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Tips for Remodeling Your Kitchen: An Interview with Alan Wheeler of Coastal Design Builders, LLC

By Alan Wheeler

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Coastal Design Builders, LLC was founded in early 2010 in Charleston, SC. Alan Wheeler, its founder, has been designing and building Custom Homes, Additions and Remodeling for 27 years. Alan cooks and loves being in the kitchen so designing kitchens has been a specialty for him. He has designed over 75 kitchens.

What is the first thing you tell people who are looking to remodel their kitchen?

Alan first asks them where they are in the process of remodeling. Have they picked out appliances, noted cabinet styles, cut out pictures of kitchen features, think they need to expand the kitchen? If they have not done the above then I send them a "Wish List" which asks pertinent questions about kitchen remodeling and gets them started by getting the dream out of their head onto paper. Important first step.

For those who can't afford an entire remodel of their kitchen, but wish to change a few things, what can you suggest?

If the kitchen is dated but not more than 15 years old there are several steps that can be taken. A new countertop, sink and faucet would help a lot. Granite is now less cost than Corian and the several "quartz" stone products out. Under mount sinks look good and are easy to clean up. New door and drawer hardware is inexpensive. Refinishing the cabinets would be a huge benefit and new look and is not that expensive. Adding a tile backsplash is also cost effective. If the cabinets were site built 30 years ago it would harder to have a new granite countertop look good with older cabinets.

In your opinion, what is the most desirable design element in a kitchen?

Work flow. One may have the most expensive kitchen cabinets, appliances and countertops but if the layout is not good, working in the kitchen will not feel easy and functional. Layout includes spaces around appliances, an island, sink and additional veggie sink as well as walking distances to each space.

What are some wasted areas of the kitchen I can eliminate to create more needed space?

A "counter depth" refrigerator if you are needing a new one since traditional ones stick out 6"- 8" into walk space. Putting the waste basket off the floor into an 18" pull out cabinet next to the sink. Taking most of the appliances off the counter and putting into a Lazy Susan or specialty cabinet. Removing the microwave over the range and putting the new microwave "drawer" into a base cabinet.

What are the necessary elements of a kitchen that I should be sure to include in my renovation?

Main sink design that is good for work habits. Refrigerator size, design that meets the needs of the family size. Range vs. cooktop and wall oven(s) and gas vs. electric. Eat at area as well as larger breakfast nook area. Openness of whole kitchen area.

What are some recent fads that you see included in most recent kitchen remodels?

New microwave "drawer". Glass doors in top third of wall cabinets. Metal and glass with tile backsplashes. More gas than electric cooktops/ranges. Opening up kitchen to Dining Room and/or Great room. Wood countertops on 42" high eat at bars/counters.

What is the best piece of advice for someone looking to remodel their kitchen?

Be as prepared as you can with notes, pictures and lists of the kitchen elements that you dream of and those you know don't work for you. Don't think about money or costs at these first stages. Then, meet with 1-3 design/build contractors and present your ideas. Ask them questions. They should ask you many questions and provide initial design input at the first meeting. This is particularly important if you know you want to make changes to the kitchen compared to simply replacing cabinets in their current location. If so, then meet with a kitchen cabinet company first. A design/build contractor will be able to understand and work with moving walls, opening up walls, re-wiring, re-plumbing, etc.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

Can call Alan Wheeler at 843-300-9383 or email him at His website is

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About The Author

Alan Wheeler is owner and founder of Coastal Design Builders. He has over 25 years of...

Phone: 843-300-9383

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