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If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen before Thanksgiving dinner, forget about it!

“It’s way too late for that!” says Gina Bonura, Alure Home Improvements‘ kitchen and bathroom design & sales manager. People have come in to see her because they were inspired by the national holiday that brings families and friends together from near and far to finally take a close look at the one room in their house where they all spend the most time together and realize with a shock it’s in serious need of a makeover.

If that really was their deadline, she says, “They should have been here in the beginning or the middle of the summer!”

An experienced professional, Bonura knows how much a kitchen remodeling project truly entails. She’s more than willing to help her clients make their dreams come true, but timing is everything. And that’s why she extends this invitation.

“Come in now,” she advises. “Between now and Christmas it’s the best prices because it’s the end of the year. You couldn’t start the job now because it takes time for the cabinets to come in, but then you’re all set to go once it’s the first of the year.”

At Alure, customers have two options. One department specializes in what they call a 10-day kitchen, which is a direct replacement in the existing space after it’s been gutted. The other department handles custom kitchen projects, which generally take between six to eight weeks because they can involve moving the plumbing, taking out walls and even adding extensions.

“People are thinking bigger,” says Bonura. “Before the Great Recession, people just wanted to keep it light. Now people want to take space from other rooms because everybody’s in the kitchen. So, more and more people are getting rid of the separate little living room, the enclosed dining room and the little kitchen, and making it all one space.”

How much it costs depends on the job. According to Bonura, you should plan to spend around 8 to 12 percent of the current value of your home on a kitchen renovation because it’s a key factor in raising your property’s value. “If my home was a $500,000 house, I’d want to put at least $50,000 into it to make it worthwhile to gain back my investment,” she says.

People have an amazing array of choices about what their kitchens look like and what they contain.

Start with appliances. These days, customers don’t want microwaves installed over the stove. They tend to prefer a stainless steel hood or a decorative wood hood that serves like a focal point. Microwaves are going into drawers below the cabinets or in the kitchen’s island. Steam ovens are very popular these days because the food retains moisture and nutrients.

“You’re still going to need a small microwave somewhere when you want to make popcorn,” says Bonura, “but I would say invest in the steam oven because you can use it for everything else.”

Another new appliance that impresses her is the induction cooktop stove, which uses an electromagnetic field to heat the cookware. She says it works so fast you can boil water in 90 seconds. “But it doesn’t get hot,” Bonura explains, “so if a child walks by and touches the stove, they are not going to get burned.”

Thanks to the latest in kitchen technology, there are ovens on the market that are so sophisticated that “you can program it from your iPhone while you’re on the soccer field,” she says. “You don’t even have to be home and the oven will start.” But it won’t come up with a recipe—you still have to think about what you want to cook.

As for the kitchen sink, some new faucets and fixtures are hands-free. To turn the water on, all you have to do is wave your hands under the faucet, which is a great relief if you’re making bread and your fingers are sticky with dough.

When it comes to choosing color schemes, gray is still in, but what’s trending is a shade with taupe undertones, so it’s a warmer gray. But the palette is up to the customer.

“Black cabinets are wonderful,” Bonura enthuses, adding that it doesn’t make the kitchen too dark. “It depends on what you do with it.”

These days texture is as important to cabinets as color. Some surfaces look like driftwood, Bonura says. The ornate look is not a popular style, but the trend is moving away from the austere look.

“Shaker is still a popular style, which is really just a square with a recessed center,” she says, “but customers are looking for a little more detail. They don’t want a lot of molding on the cabinets.

Meanwhile, quartz countertops have replaced granite as the material of choice, because there’s no maintenance, no sealing and no staining. Bonura says quartz is also durable and exquisite.

“They’re coming out with quartz that imitates the movement of natural stone,” she says. Some customers use the same color quartz countertop all the way up the back splash so there’s one clean look with no grout.

“It’s expensive, but people love it—and it’s beautiful,” she says.

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One key area for consideration is kitchen storage. Bonura will spend time with the customers to determine where they store their materials “so that we can create a better system for them. We have all types of accessories that we can use if they want, or we can help them figure out the best way to store what they have.”

For anyone contemplating kitchen remodeling, Bonura recommends that they first research what they like and dislike, but she admits it’s sometimes hard to do. That’s why they come to her, because she has the advanced technology to help them visualize what their new kitchen could look like. Customers can don virtual reality glasses to get a real feeling for the new space.

“There’s no guesswork,” Bonura says. “We can show it to you!”

“I never talk someone out of what they really want,” she says, “but I’ll show them how it will look. I will explain to them why I think it may or may not work. We work together, so it’s a collaboration.”

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