Where do I begin? The first steps of kitchen planning

The Kitchen Master

Remodeling a kitchen or planning one for your new home is a big project and one that must start with careful planning. If you’re thinking about renovating your kitchen or designing a new one, step back and think about what your new kitchen will be like, why you want to remodel and what your goals are. It’s easy to ask yourself what you don’t like about the kitchen you have, but it may not be as simple to determine what you like about your current kitchen.

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There are questions you need to ask yourself before you begin the actual planning. Your answers to these questions will become your map to success and help you avoid the mistakes so many people make by jumping into the project too quickly.

Whether you’ve already gathered information, ideas, and samples, or are in the early stages of looking at your space and trying to figure out what to do, it’s smart to step back and consider the larger picture of building or remodeling your kitchen.

We’ll talk about what your first steps should be in renovating your kitchen. Planning a kitchen for a new home is quite similar because you will probably use your existing kitchen as the basis for creating a replacement that will meet your needs and your desire to build a room that fits you, your family and the way you live.

Steps to renovate your kitchen

Why do I want a new kitchen?

  • Make a list of what you hate about your old kitchen or write a list of the most important changes you want to make. List the items by importance. For example: 1. The look is outdated. 2. The storage is inadequate. 3. The room is just too small. 4. I need more counter space.
  • What would you like to keep or copy to your new kitchen–the corner lazy suzans, the arrangement of the sink and appliances or the snack bar on your island?
  • Is your lifestyle changing or is the family changing?
  • Is the size of the room sufficient if it were designed better or is it too small for your cooking needs or your family? Can you use space from an adjoining room or will you need to add on space to the room?
  • Do you plan to live in the home indefinitely or just for a few years?
  • Are you planning to sell the home soon and just want to make a few cosmetic changes?
  • Are you changing the kitchen as part of an expansion of your home or part of a whole house remodeling?

How Do I Decide What I Want?

Now that you have made your notes about your current kitchen and have answered all the important questions about your needs and goals, you can start to build another list. It’s a kind of a kitchen shopping list. On it you will show what you want to have in the kitchen, how you want it to function for you and how you want your new room to look. It is important to consider everything on your list by how important each item will be to you in getting the best kitchen for you without breaking the bank. My mother used to say to us at dinner time, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”. It was her Old World way of telling us that you may not always be able to eat or have everything you may want. Wouldn’t it be great if you could fit everything you want into the new kitchen, make it perfect for everything you want to do in the room and have it look like you spent a million dollars? But don’t dismay, a good action plan started by you and completed with the guidance of an experienced creative designer will provide you with a new kitchen that will be just like that dream kitchen you have always wanted.

How Much Will it Cost?

It may be something you don’t want to think about, but the cost of remodeling a kitchen can be a major expense. Sure, you want your new kitchen to be beautiful and functional, but you also don’t want the project to be outrageously expensive. After you have determined your list of priorities, your need to consider your budget to see if you can afford everything you want or if you will have to cut back on a few things to be able to afford your new kitchen.

  • Don’t overspend unless you plan to be in your home forever. You can consult with a realtor to find out what the current value of your home is. Spending more than 20% of the home’s value may not yield a great return on your investment if you sell the home.
  • Do some online research on kitchen remodeling costs.
  • Ask your relatives, friends or neighbors what they spent on their remodeling.
  • Price out the major materials for the room like the cabinets, counters and appliances. Don’t forget to keep the quote information and model numbers for future reference.
  • Decide who will do the work. You can save of lot if you do some or all the work yourself if you don’t care how long the kitchen is torn up. It you think you can do it all in a month, you should double or triple the guess you make. You can have a neighbor or relative do some of the work if you don’t mind losing that friendship later on when things go bad. Or hire a professional kitchen design and remodeling company if you want everything to be planned and installed properly in the shortest amount of time. You will pay more but a qualified company will eliminate much of the work, worry and frustration.
  • When you have decided on the basic plan, what you want to keep or replace and who will do what, it’s time to get more accurate estimates. Pick two or three general contractors or kitchen design and remodeling specialists, check them out first, then give then all the same criterion and ask for a detailed estimate.

Don’t forget to add the costs of the other often forgotten expenses like building permits, the cost of eating out for the duration of the project and possible costs for repairing or changing unforeseen items or defects in your home. Professional and honest remodeling companies will give you an accurate and complete estimate for everything and inform you if there is a potential for extra hidden costs.

How Will I Pay for My Kitchen Remodeling?


If you’ve been lucky enough to win the lottery, you won’t need to consider how you will pay for the kitchen renovation. If you’re like the rest of us, where the money will come from may be important to you. Here are the ways most major home projects are paid for:

  • Use your cash or savings.
  • Apply for a home equity loan or refinance your home mortgage.
  • Get a secured or unsecured loan.
  • Ask the remodeling company if they can assist with full or partial financing.
  • Call a rich uncle.

Another way to save some money is through rebates. Determine if you can get rebates on any of the materials and possibly the labor for installing these materials from local or federal agencies and utility companies for energy saving items like windows, doors, appliances and insulation. Don’t forget to ask the remodeling company, your material suppliers or the appliance stores if there are any manufacturer rebates you can get.

You can also save money by donating your old cabinets, fixtures and appliances to charitable institutions like Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill. They won’t buy them, but you will get a tax receipt for your donation and free hauling from your home.

Check back in April for The Next Steps to Your New Kitchen

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