills and learn how to manage business financials, build a successful commission system, learn how to forecast sales, create an effective pricing formula, increase profits, build a powerful sales team, win bank financing requests, develop a three-year budget and more.

Additional information can be obtained by visiting

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An Incredible story from our Client

Hey there. My name is Anna. I live with my husband, David, in Vienna in Northern Virginia. For years and years, we just rented apartments together. We worked hard and saved up to get our own place. He works as a cashier in the local bank, and I’m a corporate administrative assistant. On the side, he does some gardening work, and I teach English online for extra cash. We never had the big bucks but always had enough to pay our way. I would say that we are the epitome of good, honest Americans, determined to make our way in the world without handouts or dishonesty.

The dream we shared, though, was to have our own place. Renting apartments was always fine, but we longed to have our own space. Having control over decorating decisions and whether or not we had a pet always seemed like such an improvement. In any case, we are both thirty years old now. Apartment living is okay for a young couple, but now we are older, we might want kids. With that in mind, we just needed more space. It was better for us to get our own place before we had kids anyway. We didn’t want the pressure of finding somewhere while I was pregnant, nor did we want our children growing up on a building site.

So, we set about looking. It was a long process. So many places priced us out. We weren’t averse to paying to have work done on any property, but it had to come to the right price to begin with. Anyway, after months of disappointment and anxiety, we found the place and our offer was accepted.

It was an old-fashioned single-story house with three bedrooms. The interior decoration was so outdated. I think the previous occupier had been living there since it was built in the 1970s and had never bothered to decorate. For example, the kitchen was a disgrace. The entire thing was covered in lime green tiles. The concrete floor had a thin carpet over it. Anybody who has ever cooked anything in their life knows that no one needs carpet in the kitchen. The cupboard doors were coming off their hinges, and the entire space was illuminated by just one hanging lightbulb.

To make matters worse, the kitchen looked like it had barely been cleaned in its entire existence. Grime appeared to be embedded into the surfaces. Both David and I agreed that the whole thing would have to go. We would rip it out and start again, build our own creation. This was effectively our decision with the whole property. The only thing that we wanted to leave in place was the roof and the walls. Everything else had to be changed and rebuilt to our specification. Sure, this would cost a little bit of money, and our budget was fairly tight, but by the end, we would have the house of our dreams.

The kitchen was the starting point. First of all, because we wanted to live in the house right away. If we started on the bedrooms or living areas, then our lives would be disrupted significantly from the get-go. The kitchen, on the other hand, presented the least amount of inconvenience. Sure, there would be an uncomfortable period of eating takeaway every night, which would be expensive too, but that pain would be worth it. Once it was done, we could move onto the rest of the property.

It seemed like a good plan at the time. It wasn’t. The nightmare that ensued around that kitchen taught me a lesson that I will never forget. I will never forgive those responsible for what happened, including myself. It was a total disaster, and I am now writing this as a warning. Do not make the same mistakes we did. We made blunder after blunder. It ended up costing us thousands beyond what was reasonable. To make matters worse, the emotional cost was so much more than that.

Before I can properly describe what went wrong, I have to tell you what we were trying to get done. We wanted the kitchen to be extended. It was not really big enough for our needs, especially if we were going to raise a family in it. So, we needed to carry out some home additions knocking out a wall and extending the space into the garden a little bit. We needed the kitchen remodeled completely. It was open plan and decorated in the most grotesque way possible. Instead, we wanted a clean, classy look with an island in the center where my family and I could eat and socialize.

Once the kitchen was done, all three bedrooms and the lounge needed to be done. They were decorated with discolored white wallpaper that had turned a sort of yellow over the years. We did not need much done in them other than a redecoration, with the walls getting replastered and painted a new shade of white. A lick of paint would have solved many of the problems in the house, making it seem brighter and less dated. This was something that we identified the moment we moved in and wanted to get started with as soon as the kitchen was done.

The bathroom was the final issue. Perhaps one of the biggest inconveniences of the property is that it only had one bathroom to begin with. The style of the bathroom was the next issue. Although it was a good size, the bathroom’s décor was not dissimilar to the kitchen. Everybody knows that the best color for a bathroom is white. Why the designers decades ago decided that lime green was the best shade, I will never know. Of course, the area has dilapidated over the years, but I cannot imagine that it ever looked any good to begin with. Even being in there at all made me feel nauseous.

Given my description of the house, you might be wondering why we even bought it at all. That is understandable, as I can see that I have been less than complimentary about the state of the property. The simple answer is that it was within our budget. If we could have purchased somewhere cheap that was also our dream home, then, of course, we would have. The plan was to get this place for a low price and then have a relatively low-cost renovation, meaning we had our perfect house for less than we could have paid. Of course, we were willing to spend some money, but we intended to be as frugal as possible.

The first issue we ran into was getting a contractor to do the work. I can now see that choosing the right contractor is potentially the most important part of any project. At the time, we did not choose the right contractor. We chose the one that was cheapest and available at the earliest opportunity. We should have spent time doing research, looking at a variety of contractors across the surrounding areas like McLean, Great Falls, Reston and Arlington. Instead, we just chose the cheapest one from Vienna. I won’t name them out of courtesy, but we made a huge mistake. We ignored their bad reviews because of their low pricing and willingness to do the job straight away. We were just so desperate to get the job done immediately (yesterday would have been preferable) and for a low cost. In the end, it cost us more time and money than it would have done if we’d have just done our research properly.

The company turned up two hours late on the first day of the job. Both David and I had taken a day off work to oversee the first day and welcome the workmen. Already, we had lost two precious hours of time on the project, as well as two hours that we could have been at work. To their credit, the workmen did start work as soon as they got there, beginning to process of demolishing the wall to extend the kitchen’s area. Although, by the end of the day, they had caused unwanted damage to the roof, which we intended to keep largely intact. Already, after just a few hours, the additional costs had started to rack up.

The extension took what felt like forever, almost the entire amount of time we had budgeted for the whole project. Every day, it felt like we were running into a new issue. It did not matter what was happening, there was always something to make it worse. The builders we had chosen charged a cheap rate but charged by the day. Every day, they were late. Sometimes, they would not work at all if the weather was not perfect. I cannot describe to you how many coffee breaks were had. It is not healthy to have that much coffee, surely. Then, occasionally, they would tell me that some material or tool they needed was not available or had increased in price for some obscure reason. All of this meant extra time and extra money being added to the job.

Both David and I felt humiliated by the time the first stage of the project was completed. We had burned through almost our entire budget on what was supposed to be just a small part of the project. So angry were we that we decided to complain to the contractor’s management. In fairness, they were understanding and helpful, although I now realize that this is because they were accustomed to dealing with complaints on a regular basis. All of their customers were disgruntled and for the same reasons as we were.

The management offered us a discounted rate for the rest of the kitchen, as well as their personal assurance that the levels of professionalism would increase and that they would use only the finest and highest quality materials on our job. I cannot believe how stupid we were. We believed them. We swallowed the sales pitch, the lie: hook, line, and sinker.

The kitchen design they gave us for the remodeling was good. Well, it looked good in the pictures, which had undoubtedly been edited beyond recognition. Maybe they were made on a computer in the first place. I cannot tell. Suffice to say, the final version did not look like what we were promised.

As I have said, we wanted a clean, white kitchen, with an island in the center. More than anything, we wanted to reduce clutter and have a place that was practical for kitchen tasks but also comfortable enough to spend time in every day. We received neither of these things.

The issues around timeliness did not resolve themselves, despite the resolution from contractor management. They still turned up late. They still did not turn up in bad weather (even though the job was now primarily inside). They still had issues with tools and materials. Their problems obtaining the correct apparatus for the job led to us accepting cream furnishings for the kitchen instead of white. We now have cream tiles and cupboards, with a white sink. The cream tiles remind me of the original faded white wallpaper in the bedrooms and lounge. The very aesthetic we were trying to avoid is the one we had installed.

I still cannot believe this, but one of the cabinets actually fell off before the kitchen was fully remodeled and installed. This is a particularly impressive example of shoddy workmanship, considering we had not even used the kitchen cabinets yet. Surely these people cannot have been professional kitchen cabinet installers. Any person with any experience could have surely fitted a cabinet without it falling off before the conclusion of the project! I still cannot get my head around it.

At the end of the kitchen remodeling, it looked nothing like the model we had been shown. It was a different color. None of the finishing was done properly. Bits of grouting between the tiles had been spread over the lines and had not been cleaned up at all. The light fittings were done how we asked but occasionally flickered when we turned them on. The sink was a different color from the cabinets and tiles. David put a spirit level on the counter of the island and realize it was not even straight. If you filled a glass of water to the brim, it would spill. We were devastated. We had gone so far over budget that we may as well have used one of the more expensive professionals. Our quick job had become protracted, and we had barely started, there was still the rest of the house to do.

We could not carry on with this contractor. Even though we had come so far with them, we could not do any more. We decided to change contractor and cut our losses. This time, we did our research and looked for an experienced professional with a degree of integrity and skill. We looked at reviews and pricing. Eventually, we decided to go with Explore Kitchens, who are based not too far away, in McLean, VA. They were able to come out to us straight away to price up the job. The project was priced honestly. The quote was more expensive than the previous company, but we were more confident that it would not be exceeded and that we could depend on them to keep to their promises. Similarly, the job was predicted to take a little bit longer, but this was okay. A longer deadline that is actually met is better than a short one that is missed.

We chose them to undertake the bathroom remodeling work and the home remodeling tasks. They did an excellent job, with everything being done as promised and within budget. They used high-quality materials that I am confident will be durable and not need repairing for a long time to come. It is a shame that they were not around to do the original home additions and kitchen remodeling because they would have done such a better job.

Although the kitchen is not what we wanted, Explore Kitchens have done an amazing job with the rest of the place. They were truly professional and greatly exceeded our expectations. In all likelihood, when we have saved up a little more, we will go back to them to realize our kitchen dream and get it back to how it should be. It is a shame that we have to get Explore Kitchens to remodel somebody else’s work, but we will feel better once it has been done.

I think we were naïve in our hope that we could get a perfect job for such a low cost. We looked at other projects that had been expensive although well crafted and thought we could get the same result for a low price. We thought that we could outsmart the system, that everybody else was stupid for following the status quo. We thought that the more expensive and reputable companies were conmen, keen to make extra money off unsuspecting and gullible customers. As it turned out, we were the gullible ones. My face still turns red with embarrassment just thinking about it now.

I cannot overstate how much we recommend Explore Kitchens for anyone in Northern Virginia. Please, learn from our experience. If you try to go cheap, you will end up paying twice. If you want it done yesterday, you should be prepared to wait a year. If you’re in McLean, Vienna, Great Falls, Reston, Arlington or Virginia, you should use them. Whether you’re after kitchen remodelers, kitchen design, kitchen cabinet installers, or just tile and flooring, they are certainly the company for you. I am happy to write this recommendation for them so that other people do not make the same mistakes that David and I did.

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New CA Law Requires Use of ‘Lead-Free’ Plumbing Fixtures

ONTARIO, CA — A new plumbing code signed into law in California will mandate strict new limits on the manufacturing and sale of plumbing fixtures that leach lead, a toxin that has been tied for decades to drinking water, state officials announced.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed into law AB 100, legislation that establishes new lead leaching standards for the state, according to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), an organization that coordinates the development and adaptation of plumbing, mechanical, swimming pool and solar energy codes in the U.S. and abroad.

The new law, effective Jan. 1, 2023, prohibits the manufacturing and sale in California of any plumbing fixture, fitting or faucet that does not meet NSF/ANSI/CAN 61-2020, the IAPMO said. The law also requires that product packaging and labeling of any device that’s intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption must indicate compliance with the “lead-free” standard.

“AB 100 will help reduce the risk of lead exposure in the built environment through certified, ‘lead-free’ endpoint devices,” said Robyn Fischer, director of government relations for the Ontario, CA-based IAPMO. “This new law will complement the larger-scale efforts underway to help protect Californian’s water infrastructure and underscores the state’s commitment to uphold public health and safety.”

“We’re grateful that California’s new law promotes the industry standard for lead reduction, so that drinking water fixtures and faucets are accurately labeled,” added Tom Palkon, IAPMO’s executive v.p.

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