Like many kitchen renovators, Dan and Heather Beliveau, owners of This Old House TV's Charlestown project, had some tough decisions when it came time to choose cabinets. Should we go with cherry, maple, red birch, oak or painted? Out of the hundreds of stains, which color goes best with our appliances, countertops, flooring and walls? How long is this going to take? And will our selections fit our budget? Now take all these questions, double them (the house includes a full rental unit) and you have a tale of two kitchens. At first, Dan and Heather thought that designing their kitchens wouldn't be too tough—after all Dan's in the business and Heather has been keeping a file of things she likes from magazines. They decided to focus on their own kitchen and spend less on the rental unit's while still making it look attractive. So while Dan and the crew gutted and reframed, Heather began to choose appliances, going with the higher end stainless steel in her home and moderately priced black appliances in the rental unit. Next came cabinets. Heather has always wanted a white kitchen, a clean and classic look. Both she and Dan envisioned the rental unit in cherry. The first thing that caught their eye in the kitchen show room was a beautiful cherry kitchen. Heather thought they could use these cabinets in the rental and Dan agreed. But, as we started to discuss the white kitchen, Heather and Dan kept drifting over to the cherry kitchen. Dan finally blurted out, "We don't want to like the downstairs one better than ours!" So they decided that their kitchen would be cherry. Then Dan and Heather chose several custom features, such as a wine rack, moulding details, tray dividers over the oven, and also upgraded the cabinet's construction, outfitting them with plywood sides and full extension drawers. For the rental unit, Heather was still clinging to the idea of a white kitchen but, because its appliances are black, she agreed to go with natural red birch cabinets. The design of this kitchen was both more straightforward and more modest than the one upstairs, but we did include some special design features such as a double wastebasket unit and lazy Susans. The bottom line of this renovation was that Heather and Dan wanted to be smart. They were trying hard to stay in a budget and keep a close eye on the real cost of such an undertaking. When choosing cabinets, it's easy to forget that you're making selections that you will be living with for years. Give yourself time to consider your choices but also keep in mind the project's overall time frame. Dan and Heather did all this, and the results—both upstairs and downstairs—will speak for themselves.
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