One of the most stressful and expensive renovations any homeowner can live through is a kitchen renovation. It not only disrupts your home, your finances (and most of your personal relationships), it’s a long-term investment that is riddled with an immense amount of fine details. It affects everything down the road from making your morning coffee, to emptying the dishwasher to hosting the next family holiday. There are a ton of things to consider, and with over 20 years of experience, I wanted to share the most valuable ways to prepare for your next kitchen renovation.
First off, be realistic about your expectations and your finances. It’s important to remember the space is as unique as you are, so be inspired by other kitchen installations, but don’t try to replicate. I always encourage my clients to dream and think outside the box when it comes to renovations. Shoot for the stars and I’ll help you create an achievable version customized to you. Something to keep in mind…. This level of project can be pricey! The best place to start is to create a realistic budget for the job. See what is financially possible for yourself and then start to fill in the blanks. Begin with the big pieces such as cabinetry, construction, countertops and appliances. You will want to utilize approximately 20% of your budget for an allowance towards the “uh-oh’s” that arise on any job. Be mindful that the “amazing” installation that you located on Houzz was a super custom piece created to leave viewers in awe. Or maybe you had always wanted a barn door in your installation but hadn’t realized the cost of the hardware for the detail. As you enter your project, be inspired and embrace your goals! That being said, allow yourself to be flexible and open to creative solutions. Let your inspired details help guide you, not hinder your ability to find success.
The cabinetry is a large part of your kitchen installation, and so it takes a bit of planning to get it just right. Before you begin designing your new kitchen, first we must consider how we plan to use the space. To ensure every square inch is utilized efficiently, we must be mindful of what we are going to store, and where. As you begin preparations for your cabinets, and prior to shopping for them, it’s essential to complete an inventory of your current kitchen (all items that belong in the kitchen and workspace). Determine what works and what pieces you find yourself “wishing” for. You will want to consider what items you use every day, which would be your primary pieces in the kitchen. The secondary items in the kitchen many times are surplus pantry items, holiday and extra serving dishes or small appliances that don’t get used regularly. This is a great time to purge those pieces that haven’t been used in forever. By identifying your items in your kitchen into these leveled categories, it will help you decipher what elements are essential to make a home for in your new kitchen layout, and what pieces need to be located into a secondary storage space. While you’re reviewing your belongings, plan for the items that never have a home…. or at least not a good one. Many of us have a spice cabinet that is a nightmare. It’s common to battle with food storage containers, pots and pans as well as larger pantry items that just never have a good home in the kitchen. When you are redesigning your kitchen, we want to consider the details to ensure all your important items have an ideal home in your new layout. The goal is to make life easier and more functional in your new space, and the best way is to plan ahead!
With the cost these days, it’s essential to take time to research your purchases. Go to the appliance stores and cabinetry dealerships to browse, ask questions and take the time to ensure that your purchase will meet your expectations. Many times, homeowners will locate a new feature or special product during their discovery phase that opens new doors of opportunity for problem solving or making their lives a bit better through convenience. Appliances are often the first thing we think of, but you also want to consider your cabinetry and countertop purchases as well. Understand the quality level of the products that you are considering. Ask yourself what your time expectations are for your investment. Is this your forever kitchen, or are you planning on selling your home in the next few years? Depending on where you find yourself on that question, will help guide you on where you need to budget. It is essential to take the time to explore options, pricing, longevity and aesthetic look to ensure your investment is on point.
A support system is invaluable with any large undertaking. Find people you trust. This is essential! Anytime you decide to take on a project of this caliber, ensure that you are assisted through reputable professionals that can provide the support, guidance and insight to help you find success. Referrals are gold, so take some time to ask your close neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. Many times, they can offer priceless feedback on their experiences and point you towards highlighted professionals and vendors to ensure you’re in good hands. This is ideal with all levels of professionals that a job can require such as tradesmen, designers and local retailers. If you have difficulty finding professionals, local resources like the chamber of commerce and professional organizations are a great place to start!
Have realistic expectations for timelines. This statement has never been as true as it is in our current society. With insane lead times and product and labor shortages, the homeowner will need to have patience to do it right. Oftentimes clients have a set idea of when they would like to make it happen. As I frequently explain, do your footwork, complete your preparations, coordinate with professionals and then build the time frame from there. The goal is to achieve the project in the most accurate, timely and efficient way, and to do that we must be flexible.
As I have mentioned throughout this piece, the best thing a consumer can do ahead of a large home project is to prepare. Utilizing your realistic budget, build in your wants and needs with your large investment pieces, such as the construction, cabinetry, appliances and countertops. Build the project on paper first. See how the numbers come together in regards to your goals and expectations for the project. This will ensure that you are developing your wish list while keeping yourself financially on track!
Lastly, the most difficult part of a kitchen renovation is the patience that it takes. It can be a very challenging time, especially if you’re living in the home while it occurs. If you prepare ahead, entrust quality professionals, are realistic about your expectations and embrace a huge deep breath (and a ton of patience), you are sure to discover that it was all worth it in the end. A beautiful and well thought out kitchen can change how you live, how you entertain. Don’t you deserve to start and end your day in a place that makes you smile?