Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by Jeremy
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When we started renovating our kitchen, we knew we wanted to support as many Pittsburgh businesses as we could over more conventional big box retailors.
Although many of the products we installed in our kitchen were, of course, not locally made, this one purchasing decision at least allowed us to help keep some of what ended up being a rather expensive remodel local.
So in this one, we thought we'd share who we used, what we thought, and more to help others who are looking to renovate a kitchen in Pittsburgh like we did!
Designer – Wildman Chalmers Design
Before we took a single step to starting our kitchen renovation, we got in touch with a local design firm, Wildman Chalmers Design, out of Troy Hill through a recommendation from a friend.
Our designer was a lifesaver for our project in more ways than one.
Although this one did come with a not-insignificant fee (to the tune of several thousand dollars), what we got out from the experience far exceeded the cost.
First up, our designer proposed a layout change to allow us to utilize island seating more effectively within our kitchen. Next, she made to-scale drawings that our contractor and other manufacturers could reference. We also got designer discounts at some local companies we used (a nominal amount, admittedly). Finally, she got us in touch with her preferred Amish cabinet producer (more on that below), which allowed us to get beautiful, custom-made cabinets locally for almost half the price of what a big, orange box retailer was quoting us for pre-fabricated factory cabinets.
We would've gladly paid the fee to get insight on our island layout alone, but being able to save well over $10,000 and get custom, locally made cabinets in the process? Well, that is money well spent to us.
Wildman Chalmers Design is located at 1622 Lowrie Street in Troy Hill.
Cabinets – Local Amish Producer
So, what about those cabinets? Well, our designer helped get us in touch with a small Amish manufacturer outside of Kittanning. We corresponded via letters, he visited our house for an assessment one day, and we even went out to visit the production facility to see a current job already in progress and to discuss finer details like style, handles, and the like.
Perhaps the best part about using a local manufacturer here was that he also came out during construction to measure the dimensions for a built-in pantry that we wanted to expand, and was able to build a custom order to allow us to maximize every available inch when other retailers told us it simply wasn't possible. He also even built Angie a custom table for a coffee station that straddled our radiator for less than major stores were selling pre-made tables for!
Truly, this producer was one of our favorite finds in the entire process, and our cabinets are some of the most beautiful (and functional) we've ever had.
Please note: As our cabinet manufacturer does not take many orders and typically books 6-12 months out, we are not mentioning the business name here as a courtesy. All correspondence is done via letter or, in some cases, he will call you from a neighbor's phone. If you have a serious inquiry and can accommodate long lead times as noted, please contact us, and we will share more information. Please do not inquire if you are not able to accommodate these conditions.
Contractor – Local Referral
One of the hardest parts about renovating a kitchen in Pittsburgh was not acquiring the materials, but rather finding a contractor outright!
We had a long list of contractors who either refused to return our calls, ghosted us after coming to our house and never provided a quote, or gave us quotes that would have put us $20,000 or more over budget. (Yes, we did receive a quote for over $40,000 for a 9′ x 13′ kitchen renovation plus nominal dry-bar work. No, we did not even entertain the option.)
There truly was a point where we almost considered doing the work ourselves because it was getting obscene.
Thankfully, our good friends had recently renovated their kitchen, and their contractor was available for the job. As the work was fairly minimal and intermittent, we ended up with a rather favorable fee and even got his referral for flooring work as well. We also were able to save some on cost as we managed some tasks like painting, cleanup, and some hardware store runs ourselves. Win!
Suffice it to say, this is one contractor we won't be letting go of too soon!
Please note: Much like our cabinet producer, our local contractor is a small operation and only works on a few jobs every month within a small radius in the city (typically near the East End; however, due to our mutual connection we were given an exception). Likewise, he also books up several months ahead of time. If you would like more information, please contact us.
Appliances – Don's Appliances and Voss TV & Appliances
As far as appliances are concerned, this one was instance where we, admittedly, had few local options to consider. The reason for this is simple- we were deadset on what we wanted, and only certain vendors in the city carried those brands. If you want product A and company A is the only one that carries it? Well, you're going to be buying from them whether you like it or not.
For us, this meant purchasing from Don's Appliances and Voss for our separate orders, and by all accounts, we had a fairly good experience with both.
One hiccup we had with Don's Appliances was that they were out of stock with the model dishwasher we wanted to buy (post-COVID the producer was so far back ordered that they didn't expect availability for at least a year), so we downgraded our model to what was available. As this was in stock at the time of purchase, we were strongly encouraged to take delivery right away despite our project not even starting for another six months.
As luck would have it, the dishwasher had an issue that required service, and our warranty was set to expire a couple months later. The service request had almost a month long wait, eating away at the clock, but thankfully the source of our issue was found immediately, the dishwasher fixed, and we've not had issues since.
On the Voss side, we had a weird quirk with getting a rebate back from our stove; however, they were so involved with this one that we had a rebate issued the very next day after our concern was elevated on their side. Now that is service!
Countertops – Primo Marble & Granite
Much like appliances, countertops can be a bit hit or miss too, albeit for different reasons. Here, it is all about the aesthetic. We didn't know exactly what granite we wanted (by name, style, color, etc.) ahead of time, but it was one of those things that we'd know when we saw it.
We saw it at Primo Marble & Granite.
This one was also a breeze to work with, but admittedly countertops are a purchase that you should be aware could mess up your overall project schedule. The reason for this is that while you can receive an estimate of price/timeline based on project drawings (like the one our designer created, above), none of this is finalized until after a crew member comes out to measure with a laser measurement tool.
Although our price didn't really change, the real impact is that this cannot be done until your cabinets are installed, which, for us, was at the mercy of a builder who did not use email for regular communication. A possible delay element here is that your stone cannot be cut until these measurements are done, and the lead time for that is heavily dependent on how much work the store has scheduled.
We were quoted a 1-3 week turnaround time for granite after measurement when we put a deposit down, and it was three weeks practically to the day between measurement and install due to a larger workload at the time.
While there isn't much you can do about this, as timelines like these are somewhat common at most popular stone warehouses, seeing an 85% completed kitchen just sitting there for three weeks was unfortunate. But oh my do we love our countertop!
Primo Marble and Granite is located at 5075 Windagp Avenue in Windgap.
Faucet – Crescent Baths & Kitchen
Our faucet was purchased at another store recommended by our designer, Crescent Baths & Kitchen, which we primarily picked out for aesthetic purposes to match the finish to our cabinet hardware.
Although our experience at this store was brief, we had a rather easy time scheduling an appointment, seeing the options, and making an order all around.
We, unfortunately, did not get a chance to buy a sink from this store, as we needed an unusual offset drain configuration for our kitchen setup that only one non-local producer could provide. Had we needed a more conventional sink, we likely would've bought something from here as well.
Crescent Bath & Kitchens is located at 6301 Butler Street in Pittsburgh, PA
Coping with Stress – Convive Coffee and Necromancer Brewing
Finally, we come to our coping mechanism. Although we tried to avoid spending money at box retailers as best as possible, the simple truth of the matter is that we ended up at these stores a lot during the course of our kitchen renovation (I think my record was three times in one day).
For us as North Siders, this meant dozens upon dozens of trips up and down the most loathed McKnight Road for shopping. Thankfully, there are a few businesses just off this popular shopping district we'd make a detour at on almost each and every visit, and they were none other than Convive Coffee in McCandless (if in the morning) and Necromancer Brewing on Babcock Blvd (if in the evening).
Having a way to cope with the stress with caffeine or alcohol? You better believe you will need gems like these at the ready during a renovation! But, before you ask, no, we will not share how many pints of beer we had during our two-month renovation project!
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