Take a moment to think about everything that happens in your kitchen. You prepare the meals your family needs. You chat about your day. You entertain friends and family.
Perhaps your kids do their homework.
As such a core part of your family’s life, your kitchen should be a room you enjoy. When it comes to selling your home, the kitchen is also a major feature that buyers look for. It’s no wonder that kitchen remodels are such popular upgrades.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that. Your ability to enjoy your kitchen depends on the choices you make throughout the process. If you want to learn more about how to design a kitchen, let us be your guides.
How to Design a Kitchen
You see beautiful, trendy kitchens in magazines and on home improvement shows. How do you get there from what you have now? Our experts are sharing their insights on your first steps.
What to Consider in Your Kitchen Remodel
A kitchen remodel needs to balance functionality with appearance. After all, you’ll never use a gorgeous kitchen if it doesn’t have the tools you need to prepare your favorite dish.
As you start on your remodel, keep these factors in mind:
Maybe you’re a simple chef and you rely on a few key tools and appliances. Maybe you love kitchen gadgets and can’t walk through Target without falling in love with one or two new ones.
Take stock of how many kitchen items you have and the type of storage you need for them. Think about what’s lacking in your current kitchen or areas that could be better organized.
If you have oddly shaped or large items, take measurements. Make sure your new cabinets will fit them.
If you’re looking for more storage & organization in your cabinets or in a pantry, make sure to check with a contractor that can design and install kitchen organization and storage systems.
It’s astounding how much space it can take to prepare some dishes. Think about your largest events of the year, like family feasts around the holidays. If you have three or four helpers, how much space do you need for everyone to man a cutting board or a slow cooker?
In particular, think about whether you have enough workspace now or if you need to have more in your new kitchen. Calculate how many square feet of countertop you have now so you can use that as a guide.
As important as storage space and cooking space are, you also need to enjoy your kitchen. It’s part of your home so it should reflect your personal style while fitting into your home’s overall aesthetic.
Try to come up with a few words to define your style. Is it rustic chic? Maybe it’s sleek and contemporary. Defining your look will help you describe it to your contractors and pick out the pieces that will work best.
Ease of Entertainment
As vital as kitchens are to our everyday lives, they’re also hubs when we entertain. When you host parties and gatherings, what does the format tend to be? Do you typically have sit-down dinner parties or do guests usually stand around and nibble on hors d’oeuvres?
Thinking about how often you entertain and how you want your kitchen to function will help you make sure your new kitchen functions the way you want. You also need to take this into account when you pick out appliances. Would double ovens come in handy, or a dedicated wine fridge?
As you’re designing your new kitchen, ask yourself whether you want an eat-in kitchen. This could range from a full dining room table to a cozy breakfast nook. It could even mean a few barstools along your countertop.
Of course, the space and layout of your room will impact how much eat-in space you can have. Your contractor can help you recognize what’s practical for your square footage.
If you’re planning to stay in your home for a long time, your taste is the top priority in your kitchen remodel. Still, you want your remodel to add value to your home in addition to adding enjoyment.
As you make your design choices, think about how they’ll play in the housing market. Your contractor should have the expertise to know what features will help your value as well.
Tips for Your Kitchen Remodel
There’s no doubt about it: a kitchen remodel is a big deal. Use these tips to make yours a success.
Bring in a Pro
It’s a story as old as time: a homeowner tries to do their own remodel to save money. They end up spending twice as much or losing value because the work isn’t done right.
The reality is that unless you’re also a contractor, you don’t have the expertise your remodel requires. A professional kitchen contractor can guide you through the process, offer advice, and make sure your work is safe and built to last.
You don’t have to know what you want before you talk to a contractor. These designers know how to ask the right questions and find out what you like. The process will be more efficient, though, if you go in with some kitchen remodel ideas.
Start by finding pictures of kitchens you like. Pinterest can be a great tool because you can create a board of remodeling ideas and send it to your contractor. Grabbing pictures from magazines the old fashioned way works too.
Make sure you clarify what it is that you like about each picture, like the floor plan, the color scheme, the countertops, or whatever it may be.
Try the Two-Tone Trend
One of the most popular kitchen trends more and more homeowners are using is the two-toned trend. Instead of everything matching perfectly, go with complementary colors.
There are two common ways to use this trend. One option is to use two different cabinet colors. You may have white cabinets on the top while your bottom cabinets are gray, for example. You could also use one color for your perimeter cabinets and a different color for your island.
Another option is to use different countertops. For instance, you could use granite for your primary countertops but have a butcher block countertop on an island.
Think Outside Your Existing Box
You aren’t as limited by your kitchen layout as you may think. You’d be amazed by what a contractor can do by moving or removing walls.
Of course, never try to do this on your own. A contractor needs to make sure a wall isn’t load-bearing and doesn’t contain pipes or wires before moving it.
Don’t Commit to Big Pieces Too Soon
Homeowners make this mistake all the time. They order their cabinets in a color and wood they like. Then they fall in love with a countertop but it doesn’t go with the cabinets they’ve already committed to.
When it comes to the major elements of your kitchen, choose them as a grouping before committing to any one item. This primarily refers to your cabinets, countertops, and floors.
Paint colors and appliances tend to be more flexible, so it’s not as crucial to pick them out right away.
Frequently Asked Questions About Remodeling Your Kitchen
Over the years, our pros have heard just about every question there is. Here are some of the most common questions that will help you before and during your kitchen remodel.
How Much Will My Kitchen Remodel Cost?
The average kitchen remodel costs around $21,000. Before you get sticker shock, though, keep in mind that there are countless factors that will impact your cost.
Cost of living plays a part, so Pennsylvanians will pay far less than Californians, for example.
Other factors in your cost include:
- The quality of your contractor
- The materials and pieces you choose
- Tight timelines
- The size of your kitchen
- How much you’re changing
This is only the beginning. It’s a good idea to have an overall budget and to tell your contractor what that magic number is. They can help you stay on track throughout the remodel.
How Do I Find a Reliable, Skilled Contractor?
This is a major concern because everyone’s heard a horror story or two of contractors scamming homeowners.
Look for someone with a strong presence online and in your community. You want someone who’s been around for a long time and who couldn’t disappear from town unnoticed.
It’s also a good idea to get recommendations from family and friends and to read online reviews. Feel free to interview a few contractors and ask for references from their past clients.
Can I Get a High-End Look on a Budget?
In many cases, yes, you can make your kitchen look like it costs more than it does. Your contractor is the expert on delivering this look. There are a few tricks, though.
Consider using a budget countertop for most of your kitchen with a high-end countertop on an island. The small amount of square footage will make it more affordable.
Another option is to revamp your current cabinets instead of buying new ones. Adding simple beading or restaining them can change their look altogether.
If you want a modern look, go for a minimalist style. It’s easy on your budget but it looks clean and futuristic.
If you want a rustic style, on the other hand, consider reclaimed wood. It’s often less expensive than new wood and it offers a unique character.
However, it isn’t always a better value. Your contractor can find sources that are reliable and affordable. Whether the wood is for your flooring, cabinets, or another purpose, it’s important to make sure it’s stable and intact before you buy it.
Am I Playing with Fire If I Have Hardwood Floors in the Kitchen?
Everyone loves the look of hardwood floors, but the fact is that they have an added risk in the kitchen. Spills and leaking appliances can put out more moisture than your hardwood can handle. It can get expensive if you have to replace it often.
There are some options to keep that risk low, though. Stay on top of your maintenance and get your floors resealed on a regular basis. This keeps water out and protects them against moisture damage.
Another idea is to go with tile floors that look like hardwood. It’s the best of both worlds: hardwood’s style with vinyl’s low level of maintenance.
How Long Will My Kitchen Remodel Take?
As much as you may want one, there’s no hard-and-fast answer to how long your remodel will take. It depends on factors like the scope of the remodel, whether your materials are available or need to be ordered, the contractor’s team, and more.
Talk to your contractor about the expected timeframe before you begin. You can help the job along by making quick decisions, staying in contact with your contractor, and staying out of the kitchen while they work.
Do I Need to Have the Cash on Hand for My Kitchen Remodel?
If you looked at that $21,000 number above and said, “I don’t have that much saved up,” don’t worry. It’s true that having the cash on hand will keep your job simple and cost-effective. It isn’t the only option though.
Many homeowners opt for a construction loan. This is a loan that banks offer to cover the cost of a renovation so you can pay it back over several years.
Before you get one, though, consider how much you can afford to pay back on a monthly basis. Don’t assume the bank knows what you can and can’t afford.
Getting Started on Your Kitchen Remodel
A kitchen remodel can be quite the journey, from picking out your design elements to living amidst the renovation. At the end of it, though, the goal is to have a kitchen you can love and use for years to come.
If you don’t know how to design a kitchen or where to start, the guide above can help you take the first steps.