There are a number of reasons to tackle a kitchen renovation, from expanding the space and providing better work flow to increasing functionality and giving the room a whole new look. Watch this video to see how three homeowners, each with very different needs and tastes, handled their kitchen makeovers from start to finish.

Watch the video above to find out more.


DannyLipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re looking at what makes a great kitchen renovation. They don’t all look alike, but they can be equally successful. And you’ll see how, if you stick around for the next half hour.

I hope you’re really happy with it.

Linda Paradis: I’m ecstatic.

Danny Lipford: A kitchen renovation can be a dream project for many homeowners, especially if what you have now just doesn’t suit you. You know, a kitchen can do so much to define your home. So this week, we’ll look at three different, very successful kitchen renovations, and find out exactly what made them successful. The first one we’ll look at is in a suburb right outside Detroit.

Danny Lipford: Kim Osburn and her husband Josh are relatively new homeowners but they’ve already taken on a number of projects to update their house. They’ve been putting off the kitchen, because it’s such a large project, but now, they’re ready to tackle it. What about the kitchen? What are some of the things that just… That have been aggravating you, that are really motivating the change?

Kim Osburn: First and foremost is appliances. They have failed us from the get-go. Leaky dishwasher and whatnot. So that’s really exciting. The functionality of the kitchen, actually, also, is a little questionable. We have the fridge, we have the stove, we have the sink all on the same side. We have a lot of countertop on the other side, which is great. But it’s going to be nice once we actually have all of it together, to be able to put it all together in a triangular, and… Lots of space moving around.

Danny Lipford: Sounds like you have some good ideas. Kim’s vision for the kitchen is a more contemporary style, so everything has to come out. The pros from KSI Kitchen and Bath are helping her with the design, and now their carpenters Al and Brian are clearing out the old to make way for the new. No walls are being moved, but everything between them is changing including the plumbing and electrical layout.

Now, over on this side, of course, kitchen sink right in front of the window. Over here, the refrigerator, and then a cool little appliance garage, right here on top of the countertop, so they could tuck those appliances away. Then on this side, range, and a microwave vent hood above it and plenty of cabinets all the way down.

Now, right on the corner here will be one of the real unique parts of the design, in that we’ll have a top cabinet here, with glass front doors all the way around and a little bar sink that can also be used as a prep sink right here on the corner. Now, this kitchen is going to be a lot bigger than the previous kitchen, because of this additional cabinetry as well as this whole wall will be utilized with a countertop that runs across, a little knee space, a couple lap drawers, more cabinets, and then it’ll all be finished off with this great island right in the middle of this space. I can’t wait to see this thing come together.

The next step in that direction is installation of the cabinets that Kim chose a few weeks ahead of time. Good planning and timely decision making are key to any remodel, but especially in a kitchen where there are so many details. So what’s the reason for raising all of the cabinets up?

Al Spezia: Well, we raised the cabinets three-quarters of an inch because we’re having a three-quarter-inch wood floor.

Danny Lipford: Oh, I see.

Al Spezia: The shims are to make sure the cabinets are perfectly level for the granite fabrication and install.

Danny Lipford: Okay. And that’s so important when you’re tying in a kitchen like this, because with the hardwood floor back here, you want to make sure that you bring everything, and you have to compensate for that, so that’s why early decisions in a kitchen renovation are so important. You decide on exactly what kind of floor is being installed before you ever even install the cabinets. So what’s your next step here? I guess finish installing all the base?

Al Spezia: Yeah, finish all the base.

Danny Lipford: Okay. Another important aspect of a successful kitchen renovation is finding the right people to execute the plan. Al and Brian have installed tons of these Merillat cabinets so they know how to do it quickly and efficiently with fabulous results. And while that’s happening, there are still more decisions for Kim to make.

Danny Lipford: How’s it going?

Kim Osburn: It’s going great, Danny. I think we finally settled in on a product.

Danny Lipford: Not easy, huh?

Kim Osburn: Not at all.

Danny Lipford: Tell me where everything’s going here.

Kim Osburn: Sure. We’ve got our granite and the thing that’s great about that is you can see all the sparkle and the shine in there, all that silver.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, a little bit of a… Almost a blue caste to it as well.

Kim Osburn: It’s actually called “Blue Pearl.”

Danny Lipford: Is that right?

Kim Osburn: Good eye.

Danny Lipford: Pretty good.

Kim Osburn: And we’re going to have under-cabinet lighting all though here so that will really catch nicely. Oh yeah, there you go.

Kim Osburn: So, we’ve got that. And for the bar area, it’s a sexier area of the room, so we’re going to do this stainless tile through here.

Danny Lipford: A little contemporary look in there.

Kim Osburn: That’s right. That’s our style. And then we’ve also got a glass pencil to separate that, to give a good transition between the two. So, we’ll put the glass pencil there.

Danny Lipford: Okay. And then this next.

Kim Osburn: That’s right.

Danny Lipford: The glass tiles and different types of materials that are being used like this are real popular, kind of still modern but a little bit of a retro look.

Kim Osburn: It is. And it’s really calming, there’s lots of blues and browns, and there were a ton to choose from.

Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah. The counters, backsplashes, flooring and wall colors all work together to create a gorgeous kitchen. The old kitchen wasn’t very functional and was pretty much vanilla in terms of style. The new space has a better layout and tons of great functional features. Plus it has all the style and interest that Kim wanted from the start. I think you did a great job in choosing your backsplash and your granite material. Using two materials like that is a little risky sometimes because of the colors; but, boy, that worked really well.

Kim Osburn: Thanks, Danny. You notice we also have the third. We have the stainless as well. Right, sure do there.

Danny Lipford: That’s a nice backsplash.

Kim Osburn: Thanks.

Danny Lipford: Really good, really good.

Kim Osburn: We’re really pleased with the way it all turned out.

Joe Truini: No matter where you keep your kitchen trash, whether it’s under the sink or in a pantry, chances are you’re going to have to deal with offensive odors from time to time. Here are a couple of tricks that can help prevent that.

First of all, a lot of odors are caused by liquids that spill out of the trash, so we’re going to start by absorbing the liquids with newspaper. First put some under the trash bag, directly in the bottom of the can, because these bags aren’t completely waterproof and sometimes they’ll get a hole and the liquids will leak out. And then, soon as you put in a new bag, add a few more pieces of newspaper, you don’t need much, maybe three or four sections. And again, that will help absorb liquids.

Now, to make sure that every bit of liquids get absorbed, we can enhance it with a little kitty litter. So pour in, you don’t need that much, maybe a cup or so, right on top of the newspaper at the bottom. Now, what the kitty litter is going to do is not only absorb excess liquids; but also, if you get the scented brand, it’s going to smell nice and fresh.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at several kitchen renovations that turned out great. Kimberly Osburn wanted more style for her Michigan kitchen and she got it. Now over in suburban Virginia, Linda  Paradis wants that as well, but mostly she wants a space where she can work.

Linda  Paradis: The main thing I would like to see is better use for my cabinets. The way that these were made, there’s a lot of blind corners in there that you can’t get into. Back in the back.

Danny Lipford: Oh, I see. Yeah.

Linda  Paradis: So, I mean, I store things but it’s stuff I don’t normally use.

Danny Lipford: You kind of have, I guess the same thing kind of down here, don’t you?

Linda  Paradis: This is the worst part, because I have…

Danny Lipford: There’s a lot of space back in there.

Linda  Paradis: Yes. And you notice the small door.

Danny Lipford: Right.

Linda  Paradis: You have to be a contortionist to get in there and try to get things out of it but…

Danny Lipford: Sure.

Linda  Paradis: But, it’d be wonderful. And in this side, it has a blind corner, but when they created the cabinet it’s actually open back here, so things fall through.

Danny Lipford: Oh! Is that right?

Linda  Paradis: Yeah. So, it would be really nice to have that changed.

Danny Lipford: Absolutely. And then, of course, you know you probably are going to look at doing some other things. You have to start making some decisions though.

Linda  Paradis: I know.

Danny Lipford: On floor and countertops and things like that. That can be a little frustrating.

Linda  Paradis: It can be. And I’m hoping I’ll be able to pull it all together with help.

Danny Lipford: Sure, sure. Well that’s what we’re here for.

Linda  Paradis: It’s an exciting time.

Danny Lipford: To get that help, Linda is calling on Reico Kitchen and Bath and their designer, Jen Shatzer. Designers like Jen are expert at creating kitchen plans but they also know all the products and materials that are available so that they can help you navigate through the sea of options to help you find what works for you.

Jen Shatzer: Her family spends a lot of time in there. It’s a very tight space right now, so we’re going to make it more open spaced. And then also just organizing. A lot of functional tools inside of her cabinetry. Things like this, so she can put her waste basket away.

Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah.

Jen Shatzer: Something like this, where she can organize these large drawers. That way everything’s not floating around in there.

Danny Lipford: That’s always great, yeah.

Danny Lipford: Jen mentioned that she wanted to add space to Linda’s kitchen. And she plans to utilize the adjacent dining room to do it, by removing the wall and pantry that separate the kitchen and dining room. This way, the new kitchen will have a lot more counter space for Linda to use. Including a bar area between the cooking and dining areas. The addition of pantry cabinets to the dining area will more than make up for the old pantry she’s losing. And the whole space should have a great open feeling.

For this part of the project, Linda’s getting help from contractor Greg Perez. He’s a veteran kitchen renovator and his first chore is removing the tired, old, dysfunctional cabinets to make way for the new ones. Even though Greg has it under control, Linda’s there to offer support.

Linda  Paradis: I’m glad it’s coming out. I’m like, “Yay, goodbye!”

Danny Lipford: And lend a hand when it comes to removing the ugly brick backsplash she’s been living with for years.

Linda  Paradis: Okay. You can take the rest, because it will take me forever and I can’t see.

Danny Lipford: When demolition of that dining room wall gets started, Greg lets Linda get back in the game again this time with a sledgehammer.

Linda  Paradis: Wow. Goodbye!

Danny Lipford: It’s amazing how much removing this wall opens up the space and how easy Greg makes it look. I’m never that lucky to remove a wall that’s not load-bearing. We always have to come in and put all kinds of beams and that kind of thing. I know you checked carefully before you removed the wall but that’s great that you don’t have to do any beam work.

Greg Perez: Well actually, this wall was added by a homeowner before Linda. So, it wasn’t that hard to take out. A few screws and the wall came out.

Danny Lipford: Now what about the walls? What else did you have to do? Obviously, where the old brick veneer came down, you got some work to do. But what else as far as other electrical or other things you have to address?

Greg Perez: Ah, just move some plugs and make sure they’re up to code. We also have to remove all the drywall where the bricks were.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, you’re not going to float over that, are you?

Greg Perez: No, not at all.

Danny Lipford: In no time, the demolition is complete. The electrical changes are made, the drywall is repaired and the new cabinets start going in. These cabinets will give the room a great, new look, but they’re also full of the features Linda wanted. And when the work is complete, she’s delighted to show them off.

Linda  Paradis: I have so much more cabinet space and counter space. That’s the biggest thing. Um, like, I love this. Before this was just an open space where I had my pots and pans at. And now I have a beautiful cabinet door. Close it. I can hide my stuff. People don’t come in and see my pans.

Danny Lipford: This kitchen is a thoroughly functional space that’s also beautiful, and exactly what Linda was looking for. Well, I’ll tell you, everything turned out great, I hope you’re really happy with it. Linda  Paradis: I’m ecstatic. More than ecstatic, words can’t even describe how I feel about this, so I’m truly blessed.

Jodi Marks: Now, when you think about your kitchen flooring, you’ve got several different options. You could install tile, you could put down a vinyl resilient sheet flooring, you can also do hardwood. Well, how about you marry all of those options into one product? Take a look at this, this is Allure flooring. And you would think upon first glance that this is hardwood flooring; but you know what, it isn’t. I’ve got some planks down here that I’m going to pull up. This is actually resilient flooring. Can’t do that with laminate flooring, but take a look at it.

It looks just like hardwood flooring and the great thing is, is you can install it just like you would laminate flooring with that click technology that holds it into place. Now, it’s 100% waterproof, it’s very durable, easy to clean up, easy to install, you don’t have to use any underlayment underneath it when you install it, and it can go over most surfaces. As a matter of fact, it’s so durable, this has actually been used in commercial applications as well. So this is just a great option when you’re considering all of your options for your kitchen flooring.

Danny Lipford: This week, we’re looking at several different great kitchen renovations to see what they have in common. What works and what doesn’t work. Now, both the homeowners that we spoke with so far knew pretty much what was important to them at the beginning, and they used that to guide their plans. That’s also true for Tom and Sue Lyon. But their goal for the kitchen in their Gulf Coast home may seem a little odd, because they want it to look older than it does now. Their home was built in 1922, but the kitchen was updated a few decades later and it hasn’t changed much since.

Sue Lyon: ­Welcome to the dream kitchen of the 1950s. We’ve enjoyed it very much but we think it’s time to update.

Tom Lyon: One of the cool things about it is the old coffee makers has the old two-pronged plugs that still work. Power still goes to these things, and their retractable, kind of.

Sue Lyon: And let me show you our beautiful sink and countertop all-in-one. Originally, it had even gone over to the stove. And it was a push-button electric stove controlled by all of these wonderful buttons, there.

Tom Lyon: And the one thing about this is you have water and electricity and all metal together. I think it might be a little bit of a safety hazard. All metal cabinets. And the cool thing about the cabinets, though, is you can put pictures up there, not just refrigeration magnets. But the thing about them, they’re very solid. And a lot of the newer cabinets that you buy, at least at some of the store’s are made of particle board, and we didn’t want to go with that. We wanted something that was solid, that’s why we kept these for so long. Beause we’ve lived in this house for 17 years now.

Danny Lipford: The demolition of Tom and Sue’s kitchen goes pretty quickly even though those sturdy, metal cabinets are heavier than most. All the walls are being stripped down to the studs because there’s so much electrical updating to be done, and they’re actually adding a wall here to partition off a corner that’ll be used as a utility room. When the mechanical work is done, new drywall covers the studs, so the new cabinets can start going in. The design of these cabinets is very simple, as it would have been back in 1922. Clean lines with flat panel doors, a crisp white finish and striking hardware.

But the effort that went into matching these cabinets to the home’s character will be in vain if the trim doesn’t continue the theme. So these guys are taking great pains to match the stuff they took out. Tying new trim into old trim is always a challenge and what Michael, our painter, is doing right now is doing all the caulking and puttying and everything so that it can dry and he can start putting his first coat of paint on it. And Joe is in the process of working on a column. What’s the deal with this thing, right in the middle of a kitchen?

Joe Denson: We got a plumbing pipe that the customer didn’t want to relocate. So we decided just to box around it.

Danny Lipford: Well, but, a lot of different ways to box around things, you could have dry-walled it, so what was the motivation here, I guess?

Joe Denson: This matches a detail that’s in the front part of the house on another column. The homeowners requested that we match it as best we could.

Danny Lipford: By contrast, the countertop guys must have a pretty simple chore. Just two large pieces of granite to install, but they make a big difference to Sue.

Sue Lyon: How’s it looking? Oh, got the granite in. Oh, it’s looking great. My new dream kitchen.

Granite Installer: That’s right.

Sue Lyon: Oh, this is perfect.

Danny Lipford: Well, Sue’s project is in the home stretch now as the flooring starts to go in. The bulk of the kitchen will get a pre-finished hardwood that matches the existing floors in the rest of the house and adds to the room’s credibility. The rear entry area and the newly created utility room will get ceramic tile since they’re subject to a lot more wear and tear. With so many new materials in the kitchen, I wanted to know about the old stuff that was staying in.

Sue Lyon: That’s right. We decided to keep the things that we could, such as the shutters, the doors to the pantries. So we’re really happy that we tried to stay true to the original.

Danny Lipford: The reused shutters and doors also add an element of warmth to the otherwise monochromatic color scheme. So the final piece of the puzzle, the tile backsplash, adds a dash of welcome color. And it all blends together beautifully to create a comfortable kitchen that fits the home and fits the owners. Tom and Sue have put a lot of love into this old home, and this kitchen renovation is a great example of how that commitment can pay off.

Janine asks: I’m putting up a ceramic tile backsplash in my kitchen. Can I put the tile directly on the drywall, or do I have to tear it out and use a cement board?

Danny Lipford: If you’re talking about installing ceramic on a wall behind your kitchen countertop for a kitchen backsplash, no problem. You don’t have to tear out all of your drywall and install backerboard or anything else, if you have a fairly smooth and flat surface that you’re working with. And you can install the drywall right over ceramic or plaster.

Here, I have a little bit of a challenge, because I have to remove this wood trim. Probably have a little drywall spackling I’ll to do there in order to create the right kind of surface. Then, I’m going to use a ceramic adhesive, a notched trowel to evenly spread the adhesive, put the ceramic in place, wait over night, come back and grout it, and I’m done.

Hey, inject some personality in your kitchen by using some of the colorful glass tiles or some of the decorative ceramic that’s available.

Danny Lipford: Three different kitchen renovations with different owners who have different tastes and different priorities. Every one of them is a success, but that’s not all they have in common. In each case the owners decided what was important to them and built their projects around that. Then they were disciplined enough to make timely decisions so the work could move forward. Plus, they got all the expert help where they needed it. Whether in design and planning or with the work necessary to execute the plan.

You know, I love to see home owners that really are passionate about their homes find that kind of success. And I hope all of the projects you take on around your home are just as successful. Hey, we want to help you any way we can by providing you fresh ideas every week here on Today’s Homeowner. And I encourage you to drop by our website at for even more information.

And we want to hear from you so you can e-mail us, you can call our toll free number, you can join us on Facebook, you can follow us on Twitter, and give us your ideas, your suggestions and your feedback so that we can work together so that all of your home improvement projects turn out just the way you envision them. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week.

Further Information

  • Kitchen Remodel #1: Dream Kitchen Remodel
  • Kitchen Remodel #2: Today’s Dream Kitchen Remodel
  • Kitchen Remodel #3: Historic Kitchen Remodel
Editorial Contributors
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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