Planning your kitchen remodel can be a fun and exciting process. There are styles, colors and finishes to choose, layouts to consider, and lighting options to explore. However, you may become overwhelmed by the options, or confused by all the possibilities: How much storage will I need? Should I purchase wood or laminate cabinets? What’s more practical, a stationary or mobile counter island?
To answer these (and other specific questions), it helps to first have a clear idea of your family’s kitchen needs. Having a blueprint for the end product before you begin brainstorming, helps guide you through the process. So, let’s begin with the basics!
Here are 7 key questions to ask before kitchen remodeling:
1. What mood do you want to create in the kitchen?
As you envision your new kitchen, think about the kind of mood or atmosphere you want to prevail in the space. Will it be a Zen-like retreat from the busier rooms in the home where you can cultivate herb gardens and nurture slow simmering pots of soup? Or will it be the epicenter of a hectic family life, whizzing with bright energy and activity? You can create the feel of an intimate kitchen with dark-paneled cabinets and soft, under-cabinet lighting. Alternately, you can enhance the bright, celebratory mood of a kitchen with intense accent colors, light-paneled cabinets, sparkling stainless steel and large, glossy countertops.
Looking for inspiration? Snip photos of kitchens you love from magazines and keep them in your kitchen remodel planning folder for reference. It helps to gather colors, materials, and features that appeal to you, as well. The color palette you choose will go a long way to realizing your initial vision. So will lighting choices, backsplashes and cabinet hardware.
2. How will we use the kitchen?
A kitchen’s functionality will ultimately depend on how the space is used.
A family with kids of varying ages might want food on lower storage shelves or an accessible microwave so that older kids can help themselves to their after-school snack, while a retired couple might opt for an island with a cooktop and bar sink.
If there are multiple cooks in the family, it might be practical to install a double wall-oven, and if entertaining is a top priority, you can add a counter-style dining area or a sophisticated wine storage unit. If you only want to use the space for dining occasionally, consider space-saving options, such as folding bar stools or designs that tuck under a counter or work island.
3. Am I staying or selling?
According to HGTV.com, unless a homeowner is about to put their house on the market in the next 12-24 months, any rehab project in the kitchen should be with their personal lifestyle in mind. Far too often, people remodel with a resell in mind, even though they have no plans of listing in the near future. But trends change and tastes vary. You may as well design for the kitchen of your dreams, and worry about resale when it’s time.
And if you are listing, be advised that most potential buyers are more concerned with the condition of the roof than the types of counters you have.
4. What are my must-haves?
Because your budget is fixed, it helps to have an idea of what features you absolutely must have in your new kitchen, and what features you can stand to lose. Making a list of “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” beforehand will help a lot when making decisions later.
Remember, kitchen remodels are about compromise. For example, if you’re a home chef who needs lots of counter space for prep work – maybe even a sprawling counter-island – than put this item at the top of your “must-haves” list and design around it. You may lose budget for those high-end appliances, but you’ll make up for it with the storage that comes below a big counter island.
5. Where will my work stations fit in?
Even a small space can have effective “work stations,” which optimize traffic and create areas with specific functions. A prime kitchen design will contain work stations to manage traffic flow between the stove, sink, and refrigerator. If the distance is too short, the work area will be cramped. If too far, the cook will become worn out from scurrying between them. Additionally, work stations create functional counter areas with defined purposes. Rolling carts offer storage and workspace, and their mobility frees up built-in space when necessary.
By creating work stations, you can maximize your kitchen’s functionality and determine your final kitchen layout.
6. How can I maximize storage space?
Charleston-based interior designer Kim Nielsen advises taking inventory of what you have and how you can store it. “Think about all of your pots, pans, plates, spices, cutting boards, gadgets, serving platters, baking equipment, trays, wine bottles, and even think about where to store your appliances and garbage can,” she said. “Use simple dividers to get organized and consider using deep pullout drawers instead of lower base cabinets for everyday pots and pans.”
Nielsen even said that she often receives random “thank yous” from clients for installing deep drawers in their kitchens. Someday your lower back and knees may thank you as well.
Cabinets up to the ceiling line are a great solution for long-term storage, such as holiday bakeware and turkey platters. They also create the feel of a larger space by making the room look bigger. Pull-out interiors and rotating carousels can make accessing tough corners easier. Even drawer organizers can make a big difference; better organization translates into more space, and in a small kitchen that’s a plus.
7. How can I visually expand the space?
You’d be surprised how much a color or surface choice can affect the feel of a space. Lighter colors and reflective surfaces like stainless steel, chrome, and high-gloss fronts tend to open up a small space.
And never underestimate the transformative effect of well-placed lighting! Under cabinet lighting and other options can make small, gloomy spaces appear more inviting. “Lighting is everything, and make sure you have enough in your budget at the end,” said Nielsen. “A designer or lighting specialist can help you figure out the correct size, quantity and spacing for pendants to go over an island, for example.”
If you have any questions or want inspiration or guidance at any step along your remodel process, contact the experts at GNH! We can help you design, plan and brainstorm a new kitchen remodel with an eye on your budget.
Sources: “Renovating a Small Kitchen? 10 Questions to Ask Before You Begin“, bobvila.com; “ “10 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Remodeling Your Kitchen“, HGTV.com.