So, you think you want a kitchen remodel? Before you’re sold on the idea because the last bag of groceries didn’t fit in your overstuffed pantry, take a deep breath and think about your options.
If you do decide on the big overhaul, here are some tips and tricks to help you out. First, know that this is probably the biggest remodeling job in the entire house. Get ready for some frustrating times ahead. It’ll most likely be like having a baby - the end result will make the pain worthwhile, but nevertheless, there will be pain.
And of course, surprises! …there will be some, so get prepared. Here are three surprises to expect up front:
- The project may go over budget. Who knows what lurks behind those cabinets, under the dishwasher and above the stove? A contractor can only give an estimate on what he can see and unforeseen problems often arise.
- There is a good chance completion will take longer than you think. Yep, most of the time, it’s those sneaky problems that cause the delay.
- Your kitchen may not end up “picture perfect,” especially if it’s an older home.
Does this mean you shouldn’t start? No way! Go for the remodel of your budget… you thought I was going to say “dreams,” didn’t you? Well, hopefully you’ll find that, too.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink:
- Wiggle Room in the Kitchen: Decide on a comfortable budget with a back-up plan if extra expenses crop up. Only agree to put down part of the cost. This Old House experts suggest a down payment of 30 percent of the total cost, along with working out a payment schedule for the rest.
- Will the Best Contractor Please Stand Up? Choose a contractor. If you can find someone by word-of-mouth, great. If not, there are to connect you with reputable contractors. Always ask for references. And know that the best contractors are usually the busiest, so you may have to wait. This is a good thing because it gives you time to finish your work on step 3.
- “Plan-It” Kitchen: You can’t zone out or you’ll end up with the kitchen from outer space. In other words, you’ll get the kitchen you didn’t plan. The contractor may be great, but he’s relying on you to tell him what you want. Either hire a kitchen planner or architect to help, go online and work up your own design, or find some pictures in to get started. Look around to see what’s in the room and find out what can and can’t be moved before finalizing your plan.
- To Replace or Not to Replace, That is the Question - Think function over form, although appearance certainly has its place.
- Remember the “work triangle,” the location of the refrigerator, range and sink. The idea in working with the triangle is to save steps and create easy- flow passages.
- Decide what kitchen floor plan works best for you: L shape, Island, U shape or Galley. See pictures of the different floor plans .
- Think about resale value if that is a possibility in the future. Although the kitchen is the most expensive to redo, it also steps up and offers the biggest return on your investment.
- To Replace or Not to Replace:
- Kitchen Cabinets - Do you need new ones? Pre-made or custom-built? Decide whether your existing cabinets can be painted or instead. You can often just update the doors and hardware to get the look you want.
- Countertops & Backsplash - Try to mix and match different countertops throughout the area. What are the most durable materials that fit the use of the space and also fit your budget? A good design scheme might be tile for an office space, slate for an island and inch-and-a-half-thick chopping block pieces for work spaces. The price for chopping block is fairly reasonable and after the wood is sealed, its functionality and visual appeal are often more than you bargained for.
- Flooring - If your kitchen is older with linoleum floors, do you have hardwood underneath that can be refinished? Popular flooring choices are laminate, real hardwood, tile or polished concrete.
- Appliances - Think about how important each one really is, and always try to conserve width and energy. For example, do you really need a six-burner stove? And can you live with a counter-depth refrigerator in exchange for a sleeker look? Appliances with reflective surfaces make your kitchen appear larger. Built-in appliances can also save you space, as in a microwave over the cook top.
- Kitchen Sink and Faucet - You’ve got so many options here, from cast iron and stainless steel to stone basins. The deeper the bowl, the less space you need for your sink. When you find the right faucet, count the holes on the sink to make sure it’ll fit.
- Kitchen Lighting - Did you plan for lighting over the sink, workspace and table? Some options are recessed, pendant or cable lighting. Remember that bright lights make a kitchen look bigger, warmer and cheerier.