13 Smart Ideas for a Kitchen Remodel
It seems like homeowners are always looking for smart ideas for a kitchen remodel. In the past, the kitchen had only one purpose — meal preparation. However, today’s kitchens have become the center of the home. Now, they are multi-tasking spaces. They’re a place to cook, a place for family to come together at the end of the day, and a place to entertain friends. Further, people use their kitchens for food prep, cooking, clean-up, zoom meetings, eating, entertaining, paying bills, doing homework, storing wine – and more.
That’s why, when thinking about a kitchen remodel, the project can seem overwhelming with its many options.
Smart Ideas for a Kitchen Remodel
Smart Idea for a Kitchen Remodel #1. Work With a Kitchen Designer
Kitchen designers are the experts. They know how to smooth out the construction process. They’ve seen things happen in every kitchen remodel project, good and bad.
A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. They can help make decisions about where to spend and where to make cuts.
A good designer can help you get your dream kitchen and keep it within budget. An experienced designer has the know-how to stretch your dollars as far as they’ll go.
A kitchen designer will:
- Show you samples
- Explain the many choices available
- Suggest products that will work best in your space
- Tell you how to stretch your budget to get as many items on your wish list as possible
Smart Idea for a Kitchen Remodel #2: Educate Yourself About Costs Before You Start
Professionals offer this piece of advice: do research before you begin anything. The costs involved to purchase appliances, cabinets, flooring, lighting, countertops and the labor to make your dream kitchen a reality can be overwhelming.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, cabinetry is the biggest high-ticket item to prepare for in your budget, followed by:
- Lighting, plumbing, doors and windows, walls and ceilings
Remodeling Magazine does a cost-vs-value analysis every year for home remodeling projects. Their report for 2023 shows that the average cost for a midrange kitchen remodel is almost $77,939 and that is up from last year.
Of course, this average cost for a kitchen renovation depends on many factors — including the size of the kitchen, the quality of the materials, the complexity of the job and where you live.
A good resource online to educate yourself is the “big box” stores. There you can see, learn about and discover prices of the latest appliances, materials, cabinetry, countertops, flooring, lighting, backsplashes. They post what’s available and what items cost.
Smart Idea for a Kitchen Remodel #3. Establish a Realistic Budget
Be honest with yourself about what you can actually afford to spend on a kitchen remodel project. There are many grades of cabinets to choose from. Possibly custom is not within your budget, but semi-custom will fit and look and function much the same as ones from the high-end company. The same goes for appliances, countertop materials and every other aspect of your kitchen remodel project.
Smart Idea for a Kitchen Remodel #4. Do Your Planning. Then Plan Some More to Avoid Costly Change Orders
You can’t plan enough. How much time should you spend planning for your kitchen remodel? The NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) recommends at least six months. Why that much time? If you’ve shopped around and evaluated all items for your new kitchen, you (hopefully) won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction.
Depending on how far along in the project you are, change orders can be anything from no big deal to a major issue. Not only will changes delay progress, they will also cost you. And they cause delays that extend the project timeline. Be aware that changes come with consequences.
Smart Idea for a Kitchen Remodel #5. Be Prepared to Answer Designer’s Questions
The many choices that go into a kitchen remodel can be overwhelming. Your kitchen designer has the know-how and expertise to guide you and help you make good choices. However, to get to the best results, he or she is going to ask you for a lot of information. Following is a sample of what you can expect.
- Make lists of what you like and don’t like about your present kitchen
- Visit friends’ remodeled kitchens and hear their stories about the remodel process
- Visit showrooms and/or home improvement centers and ask questions about price, durability and functionality
- Take lots of notes
- Search the web for resources and bookmark products and materials that you like
- Take screen shots when you see a layout or cabinets or a sink that you like. Save them to show to your designer
- Sign up with a site that lets you share using the cloud, like Pinterest or Instagram. Save photos of design elements that inspire you
More Smart Ideas for a Kitchen Remodel
Smart Idea #6. Be Prepared to Tell Your Designer What You Want to Fix
Discuss with your kitchen designer the problems you want to correct with your kitchen remodel project, such as:
- Are the cabinets and/or appliances broken or not functioning?
- Is there enough space for more than one cook to work at the same time in the kitchen?
- Do you want a more open floor plan? Is the kitchen cut-off from other living areas?
- Is there enough counter space?
- Can you easily access food, dishes, utensils, pots and pans?
- Do you have enough storage for all your food prep and clean up equipment?
- Is your kitchen where everyone drops their things when they walk in the door? Do you want to change this?
- Would you like a better view from the kitchen sink?
Smart Idea #7. Include Ergonomics, Accessibility and/or Universal Design
Think about incorporating elements of universal design into your new kitchen, so that you can stay in place as you age. You’re the one who is going to live in this space, and with proper planning, you can enjoy it for a long time.
Universal design is for everyone, no matter their age or physical condition. Talk to your kitchen designer about including features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone, as well as having it be a pleasure to work in.
These features may include:
- Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets that eliminate the need to bend, stoop or squat
- Counter heights that work for people standing, sitting on bar stools or sitting in a wheelchair
- A wall oven placed at a convenient height to avoid having to bend over when baking
- A dishwasher raised to a height that eliminates having to bend over to access dishes
Smart Idea #8. Plan for the Unexpected
Even if you think you’ve planned for every eventuality, you’ll need to expect the unexpected. Your kitchen designer will likely build in a time cushion for completing your project. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then tell the contractor you want it done before Halloween.
Most importantly: build a cushion into your budget. Everything costs more than you expect.
Smart Idea #9. Make Your Product Selections Before Construction Begins
When you make your product selections before construction actually begins, contractors can make more accurate bids. Further, you’ll reduce the risk of delays because of back orders.
Smart Idea #10. If Budget is Important, Keep the Same Footprint
Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur. So, if possible, keep appliances, plumbing fixtures and walls in the same location.
Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project creates. Now that’s a smart idea!
Smart Idea #11. Set Realistic Expectations About Appliances
It’s easy to get carried away when shopping for new appliances. A 36” six-burner professional-grade LaCorneau range and SubZero refrigerator may be on your wish list. However, realistically, they may not fit your lifestyle, the way you cook or your budget.
At the end of the day, appliances are merely tools used to cook and store food. Your new kitchen should be about the design and functionality of the entire kitchen, not only the appliances.
So, unless you’re an exceptional chef who cooks a lot, design pros recommend spending your remodel dollars on long-lasting features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring. Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports. You don’t have to sacrifice style just because you can’t afford (or don’t want to pay for) a Wolfe range or SubZero fridge.
Smart Idea #12. Be Quality-Conscious
Functionality and durability should be top priorities when selecting the products to go in your new kitchen. Resist low-quality bargain-priced items. Choose products that combine low maintenance with long, even lifetime, warranties, such as all-wood cabinets. Quartz countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for years.
Your kitchen designer will guide your selection process and help you get the best value for your remodel dollar.
You may have dreamed about a new kitchen with beautiful Carrera marble countertops. However, ask yourself if marble is really practical for your active family? If you have to clean up every time a drop of red wine spills, you’re going to start hating it. There are many attractive, more durable and manmade materials. You may be happier with one of those in the long run.
Smart Idea #13. Establish Good Communication with Your Contractor
When you have a good rapport with your contractor and his subs, your project should keep running smoothly.
Let your contractor know before any demolition begins what your house rules are. Be clear about smoking, music noise levels, available bathrooms and parking.
Further, be kind. Give praise when it is warranted and resist pestering workers with conversation and questions when they are working.
Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: In addition to being the center of home life, a beautiful new kitchen is a source of satisfaction and happiness.
People want a new kitchen that’s more than a space to cook in. A new kitchen is about improving the quality of your at-home life. Isn’t the kitchen the first place your children run to when they come home from school? And when you host a party, don’t your guests end up in the kitchen? Do you and your partner enjoy preparing a meal together?
By following our 13 smart ideas for a kitchen remodel, your new kitchen is sure to become your “happy place”.
Kitchen Design Partner exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.