Remodel your kitchen

YOU have decided to remodel your kitchen, now what? Not knowing where to start, many homeowners fall into two camps. Some start by looking at appliances. Others start by collecting inspiring kitchen photos. Some decide they need more room. Others simply want to upgrade their current kitchen. Homeowners may find themselves in this explorationstage for a year or longer before they start interviewing kitchen designers or general contractors.

Once you have pondered long enough and you are ready to green-light a kitchen remodeling project, then what?

Think about what you need
This step is all about how you use your kitchen and finding the layout and features that fit your household’s lifestyle. Get ideas from every resource possible. Think about your priorities: how many people will be cooking and gathering here, and how they will need to move around in it. Do you need an addition? Or can you work with your existing kitchen footprint?

If you have not already, start saving photos of kitchens with features that suit your style. Your collection can be organised and beautiful like a scrapbook or it can be filled with random, unorganised images.

I actually prefer the latter, because I like to randomly stuff images into my folders and idea books and go back to them later on for edits. Ready to green-light that project and take the plunge? The best place to start is by formulating what’s commonly referred to as a scope of work and figuring out your preliminary budget.

Both of these may be subject to change, so do not feel like you have only one chance at this. Budget and scope are intertwined and often change many times during the design process as you become more educated and able to reconcile what you want and what you can afford. As a homeowner, you are not expected to walk into this knowing what everything should cost. Remember, this is an educational process.

Find the professionals you will need

Even if you are going the DIY route, unless you are building your own kitchen cabinets and doing your own electrical and plumbing, you are going to have to work with a professional at some point. It may be as brief as leaning on your salesperson to help you in selecting and ordering your appliances or cabinets, but it is something to plan on either way.

Some people start by visiting big-box stores or cabinet showrooms where they can see everything. Many homeowners get referrals from friends or colleagues and start by hiring an architect or designer. Still others might work on their own with a builder or contractor. Pros are available to help you with everything from contracts and permits to space planning, budgets, choosing finishes and fixtures, shopping, ordering products, helping you set up a temporary kitchen and managing your project from start to finish.

Schematic design

This phase includes sketches, space planning, preliminary floor plans and elevations showing the layout and cabinet sizes.

I try to keep my clients focused more on layout and space planning, even though the temptation is to talk about what the kitchen will look like. But I find that getting caught up in the look too early can distract from the space planning phase.

Plus, you need a plan in order to figure out what materials will go where, and how many square feet you will need, and ultimately how much this will cost. I like to begin the contractor interview process early and give them a preliminary drawing packet and scope of work so we can get some ballpark construction numbers. At the same time you can be sending out drawings for estimates on some top choices of finishes and fixtures.

Fixture and finish specification
Throughout this process and probably long before, you have been saving photos of kitchens you love into your idea books and folders.

You have found your style, whether it is modern, classic, traditional, cottage or a personal style inbetween. You probably know if you want a white kitchen, a natural wood kitchen, or some colour. Now you need to make your final selection of finishes and fixtures. This usually includes:

. Cabinetry construction type, doorstyle, finish and colour

. Countertop material

. Refrigerators and other appliances

. Kitchen sink and faucet

. Light fixtures

. Flooring

. Backsplash

. Decorative hardware

Get contractor estimates

If you do not already have a licenced contractor on your project, your next step is to find one to carry the project through. I always recommend to my clients to get at least three different contractor estimates. I like to do preliminary walk-throughs with the contractors once the schematic designs are done so we can get some ballpark estimates and find out if we are on the right track or need to pull back some to fit the budget.

Discuss the logistics ahead of time with your contractor. Will you meet once a week for updates? Will you have to be out of the house for certain tasks like demo or flooring? What about debris removal and dust? Are there any family allergy issues? What is a typical work day for the crew? Getting all this on the table beforehand can set expectations and make for a smoother ride. -Houzz.com.

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