A kitchen remodel is one of the most exciting and valuable home improvement projects you can undertake. With careful planning and preparation, you can create your dream kitchen that not only looks beautiful but also functions efficiently for years to come. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to successfully plan your kitchen remodel.
Choosing Your Design and Layout
The layout and design are the foundation of your new kitchen. Take time to think about how you use your kitchen now and how you’d ideally like to use it in the future. Here are some tips for choosing the best layout:
Consider the Work Triangle
The work triangle concept refers to the optimal relationship between the stove, sink, and refrigerator. These three workstations should form a triangle, with each area ideally no more than 4-9 feet apart from each other. This allows you to move efficiently as you prep, cook, and clean up.
Maximize Natural Light and Ventilation
Position the sink and cooking area near windows when possible to utilize natural light. Proper ventilation is also key – use hood vents over the stove and consider additional skylights or fans.
Incorporate Your Entertaining Style
If you frequently host guests, opt for an open layout and include extras like a kitchen island, bar area, or banquette seating. For more casual gatherings, allow room for multiple cooks by including a second sink and prep space.
Add Storage Galore
You can never have too much storage or counter space in a kitchen. Include drawer organizers, pull-out cabinets, pantry closets, and open shelving. Aim for at least 50 sq ft of storage space.
Consider Accessibility Needs
If anyone in your home has mobility issues, allow room for comfortable passageways and integrate Universal Design elements like pull-down shelves and ADA compliant sink levers.
Choosing Materials and Finishes
The materials you choose will define the aesthetic of your new kitchen. Select durable finishes that will also be easy to clean and maintain.
Popular options include granite, quartz, laminate, solid surface, butcher block, and tile. Granite and quartz are most durable, while concrete, tile, and stainless steel are easy to disinfect.
Opt for solid wood frames with plywood boxes for durability. For a modern look, choose glossy finishes like lacquer, or go classic with stains. Include soft-closing hinges and full-extension drawers.
Water-resistant materials like tile, stone, vinyl, and treated hardwoods are best for high-traffic kitchen areas. Add cushioned mats at standing workstations.
Look for the Energy Star seal when selecting appliances and choose sizes that fit your space. Use the layout to inform appliance placement for optimal use.
Ceramic tile is a classic, low-maintenance option. Use glass, metal, or stone for a higher-end look. Limit patterned tiles to a small accent area.
Layer lighting throughout with overhead fixtures, LED undercabinet lights, and pendant lamps above islands. Ensure adequate task lighting over key workstations.
Select a durable faucet in a finish that matches your cabinet hardware. For sinks, stainless steel and composite materials are long-lasting and easy to clean.
Match cabinet and drawer hardware finishes throughout the kitchen for a cohesive look. Brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze are popular modern choices.
Creating Your Budget
From demolition to appliances, creating an accurate budget is critical. Leaving wiggle room for unexpected expenses is wise.
- Demolition and disposal – $1,500-$3,000
- Cabinets and installation – $5,000-$15,000
- Countertops – $2,000-$5,000
- Flooring – $1,500-$4,000
- Tile backsplash – $500-$2,000
- Painting and trim – $500-$1,500
- Lighting and electrical – $3,000-$5,000
- Plumbing – $3,000-$8,000
- Appliances – $3,000-$10,000
- Labor costs – $5,000-$15,000
Aim to allot 15-25% of your total budget to contingency funds to cover unplanned expenses.
Selecting Your Remodeling Team
Your contractors and designer will make or break the project. Take time to research and only hire true professionals.
A reputable general contractor will oversee the entire project and coordinate all workers. Verify they are licensed, bonded, and insured.
Consider hiring a kitchen designer to help turn your vision into a practical layout. Choose someone experienced in kitchen workflows.
For custom cabinetry, find a company that uses skilled craftspeople and high-quality materials to provide the best results.
Find an experienced local company that offers a wide variety of countertop materials and comes highly reviewed.
Hire a licensed electrician to handle any necessary rewiring, lighting installation, and appliance hookups.
A master plumber has the expertise to correctly reroute plumbing lines and install any sinks, faucets, or fixtures.
Permits are required for most kitchen remodels to pass inspection. Build time into your schedule for:
Required if removing walls or large portions of the existing kitchen.
Needed if moving plumbing or gas lines, or modifying the foundation.
Required if adding wiring or outlets anywhere in the kitchen space.
Check with your local permitting office well in advance to learn requirements. The general contractor usually pulls all required permits.
Preparing for Your Remodel
Taking time to prepare your home makes the remodel process smoother for you and your work crew.
Create a Temporary Cooking Space
Set up a grill, microwave, hot plate, and fridge in another area if your kitchen will be out of commission.
Protect Surrounding Rooms
Seal off the kitchen space with plastic sheeting to prevent dust from spreading. Remove valuables and fragile items.
Schedule Deliveries Strategically
Have new cabinets and appliances delivered 1-2 days after demolition to prevent damage and clutter.
Install New Flooring Last
Wait until all other trades have finished before installing new flooring to prevent construction scuffs and scratches.
Communication is Key
Discuss the project timeline in detail with contractors and designers. Be available for quick consultations as questions arise.
Designing and Planning for Workflow
A functional kitchen is meticulously designed with workflow in mind. Ask yourself these questions as you plan:
Does the layout allow multiple cooks?
Include adequate counter space, walkways, and multiple prep/cleaning stations.
Is there a logical prep-to-plate flow?
Position appliances, sinks, and work triangles to minimize cross-traffic when cooking.
Are task lighting, storage, and tools well-placed?
Position lighting above key work areas and keep tools easily accessible.
Is clean up efficient?
Allow counter space around and between appliances for landing dirty dishes before cleaning up.
Are the most-used items easiest to access?
Place pots, pans, utensils near the stove and everyday dishes in corner cabinets or on open shelving.
Common Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid
Learning from other’s missteps can help you avoid common pitfalls on your own remodel.
Failing to Get Permits
Skipping permits not only risks fines, but it could invalidate home insurance if major issues arise.
Making Cosmetic Changes Only
Don’t miss the opportunity to improve floorplans and layouts. Cosmetic updates alone soon look dated.
Choosing Trendy Finishes
Opt for classic styles and timeless colors to ensure your kitchen doesn’t feel outdated quickly.
Not Planning for Sinks and Plumbing
Placeholder sketches aren’t enough. Use the exact sink dimensions when planning counter length and placement.
Forgetting Power Requirements
Include ample outlets, especially near appliances. Upgrade breakers if needed to power a heavy appliance load.
Neglecting Lighting Plans
Shadowy counters lead to accidents and eye strain. Include lots of adjustable task lighting.
Overlooking Storage Needs
Maximize every inch with customized storage solutions so items aren’t crammed or left out on counters.
Making DIY Attempts
Know your limits – plumbing, gas, and electrical work legally requires certified professionals.
FAQs About Planning a Kitchen Remodel
Planning a kitchen remodel involves answering many questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers:
How long will my kitchen remodel take?
For a total gut job, allow 4-8 weeks or more. Smaller cosmetic remodels can take 2-4 weeks. Ask contractors for time estimates.
When should I schedule my remodel?
Late spring through early fall is best, when weather delays are less likely. Avoid the holidays or time constraints that add stress.
How do I choose a style?
Browse sites like Houzz for inspiration then make “idea boards” of your favorite elements. Mix modern, contemporary, traditional elements.
Should I remodel in phases?
If budget is a concern, you can. Phase 1 could be structural changes, phase 2 finishes/appliances. Get contractor input.
Can I DIY to save money?
For small projects only. All electrical, plumbing, gas work requires certified pros. Consider DIY for painting, backsplash tiling.
Should I update flooring?
If floors are damaged, it’s smart to replace them before installing new cabinets. But you don’t have to.
How do I prevent costs from ballooning?
Carefully assess each decision’s cost before locking it in. Cut back in phases if needed. Leave a 10-15% budget cushion.
Should I go contemporary or classic?
Mixing contemporary and classic elements creates a timeless look. For resale, neutral palettes are safest.
How do I accurately estimate costs?
Create an itemized budget accounting for every aspect of the remodel. Get multiple quotes for each service.
Who pulls the required permits?
Typically the general contractor oversees obtaining all required demolition, plumbing, electrical, and construction permits.
The key to a smooth, successful kitchen remodel is meticulous planning and preparation. Map out your layout and design, set a realistic budget, hire qualified pros, get all needed permits, and communicate clearly at each step. Use this guide to confidently create your dream kitchen oasis. With smart planning and the right team, you’ll join the ranks of happy homeowners who consider their kitchen remodel one of the best investments they’ve made.