The kitchen is the hub of the home so a kitchen remodel can give you plenty of bang for your buck. But getting started can be overwhelming. How should you allocate your budget? What options are worth a splurge? How do you pick the best contractor? And what styles and features will endure so that your kitchen retains its appeal and value well into the future?
If all of these questions are swimming around in your head, read on for tips from construction and real estate experts for successfully planning a kitchen remodel.
Mike Saunders is an architectural designer at Durham Drafting and Design, as well as a home accessibility consultant. He works with homeowners to create beautiful, functional spaces that last a lifetime.
One of the most overlooked elements in planning a kitchen remodel is thinking through the long-term impact of today’s design decisions. Houses in general, and kitchens specifically, are often designed to suit the present needs of the homeowners. However, over the life-cycle of the home, the needs and abilities of the homeowner are nearly guaranteed to change.
Plan for flexibility so that the space can easily adapt to meet changing needs. This can include the amount of floor space left open, variable height counters, or accessible storage spaces. No one wants to plan a remodel only to have to renovate again a few years later. Taking an attitude of flexibility into the entire design and planning process can ensure that this kitchen remodel will stand the test of time.
Here are some kitchen remodel tips that often get overlooked.
- Create a list of all the products and materials required for your kitchen remodel, regardless of whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself. This would include all the appliances, plumbing and light fixtures, cabinets, countertops, garbage disposal, etc. This is the starting point for developing a budget and making sure you don’t forget to budget for any item of the remodel. Many skip this planning step which means their project will cost them more than they thought.
- Once you have the list, do some brand and product research to determine different price ranges for each item. As an example, the kitchen remodel has at least 4 or 5 different appliances. There is a big price difference between high-end, moderate, and low-end brands for every product in your kitchen remodel, which dramatically impacts your overall costs. A high-end kitchen remodel could be $85k versus a low end one could be $30k. This is really developing a list of products and brands that fit both what you like versus what you can afford.
- Keep track of all your kitchen remodel photos, documents, invoices, receipts, and warranties. You want to know how long the warranty is for each product in case it becomes defective and you need it replaced. You also want to have this information when you fill out your taxes to see if you might qualify for some tax breaks. And it is important for future marketing purposes if you ever decide to sell the home.
John Bodrozic is a Co-Founder of HomeZada, a digital home management software platform that empowers homeowners to manage, maintain, improve and protect their largest financial asset and biggest expense.
Earl White – co-founder of House Heroes LLC. We’ve done fix-and-flips on houses, apartments, and condos since 2015. The houses typically require general cosmetic to total rehabilitation.
Remodeling should begin with a detailed “Scope of Work.” A scope of work is a written document outlining each part of the remodel. A full kitchen remodel scope should address flooring, cabinets, counters, fixtures, electric/gas, and appliances. Include materials and their cost. Effective scopes set a budget to provide guidance as you develop the plan. The end result is you have a checklist of exactly what you want and can afford.
Once your scope of work is complete, decide on whether to DIY or hire a contractor. Request a detailed written estimate from prospective contractors. The estimate serves a few purposes. Writing it down gets you and the contractor on the same page. Disputes can be resolved by referring back to the written estimate. Estimates should break down labor and material cost and specify time for completion. This allows an “apples to apples” comparison among different contractors.
- When considering a kitchen remodel, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. I suggest you start with style. Are you a mixer? Traditional? Transitional? Your style will kickstart the process and lead you to design, function, etc.
- Design your kitchen remodel around a palette. If you want a blue accent island, make sure your backsplash either has a blue accent in it or is neutral. The same goes for your countertops and cabinetry. You want the palette to compliment.
- Platinum appliances are on trend right now. They are a touch darker than stainless and fun! White cabinets are back “in” as are all shades of blue accents. From islands to cobalt blue back splashes. For a more modern look, warm woods, neutrals, and earth tones are always on point.
- Black cabinetry is out! They darken the room and can make a kitchen seem smaller and closed in, which comes across as uninviting. Plus, they show fingerprints!
- A transitional kitchen remodel will add value to your home. Transitional is the new trend with homes, including the kitchen. Clean lines with more neutral palettes and style that can go in any direction just with a few decorating twists. If you want a modern kitchen remodel, you can go that way as well or go the ‘shabby chic’ route.
- If you plan to sell your home in the future, or you are remodeling a rental, stick with that neutral palette so potential buyers or renters can come in with their own pops of color and furniture to create the look they desire.
- A kitchen remodel should flow with the rest of the home, creating more open rooms with less walls and better gathering areas. The kitchen is meant to bring people together.
- Stick with your budget and plan for where you can splurge and save. Splurge on what is most important to you! If you are a cook, invest in an amazing cooktop and ovens and save on cabinets. Save money on your hardware and flooring. It can be spendy to replace all of the door knobs and jams. One knob can set you back $10-$40. Replacing dozens of those throughout the house will get expensive in a hurry. There are plenty of places that sell beautiful hardware that will fit within your budget. Take the time to research. It will be worth the invested time, and your home and wallet will thank you.
With more than $800+ Million dollars in Sales in the past 12 years, Valerie Burmester has successfully closed on hundreds of homes in the Pacific Northwest as well as connecting buyers and sellers to other realtors throughout the world. Relationships, Negotiating Contracts, Team Building and her Concierge Level of service is what is most important to her in any transaction.
Jody Costello is a Home Renovation Planning / Contractor Fraud Expert who founded her website ContractorsFromHell.com as a result of a remodeling nightmare she experienced. Her mission is to raise awareness about the risks and realities in renovating and hiring contractors. She created her online course, the Home Remodeling Bootcamp For Women, to help homeowners better manage their projects and avoid remodeling disasters.
Planning for a successful kitchen remodel is dependent on the homeowner finding an ethical, competent and reliable contractor. You can have the best design, top rated materials, and appliances, but if you fail to hire the right person for the job, your dream kitchen can quickly become a nightmare.
Finding that contractor requires the homeowner to thoroughly vet the contractor with background checks that include researching online for any complaints, license checks, and what your states’ contractor laws mandate for both consumers and contractors.
Educating yourself on the legal construction documents you need to implement as part of your written agreement such as lien releases, payment schedules, change orders, and understanding mechanics lien laws will reduce a homeowner’s exposure to potential problems and misunderstandings.
Most homeowners get caught up in the design, function, and form, but it’s getting informed about how they can best protect themselves from becoming another horror story that will ultimately give them peace of mind and a great end result.
If you are going to remodel your kitchen, you should design it for maximum work efficiencies. The most efficient kitchen layout uses the Triangle Theory. The triangle keeps all the major work stations near the cook. This theoretical triangle connects the sink, the stovetop, and the refrigerator. An added benefit is that the triangle minimizes traffic in the kitchen, giving the cook more autonomy.
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