Unlocking the Secrets of Kitchen Remodeling: Expert Insights and Strategies

Leo Lantz on the Art of Kitchen Transformation: An In-Depth Interview

  • Introduction of Leo Lantz: Leo Lantz, president of Leo Lantz Construction, is introduced as a seasoned remodeler specializing in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Budgeting for Kitchen Remodels: Leo Lantz discusses that a realistic budget for kitchen renovations should start at about 15% of the home’s value, with variations depending on the scope and quality of fixtures and appliances.
  • Major Expenses in Kitchen Renovations: Cabinets and countertops are highlighted as two of the three most expensive components, typically accounting for 40% of the total budget.
  • Hidden Costs and Design Principles: Leo shares insights on unexpected costs often encountered in older homes and the importance of the kitchen work triangle to ensure efficient layout.
  • Material and Design Trends: Leo emphasizes the popularity and durability of maple for cabinetry and notes the enduring appeal of traditional white kitchens in modern design trends.


Nora Duran: Welcome to our exclusive series with Leo Lantz, the mastermind behind Leo Lenz construction, where we delve into the art and science of transforming your home. Today, we are thrilled to have Leo join us as we embark on a journey to enlighten homeowners about achieving their ultimate dream spaces. Our goal is clear, to equip you with the insights and strategies for a seamless and successful home renovation.

Whether it’s that bespoke kitchen that we have been dreaming of or a comprehensive remodel, we are here to ensure your visions come to life with authority and style. So I have Leo Lantz here. Hi, Leo. Could you please introduce yourself? 

Leo Lantz: Hi, Nora, thank you for letting me join you today. I’m Leo Lantz, president of Leo Lantz Construction in Richmond, Virginia.

 And I’ve been a remodeler for over 30 years and specialize in kitchen and bathroom remodeling. 

Nora Duran: Thank you so much. So diving right in, what would you say is a realistic budget to keep in mind for those starting a kitchen remodel?

Leo Lantz: According to industry publications, the typical budget is about 15 percent of the value of the home.

However, that number can range higher or lower, depending upon the cost of the fixtures, appliances scope of work whether the space is being expanded so that’s, but that’s a typical, Starting point for someone just trying to get together a budget for the project.

Nora Duran: Great. That’s a great takeaway. Kitchen renovations can vary wildly in cost in your experience. What’s the average price range for a full set of kitchen cabinets and countertops?

 The cabinets and countertops are probably you’re 2 of your 3 most expensive items that are going into the project.

Leo Lantz: The other being the appliances. We see the cabinets and countertops. Average about, I would say about 40 percent of the budget goes towards those 2 items.

Nora Duran: Great. We often also hear about unexpected expenses in [00:02:00] home projects. Could you share some of the hidden costs in kitchen remodeling that homeowners should be aware of? 

Leo Lantz: Anytime you’re remodeling, you can run into unforeseen, challenges. We’ll say most of the time it’s on an older home going behind someone who has done something previously who probably shouldn’t have done what they were doing to start with.

But some unforeseen things that can Expose themselves would be if you have any mold and a wall where you’ve had the pipe leaks or siding or roofing issues, some other things are structural issues. We just had a project last week where we opened up and. Up in the ceiling, we went to. Run some electrical wires, and they had some cracked ceiling rafters.

So those are the things that the normal eye wouldn’t see and even mine’s not going to catch until you open up the bones of the project.

Nora Duran: Yes, that’s such a crucial point. Thanks for highlighting that. And every designer has their guiding principles. What’s the golden rule of kitchen design that you swear by?

Leo Lantz: There’s always been the the golden rule, which is your work triangle that work triangle is the primary stations in the kitchen where you have your food storage or refrigeration, your kitchen sink and your cooking appliances.

So the norm for that rule is you don’t want to be any less than 13 feet apart and no more than 26 feet apart. And within that triangle, you do not want to have any obstructions say, an island or a table or anything to interfere with your walking path between those fixtures.

Great. Absolutely fascinating. So when planning out a kitchen’s design, what are the top 5 factors that you think should always be considered? 

We always look at the layout of the space, the lighting storage capacity flooring, and ventilation. Now, each of those items may be separate, but they have their own.

A coalescence, or they balance between each other. So you weigh say. You’re cooking with how much storage you have. So if you like to cook and are going to have multiple ovens or additional appliances, a microwave steam oven, we have to make sure we have enough storage in the. The kitchen to accommodate that amount of cooking.

 That in turn affects the ventilation. So we’ve got to make sure we have enough ventilation in the space to event the the fumes or odors that are, if you’re cooking liver and onions, you’re going to want to make sure you get that. Those odors out of the space, because that may not be appealing to everyone.

And then lighting is so crucial to balance your cabinet selections. If you go with a dark cabinet, you’re not going to have some poor lighting. Because cabinets will actually suck the light out of the room. So you have to balance that with. Ambient lighting you also look at your your work surfaces.

So you’re going to want to have some task lighting like under cabinet lighting. So everything has a balance between those 5 principles.

Nora Duran: Wow. That’s an eye opener. Thank you for this. And rules are meant to be broken, right? What’s the one kitchen design rule you enjoy bending or completely ignoring? 

Leo Lantz: I tell you with the advent of these new appliances, we’re always coming up with new innovations to accommodate appliances. Not only do you have 1 work triangle in the kitchen now, we may have 2 or multiple.

Not only do you have the traditional stove refrigerator in the sink, but you may have a bar sink. And then you’re going to have a a wet bar or a coffee station or a beverage center. So then we have all these beverage refrigerators underneath the countertops, even the drawer microwaves.

Traditionally, you would always have a space saver microwave that would have been over the range. Now we can put that appliance in the island. So then that can create a. A supplemental triangle. We’re always bending the rules per say but ultimately the design is subject to the client’s approval. Thank you for this. And kitchens come in all shapes and styles. Can you walk us through the different types of kitchen cabinets that are available on the market? Sure there you’re you have your traditional box cabinet, which had has different door styles. The traditional overlay at a door that did not cover the whole face frame of the cabinet.

You would have some framing of the cabinet exposed around the edges of the doors full overlay, which is our most popular. Cabinet selection, the face frames of the drawers and the doors pretty much. Cover the entire cabinet that so you don’t really see the cabinets themselves unless you go to open a door drawer.

And then we have a frameless cabinets now. They maximize your space on the interior, have a bit more modern look to them. And but those are the 3 most popular designs for the cabinets, but I would say in our market now, each market differs. But in our market, the most popular is definitely is the full overlay.

Nora Duran: That’s profound information. Thanks for sharing that. And the material can make or break a cabinet. In your opinion, what are the best materials for kitchen cabinets that balance durability and aesthetics? 

Leo Lantz: In our market, the wood species of choice is going to be maple because it has the flexibility of, staining and given the natural veining and character, you would see it in a natural wood product. It also takes paint very well, leaves a nice, smooth. Finish other materials that are available or oak hickory. We’ll see some walnut also traditional. Which species is older wood. So those are our.

primary wood species, but maple is by far the biggest selection. 

Nora Duran: Great. So quality is key. And when it comes to craftsmanship, which brands stand out to you for making the best quality kitchen cabinets? 

Leo Lantz: We are exclusively a Wellborn cabinet dealer. Wellborn has been in the business for since the 1950s. And their line has the flexibility. To serve a wide range of clients from builder grade to our premier series and a state level to where we can. Take the  cabinet all the way to within a quarter of an inch of. Requirement but Warren is the industry leader and that’s. Who we represent,

Nora Duran: thank you for sharing that with us. And lastly, trends come and go. But in your view, what style of kitchen cabinets has stood the test of time and continues to be the most popular?

Leo Lantz: Oh, the traditional white kitchen is by far the most consistent over the years. We’ve Now, the door styles may change. We don’t, we’re not doing the race panel centers as much anymore. We’re seeing more of a transitional style where you’ll have a flat panel and character on the. Styles and rails around the door, and there may be some variations on color.

We may have a glacier, which is the white or bright white or. Even a oyster, which has a slight gray to it, but I would say about 68 to 70 percent of the kitchens that we install are still your traditional white.

Nora Duran: Wow, thank you so much. That’s great information. 

Leo Lantz: Thanks so much.