Home Kitchen Redux
Most homeowners today start imagining their dream kitchen by creating pin boards on Pinterest and saving photo upon photo from the website Houzz. While this is certainly a great way to get started, it is very easy to spend hours saving photos of everything you love without really focusing on what you have and why it doesn’t work for you and your family.
When considering a kitchen renovation, it is important to keep in mind that the existing conditions of the home will dictate much of what can or can’t be done. This is also the driving factor for the investment you will need to make to get everything that you want.
#1 Environment is Central
Start by focusing on what causes you frustration in your environment. You have to identify the problems before you can fix them. Perhaps you drag your recycling to the garage every time you prepare a meal because there is no space in your kitchen to properly store your recyclables, or you love to bake but your Kitchen Aid mixer is on a shelf in the basement and you have to lug it up the stairs every time you need it, which ultimately prevents you from engaging in your baking passion in the first place.
#2 Make a Wish List
The next step after identifying all of the challenges you face in the kitchen is to get organized with your wish list. Start with the biggest items to tackle and slowly work towards the details. For example, familiarize yourself with the types of appliances on the market today and do some research on the prices that come with each brand and type of appliance. Do you need new cabinetry? Meet with a designer who can walk you through the pros and cons of different types of cabinets available. Often, I find that a particular look, finish or feature desired will lend itself towards a particular cabinet shop to build the kitchen most effectively. Keep in mind that cabinetry, counter tops and appliances are the three biggest expenses in a kitchen re model, and often putting a little more cost into them now will pay you back exponentially in the long run in terms of warranty, durability and quality.
#3 Prepare for the Unexpected
If this is your first time living through a renovation, remember that unexpected things will happen. This is guaranteed. Items break, concealed damage is uncovered and even new items can come in with damage or fit issues. Don’t panic. Whether you’ve hired a professional design/build team or are going this one solo, problems are bound happen and you will get through them.
So what can you do? Be prepared. Build flexibility into your project timeline just in case you need it. Some of the worst situations I’ve seen have been when a party or dinner is planned for the day after completion and inevitably everything was not complete. This only causes stress for the homeowner and installers, which could have been avoided. As much as the professionals work hard to minimize the unexpected, in remodeling you can never control 100% of the working parts that are a kitchen renovation.
#4 Organize & Gather
The planning stage of a remodel is, of course, one of the most crucial times in preparing for a kitchen renovation. This is going to include budgeting and deciding on the scope of work, as well as selecting and finalizing all of the materials that will be installed in the space. Again, give yourself ample time to complete this step in the process. Having everything determined and ordered ahead of time will minimize the communication breakdowns during the project and help keep all of the trades in the loop on what to expect and plan for. For example, adding things midway through a project can have a domino effect on the installation sequence and timeline, not to mention that this can cause delays and mistakes because everyone is not on the same page with rushed changes.
Selecting the best materials and products for your home is also very important. If you are trying to keep within a certain budget (as we all are), identify a few key elements that are most important to you that you are willing to splurge on and then make modest choices that will complement those items. Think great statement necklace with a simple black dress (see sidebar).
#5 Kitchen Camp
Now, how exactly are you going to actually live without your kitchen for a few weeks or even more than a few months?
Start by packing everything early and only holding onto the essentials. This is also the time to forgive yourself for purchasing lots of disposable and recyclable cups, plates and flatware. During a kitchen remodel washing dirty dishes in a bathroom sink or tub just isn’t worth it, and you will thank yourself later.
Next, plan where you will “set up camp” so to speak. This is an area of your home that is accessible to you and your family without traipsing through the kitchen construction zone. You will want to set up a table with a microwave, toaster oven and coffee pot. I also like to recommend getting a hot plate to allow for boiling water to prepare simple meals. Also, break out all of those seldom-used counter top appliances like the slow cooker, steamer, George Foreman grill and griddle. One always finds a new appreciation for these items after weeks of eating out and ordering takeout.
In the end, remember to keep your eye on the prize. The journey may be challenging at times, but the real reward is having a space in your home that you will cherish for many years to come.
Plan with Professionals
There is no question that the kitchen is one of the most complex rooms in your home and there are an abundance of professionals out there to help bring your project to life. In the design field you have architects, certified kitchen designers and interior designers. On the installation end, you will find a wide variety of specialties from carpenters and plumbers (both key trades for completing a kitchen remodel) along with contractors and design/build firms, which specialize in full service design, construction and installation. Do your due diligence in finding out which professionals are the right fit for you and your project.
Consider the following cost-effective combinations to keep from going over budget with every decision:
1. Cabinets: If you desire painted cabinetry, choose a simple door style rather than an ornate premium door. You will end up paying more for the paint and the complex door design combined. (Keep in mind that the more detail you have on a cabinet door, the more crevices there are to hold onto dirt and grease.)
2. Countertops: If you have a small kitchen, stone fabricators often keep granite and marble slab remnants and sell them at a discounted price. This can be challenging in a kitchen, but if you are willing to mix materials on your counter tops, you will have better odds at finding discounted material for the whole project.
3. Flooring: Considering your flooring options? Typically hardwood flooring will cost you less than tile, not to mention hardwood is warmer under foot and more resilient, so if you spend a lot of time standing in the kitchen it will be easier on your legs and back.