Ask any homeowner which room in their house they would most like to improve or remodel, and by far the majority will point to their kitchen as the first place they would start making changes. And it makes sense – for many of us, the kitchen is the heart of our home, and so much more than just a place where we eat our meals. Our kitchens are where we have family meetings and celebrations, do homework, plan budgets and simply gather to discuss our days.
Ask many of these same people why they don’t move forward with a longed-for kitchen remodel, and many will say a project that size just seems too overwhelming, and they simply wouldn’t know where to start. It doesn’t have to be that hard though! If your kitchen needs an upgrade, follow these step-by-step suggestions to get started.
Start with a Plan
Before you do anything else, spend some time deciding what changes you want to make in your kitchen, and what you want the finished project to look like in terms of appearance and layout. Gather a hefty supply of photo-heavy kitchen magazines and remodeling guides, and save or pin websites that have pictures showcasing your preferred style. Compiling clippings and printouts in a notebook or even attaching them to a “vision board” will assist you in refining your ideal kitchen. Also keep in mind that once you involve contractors and sales associates in the process, they will need to see a united front, so make sure you and your significant other are in agreement about the changes that will be made.
How do YOU use YOUR Kitchen?
Perhaps the biggest detail you need to consider while planning your remodeling project is how your new kitchen will be used, and by whom. For example, do you cook frequently or rarely? Do you often have multiple chefs at work in your kitchen at once? Do you want your kitchen to be a gathering place for friends and family or do you prefer a quiet spot where you can cook solo? Will your family be eating the majority of their meals in an eat-in section of your kitchen or do you dine more formally? Do you want to display your cookware or keep it stored out of sight? What sort of storage capacity do you need? Having a list of your desired kitchen features and storage needs will help you transform your ideas into a concrete plan.
Decide on a Budget
According an annual survey of costs conducted by Remodeling Magazine, a “minor” kitchen remodel will cost the average homeowner about $20,000. Going for a complete overhaul? A “major” kitchen renovation could set you back as much as $70,000. Determining what you can afford before you start work is essential, and solidifying your budget early in the planning stages will prevent you from getting too attached to ideas that are outside of your price range. Effective budgeting can also help you prioritize changes that are essential versus those that are merely “nice to haves.”
For example, replacing your cabinets is one of the most expensive improvements you can make in a kitchen remodel. A cabinet overhaul typically consumes as much as 40 percent of the overall budget for many remodelers. If this is more than you want to devote to one item, consider refacing instead. Whatever you decide, you’ll want to have your plan in place from the beginning of the project.
Find the Right Contractor
Finding the right contractor for your specific needs will not only impact the amount of money you spend, but will also determine how long your project will take, the amount of disruption to your daily life, and the quality of the final results. Ask friends and family for referrals and advice, and interview at least three of the leading prospects, along with requesting samples of their past work. You will want to find someone who is not only qualified, but who also has a personality and communication style that you are comfortable with. It’s common to want to latch onto the first contractor you find who gets rave reviews from someone you know and trust, but remember – every project is unique, and it’s worth the time and effort to be thorough in your search.