There are infinite moving parts when it comes to planning a kitchen remodel. It’s like the ultimate puppeteering act of coordinating workers, deliveries, and installations.
So before you jump into a major overhaul, stop to consider the dos and don’ts of your remodel. We’ve got a long list of don’ts below to help you sift down to the dos.
1. Don't Skip Detailed Planning
Before any appliance or wall is removed, put your pen to paper to create a thorough plan.
A project plan involves several steps, so think them through and write them down or use a computer software program to stay organized.
Start with a dream list. Then get pricing and whittle down the dream list to the essentials-plus list. This is so you can have everything you need, a bit of the extra you might want, and still respect your budget.
Create a line-item budget with everything you can think of. Include the costs of paying workers, the general contractor, subcontractors, and anyone else who might work onsite. You’ll also need to factor in all materials and appliances. If you’re tackling the project DIY style, figure out what additional tools you’ll need to buy.
Choose your flooring, counters, appliances, sink, faucet, windows, exhaust fan, paint, lighting, and all other essential components of the remodel. Price them out as accurately as possible and include them in the budget.
Also factor in permits and inspections. The planning stage is the most important because it brings reality into focus. If you walk into the project with nothing but a dream, you’ll almost certainly blow up the budget and create big headaches.
Your project plan should also include timelines. Figure out goals to have each aspect of the project done. This will lay out the expectations for your contractor and other workers, plus help you get supplies and appliances delivered during the proper timelines.
2. Don't Deflate the Budget
We touched on the budget above. That line-item budget should be as accurate as possible, backed up with real-world data. One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is underestimating how much a kitchen remodel will cost.
Commonly it goes something like this: They see a type of cabinet they like and launch into the process of replacing them. Since the countertop needs to be removed, they decide to install new counters.
Then they decide it’s a good time to upgrade the appliances. And on and on. That’s not the most effective or budget-friendly way to approach a kitchen remodel.
Even if you know you’re planning a remodel, your budget may not be complete, or you fail to see the gap between the product at a good price and the type or quality of product you really want.
Don’t put those cabinets on the budget until you’ve decided they are the ones you’ll be buying. That way, you don’t end up upgrading without considering the effect on the budget.
3. Don't Waste Space
There are countless ways to layout a kitchen. However, even if your space is huge, you’ll want to make the most efficient use of it. Take cabinets all the way to the ceiling and remove covered soffits if present.
Make every step count across the kitchen. You’ll be making the trek constantly, so map things out for optimal efficiency. Also make every drawer and cupboard count when it comes to organization.
4. Don't Be Overconfident
You know you have our support if you plan to approach your kitchen remodel with DIY goggles. Just make sure you can see clearly through them. While it’s great to dig in once you have a plan together, pause to be honest about your capabilities.
If you’ve been a contractor for years, great, you probably can take it on. However, if you’re hoping to learn en route, there are probably things you need to get help with.
Figure out your skills, tools, and abilities. Also figure out what you don’t know and locate friends or family to give you guidance and an extra hand.
5. Don't Refuse to Hire Professionals
Sometimes it’s just best to let someone with training and experience tackle aspects of the project you’re not equipped to handle. This is especially true when it comes to systems that need to pass inspection, like electrical wiring, plumbing, and tapping into the HVAC work.
Before you start the kitchen remodel, get a few bids. You’ll need those estimates for your budget anyway. That way, you can get your head around the fact you’re going to spend money paying others. It’s okay, as long as it’s in the budget!
6. Don't Forget to Put Flooring in First
The flooring should be installed before the appliances or even the cabinets. Yes, that means you’ll need to figure out the height of the flooring if your counters and island are to sit on it.
Failing to factor in the flooring can cause issues with where the top of the counter sits, therefore where the backsplash hits, and perhaps other measurements as well.
7. Don't Restrict Walkways
Although you don’t want to be wasteful with space, it’s essential to be vigilant in allowing room to move freely. You may even want to leave an appropriate width for walker and wheelchair use.
At a minimum, make sure two people can pass each other while carrying trays or dishes. Also confirm the oven, dishwasher, and refrigerator doors have room to open without blocking traffic.
8. Don't Revamp the Footprint Unnecessarily
The best way to keep the budget under control is to keep the footprint the same. That means not rearranging the location of appliances or cabinets. The closer you can stay to the current floorplan, the better it will be for the bottom line.
However, if there are safety or functional issues you need to address, just do your homework and factor in the cost to do the job right.
9. Don't Install Unprotected Hardwood
There are many flooring choices that respond well to the demands of a busy kitchen. Tile, vinyl, and linoleum are all great choices to handle the foot traffic, spills, and water present in the space.
Hardwood flooring is not the best option since it can suffer damage from water and moisture. However, there are types of hardwood flooring that come with a protective coating to minimize damage when exposed to water or spills.
10. Don't Forget Function
Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the details of the remodel. While you’re busy choosing the finish of the cabinets and floors, paint colors, appliances, and faucet, remember to consider the function of the room.
Design your space for your family. Decide whether that means having a kitchen island with seating, a large table, a space for homework, or open shelving for your cookbook collection.
Everyone has their unique traditions in the kitchen so suit yours to match. Decide if you need a small or large space, configure cabinets to meet your cooking style (pan rack, spice drawer, baking sheets, etc.), and plan space for your favorite small appliances.
11. Don't Order the Wrong Appliances
Buy your appliances early in the process. You don’t have to have them onsite, but you need to know the size of each before installing cabinets. Also make sure you order the right appliances for your energy setup.
For example, don’t order a gas range if you have electric hookups. Plan for a microwave or toaster oven model that mounts above the stove versus a countertop version.
Importantly, make sure your appliances will fit into their designated spaces, both horizontally and vertically.
12. Don't Rush It
Kitchen remodels are stressful and time consuming. You’re going to have to be patient with the process if the timelines get derailed. This is not a weekend warrior project. Plan for three to six months and be prepared if it goes longer.
13. Don't Ignore the Triangle Layout
The famous triangle layout for the kitchen is ubiquitous because it’s efficient. Lay out your kitchen, so the stove, sink, and refrigerator create a triangle whenever possible. This keeps steps to a minimum and efficiency to a maximum.
14. Don't Omit a Trash Plan
While you’re calculating locations for your pots, casserole dishes, and silverware, make sure you also have a plan for your waste receptacles. It can be a slide out drawer built into your cabinets or a space that’s tall enough beneath the sink. Just remember to include it in the design.
15. Don't Mess Up the Island Size
Your kitchen island can be a saving grace when it comes to additional counter space, seating, storage, etc. However, if you make it too large, it will become an obstruction and a headache. If you make it too small, you’ll constantly be fishing for more space.
Plan carefully to maximize the available space with the features you want without overdoing it.
16. Don't Choose Cheap Materials
Everyone likes to save money. But when it comes to a valuable improvement like the kitchen, invest in it with quality materials. Skip the pressboard in favor of real wood cabinets. Avoid sheet vinyl to install ceramic tile or luxury vinyl planks instead.
17. Don't Skip Protection for Surrounding Areas
When working on your kitchen remodel, remember to protect the surrounding surfaces. You don’t want to have to make repairs to the existing floor, wall, or ceiling materials when you finish texturing and spray painting the kitchen.
Put up plastic in the doorways to keep all sprays and dust within the kitchen space. Also use drop cloths or sheeting as necessary.
18. Don't Disconnect From Surrounding Rooms
The more open your floor plan is, the more important it is to create a cohesive interior design throughout the spaces. It’s not very relaxing to have a space that’s wildly different from one room to the next.
If your kitchen is open to the living room or dining room, consider the design in those rooms as your work on your kitchen remodel. Even if the kitchen sits separate from other spaces, make sure the colors, textures, and prints you choose connect in some way with the adjacent rooms.
19. Don't Guess on Outlets
If you started your journey with a visit to the county or city planning department, you’ll know there are codes pertaining to spacing and installation of outlets in the kitchen. Don’t try to skirt those rules.
20. Don't Forget Storage
While you’re focused on the cabinet door and light fixture choices, remember to factor in copious storage. Add in some specialty features, such as a holder for pot lids and adjustable shelving for cups or cereal boxes.
Also make sure you have a pantry or food storage area. It’s no fun to constantly have to rearrange the cupboard just to find what you’re looking for.
21. Don't Overlook Lighting
Lighting should be a budget line item, and not just for the central fixture in the room. You’ll want drop light, recessed lights, or strip lights over the bar and sink. You’ll also want task lighting underneath the cabinets. Be sure to include a budget to pay an electrician, as appropriate.
22. Don't Discount Seating
The kitchen is a popular place. If you’re renovating the dining room at the same time, make sure there’s adequate seating. This can be at the kitchen bar, the dining table, or in a kitchenette in the corner. Also keep a stool handy so the cook can rest between tasks.
23. Don't Slack on Counter Space
If you have the room, add counter space, especially if you love to cook. There’s never enough room for baking, laying out sheets of roasted vegetables, prepping food, etc.
24. Don't Forgo the Backsplash
The backsplash does more than simply compliment your interior design. It offers protection for the wall against water, grease, and food spills. Remember to find a tile, sheet laminate, or other option to do the job.
25. Don't Omit Organizational Tools
The kitchen is your workshop. Make sure you have the right tools for the job. Decide between a knife magnet that mounts to the wall or a knife holder that sits on the counter.
Create a baking space where you can organize baking goods alongside specialty pans and tools. If you’re more into cooking, make sure the pots and pans are easily accessible and lids are at the ready. Decide whether spatulas and serving spoons will go into a drawer or a crock on the counter.
Think about the height of the cooks and adjust shelving accordingly. Evaluate whether items are appropriately located for a right-handed or left-handed person. This may also affect the direction the cupboard doors open.
Kitchen remodels can be overwhelmingly stressful. But with a plan and some flexibility, you’ll get the job done and reap the rewards of your new space. To further your planning, check out Kitchen Island—Yay or Nay? and review this Kitchen Remodeling Checklist.