Does your microwave double as a bread bin when not in use? How about your oven? Do you have to unload pans and baking sheets before you can actually bake in it? If so, you probably have a severe lack of storage space in your kitchen.
What about the suppertime shimmy? Do you find yourself having to sidestep around the refrigerator and undulate past your kitchen island on the way to the sink, all the while balancing a steaming pot of spaghetti in one hand and a colander in the other? That’s a dance no one wants to have to learn.
And lighting? Is your prep area so dim you can’t tell the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber, or a yam and a sweet potato?
Dealing with a poorly functioning kitchen can suck the joy of cooking out of even the most dedicated culinarian. A kitchen should be a place that promotes the creation of great meals, not a sad scullery where inspiration goes to die. If yours is more hindrance than help, it’s probably time for a remodel. But plunging into a major renovation without having a solid plan of action can be a recipe for disaster. Before calling a contractor or even clicking through all those lovely photos on Pinterest (yes, we know it’s tempting, but try to resist), it’s important to first figure out exactly what you want to accomplish with your kitchen makeover. And to do that, you need to ask yourself a few pointed questions.
Who Will Be Using Your Newly Remodeled Kitchen the Most?
Start with the basics. Who will be using your new kitchen the most? You? A significant other? Both partners equally? It matters more than you may think. Ideal cabinet heights, drawer placement, and work flow depends upon the height and dominant hand of the meal preparer. As any left-handed person who’s had to struggle with a right-handed can opener can tell you, small details make a big difference when it comes to convenience and efficiency.
Other basic questions to ask include how many people are in your household, how often do you shop for groceries, what kind of cooking do you do most often, where do you usually eat, and what additional activities do you do in the kitchen (homework, arts and crafts, etc.)?
What Do You Want to Accomplish With Your Remodel?
From there, you can get down to the nitty-gritty. What do you hate about your kitchen? What are your major challenges when preparing a meal? What do you absolutely need that you don’t have? What do you want but could live without if you had to? How would you design your kitchen if the sky was the limit (now you can scroll through all those Pinterest photos), and what compromises would you be willing to make to keep your remodel within your budget? Jot it all down. Let it chill overnight. Then roll up your mental sleeves and start making some decisions.
How Much Do You Want to Spend on the Kitchen Features that Are Most Important to You?
You can spend a lot of money on a kitchen makeover depending on the scope of your project and how upscale you want to go with your appliances, counters, cabinets, and flooring. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, you can expect 29 percent of your kitchen remodeling budget to go toward cabinetry and hardware, 17 percent toward installation, 14 percent toward appliances and ventilation, and 10 percent toward countertops. Other costs include:
• Flooring – 7 percent
• Lighting – 5 percent
• Walls and ceiling – 5 percent
• Faucets and plumbing – 4 percent
• Design fees – 4 percent
Most homeowners have to work within a budget, so deciding what you will and won’t compromise on is a must. Thankfully, you now have a list to work with, so you’ll be able to prioritize your objectives. Since nearly a third of your budget will go toward cabinets and hardware, this would be a good place to start.
All-new cabinetry will allow you to tailor your storage capacity to meet your needs (no more having to stash your hamburger buns in the microwave). But material choices can greatly affect the price. Stainless steel cabinets are the most expensive, while melamine (a plastic laminate) are the least. If you have a rock-solid reason why you absolutely must have stainless steel – you make a lot of flambés, for instance, and you want to eliminate as many combustibles from the kitchen as possible – this might be where you splurge. But it may also mean cutting back in other areas.
If you have some flexibility with your cabinet choices, a nearly endless variety of wooden models are available for your kitchen renovation. Wood species obviously have some effect on the cost of cabinets, but not as much as their amenities, construction methods, and finishes. A drawer that boasts dovetail construction, for example, will be about 20 percent more expensive than one stapled together, but it will be far more durable. Adding roll-out trays, extra shelves, and soft-close glides can also add to the cost, but these amenities solve a lot of common storage issues, making them worth the added expense for many homeowners. Finding the right balance between appearance and functionality is the key for selecting cabinets you can both love and afford.
One alternative to buying all-new cabinets is to have your old wooden ones refaced. This involves leaving the basic framework of your cabinets intact, but giving them a new finish, new doors, new drawer fronts, and new crown molding. If your gripe with your cabinets is more about their aesthetics than their storage capacity, this may be one way to save money on your remodel.
Countertops can have a huge visual impact on your kitchen, providing a unifying element that ties everything together. But they’re not just for looking at. They’re for using. And abusing. Just look at your current countertops. Are they stained? Scuffed? Scratched? Unless they’ve been hermetically sealed in a time capsule, the answer is almost certainly, yes. But situations change over time. If your kids have grown up, your new countertops may not be subjected to toppled glasses of grape juice and smears of mustard quite as often, in which case you may be able to upgrade from a practical, laminate countertop to a stylish natural stone surface. On the other hand, if you’ve recently developed a passion for stir fry, you’ll probably be doing a lot more slicing and dicing than before. A quartz countertop is more expensive than other options, but it’s incredibly tough, can withstand high heat, and comes in a variety of patterns and colors. Other popular remodeling choices include:
Durable Granite Countertops
Nearly as hard as quartz, granite counters come in a vast array of colors and veining. They’re on the high end when it comes to cost, and they’ll periodically need resealing to keep them stain resistant.
Gorgeous Soapstone Countertops
With its rich, deep, dark gray color, soapstone is the antithesis of bland. A definite eye-catcher, it also has a smooth, appealing texture you’ll love running your hand over. Small scratches can be sanded away, but you’ll need to rub it down with mineral oil regularly to keep it from drying out and cracking.
Affordable Ceramic Tile Countertops
Durable, easy to clean, and inexpensive, ceramic tiles can be installed by a weekend do-it-yourselfer. On the downside, their surface can be uneven, the grout will eventually discolor, and tiles can be chipped or cracked.
Versatile Concrete Countertops
Today’s patterned concrete is a far cry from the gray slabs that make up sidewalks and driveways. Because concrete countertops are poured on-site, they’re extremely customizable and can fit any imaginable shape. They can also be tinted and patterned to complement your walls, flooring, or cabinets. Concrete countertop costs are in the mid to high range.
Traditional Wood or Butcher Block Countertops
Wood creates a warm, inviting look for your kitchen, ideal for cottage-style homes or rustic bungalows. Wooden countertops are easy to clean and scratches can be sanded out, but since they’re relatively porous, they’ll need regular resealing to protect them from stains and moisture damage. Wooden countertops are comparable in cost to granite.
Have You Carefully Considered Your Options When It Comes to Kitchen Appliances?
Appliances are the real workhorses of your kitchen. While you may use some more than others (unless you’re going on a sandwich-and-salad diet) you’ll need a least one appliance – and probably more – to prepare just about every meal you make. Having the right tools to concoct your culinary creations is a must, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to be top-of-the-line. Many mid-range appliances provide dependable performance without requiring you to shell out extra dollars for a restaurant-grade model.
Before making any decisions about appliances, however, you need to finalize your new kitchen’s layout. There’s no point falling in love with that deluxe double oven or 30-cubic-foot refrigerator if there’s no hope of them ever fitting into your layout. Remember, you’re trying to eliminate the need to do the suppertime shimmy, not simply change dance partners. Once you and your designer have mapped out a kitchen arrangement that optimizes your workflow, take measurements and begin filling in the blanks with appliances that will fit your kitchen as well as they fit your budget.
Are You Comfortable With Your Kitchen Remodeling Ideas & Plans?
One of the most common reasons why renovation costs balloon during a kitchen makeover is that homeowners change their minds mid-stream. But by planning everything out carefully in advance, you’ll be able to stick with your choices from the start of your renovation through to its completion. Now that you have all the ingredients for a successful renovation, you’re one giant step closer to feasting your eyes on the kitchen remodel of your dreams.