Planning is Everything

Woman imagining the style of a new kitchen she's planning

Thinking About the Result You Want

A kitchen remodel is so much more than selecting a style and color for cabinetry. Because selecting those things is fun and inspiring, most homeowners begin there – saving pictures they like of styles and colors. The strong desire to make a change is important because it will take time to achieve the finished result. It’s also helpful for the designer to know your preferences, along with your budget, so they can guide you through the deeper choices that arise from there.

As an integrated part of a house, changes made – even if it is one separate room – impact the entire house in ways you may have not expected. Everything from building code requirements and permits, electrical capacity, and heating/cooling systems need to be addressed by experts. This is why a DIY remodel is not a wise idea. It is so important to work with an experienced designer who knows all about remodeling a home. Whole house style is important to consider, so the new kitchen will feel like it was always meant to be part of the whole. Unless of course you plan to start remodeling an entire house with the kitchen as the first part. Even then, you should have the whole house style in mind for the final outcome.

Kitchen remodeling is a multi-faceted project that requires careful planning, beginning at the time when you start to think about wanting to do the remodel. Imagine the result you want and figure out your budget, allowing for contingencies.

Homeowners doing research on a laptop computer and figuring out their budget

Determining Your Budget

If you do an online search for “rule of thumb for budgeting a kitchen remodel”, you’ll find that the answer depends on what you want to accomplish. You should plan to spend between 5% to 15% of your home’s value.

For example, if your home is valued at $300,000, you should plan to spend at least $15,000 on your kitchen remodel. At the higher end, you might spend up to $45,000. Are you simply replacing cabinets? Or gutting the room? In an older home, upgrading electrical service and/or plumbing might be necessary. Do you prefer to cook with natural gas, or propane? Do you already have the infrastructure, or need to add a new source? Are you expanding with an addition to the house? Are you changing from a separate room for the kitchen to an open floor plan? Are you planning to add sliding doors out to a new deck? Think about such things now, instead of trying to add them on later when it will add both cost and time to the project.

Financially, there are four principal factors to consider — if you spend too little by purchasing low quality cabinetry that will not last, you may lower the resale value of your home; while if you spend too much on the overall project, you may not recover the amount of your investment when you sell your home. You need to determine how much you can actually afford and how long you intend to stay in your home. An experienced designer can then guide you to make the best choices to suit your needs within your budget.

Beware of doing a vague online search such as, “How much should a 10×10 kitchen remodel cost?” The generalized answer given is, “A 10×10 square feet kitchen can cost you between $15,000 and $30,000. If broken down to the area’s price per square foot, it will cost you between $75 and $150 per square foot.”

That simplified search result doesn’t take into consideration many crucial factors. Starting with the geographic location of the home for example — like real estate prices, remodeling costs in Massachusetts (headquarters of Kitchen Views) are higher than many other states. Because of supply problems caused by the pandemic over the last couple of years, material costs have risen dramatically across the country. Construction labor shortages are also a factor in scheduling a remodeling project.

The quality of the cabinetry construction will also impact the cost. Big box stores sell cheaper cabinets, but the quality will match the price tag. Do you want a quick, inexpensive remodel in order to sell your house? Or do you want quality cabinetry that will stand the test of time with a busy family? Therefore, the guide to use 5–15% of your home’s value is the better estimate. But it is only an estimate since your specific situation and product choices will dictate actual costs.

We don’t want to discourage you from even considering a remodel but being an educated consumer will give you realistic expectations of cost and the length of time needed to accomplish a quality remodeling project. Getting it done right the first time is our goal, and the most cost-effective method.

Young woman shopping for new kitchen appliances

Planning Checklist

Now that you know your budget, follow this checklist so you have done all the necessary preliminary planning before you contact a designer. From that point, the designer will guide you through the entire process. We call it a design journey, and as with any journey worth taking, getting to your destination with a much more pleasant experience with a knowledgeable guide.

  • Appliances come first. A wide variety of brands, sizes, and specific features are available.
    • Do you have specific must-haves? Is baking something you love to do? Are you a gourmet cook and want a restaurant level stove? Wall ovens? Large family that needs a huge refrigerator and freezer?
    • Do you have a specific location in mind for each appliance? Your selections and placement needs are the foundation pieces that the designer will build around with cabinetry.
    • Ventilation such as over cooking appliances needs to be suitable for your cooking style, powerful enough for the task. But how it looks also varies widely, from blending in with the cabinetry to being a sleek, metallic statement piece.
    • If you plan to add several fancy new appliances, you’ll have to account for added energy requirements of the appliances you want. While new appliances may be more energy efficient, if you double the number of appliances in the kitchen that will add to the power consumption. Older homes may need to have electric service upgraded to handle increased appliance requirements.
  • Cabinetry is the next important foundation element.
    • If the budget is tight, and you want the cabinetry to withstand heavy use for many years, this is the next place to allocate the necessary funds.
    • Islands are popular because they can be multi-functional. Depending upon your needs and available space, it could be built mostly with cabinets. Or you might want to include a sink and/or appliances, and perhaps a seating area. A highly functional island will also require plumbing and electrical components. Or it can be a simple, small work area with seating for casual meals.
    • New storage accessories installed inside cabinets will help you to make the best use of each cabinet.
  • Countertops are a vital working component as well as a major decorative feature.
    • There are key factors to consider such as maintenance requirements of particular materials. Granite has become popular, but it’s not the best choice for everyone. While it is an extremely hard material that can withstand heat and scratches, it requires annual maintenance with a sealer to protect it from staining because it is porous and can stain without protection. Quartz might suit you better for easy care.
    • In addition, pricing for stone countertops varies tremendously and will need to be priced per stone per the final layout.
    • Your designer can inform you of the pros and cons of various materials so you can select the option that is best for your needs.
    • If you are including an island, you might choose a different material for specific uses for the island instead of matching it to the perimeter counters. A popular choice is for the island to purposely look different than the other cabinetry and countertops.
  • Sinks come in many shapes and sizes. Some people like apron style sinks in the popular farmhouse design style. But those are available in porcelain or metal, so some people like the in a contemporary style kitchen, too. Perhaps you want a small prep sink in the island, with a large sink on the perimeter of the kitchen. All kinds of options are possible. A wide variety of faucets with varying features are also available.
  • Flooring options have evolved to include hardwood since finishes can now better withstand spills and heavy traffic.
    • In an open floor plan, many people like hardwood to flow throughout the living space. Engineered wood flooring is another option.
    • Vinyl flooring has appeal for homes with pets and it comes in either tiles or traditional sheets.
    • Keep an open mind and your designer can explain the pros and cons of available materials.
  • Windows and Doors are often replaced during a remodel, depending on the condition of existing items, or new needs. Think about decorative millwork trim and whether you want to finish them with paint or stain.
  • Light fixtures can be both functional and decorative. Many people like to have pendant lighting over an island that is used for meals and task lighting over the sink. A wide range of options are available.
  • Finishing touches include decorative hardware for the cabinets and decorative items for the walls or shelves. Of course, you could decide on these later, but be sure to set aside a portion of your budget for them.

When you work with Kitchen Views, you will have a professional designer guiding you through the process. That includes using their experience collaborating with contractors to help keep your project on track. Also, you have easy access to all the building materials needed for a renovation through the National Lumber Family of Companies.

These planning ideas are from Josh Simmons. Based in our East Hartford location, he travels across the region designing beautiful homes. Check out his portfolio for more inspiration.

Josh Simmons
Kitchen Designer
Kitchen Views at National Building Products
367 Ellington Rd, East Hartford, CT

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