So You Want To Remodel Your Kitchen

Who doesn't want to remodel their kitchen? Just about every woman I know would sacrifice something in order to have a new kitchen. However, the cost of remodeling the most expensive room in the house usually tends to slow people down - especially the spouse that doesn't do the cooking. But, if you even think you want to undertake this project and you've never done one before, here are some tips to think about to make your job easier and hopefully save you some headaches.

  • What, Exactly, Do You Want?
  • As a kitchen designer, this is the first question I ask. That and, "What don't you like about your existing kitchen?" Whether you are remodeling an older house or building a new one, you have to be able to answer one of these questions, if not both. So, first thing, get yourself a notebook with pockets so that you have a place to keep all your information. Then you can start collecting ideas. If you know someone who has remodeled their kitchen recently, ask them if you can come and look at their new kitchen. I guarantee they will be more than happy to show it off. If there's something that you like, take a photo with your phone or camera, print it off and make notes on it for your new kitchen file. The second source is almost endless: the library or book-store. Books take longer to publish and may be more dated than magazines. But they are the best source for identifying your kitchen style. Then, the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store, look at the magazine racks at the checkout counters and flip through them while you are waiting. If there's anything that really catches your eye, buy it and bring it home. It's not necessary to buy every kitchen and bath magazine out there. They may or may not have what you're looking for. But they're a good source if you don't know what you want. You can start at the library where it's free, and if you find anything you can scan it or make a copy of a page or two that appeals to you. After awhile, you'll have several pages of photos, preferably with notes indicating what exactly appeals to you. If you're really ambitious, you can organize your ideas by product: cabinets, countertops, flooring, windows, appliances, plumbing fixtures, etc. That's the kind of information as a kitchen designer that I am looking for. Whether you realize it or not, there will be similarities in most of these photos. It may be door style. It could be the finish or the hardware or the windows or light fixtures. But they are all clues to discovering what your dream kitchen will look like. The internet is a virtual library. Check out websites such as Pinterest or Houzz. Many of the images there are above and beyond the "average" kitchen size and budget, but they are great for identifying elements that you do like. And a good kitchen designer can get pretty close to your dream kitchen if (s)he has a picture to go by. You know the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." In this case, it is priceless.

  • Specific Products
  • Once you have a feel for what you are at least leaning toward, you can start focusing on specific products - and there are a lot of pieces to a kitchen. When you know that you are headed in the direction of a new kitchen, you will start noticing things that you didn't pay any attention to in the past. Don't rush into running out and buying products before you know what's available. There are more and more opportunities for research than ever. We don't want to be guilty of "analysis paralysis," but you do want to know what your options are before you spend a small fortune on your dream kitchen. Styles and trends don't change that often in kitchen design, but colors do. On average, about every ten years there will be a major shift in taste or style.

    Appliances don't change drastically - except for finish or color. And color is the one thing that will date a house faster than anything. Remember the earth tones of the 60's? Avocado? Gold? Rust? How about mauve? Enough said. In appliances your choices will be white, almond, black, stainless steel or wood panels (for dishwashers and refrigerators only). In plumbing fixtures it will be cast iron with a variety of colors, stainless steel or composite materials. Cabinets can be plastic laminate (i.e. Formica), wood veneer, stained wood or painted wood. Countertops are still available in laminate, solid surface, stone, butcher block or stainless steel. Flooring choices consist of stained concrete, sheet vinyl, linoleum, cork, ceramic tile, porcelain tile, stone or wood. Now we're going to get more specific and discuss each one in a little more detail. I don't "sell" my clients products because I don't like to be "sold" on anything myself. I educate clients so that they know what their options are and then let them decide. After all, it's their kitchen and they are the ones that are going to be living with their choices, not me. However, if I think that they are making a mistake, I will tell them. That is a big part of what justifies my fee - saving the client from making mistakes. After all, chances are this is their first kitchen remodel. I've done hundreds.

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