June Wagner of Westminster hesitated to remodel her kitchen, but was delighted with the results.

Written By Joanne Morvay Weant, Photos by: Bill Wehland

It took some time before June Wagner could commit to remodeling the kitchen in her Westminster home.

It was not that Wagner’s kitchen didn’t need remodeling. Her children assured her repeatedly that it did.

And it was not that Wagner could not afford such a project. Contractor Timothy Hatfield of Timothy Hatfield Building and Remodeling had already installed a porch, renovated a bathroom and replaced some windows in Wagner’s home by the time they started discussing the kitchen.

Faced with the myriad decisions that must be made when undertaking a kitchen renovation, however, Wagner “got cold feet.”

“I was content with the old kitchen,” she said, “even though it wasn’t looking too good.”

After all, this was the kitchen in which Wagner cooked meals for her family and friends for more than 30 years. Sure, the counters were outdated Formica and the cabinets were showing use. The energy loss from the poorly insulated room (which was built over a crawlspace) was even worse.

But it was a tough emotional decision. A year after she tabled the project, though, Wagner told Hatfield it was time to try again.

The result is a bright, sunny room decorated in a warm “cottage style.” The tall ivory-colored cabinets are accented by lemony painted walls and a cheerful red tile backsplash. Granite has replaced the Formica. And energy loss has been turned into energy efficiency with a heated wood floor as well as a state-of-the-art air-conditioning unit.

“I come down on many mornings and say, ÔPraise the Lord. What did I do to deserve this?’ ” said Wagner.

According to, the kitchen can make or break a deal when people are trying to sell their homes. A great kitchen can make a prospective buyer fall in love at first sight, while an outdated one can actually scare buyers away.

Contrary to popular belief, however, homeowners do not recoup the entire cost of a kitchen renovation in the sale of their home. Statistics compiled for 2011-2012 by Remodeling Magazine show that a major kitchen renovation in the Mid-Atlantic region typically averages $57,494. If the home is sold, homeowners usually recoup only $37,385, or a little more than 65 percent of that cost. Minor kitchen remodeling is similar, costing an average of about $19,588 per job in this region, and recouped at $14,120 or 72 percent.

Matt LeFaivre, president of J.R. LeFaivre Construction Co. in Taneytown, said that in the current economy, kitchen renovation has become much more popular than building a kitchen addition.

Both LeFaivre and Hatfield said they often start from scratch by taking the entire kitchen down to its bare bones. Then they add more lighting, more counter space, more outlets and more storage. Costs average from $25,000 to $45,000 depending upon the complexity of the project.

The contractors said that clients typically purchase new appliances as well — an additional cost that can easily run $10,000 or more.

Rosemary and Bill McKenzie interviewed a handful of contractors to find someone who was willing to take down the walls between the kitchen, dining and living rooms in their Manchester split-level home.

The McKenzies’ new kitchen has all of today’s bells and whistles. The cherry cabinets offer easy-to-use slide-out shelves and drawers so there is no more stooping and digging to retrieve whatever hides in the far recesses. The cabinet doors close slowly all on their own so there’s no worry about them banging shut.

A center island offers not only storage but additional space for preparing food as well as somewhere to place a buffet during a party. Ample recessed lighting plays up the kitchen’s attributes and makes it easier to see things during cooking. Sleek black granite countertops are easy to clean. The entire room is tied together with new wood floors, a smooth tile backsplash and a soft coat of khaki paint.

“My daughter — the first time she came in here — her jaw dropped,” said McKenzie. “Her husband said this is like a kitchen you see in a magazine.”

Hatfield and LeFaivre said that remodeling a kitchen typically takes four to six weeks, depending on what needs to be done. Homeowners are without their appliances for part of that time, although the refrigerator and a microwave can usually be hooked up somewhere else in the house.

With the contractors and their crew in the house on an almost daily basis, McKenzie and Wagner said the best advice they can offer other homeowners is to find a contractor you like and trust.

LeFaivre and Hatfield both have multiple remodeling certifications and are licensed state home improvement contractors. Licensing gives homeowners recourse if things do not go as expected.

Ultimately, both the homeowner and the contractor should be satisfied when the kitchen is complete. “If I did my job,” said LeFaivre, “I shouldn’t have people telling me ÔI wish I would have done this differently.’”

Kitchen Remodeling Sources
J.R. LeFaivre Construction Co., 410-751-1375,

Timothy Hatfield Building and Remodeling, Inc., 410-386-0533,

The Beveled Edge, 410-386-0161,

Simply Stone, 410-526-ROCK,