Elevate Your Space: Practical Remodeling Strategies for Homeowners

About this Podcast

  • Selecting the Right Professional: Alana Busse stresses the importance of working with a professional who not only aligns with your aesthetic preferences but also understands the functional requirements of your kitchen remodel. It’s crucial to find someone who can address specific issues like layout challenges or necessary repairs.
  • Key Factors in Kitchen Design: When planning a kitchen design, three essential factors should be considered: layout, maintenance, and budget. Evaluate whether the existing layout works for you, choose materials based on their maintenance needs, and establish a realistic budget to guide the design and construction process.
  • Cabinet Construction Types: Understanding the three main types of cabinet construction—inset, framed, and frameless—is vital. Inset cabinets offer a furniture-like appearance but sacrifice some storage space. Framed cabinets provide moderate storage and a classic look, while frameless cabinets maximize storage and are ideal for those who prioritize functionality.
  • Current Kitchen Trends: Modern kitchen trends include the use of dark blue cabinetry, mixing painted and stained finishes, and opting for simpler door styles such as thin shaker or slab designs. For countertops, quartz remains popular due to its low maintenance, while leather-finished quartzite is gaining traction for its unique and luxurious appearance.
  • Smart Lighting and Appliance Choices: Strategic lighting choices, including smart lighting systems and varied finishes like matte black or gold, can significantly enhance the kitchen’s design and functionality. Additionally, selecting the right appliances based on cooking habits and desired features—such as commercial-style appliances, steam ovens, and wine columns—can further elevate the kitchen space. Integrating smart systems allows for customizable lighting modes, enhancing both practical use and ambiance.


Nora Duran: Hello, everyone. Welcome to our session where we are exploring all aspects of home remodeling. Today, we are here to offer straightforward practical advice to homeowners, kick off their renovation projects. Our goal is to answer those common questions you might have about updating your space, ensuring you have the right information needed to make good choices.

Throughout our series, we’ll cover a range of topics to help simplify the remodeling process from picking the right design elements to understanding the basic of construction. We have got you covered. We want you to feel confident and ready as you transform your home into the dream space you’ve always wanted.

Now let’s welcome our expert today, Alana Busse, the owner of Alana Busse Construction. Alana, could you please introduce yourself? 

Alana Busse: Hi, thank you. Um, my name is Alana, and I’ve been a kitchen and bath designer for about 20 years now. I’m also a general contractor. I’m one of the few female, uh, general contractors and designers here in Ventura County.

And we specialize in making our clients dreams come true for their remodeling projects. 

Nora Duran: Amazing. Amazing. So, let’s kick things off with a question on many homeowners minds. What is the best approach or the best way to designing a kitchen? 

Alana Busse: , the best approach is trying to find a professional that you wanna work with somebody that gets your style, your aesthetics, but also understands what functionalities you need and why you’re doing the project.

Is it a layout issue? Is stuff is broken in your kitchen? Did you have a flood? What’s the reason behind the remodel?

Nora Duran: Great. Let’s, let’s break it down farther. Can you walk us through the three essential factors to consider when planning a kitchen design? 

Alana Busse: I’d say the first factor is layout. Do you like your existing layout?

Your kitchen might be old and you don’t like the materials in it, but do you like where the sink is? Do you like where the range is? The cooktop, um, refrigerator, all of those kind of things are important to think about so you know how much you have to move around things. The next is level of maintenance.

There’s so many amazing, beautiful materials out there nowadays, but they all have different levels of maintenance. So if you want something that’s easy to take care of, you might go with one product versus if you want something that’s a little bit more involved to take care of. And then third is you always want to think about budget, what your budget’s going to be, because that is very important to discuss in the beginning so that the design and the construction can be tailored towards something you can afford.

Nora Duran: This is golden information. Thank you for sharing. And now let’s just talk about the layout. In your opinion, what is the most ideal layout for a kitchen space? 

Alana Busse: It really depends on the size of the kitchen you’re working with. Can you move any walls? Can you add space? Everybody loves an island.

Personally, like the kitchen you see behind me, it’s an L shaped kitchen with an island, and that’s really my favorite layout. If you have the space, it tends to be most functional, and you get a big area for prepping if you really enjoy cooking and entertaining. 

Nora Duran: Now let’s discuss something practical.

What exactly is a kitchen checklist and why is it so important in the design process? 

Alana Busse: So we have a few different checklists that we work with when we’re working with clients. One of them has basically everything listed that you could possibly want in a kitchen, so that we can go through all the options with our clients.

So it’s not just a refrigerator, a range, and a dishwasher, but going over, do you need an ice maker? Do you want a coffee maker? Do you want a fridge to dry aged meat? There’s so many things out there right now that we just want to make sure all options have been explored and that we can. Make, get the best products for our clients.

The last thing we want is a client to get all done and wish we would have asked them if they wanted an ice maker or wish we would have asked them if they wanted that coffee maker. Um, and then the checklists, once we are starting construction are very important to make sure everything goes smoothly to make sure everything gets done properly and nothing gets forgotten.

Nora Duran: Fascinating. And in your opinion, what is the most important factor for a kitchen? 

Alana Busse: It’s really how you’re going to use it. So one of the most important things is we go through all of our clients cupboards and see what’s inside and what they have to store so that we can really make sure it’s .

Functional for them. Lots of times you see beautiful kitchens, but then when you actually open them up, they’re not functional or they don’t store the client’s pots and pans properly, or their cast iron doesn’t fit, or the turkey platter they use once a year for Thanksgiving doesn’t fit. So functionality is really the most important part of the design process.

Nora Duran: Yeah. Great reminders to all of us. Thank you for mentioning that. And let’s talk budgeting. It’s always a hot topic and What’s a realistic ballpark figure someone should aim for? What’s the investment behind a kitchen remodel? 

Alana Busse: It really depends on the size of your kitchen and the, what materials you want to put into the project.

Um, clients tend to be spending. I would say a kitchen kind of starts at 70 to 80, 000 and clients tend to go up to about 120, 130. And then you can really go up from there depending on if you start doing additions and moving walls and things like that. But if you want to invest properly into your home and get something you’re going to love and that you’re going to get the resale off of and the enjoyment for the next 5, 10, 15 years that you might live there.

That’s really a realistic budget range so that you can also get all the bells and whistles inside the cabinets, um, so you can have all your rollouts, your pullouts, your trash and, , something similar to, what most people are requiring nowadays or wanting, I should say. 

Nora Duran: All right. And now let’s talk about organization strategies.

 What’s your go to approach for keeping kitchen projects running smoothly? 

Alana Busse: Our kind of our go to for keeping our projects running smoothly is really we have a, A scheduling software that we use and that has kind of everything that’s going on in the project when everything needs to show up and that keeps constant communications with everyone in the field so that they know this projects coming up in a week and this is coming up in two weeks and this is coming up in two months.

So that they can schedule, they can be on the schedule. They know when to show up. They know what tasks needs to get done, and they know how long they have before the next task or trade is started in the project. So really scheduling is the key to keeping everything moving forward in a, uh, timely, consistent format.. 

Nora Duran: And now moving on to the cabinets. They’re big part of, in a kitchen. And can you break down the different construction types for our listeners? 

Alana Busse: The cabinets basically come in three forms of ways they’re constructed. The first is an inset cabinet and that’s where you have the door of the cabinet sits flush with the face frame.

A lot of times furniture in your house if you own like a credenza piece or a Curio cabinet or something like that. A lot of times they’re that style. And that gives you the most furniture looking. We see people using that in islands. Um, but you do lose some storage. The next is a framed cabinet. So if you think of a picture frame and a door sits on top of that.

So when you open the door you see that picture frame around all the door and drawer fronts. You get Okay, storage. You don’t get a ton of extra storage. What we see a lot of clients going with is frameless cabinets. And so you just have the sides of the cabinet boxes and you don’t have that extra face frame applied to it.

They’re still just as strong, but your drawers are able to get wider and you’re able and your doors, you get more access behind them, which really helps increase storage. And right now, all of our clients love drawers for their lower cabinets. They don’t want to bend down and dig through cabinets. So whatever we can do to give them drawers and maximize storage tends to be everybody’s favorite.

So we do a lot of the frameless cabinets for the ability to get so much more storage on our lower cabinets. 

Nora Duran: Let’s break this down further because choosing the right cabinet can be very overwhelming. What factors should homeowners consider when deciding between Framed and the Frameless option? 

Alana Busse: I think for, so for framed is kind of you go for that inset framed look and that is very furniture.

So do you like the very furniturey islands? Do you have a big kitchen where if you’re gonna give up 20% of storage. Is that going to be an issue or not? Then the framed or inset tends to be very nice, but if you don’t have the extra 20 percent to give up, or you don’t like that very traditional, um, look, then the frameless tends to be the best option.

A lot of our clients struggle with storage, so frameless tends to be good. But we do mix and match them quite often, too, or the island will be very furniture y and, and a framed inset product, and the perimeter will be more of our storage area, and that’ll be a frameless cabinet. 

Nora Duran: Thank you, that’s very practical and, uh, very useful to our listeners.

And let’s talk style. What is trending right now when it comes to kitchen cabinets and countertops? 

Alana Busse: So our what’s trending right now is we are seeing a lot of blue like a very dark blue color for our cabinets coming in and we’re seeing a lot more mixing and matching for a while there. Everything was just painted.

But now we’re seeing a combination of a paint with a stain. If it’s more of a white oak, something a little bit lighter. Um, and simpler door styles. So we’re still seeing maybe a shaker door style, but it tends to be a thinner shaker door style or tends to be a slab. Nothing with a ton of detail, not a ton of nooks and crannies for dust or things to accumulate in.

And for our countertops, we’re still seeing quartz being definitely our number one because of the ease of maintenance. But in more of a luxury style kitchen, a little bit higher end, you’re seeing more of a leather finished quartzite being used, if it’s just for the island or a backsplash or something along those lines.

So we’re mixing them a little bit more than we used to just use quartz. Now we’re seeing the quartzites coming through, and I think that’ll be a trend that continues and maybe even starts to take over here in a little bit. 

Nora Duran: Alright, let’s talk the luxury. What countertops option, , gives that high end look and screams sophisticated?

Alana Busse: So I think for if you’re trying to do more of a high end looked, um, maybe not doing everybody can do polished countertops and everybody’s been doing polished countertops, but now there’s so many amazing finishes that you can do a concrete finish. You can do a honed finish. You can do leather finish.

There’s so many. Options out there nowadays that if you kind of want to take your kitchen to the next level, you can take your countertop from just that polished and go to one of these specialty finishes that you don’t see everywhere. And it’s also nice because things don’t reflect as much, so you’re not seeing, um, maybe the ceiling or the can lights or different things reflecting in it, which tends to be very nice.

Nora Duran: And what is the most luxurious type of kitchen countertop in your opinion? 

Alana Busse: I’m loving the quartzite countertops right now. There’s so many amazing colors and they have beautiful veining and every piece is different. So if you buy a piece today and your neighbor goes to buy another piece in, you know, in a month, they’re not going to get the same piece.

It’s very unique to you and your project. Um, marbles are very pretty too. They tend to be a little bit harder of an upkeep if you’re a higher traffic kitchen. But the quartzites are very hard, they’re very durable, , and there is just amazing things coming out of the mountains right now that they’re able to make these countertops out of.

Nora Duran: Mm hmm. Amazing. Amazing. And let’s brighten things up. How can strategic lighting choices elevate the overall design and functionality of a kitchen? 

Alana Busse: Well, lighting is super important. A lot of people don’t realize that lights actually come in multiple colors. So you can get lighting and more of a warm yellow tone.

You can get more of a white tone and you can get more of a blue tone. If you’re doing a warmer kitchen, you definitely want to use warmer lights and vice versa if you’re doing a cooler toned kitchen, but that can all change the way the materials look. So you really want to be careful when selecting your light color and then you have beautiful light fixtures nowadays.

There’s beautiful matte blacks and different types of colors. Golds and so many mixed metal ones that are lovely to use over islands. And then you also want to think about your accent lighting. So if you have glass cabinets or floating shelves, we’re always doing lights inside of those. We’re doing lights under the cabinets, we’re even doing toe kick lights.

Lighting is really something you want to add during the construction process. If you go back later, it can be quite costly to try to run wires behind cabinets that have already been installed, back splashes and things of that nature. It’s a lot of work. So it’s best to add as much lighting, um, as you can now putting it all on separate switches, putting it all on dimmer switches.

So you really have options and mood lighting depending on if you’re entertaining. Um, are you just needing task light? What’s going on in the kitchen? And we’re seeing more smart systems. So now they refer back to your phone so I can push entertaining mode on my phone and all of my kitchen. My can lights my kitchen go off my under cabinet lights dim the lights inside of my cabinets go on and those go to a certain level.

And so that’s my entertaining light. If I’m not going to be home, I have a certain light just so that there’s a little light when I get home. My house has a little Isn’t pitch black. And then if I’m going to be cooking, I need very bright light so I can see what I’m doing and that’s a different mode and everything’s on nice and bright so that I can see and chop and and do all of my tasks.

So you’re seeing all that smart systems coming through with the lighting. 

Nora Duran: Oh wow. Thanks for shedding light on that as well. And what do you think the key considerations are for selecting kitchen appliances? 

Alana Busse: I think it’s going to be what level of cooking you do and what level of help you need in the kitchen.

So we’re seeing more commercial style appliances coming through, the bigger beefier ones, people wanting really that performance. And once you go to that level, it’s that performance and do you know what needs to be on high and then on low, or what needs to be set to maybe 450 and turned down to 350 at a certain time, Or do you want an appliance that’s going to take care of that for you?

Do you want to put a probe in a roast? You say you want it medium done, and it’s going to know it’s going to go to 450 for so many minutes. It’s going to go down to 350, and it’s going to tell you when it’s that perfect medium rare temperature inside. Or do you like Dialing everything in for yourself.

We’re seeing a lot of colored appliances coming through. And then we’re also seeing people going with extra appliances you might not have done in the past. So we’re seeing a lot of steam ovens. People not putting in as many microwaves. We’re seeing a lot of wine columns coming through. We’re seeing a lot of ice makers coming through.

So we really see people expanding on those core appliances that they used to have and going in different directions to kind of more fit their lifestyle and cook more at home. 

Nora Duran: Amazing. Thank you for sharing, all these information and bringing light to a lot of the commonly asked questions. And our listeners, thank you very much for joining us today.

 We are sure that these information will be golden for you. And thank you so much. Thank you.