In an age where HGTV and shows like it are gaining record viewership, many buyers of existing homes have a list of remodeling ideas in mind for their newly purchased home. Updating the kitchen or bathroom, landscaping the yard, adding window treatments, finishing an attic or room over a garage – these popular remodeling projects can really improve the livability of the home.

However, when contemplating an aesthetic upgrade, don’t forget to include the common sense improvements that will improve the home’s efficiency, comfort, and convenience as well. For this article, we’ll focus on a kitchen remodel – who knew there were so many ways to improve your kitchen’s “performance” as well as its style?

Lighting

Excellent kitchen lighting can make a big difference to its usability and its ambience. Particularly if you have an “eat in” kitchen or if it’s connected to the dining area, you’ll want the full spectrum of lighting options: bright to dim, and warm to cool. Lighting controls are nice options to have as they let you set “scenes” that invoke a particular mood. LED lights provide homeowners with an abundance of options that include wifi controlled scenes and home automation triggered actions. And not only do these lights last a very long time, they are also energy efficient (energy efficient = save you money). Don’t forget the value of free, natural lighting which can be a game-changed for a kitchen.

Efficient Appliances

At the heart of most kitchen remodels is a need -- or desire -- for new appliances. Whatever features you’re looking for in your refrigerator and dishwasher, make sure you look for a model that has the ENERGY STAR label. You may be surprised to know that to earn the ENERGY STAR label, these appliances are third-party tested for durability and effectiveness, as well as energy efficiency. Hence, they are typically higher quality than other models.

Smart Appliances

If you’ve shopped for new appliances recently, you’re probably aware that many of them are coming preloaded with a gamut of interesting home automation features. Some of these features are stand alone, and some are meant to interact with a voice controlled assistant, like Alexa or Google Home. For example, companies likes Samsung and LG have taken the idea of kitchen as family hub and run with it. Their refrigerators have incorporated a touchscreen in the door that allows the homeowner to use apps for notetaking, music playing, recipes, grocery lists and much more. And of course, cameras inside the door help you “see” what’s in your fridge from anywhere through a phone app.

Ventilation

Proper kitchen ventilation is important for your home’s indoor air quality. Yes, a good fan can clear out the smell of last night’s salmon bake, but it will also reduce humidity levels in the home. Boiling water, simmering sauces and other kinds of cooking release moisture into the air as a part of the cooking process. Then there’s the clean up – an activity that includes a lot of water. This moisture needs to be properly vented to the outside of the home. If your stove vent ducts into the attic and not all the way to the outside, you have a potential health issue that should be corrected. Humidity trapped in hot, dark spaces like an attic can grow mold, which itself can trigger a host of respiratory illnesses.

Air Sealing and Insulation

“Air sealing and insulation?” you may be asking yourself. Isn’t that something for the attic? Yes, and it’s something for your kitchen. With a pre-1970’s home, make sure that the walls behind the cabinets have been insulated (often they were not), and if the home sits over a vented crawlspace you should consider air sealing and insulating it (or at least the floor), too. Most families spend a lot of time in their kitchen, and who wants to do that with cold feet? Also, any plumbing penetrations to the outside should be air sealed -- and if there’s ducting in the room, it should be properly air sealed as well. This will improve the kitchen’s comfort and help its ventilation system work better.

Pretty vs. High-Performing – Why Not Have Both?

Pretty wood cabinets with hardware, elegant fixtures, stone countertops and tile – all of the fun decorating and design will be even more satisfying when you couple it with a comfortable and efficient space. A kitchen remodel is an ideal time to take your room up a notch so that you enjoy actually living in it, as opposed to just looking at it!

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