So you’re ready to remodel your kitchen. That’s fantastic! For many homeowners, remodeling is a journey with zigs and zags and a few unexpected plot twists. But you can minimize the stress by doing some careful planning — and adopting the right mindset. These six tips can help.
1. Spend time gathering remodel ideas
“The more work you can do on your own before you meet with a designer and get started, the better it will likely go,” says Lisa Hoffer, a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer with Shenandoah Cabinetry. Having a list of “must haves” — along with concrete ideas about what you like and don’t like — will set you up to be able to work with a Lowe’s in-store designer. “The more information you can provide to the designer at that point, such as clear understanding of your style, what you’d like to have in the kitchen, and your storage needs, the faster the process will go,” Hoffer says. Start gathering ideas from sites like Houzz, Pinterest, HouseBeautiful.com, ElleDecor.com, and CountryLiving.com.
2. Understand your actual (versus assumed) storage needs
Take inventory of where you are storing kitchen-related items. Are there small appliances or oversized pieces you are forced to store in your basement or garage that you’d love to be able to have enough room to store in your kitchen? “You need to let your kitchen designer know ahead of time about any special needs or types of storage so that they can help choose the cabinets that will work,” Hoffer says. “Be specific and make a list.”
On the flip side, Hoffer finds that homeowners often say they need more storage than they actually need. Before you meet with a designer and sketch any design out, go through your cabinets and purge all the old stuff, like that collection of plastic cups for kids (who are now grown) and other items no longer needed. “Most people will discover they have a lot of things they don’t use anymore,” Hoffer says. “Having to allocate a little less space for storage could free you up for open shelving or something decorative.”
3. Have a remodeling budget
It’s very important to be realistic about how much you want to spend. You don’t want to overspend and regret it, or fall in love with a design you simply can’t afford. Telling your kitchen designer your budget upfront is immensely helpful because it can spur a lot of creative ideas about how to make something work within budget. “Good ideas can get you further than an extensive remodel where you tear down walls,” Hoffer says. There are also lots of places to save in choice of materials or appliances — and if your kitchen designer understands the total amount you have to spend, they can present options along the way.
4. Take time to research a contractor
Not all remodels require the services of a contractor. But if you are moving a wall, moving electrical or plumbing, or making other structural changes — and you’re not able to do the work yourself — you’ll need a good contractor. “Talk to friends and neighbors in your local area who have worked with a contractor,” Hoffer says. “A personal recommendation is really key.” Look on social media, read reviews, or try Angie’s list. The earlier you can start to gather quotes from contractors, the better.
5. Have a temporary kitchen ready to go
Think about a space in your house where you can set up a temporary kitchen. For example, when Hoffer redid her kitchen, she was able to use the laundry room because there was already a sink. “With a microwave, toaster oven, hotplate, and crockpot, you can do almost anything,” Hoffer says. An extra fridge in the basement comes in handy, but you can always temporarily relocate your kitchen fridge to another room. Be prepared that you may be using the temporary kitchen for longer than you think, and plan meals accordingly, so that you don’t grow frustrated.
6. Anticipate the unexpected
“Have a realistic expectation that there might be delays,” Hoffer says. There will be hiccups that you can’t anticipate. Something is on back order. Someone is out sick for the day. An appliance is accidentally shipped in the wrong color. “There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait another two weeks because something has to be replaced,” she says. But if you have a plan in place and a flexible mindset, it will help you feel less anxious and more able to handle the unexpected.