Kitchen remodels are among the most popular home improvement projects. From revamping the floor plan, to boosting home resale value, updating old appliances, adding storage space, or simply giving the room a fresh new look, the motivations for remodeling a kitchen can be as diverse as the homeowners who use them. But designing a comfortable, stylish and functional new kitchen can be a complicated, overwhelming endeavor—unless you know where to start.
Step one: consider your lifestyle
The first step in planning a kitchen remodeling project is to consider your lifestyle. If your kitchen is usually abuzz with casual family activities rather than weekly soirees, for example, don’t be tempted to spend your money on state-of-the-art high-end design elements your family won’t use. Think about your kitchen’s purpose. Who spends time in the room? What types of meals do you prepare? Which appliances do you use most often? Is the layout convenient?
What kitchen features are most important?
Now think about which features are most important to incorporate into your new design. If your kitchen serves as a family hangout and dining area, opt for a functional design that includes low-maintenance surfaces and plenty of storage and seating. For frequent entertaining, focus on creating an open, welcoming space with attention to style. If you’re the gourmet type, installing a professional grade oven, multiple sinks and task lighting will support your culinary creativity, while you might stick to the basics if you specialize more in microwaved fare.
Design your kitchen
Once you’ve brainstormed ideas for the functional elements of your kitchen, begin working on style and aesthetics. Browse through home design magazines and websites to collect images of designs you love (and hate). Pay attention to colors, materials and architecture as you build your wish list. Visit showrooms and try out online design planning tools—like the ones offered by the National Kitchen and Bath Association and several home improvement companies and magazines—for more ideas.
Make a budget for your kitchen remodeling project
Don’t forget the business aspects of your remodeling project, namely, creating a workable budget and hiring experienced contractors. Kitchen renovations typically add significant value to a home, but don’t base spending on potential investment returns; instead, develop a budget that you can afford and that allows you to achieve your design goals without compromising quality, and reserve a portion (10-20 percent) for unexpected expenses.
Also take a pragmatic approach to researching contractors. Look at examples of potential contractors’ recent work (visit current job sites, too) and interview references about their experiences. Be honest with contractors and designers about your budget and what you want to accomplish. While good planning will help to make your kitchen remodeling project seem far less daunting, it takes the right contractors to bring your plans to life.