Choosing to renovate your kitchen is a great way to invest in your home. The kitchen is usually where people spend the majority of their time while they’re at home.
It’s where they cook, eat, and spend time with their family. It’s also usually where people have conversations and share what’s going on in their lives.
Given this, it is unsurprising that the kitchen would be at the top of the list of home improvement projects. Having a modern kitchen, with new cabinets and appliances, not only allows people to function better, but also makes your home more enjoyable.
Kitchen remodels can be very messy and disruptive. They can last for a month or more, even when planned well.
What to do before a kitchen remodel?
Decide if you’re hiring a general contractor
Planning and being prepared for disruption from a kitchen renovation project is absolutely essential. The first thing you should decide is whether you are going to do all or part of the work yourself or whether you are going to work with a general contractor.
For most of us, a general contractor is essential. Many homeowners can do a few tasks themselves, such as assembling Ikea cabinets before the contractor arrives to install them. But you should coordinate with a general contractor in any case.
Planning and Design
How do you want to organize your kitchen? Some kitchen remodeling ideas should be drawn up, so the contractor understands what the customer wants and if it fits their budget. This can be notes, drawings or a combination of the two. These sketches or lists will help the contractor design the kitchen you’re really wanting.
When sketching out what you want for your remodel project, it’s smart to do some general measurements of your current kitchen. The contractor will do them more exactly, but since most kitchen items are standardized, this will give you an idea what you can fit where.
Your sketches or notes should also take into account where outlets and plumbing are located. These can be moved, but using existing ones can save you a lot of money. Your contractor or kitchen designer can advise you on your best options.
You can use online tools and apps to map out your kitchen dimensions and do a virtual remodel. These tools are only as reliable as the measurements you take, but they can help you communicate what you want to the contractor.
Planning a kitchen remodel
Before you call a contractor, you should do your best to decide exactly what you want. Research the latest kitchen countertops, cabinets, appliances and flooring on the market.
Saving money on your renovation budget
Do you want everything replaced? Maybe your appliances are fairly new and you’re still happy with them. Leaving them out of the renovation could save you big money.
Don’t limit yourself to the very latest countertop surfaces or exotic wood cabinetry. Many of the less expensive counter finishes look beautiful and last at least as long as more expensive ones. Remember to consider ease of care, cleaning and durability as well as what looks great.
When you’re looking at flooring, you may want whatever is trendy right now. But it probably won’t be trendy 10-15 years from now. Consider what you like, what is most slip resistant, stain resistant and durable.
There are many good options, from traditional tile to treated hardwoods. But you’d be surprised how great some of the newer linoleum looks.
Be open minded about light fixtures. Instead of setting your heart on recessed lighting or the latest trend, ask a contractor what would give you the best functionality for the money.
And look at your kitchen cabinetry. Do they work well, but not look as good as they used to? Maybe instead of replacing them, they just need to be painted and have the cabinet hardware replaced with something newer.
When planning a kitchen remodel, it is also important to consider the interior design. Will you need any structural changes to the existing kitchen area? For example, you may want to add a new kitchen island, or move or install walls or doorways.
If so, this is something the contractor needs to know right off the bat. Structural changes to your kitchen design can be very expensive and time-consuming. You may need permits from your local government.
And you may find a structural change you were hoping for just isn’t worth the money or trouble. It’s best to know that from the start so you can make other plans.
Function and style
When considering the layout of your kitchen, be sure to leave enough space for people to walk. Ideally every area should have room for two people to pass one another. Sometimes it just isn’t possible without major structural changes, but keep it in mind.
Also decide whether you want room for a table or center island for eating. Remember that you’ll need enough space around the table or island for chairs.
Kitchen lighting is important, but natural light from windows adds a lot to a kitchen. Some kitchens have only one window by the sink, so they rely on ambient light from other rooms.
It’s important to note where the natural light comes from. Changes like hanging cabinets in a formerly open space can block off a lot of light from the next room.
These are many, but not all, of the things to consider when remodeling a kitchen.
How to Hire a Contractor
- Ask local friends and family. You may want to get referrals from Home Depot and Lowes, who have to back up the work of the contractors they refer.
- No matter who recommends a contractor, check their online reviews. Especially the more recent ones, as things change and that can affect the quality of their work.
- You can ask a contractor for references from recent jobs, but they’re not going to hand you anyone who was disappointed.
- Check the BBB website. Not every contractor has any reviews, but when they do, you can see how they responded to complaints. It’s a good way to get a feel for how responsive they are.
- Don’t automatically pick the cheapest or soonest available contractor.
Will you need a temporary kitchen?
Unfortunately when you remodel your kitchen, sometimes it can be unusable. And sometimes it can take weeks or months to complete a successful renovation. This isn’t true of every remodel, but ask your contractor if this is likely so you can plan ahead.
You may be able to set up a makeshift kitchen in your garage (ideal because you can just open doors if anything burns) or in a spare room. Sometimes a microwave and fridge are enough, especially if you do some bulk cooking in advance.