When someone comes to me and tells me they want to remodel their kitchen my heart skips a beat. Whether it’s a friend or another blogger or an email from a reader, all of a sudden I’m engrossed in their story and want to know about their plans because I just LOVE a great kitchen remodel story!
This year we completed two kitchen remodels (this one and this one) and I’m about to begin a third! My younger brother and my sister-in-law have requested my help in remodeling a kitchen in a home they just purchased here in the Bay Area. I’m thrilled for them and can’t wait to get started! The question from my SIL who is a busy nurse with two small children (a toddler and newborn, I remember those days!) asked me (insert sigh) “Where do we begin?”
Here is one angle of the kitchen in the house they just purchased, it’s neither large nor functional, and with two small children and two working parents, it needs to work with their lifestyle, so I’m excited to guide them along in their remodeling journey.
Sooooo… what’s my best advice on how to begin? These answers are more generic but relevant to anyone who is pondering a kitchen remodel:
Reface or Remodel? Are we looking at a kitchen that’s functional but just not your style? Are the existing cabinets quality? Does the layout make sense? In that case you’re probably in a situation where it’s best to reface or repaint cabinets and perhaps upgrade appliances and the backsplash. New doors, countertops, and tile can go a long way to transforming a kitchen with a layout that makes sense but just needs a refresh. Cosmetic remodels are far easier to tackle than a completely renovated space.
Architectural or Structural Issues. If you’re in a situation where the layout doesn’t make sense or the cabinets are really old and you want to start fresh with new everything then the first thing to consider is architectural or structural changes. Is it feasible to take down walls or move appliances around? Both issues should be addressed with a general contractor because they can impact the cost significantly and may require permits.
Hire the Right Professionals. I have some friends in my hometown who are about to begin their kitchen remodel, yet another project I hope to blog about! Their first question to me was “Do you know a good contractor?” which is a very important step! The best way to go about hiring a contractor to do any structural changes or installation is word of mouth by talking to people in your area, also through websites like Angie’s List, or look at portfolios on websites like Houzz. Interview 3-5 and work with someone who gets you, who understand what you want, and who you establish a good rapport with.
Flow. Before meeting with a contractor and even coming up with a cabinet plan, always consider flow. A good kitchen cabinet designer can help you with this process. In a kitchen with an island there must be proper spacing around it: 42” at a minimum preferably 48”. The cabinet and appliance plan must make sense! For maximum efficiency, keep in mind the work triangle – that connection between the sink, refrigerator, and range. Think about where you want to be when you prep your food, cook your food, and then serve your food.
Cabinet Design. This is where you get to pick what suits your style, choose kitchen cabinets with a wood or painted surface and also consider functional upgrades, smooth glide drawers or pull out recycling. If you plan to sell the home in less than a few years, it’s best to make choices that will appeal to a wider market.
Storage. One modern kitchen trend that is gaining in popularity is to remove upper cabinets and replace them with pretty tile to make the space feel less cramped or to add open shelves, but this can limit your storage options. There are so many different ways to approach storage and other considerations like where to place a microwave, so it’s good to work with an experienced kitchen cabinet designer.
I find it most helpful to make a list of everything you use on a daily basis that you will store from dishes to cookware to small appliances and identify the cabinet where it will go. It doesn’t all have to be stored in the kitchen, dishes can go into the dining room, seasonal or infrequently used items can go in the garage, attic, or basement.
Be Realistic. Budgeting for a kitchen remodel needs to include all the expenses from cabinets to countertops, appliances and fixtures, labor, and all the tiny details in between. Cliq Studios offers a quick quote to give you a ballpark idea what a cabinets will cost. As I mentioned in this article on lessons learned from our most recent remodel, building in a 15-20% “unexpected expenses” cushion is wise. Also it’s my experience kitchen remodels always take twice as long as planned, so if you think it will be done in four months, plan for eight!
During a full kitchen remodel, the process generally goes in this order: 1) demolition, 2) architectural changes and new drywall, 3) prep electrical in preparation for appliances/light fixtures (also gas line if moving gas appliances), 4) install flooring.
Once the scene is set then 4) install cabinets (I recommend professionally), 5) fabricator creates countertop template 6) connect plumbing 7) install countertops, 8) install sinks and appliances (again I recommend professionals), 9) trim cabinets, 10) install tile backsplash and hang open shelves (if any), 11) attach hardware.
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For those of you who have gone through a kitchen remodel, tell me what you wish you knew in the beginning that affected your renovation? What advice can you share based on your experience on where to begin when considering a kitchen remodel?