Monday, April 2, 2012

Remodeling your kitchen

The is kitchen the heart of the house. The place were all the action is.

One day, if not today, you will find yourself designing or remodeling your kitchen.
I am not going to tell you how to do it in this piece, I will try and give you guidelines to have the work done in an efficient and quick way (as much as kitchen work can be).

So first of all, like any other room design, you need to understand what is it that you want from your kitchen. The kitchen serves a purpose; We cook, we eat, we socialize, some are having the kids do their homework, some entertain a lot, some need a place to work. Some (me) have their bills and junk mail stack there.
Make a list of what is it that you need and only after you have a good understanding of what you need, move to what you want (island, wine cabinet, etc).

Now that you know what you need. Let's discuss the budget.
Remodeling a kitchen is a very expensive project. You have the materials, the labor, the permit, and of course the extras.
There will always be something you did not consider initially, or something you did not expect that needs to be done (pipes need to be fixed, electricity needs to be updated with the new codes, etc.)
Consider the extras as additional 20% of the estimated project.
(Here are some kitchen budget calculators Kitchen Budget CalculatorBudget Breakdown)

Are you ready for this mess?
After you have your budget, look for the right contractor(s) for the job. Don't be afraid to shop around. Check their references, and their license. Interview at least three contractors.
Beside an estimate they might have useful ideas that you did not consider.
Try and get a realistic estimate from each and every one. The estimate should include a time frame and of course a price. Meaning, how long it will take them and how much it is going to cost.
Ask for that in writing. Don't forget to add the extras to it... additional 20% in time and money.
On the proposal make sure EVERYTHING is mentioned (itemized quote). You do not want to be surprised with needing to buy an outlet or pay extra for the grout.

When you find the right person go straight to order the kitchen cabinets. That is the most time consuming.
When placing the order ask for a sample of the door and take it with you to match everything else.

But I'm ahead of myself... how would you know what to order and what is the best layout for your space?
You remember the list of functionality we started with?! Take it to the kitchen store and describe it all to them. They are designing kitchens, they always did and they always will. No matter how great you and I are in designing a kitchen, they have the experience. They do it every day.
Yes, I can teach you about the "kitchen triangle" for the perfect layout and I can share all my tips, but at the bottom line, you should consider and value their opinion.
(I will soon have a post dedicated to the layout, so wait...)

Contractors can take their time, but you can't.
Once you finished with the cabinets it is time for the counter top, then back-splash, floor, appliance, faucet, light fixtures, wall colors and more.
Those things can take time to choose and to be delivered. You want that selected and ordered. You don't want the job to be delayed because of you...
Shop around for everything, faucet, light fixtures and more. Some websites offer better prices and free shipping, why not take advantage. Get their quote and see if you can match it at your local store, if not - online is a great alternative!

One more thing before the job start... Your current kitchen need to be packed and stored. Think of a location that can be utilized as temporary kitchen. It should have a sink, electric outlets,  table, shelves.
Also, a microwave, hot plate, electric pot and a refrigerator will be very useful.

The day the job starts - Take a deep breath! It's going to be a long journey with a big reward at the end.
A wise contractor once told me "At the beginning of decorating a kitchen we are all excited. Then we get mad and frustrated. Right before the job is done we wish we didn't do it. But it will all be worth it once the job is complete"...

After - it is all worth the mess
Till next time,


  1. Hello,

    I read your comments about my kitchen makeover on Curbly and I just wanted to say that I was really shocked at your comment that you felt the 'before' had more character. We raised the ceilings, added crown moulding around the entire room, added tile and installed a slate floor. How these things didn't add character to a room which was no more than a low-ceiling box with spotlights, cheap cupboards and laminate flooring, I do not know.

    As I had said in my comment on the post, the kitchen isn't actually complete (I never authorised Curbly to post my pics or I would have submitted different ones but that's the internet for you). We are also adding butcher block countertops which I believe will add back some warmth to the room. We also have no window dressing at the moment so again, as you can see, it's not actually finished. There are lots of accessories in bright colours on the shelves and countertops so why you felt it lacked colour I'm not entirely sure about either.

    I know everyone will not have the same taste as me but as a designer, I would have thought you would have appreciated the amount of work that went into the makeover to add the kind of touches that make a kitchen a joy to cook in. We didn't get a contractor in, every bit of that makeover was done with our own two hands and on a miniscule budget so I apologise if I'm being overly sensitive. I just felt like I needed to explain and understand where you were coming from.

    Thanks for hearing me out!

  2. I apologize if I hurt your feelings, it wasn't my intention.
    They say a photo's worth a thousand words, but sometimes a photo is a flat two dimensional that does not reflect the hard work and the real result.
    You have to remember that we all have different opinions on things and sometimes the best designers get worst critics.
    It is important that you are happy with your end result and not with other's opinions.
    Best of luck,