Starting a Kitchen Remodel: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before

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1. Plan Ahead

Before starting to install any cabinets, it’s crucial to ask yourself a few important questions: What are my goals for this space? How much am I able to invest financially? What features are essential for me? We emphasize the significance of planning in a kitchen remodel. Planning is essential to ensure you can remain within your budget and achieve everything you desire. Take the time to carefully consider your needs. Each kitchen and family has distinct priorities, so dedicate time to envisioning your ideal kitchen and assessing its feasibility within your financial constraints.

2. Know Your Budget

Start by establishing a budget for your kitchen renovation. Identify your priorities—whether it’s expanding cabinet and drawer space, installing a kitchen island, creating a dedicated food pantry, enhancing lighting, or other essentials—and allocate your funds accordingly. Throughout the project, regularly refer back to your budget to monitor expenses and ensure you’re meeting your financial goals for each phase of the renovation. This disciplined approach will help you achieve the kitchen you desire within your planned expenditure.

3. The Golden Triangle

This concept was developed in the 1940s to reduce unnecessary movement in the kitchen. It suggests the optimal distances between the three main points in the kitchen: the fridge, the oven, and the sink. No side of the imaginary triangle should be less than 3.94 feet (1.2 meters) or more than 8.86 feet (2.7 meters) long, and there should be no obstacles obstructing movement between these points.

4. Start Layout by Placing Appliances First

You’ll find it much easier to fit all your other items, like cabinets and drawers, around your large appliances. The main reason is that appliances come in fixed, specific dimensions, while cabinets and pantry spaces can typically be custom-designed to fit the remaining space. This approach is quicker and easier than trying to find appliances that fit later, which could severely limit your options.

5. Take Inventory of Your Kitchen

Begin by conducting a thorough inventory of your current kitchen to clarify your renovation objectives. Identify your most frequently used appliances, assess the existing traffic patterns, and consider how to optimize your floor plan for efficiency.

The more detailed the inventory, the better we can tailor the design to match how a family truly operates in their kitchen. We aim for designs that are practical and broadly useful, while still customizing to meet each family’s lifestyle needs. Ignoring these specifics would defeat the purpose of creating a personalized kitchen. This approach ensures that your remodel not only enhances aesthetics but also improves functionality based on your unique household dynamics.

6. Consider Enough Clearances

To prevent congestion in your kitchen, ensure adequate clearances are planned. Use a tape measure to carefully map out the space as needed. For instance, when seating at an island backs up against a refrigerator, ample room should be allocated for both island occupants and those accessing the fridge. Additionally, consider corner clearances and ensure that door and drawer hardware have enough space to function without obstruction from adjacent items. Taking these measurements into account will optimize both functionality and comfort in your kitchen design.

7. Well Planned Pantry

There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through your kitchen renovations and realizing that you don’t have enough space to store all your non-perishable food items, especially if you didn’t have a pantry to begin with. While abundant cabinetry can provide enough storage space, you might regret not having a dedicated pantry if you have to climb on your counters to reach food on the top shelf. Always evaluate whether you have space for a pantry if there isn’t one already and double-check your priorities before removing an existing pantry when changing up your layout. Check with a general contractor or builder to see if it’s possible to turn unused corner space into a walk-in pantry. If you’re working in a small space, consider creating a floor-to-ceiling cabinet pantry rather than a walk-in one.

8. Use Open Shelving as an Accent

Incorporating a section of open shelving into your kitchen is one of our favorite ways to display your collection while adding character to the space. Open shelving creates visual interest and allows you to introduce personal and decorative elements into a typically functional area. Choosing shelves instead of cabinets can also help maintain a lower budget since cabinets are more expensive. Additionally, installing LED strips under the shelves is a great way to create a focal point and highlight your displays.

9. Think Carefully About Lighting

Kitchen lighting is incredibly important, yet it’s easy to overlook while focusing on the elements visible in your floor plan. Ensuring that all your workspaces are properly lit and that there is adequate lighting throughout the room is crucial. This is especially important for countertops and kitchen islands in open-plan kitchens, which often lack natural light. Track lights and pendant lights are excellent choices for islands, while countertops can be effectively illuminated by recessed downlights or LED strip lighting under the cabinets.

10. Focus on Your Own Style

It’s easy to get swept up in the latest trends, but they can fall out of style just as quickly as they rise. If you enjoy following contemporary trends and redecorating as they evolve, that’s perfectly fine.

However, if you prefer a more enduring look, focus on a style that will resonate with you over time. Established interior design styles like minimalist, coastal, industrial, and modern offer timeless appeal. Consider what you truly like in terms of style and concentrate on that.

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