tips before remodeling

Do's & Don'ts

Tips for Remodeling a Kitchen

Remodeling any part of your home can be a bit daunting – and expensive – especially if you’ve never done it before. A kitchen is more than just a few cabinets, a backsplash and counter tops. The goal is to end up with a kitchen that you love, while being functional and easy to work in. Here’s a few tips and best practices for remodeling your kitchen to give you a head start.

Do: Think About Your Cooking Style

Are you a seasoned chef or a bit more of a novice in the kitchen? Do you plan on hosting large parties frequently, or just want the perfect setup for cooking for the family? Do you use a lot of appliances, assorted utensils, and space? Before you start thinking about the more aesthetic details, take a walk around your kitchen and decide what daily tasks it needs to accomplish and how you need it set up.

Foods you cook

Everyone has a specific cooking style. Some of us like pasta and pizza while others like meat and potatoes. Then you get into seafood, fish, and shellfish, which can be a tricky subject. You might want to consider in your kitchen remodeling design an area for a countertop condiment refrigerator. Many of these can be built into the countertop just at the lid level.

When you need to store lots of items that should be continually chilled before serving, these countertop condiment fridges save you time.

  • Ingredients you commonly use

There are so many variations of spice racks that are available to use. How much trouble are they to open easily and still keep clean all the time? It might be work investing in a spice rack that works to your advantage. Although the kinds of ingenious designs behind spice racks happen to be, yours should be close enough to reach immediately. Airtight containers are fine for keeping out moisture but consider that when you have wet or slippery fingers.

Appliances you use the most

Maybe you have a favorite appliance that’s used more than others, so it needs a permanent residence on your countertop. Designing ahead might make this appliance easier to handle by considering the following. Where is the appliance placed versus the lighting that is under cabinets above? Place your appliance closer to the cabinets that immediately reflect what goes into it.

You should put it closer to the fridge for using any fruits and vegetables, or near to a cabinet space for coffee supplies or tea.

Do: Think About Layout

A practical layout is the first thing to consider when redesigning a kitchen. It can be based on your personal preference, but can also take cues from traditional designs, like the classic “triangle” of stove, fridge and sink. Find a layout you like that is easy and practical to cook in, paying attention to space and distance; a spacious kitchen is nice, but you don’t want to have to hike between the fridge and counter.

design basics
Lower cabinet rollout bins

Not so many new kitchens have these types of roll-out storage bins, but these work the best. You can load things into them easier and they slide right back like a pull-out drawer. You waste less space and don’t have to reach deep under the cabinet anymore.

Upper cabinet storage shelves

Upper cabinets are better when they are made for easy storage and access. Some upper cabinets have slide-out storage shelves that hold lots of stuff. If you have a step stool to reach the upper shelves, then reaching everything is never a task.

Hidden cabinet extras and tips

Understandably, your home does need elements of safety, so the kitchen is no different than any other room. Why not add-in some secret cabinets that don’t appear to open. This is from the practicality of safety and home defense but is also a smart place for short-term storage. Such as putting spare keys or special items you want to stash. We can’t tell you that it wouldn’t suitable for other stuff, but let’s just say a chef knife doesn’t cut it.

Ask your designer to help create special storage spots and hidden doors in your cabinets. They won’t be surprised since everyone likes having a secret hiding spot.

Do: Find A Good Designer

You many not have the know-how to redesign an entire kitchen or bathroom, but the pros do – so don’t be afraid to spend some money on a good designer before finding a contractor. Contractors know how to build, but they simply may not have the skills and experience with designed luxury kitchens and bathrooms to know exactly what to do, all the time.

The best kitchen designers will not only have up-to-date knowledge of the trends, styles and materials at your disposable, but they also take the time and effort to create exactly the design you’re envision. And they know exactly how to combine the two to bring your dream kitchen or bathroom to life.

Not only that but having a designer who knows you and exactly what you’re looking for, at every step of the remodel process, will eliminate a lot of headaches out of the remodel – saving you time and money –  and greatly improve the final product. It never hurts to start with some basic research interior design research before you meet with a designer or contractor. We’ve collaborated a page here with plenty to give you a well rounded understanding of design basics.

Do: Think About Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important parts of any room, but easy to forget when you’re busy thinking about cabinets and granite countertops. Light makes everything easier and more enjoyable – cutting vegetables ,peering into the oven, checking if meat is done. A lot of light will also make the whole room appear larger, and more open and inviting. Spend some time thinking about where you would like to place lights, and if your budget affords, don’t be afraid to splurge for lots of lighting.

Lighting tips

Since you’re using your kitchen for so many cooking tasks, you’ll need to have adequate lighting. This can be part of the design process or additions that come afterward. If you’re working with a remodeling designer, it’s best to tell them what you want to be illuminated the most. This light should also be dimmable so you can create ambient lighting for special occasions.

It’s also not a bad idea to add color-changing light that can be altered to change color temperature. Perhaps you might like them to be mood-enhancing lights that select a specific shade that’s nice for dinner.

Spacing of lights

This applies to recessed lighting mostly be not limited to ceiling pot lights. It depends on the size of the fixture and the size of your kitchen. Spacing is relevant to the diameter of the recessed light. If you are using a 4-inch or 6-inch pot light, the spacing is 24-36 inches. This is because the ceiling height is greater. With smaller recessed lights underneath cabinets, it can be every 6-8 inches.

As long as there is asymmetric quality to the light being spaced, this matters to some degree. Where the lighting is placed underneath hanging cabinets is also a big issue on how wide your countertop is. This needs consideration as well.

Combination of lighting and layout

Not every kitchen has to look the same, but the functionality is the most important. Visually the lighting accents and decorations make a statement. Where you put your lighting is a bit of an art. Do you want your lights to be hidden or should they be part of the centerpiece? If you’re unsure of what you want, then go for a combination that can be controlled using dimmer controls.

Your remodeling contractor should be able to handle that request with ease. As long as you have control later, the lighting can be adjusted to your liking in every way possible.

Don’t: Forget About Storage

You need more storage than you might think.

Like with lighting, it’s easy to spend a lot of effort thinking about the appearance of your cabinets or how many burners there are on the stove, and forget about how much storage you’ve included. Food, dishes, appliances, cutlery, silverware – there’s a lot more stuff in your kitchen than you might realize. You may even want to include dedicated spice storage. And don’t be afraid of enclosed storage; you’re going to want some space to store more unsightly items.

Don’t: Be Afraid of the Budget

Budgeting isn’t a bad thing, and just because you might be on a budget doesn’t mean your design choices are limited. It’s important to stick within your original budget, but there are endless affordable options out there that will look just as good as the more expensive stuff. Just substituting a few pieces for equally attractive ones can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Designers are also masters at creating beautiful kitchens on a budget – beautiful kitchens that look exactly the way you envisioned them.


Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

The kitchen is one of the most complicated and expensive parts of the house to renovate. I’ve created this article to point out a few things to consider before you begin a kitchen remodeling project. Preparation is key to helping you avoid mistakes.

Of course, preparation is a pretty broad term, so I’d like to help being a little more specific. Here are 9 common kitchen remodel mistakes to avoid during your next remodel.

1. Changing the Game Plan

The first thing you need to have before beginning your remodel is a game plan; what are you trying to accomplish by remodeling? What’s changing and what’s staying the same? Then, once you’ve made these important decisions…Stick With Them!

I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen last-minute deviations in a sound game plan end up costing people dearly in both time and money.

Have a plan before you begin the remodel and commit to executing that plan. Yes, things can come up that might require some adapting on the fly. But preparing and sticking with the plan you created will help you avoid any unnecessary headaches and big, unexpected spending.

2. Changing the Budget

If changing the game plan causes headaches, you don’t want to know what happens when you change the budget you’ve started with. There’s been a lot of changes and improvements in the cabinetry world since your last remodel, and you might be surprised at how far you can stretch a budget these days.

But, no matter how much research and price-shopping you do, you’ll never find the magical Narnia Land of Cabinets, where all the custom cabinets you could ever want are thousands of dollars cheaper than anywhere else. You still get what you pay for, and things that sound too good to be true are usually…to good to be true.

But, there are places where you can find some great value if you know where to look. If you know what you want and are reasonable with your budget expectations, there’s no reason you can’t find your dream cabinets without overspending.

So do your research beforehand, while coming up with your game plan. Create a budget, and then, stick to it. Don’t go overboard, and don’t opt for cheaper parts if your budget doesn’t need them.

3. Choosing Poor Quality Cabinets

A kitchen remodel is still the best thing you can do to increase your home value. And the single most important part of the process? Choosing your kitchen cabinets. They’re usually one of the most expensive parts of the kitchen, and the foundation on which all the other design decisions are made.

If there’s one place not to cheap out on, it’s the kitchen cabinets.

If the cabinet dealer or designer you’re working with hasn’t been crystal-clear about the quality of the cabinets you’re looking at, keep shopping.

Go beyond the surface, too…Don’t be fooled by impressive door styles and colors that are attached to junky particle board boxes, or by Chinese-built nonsense.

There’s much more value in quality, and you can make your money back in the resale.

4. Choosing A Design Style That Doesn’t Match The Home

I call this “fighting the bones of the house.”

Every house, big or small, was designed by an architect that had a style genre in mind when they designed it.  Many times, these genres can mix and match, or with minimal construction, even be changed. But sometimes, it can’t.

I’ve seen a lot of money wasted moving walls, rewiring electricity, even plumbing, in what eventually ends up amounting to a failed attempt at creating an open floor plan. Why? Because you can’t fight the bones of the house. Instead, work with a kitchen designer to find a style and design that complement and work with the house already in place.

Trust me, your remodel – and your life – will be much easier.

5. Choosing the Wrong Contractor – or Going It Alone

I’m not against DIY as a principle, just when it comes to remodeling the kitchen. It’s just too important to not get right.

A full kitchen remodel is an intricate, hands-on process involving multiple workmen, trades and vendors, all of which need to be juggled, coordinated and scheduled over what could end up being several months. The right contractor takes of all this, scheduling every tradesman, making sure everything is done right and the right materials used. They’ll be the place where the buck stops.

6. Falling Into the “Trend Trap”

To understand the “Trend Trap,” you have to understand the kitchen trend cycle. Here’s how it works:

Right now, the wealthiest people in the country are remodeling their homes to be unique….they’re specifically looking for something that isn’t “mainstream,” that no one else has. Their choices end up setting the current style trends, which the mainstream can’t afford just yet.

But, as this style gets more popular, the prices go down…making these styles more affordable and accessible to the general public. Pretty soon, the trendy style becomes the mainstream. And then the wealthier people who popularized it must remodel again to stay unique. This whole process generally takes about 7-10 years.

The “trend trap” occurs when someone puts a high-end, trendy kitchen in the wrong neighborhood. Say, if you put a new modern design in an old, traditional neighborhood. You may like the design now, but will you like it in 5 years?

Even more important, will anyone who might purchase the home like it? If it’s too trendy, then maybe not.

7. Not Doing A Cosmetic Remodel (If You Can)

This one needs to be qualified because it doesn’t apply to everyone, but for those it does apply to – pay extra attention. Whenever possible, do a cosmetic remodel. What do I mean by that?

A cosmetic remodel is when you completely redo all the (cabinets, counters, floors and backsplash) without changing any of the “big stuff” (walls, HVAC, plumbing, etc).

The price of any remodel increases exponentially when there’s construction costs involved – meaning tearing out walls, moving wiring, etc – and avoiding these whenever possible will end up saving you a boatload of money.

You’d be surprised at how much of a difference just a few new materials can make in a space. So if the layout is already working, why change it? Simply upgrading the cosmetic parts will make just as big a difference.

8. Not Donating Your Old Cabinets

If those old cabinets up on the wall are any kind of good quality, don’t waste them – donate them! Many people who can uninstall their cabinets themselves will reuse them in their garage of workshop, which is a great idea but isn’t for everyone. I recommend donating them instead.

Both Habitat for Humanity and Starlight are companies that will come and take cabinets free of charge, if you donate them. They’ll then use these cabinets in lower-income homes and projects. This can save you some work and sweat and make you feel good at the same time. I’d call that a win-win.

9. Falling Victim To Design Fatigue

There are a lot of decisions that go into a design remodel: cabinet style, cabinet color, counter style, counter material, flooring, backsplash, appliances, hardware, lighting, etc.  Design fatigue is when you try and make all these decisions all at once.

The solution? Break them into phases. Start with the big things – like cabinets, counters and floors – and then work backward from there. Push all decisions about hardware, appliance and accessories to a later phase.

Give yourself time to feel comfortable with your decisions and to make decisions that are easy to build on. Before you know it, you’ll be done.

Here are a few final tips to make your life easier when undergoing a remodel:

final tips

Jeff HuntAuthor posts

Avatar for Jeff Hunt

When you engage our design team, we simplify the very complicated and tedious kitchen remodel process. We do this by listening to what you want, then translating your vision and expression into a virtual design that is uniquely yours.

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