A great kitchen renovation can improve your family’s quality of life and add thousands of dollars to the value of your home. With the right advice you can update the cabinetry, flooring, appliances, finishes and fixtures, and create a whole new space. The key to achieving the results you desire is careful planning. Unfortunately there are no short-cuts. The first step is to carefully consider the space and what you want to do within that space.
Avoid planning a kitchen for a lifestyle you wish you had, rather than the one you do have. Many homeowners make the mistake of choosing designs and appliances that are inappropriate for their needs because they are unrealistic.
Create a list of the functions of your kitchen. This may seem like a redundant thing to do but this list will be your guide to allocating space and choosing appliances. Consider the available space and again, be realistic. There is little point trying to create a fully-equipped ‘gourmet’ kitchen in a studio apartment. Once you are clear on what you need from your kitchen and the space restrictions you face, the fun of choosing a design starts.
Try to free your mind from designs you have always favoured. You may eventually decide on a favoured design, but do so only after considering all the available options. Do your homework. Look through magazines and watch lifestyle programs so you have a clear idea of the type of designs you are attracted to. This is where your kitchen designer will provide invaluable insight. A good designer will have overseen a variety of projects and will be armed with a multitude of ideas. Where possible, take the images and ideas you have collected to your kitchen designer to give him or her an understanding of what you want. Your designer will then be able to tell you if this is achievable. Your designer will also be able to pinpoint common elements in the designs you are attracted to and therefore suggest styles and features.
When employing a professional, don’t choose the first designer or kitchen company you see, and don’t necessarily choose your designer based solely on price. You will need to have total confidence in the company you employ so do your research thoroughly. Look through any potential designer’s portfolio and ask for testimonials or referrals from previous clients.
Many designers now have web-sites where you can look through their portfolios. If you see a kitchen you like in a magazine, look at the fact files or indexes to find out who designed and built it.
For most homeowners, price is the most daunting aspect of any home-renovation project. The dreaded dollar – and the fear of ‘blowing the budget’ – can take all the fun out of the process if you aren’t clever and considered. Be honest about the scope of the project and your budget. Many customers are put off when a designer or supplier asks the “What is your budget?” question because they feel they are about to be ripped off. While it is always wise to show caution in matters of finance, you must understand that the size of your budget is essential information for anyone involved in your project.
Once you give your designer your budget, he or she will then be able to advise you on the quality level of the merchandise that will meet your budget criteria. Many of us have “champagne taste and a beer budget.” Be realistic. It will serve you well to be truthful about the total budget as well as the starting budget in the event that you cannot afford to do the entire job at one time.
Be guided by your designer, not bullied. If he or she suggests something you do not want, don’t be afraid to say so — this is going to be a space where you spend time, not the designer. It needs to satisfy your requirements. If your designer is consistently making suggestions which are not suitable, it may be that the two of you have a communication problem and you need to sit down and resolve this to avoid further confusion.
If this situation does occur, don’t be disheartened. A kitchen renovation deals with personal taste and it can be difficult to convey your ideas, wants and needs. Persevere and you will reap the rewards.
Talk to, and listen to your designer. They have probably had many years experience in this field and their input is invaluable.
Home-renovators often go against their designers suggestions simply because they believe that the designer may not have their best interests at heart, and subsequently cost themselves a lot of money and time. Of course, you have the final say but ensure you are making considered decisions.
Think past the immediate future. Avoid locking yourself into a design trend that may only last a year or so. Try instead to choose a design or style that can be adapted to suit a variety of trends over the coming years. Building or renovating can be costly and time consuming and you don’t want to have to do it every couple of years.
Learn from your designer’s past experiences. Problems with plumbing, fixtures, particular materials or brands can be avoided by listening to the recommendation of your designer.
Above all, enjoy the process. This is an expense and a drain on you and your family but it should also be a positive experience. The problems and negative aspects of the process will hopefully be forgotten when the renovation is complete so try not to get disheartened if you come across a stumbling block. When it all seems too much like hard work, remember that you are creating a space which will be the hub of your home for many ears to come.