Designing a Kitchen
The kitchen is such an important room in the home, and it is almost always the room most homebuyers want to update. Buying an older home can almost guarantee a future kitchen update. The only way to truly get the perfect kitchen of your dreams is to build a brand new one in a custom home! Updating older kitchens can be very costly, and there are always limitations to work around. For example, my own kitchen is lovely and just the way I want it. Except that it MUST have a column running through the ceiling to support the strange drop ceiling over the kitchen. There was structurally no way around this without demoing the entire drop ceiling (which we did raise an entire foot during our remodel.)
First of all, you have to decide a few things.
-How long do you plan to live in this home?
-Will the update improve the resale value of the home?
-What is your maximum out of pocket budget for the update?
Your answers to these 3 questions form the foundation of all decisions moving forward! Only going to live in the home for a little longer? Probably not worth spending a full remodel amount unless the kitchen is just in dire need. For resale value, will the remodel cost be more than the value you’d get back when selling? Sometimes this is ok, especially if YOU get to be the one to enjoy the update for years before selling! (That’s what we chose…hint hint. Remodel it just the way you want it, even if it costs more, and then stay put for years!) Is your budget even feasible for a remodel? Thanks to home improvement shows and a general lack of education within the consumer realm about actual cost….most clients have an unrealistic expectation of what they can get for their money. I have to be the bearer of bad news a LOT!
Ok, so you’ve answered those 3 questions…now what?? This allows you to decide which project level best suits you. Here are what I consider the 3 main levels of updates when it comes to kitchens.
1. Bare Bones Face Lift
This update is a simple one and often falls more into the affordable category. You’d update perhaps the color of the cabinets, maybe a new backsplash, and some new cabinet hardware. Maybe a new light fixture too! You’d be shocked at how greatly this Bare Bones Face Lift actually improves a kitchen! Check out this one I did for my client about six months ago!
2. The Mid-Range Update
This type of update costs about double what the Bare Bones update does. You’d likely do everything mentioned in the Bare Bones, but add in new countertops, sink, faucet, lighting, wall color and a new appliance or two. But, you’d likely be keeping cabinet footprint as is, and not changing much about the function of the space. This level of update CAN feel entirely like a new room! It is absolutely a huge change!!
3. The Gut
This level of update is exactly what it sounds like….starting over! All new cabinets, with more functional cabinet arrangement and prettier style. All new floors, counters, appliances….EVERYTHING! Our kitchen was a gut. We even took the old sheet rock off and put up new stronger board that could hold the weight of the brick wall. This is the most expensive type of remodel, but it’s the most fun!! Sometimes a project falls somewhere between a Mid-Range and a Gut. You can’t always classify into the 3 main levels. But knowing these can help you to formulate a game plan! This kitchen I did last year fell in between a mid-Range and a Gut. We did remove windows and pantry, add in a whole new run of cabinets, and gave her a working pantry. Here is the before and after!
Ok…so I’ve pinpointed which level is perfect for us….NOW WHAT!?
Kara's 10 Steps To A Successful Kitchen Update
- Start collecting inspiration images for your kitchen, either on Pinterest or Houzz.
- Find a designer to guide you through the entire process. I’d love to help you! But there are many designers that would gladly guide you to keep you from making costly mistakes. A designer is a MUST for a kitchen update!
- Decide on flooring material and countertop material…not the actual selections….but the product. Wood floors? Or vinyl? Tile? Granite counters? Or Quartz?
- Have the designer make the selections for your kitchen, or at least go with them to do so. A designer can be quicker and more cost effective (if hourly) if the client does NOT accompany them for selections. It’s ok to let this go and TRUST them in this process!
- Work with the designer to find a reputable general contractor to carry out the hard work. This can be tricky. Don’t always choose the cheaper guy….you get what you pay for!
- Make sure the finish selections you chose are what’s on the selections spreadsheet, and sign off indicating all products being ordered are exactly what was either presented to you or chosen by you.
- Sit back and watch your house become an absolute DISASTER! It’s true! In order for it to become beautiful, it MUST go through the very messy changes.
- Keep an eye on the progress of construction, and stay in touch with both your designer and contractor. If design-based questions arise, call me! If you’re unsure of something….call me!
- Watch the finishing touches like lighting and backsplash absolutely transform your space! This is so exciting.
- Get a deep cleaning scheduled for soon after construction ends, and make sure to change your air filters many times throughout the process. Now ENJOY!!!! Show it off! Host parties!
Which level is appropriate for YOUR kitchen? What’s holding you back from updating?