A kitchen remodel is one of the biggest and most expensive projects you will take on in your home. There are hundreds of decisions to make, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. You want it to be personal but timeless. Updated but not too trendy. Unique but still sellable. Where do you start?
The first three elements to determine are the cabinets, the counters and the flooring. These three items will have the biggest impact on both your budget and the style, and are the most difficult to change later. Your cabinets will likely have a long lead time (six to eight weeks is common), and as a result, many people find themselves rushed or cornered into a decision on their cabinets by the contractor. This can lead to an expensive remodel that leaves them feeling dissatisfied and frustrated. How do you avoid this situation?
Plan and design the entire room before you agree to a demolition date or order a thing. If you want a light, fresh, airy feeling in your kitchen but you are cornered into buying heavy, traditional oak cabinets with ornate crown molding, you will not get the kitchen of your dreams. To avoid this, it is essential that you do two things:
Have a clear vision
I recommend using websites like Houzz.com or hgtvremodels.com to gather 10 or more images of kitchens you really like. It can be helpful to have partners do this separately so that they both have a design voice at the table. Once you have collected the images, analyze them so that you start to understand what elements are coming together to create the feeling you like. All light and bright surfaces? A lot of contrast between dark cabinets and light counters? A different finish on the island than the perimeter cabinets? Glass in the cabinet doors? Study the rooms so that you can see how the counters, floors and cabinets relate to each other. Then plan a kitchen that reflects that balance.
Don’t be rushed
You and your contractor will be eager to get started, and your cabinetmaker will be ready for the sale and might be offering a great deal if you order by a certain date. Even so, don’t jump the gun. It’s normal to feel anxious about the big purchases you are about to make, but once you have a clear sense of what you are trying to create and have chosen elements that support that destination, you can move forward confidently and get the project under way. Better to delay the project a few weeks than to start before you are ready and have an expensive mistake you’ll have to live with for the next 20 years.
Once you decide on your flooring, counters and cabinets, then you will choose accessories to show them off and pull it all together — paint color, backsplash, faucets, lights, cabinet hardware and accents like rugs, art and window coverings. These items will personalize the new kitchen and add interest and texture. Each of these should also be selected before you start the demolition to prevent disaster like finding out that the counter you chose clashes with the backsplash you love. Changes at the planning stage are practically free. Changes after you start the remodel can be prohibitively expensive.
The other reason to plan the whole kitchen from cabinets to cabinet pulls is that if you have fully thought through the plan, your general contractor can give you a truly accurate estimate of cost and you are much less likely to go over budget.
Expensive, once-in-a-decade adventures deserve some careful planning. Never let your contractor or cabinetmaker push you into a color and style decision before you are ready. Do as much careful planning as you can before getting started, and you’ll be more likely to end up with the kitchen you wished for at a price you can afford.
For more ideas on home decor and remodeling, visit www.rivalee.com.