Kitchens remain the most popular room in the house to renovate. It's a big job, both in terms of cost and project scale. So before you hire a contractor and start bashing down walls, there are some important things to consider and prepare. Namely, setting a budget, determining what you want, and planning how it will all fit.
Set Your Budget Before You Remodel a Kitchen
As you go about planning the new kitchen, you must be realistic about the cost. Large renovation projects often end up taking more time and money than you plan for, so it's a good idea to aim for a conservative budget beneath your max budget to ensure there are extra funds if your project goes over. A good rule of thumb is to add another 10 to 20 percent for unplanned expenses. The more financial cushion you have, the better. You don't want to be scrambling for an additional loan mid project, or worse, end up with a half-finished kitchen because you ran out of cash.
Do Some Research
Visit kitchen showrooms and home stores to figure out the cost of items, and then figure out what you need and what you can afford. It's also a great idea to seek out guidance from other people who have recently taken on a kitchen renovation. Ask around to your friends and neighbors to see if they can introduce you to anyone who has gone through a recent renovation. Additionally, attending a neighborhood home tour is another way to connect with other home owners and observe their kitchen layouts and renovations.
Consider "Hidden" Costs
Remember to factor in the cost of labor and materials as well as taxes and any shipping or delivery costs that might come up. These can add up very quickly, so it's important to take them into account when you're setting the budget. Also, consider if there are any steps along the way that you would like to perform yourself. Even taking on just a few tasks can save you a significant amount of money.
Aim for Quality
Always buy the best quality materials you can afford. When it comes to kitchen renovations, you want to have high-quality, functional items, both for you own use and for potential resale value if you sell your house in the future. High quality cabinets, countertops, and appliances will also last much longer so hopefully you will never have to repeat the renovation process again while you are living in the home.
You may also want to explore used materials—often you'll be able to afford higher-quality items than your budget would allow if purchasing retail. For example, you may try repurposing or painting older cabinets bought from a business that sells reused building material. You can also find high end items for sale from individual sellers through sites such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
Evaluate Your Needs vs. Wants
Be practical and don't buy unnecessary items. It can be tempting to buy all sorts of gadgets and fancy appliances, but it's better to go with the reliable basics that you know you'll use. Remember, with every new appliance comes a slightly higher utility bill. They also add to your upkeep responsibilities and require time and money to maintain.
Planning a Kitchen Layout
More than any room in the house, the kitchen needs to be practical and functional. Think about how you use your current kitchen to identify your priorities for the remodeled space. What works and what doesn't? Give considerable thought to the layout of the room and assess what will work best for your household.
Whenever possible, you should try to make use of the classic work triangle. Arrange the sink, refrigerator, and stove (the three features used the most) in a triangular pattern. This is generally considered to be the most convenient setup because it saves unnecessary steps.
Also think about how many people usually work in the kitchen at the same time. If it's more than one, you might want to incorporate more than one workstation. Or, if there's enough space, consider adding an island or purchase a wheeled cart that can be moved around the room and put away when not in use.
Kitchen Space Planning
A good remodeling contractor can help you make sure things are laid out to ensure proper safety, but it's up to you to plan for convenience. Here are a few things to remember when mapping out your space:
- Counters: Plan to have at least 36 inches of counter space for food preparation, with at least 24 inches on one side of the sink and 18 inches on the other. If you can fit more, do so.
- Appliances: Leave adequate floor space in front of appliances so the doors can be opened and you can still walk in front of them. You'll need at least 30 to 48 inches. Also, take note of the direction and depth of swinging appliance doors—especially when it comes to the refrigerator. If you plan to have your fridge next to a wall, make sure the door swings in the opposite direction, otherwise the wall may prohibit the door from opening all the way.
- Walkways: Leave enough room for traffic flow. There should be at least 42 inches between the counters and the island (if there is one) so that people can easily walk through without disrupting anyone working at the counters.
Final Considerations Before Renovating Your Kitchen
Invite your contractor and/or your designer into your home to discuss all of your hopes and requirements for your kitchen renovation. This will help confirm your space is planned in a way that will ensure convenience and ease of movement for you and your family.
Once you know what you want and what you can afford, set a start date with your contractor and begin your renovation adventure. Remember to stick to your plan, and don't get caught up in the excitement or let yourself get talked into things you don't want or need.