If you’ve decided to go for a big kitchen reno, then you've probably got at least some idea of just how much planning is involved. And if it's your first time remodelling a major room in your home, it is inevitable that things will come up that you never could have predicted, so the more prepared you are when you begin, the lesser the accumulative blow when a surprise pops up. Let's take a look at a few fundamentals that may seem obvious, but need to be considered thoroughly before you commit.
Set a realistic and responsible budget
Kitchen remodelling is a huge undertaking and it's not the time to cut corners. You want to allocate enough funds to ensure that the remodel is worth it in the end; you don't want to have any regrets when you're finally finished and moved back into your kitchen space. A standard rule of thumb for any major home project is to add an extra 25% on top of your full reno costing for those inevitable surprise expenses. That is a lot of extra padding to fork out, but talk to anyone who has done a reno and you'd be hard pressed to find one person whose project didn't go over budget due to unforeseen issues. The very first day of our work started cost us an extra £1,000. When the cabinets were ripped out it revealed extensive damp damage that had eaten right through the brick, and it had to be repaired before we could proceed. We had no clue, there were no visible signs that a pipe had been leaking for the six years we had occupied the house. To set your basic budget for your ideal kitchen, first research several different kitchen remodels and aim to be sure of exactly what you want before you begin. Visit kitchen showrooms in person to get a realistic idea of surfaces, finishes and layouts, and see the difference in quality between low-end and high-end kitchens. You'll get a sense for which features you want to spend the big money on and where you can be more modest without compromising any quality or looks. When requesting kitchen remodel quotes from more than one company, remember that you are not just comparing costs; the features and the quality of both the components and the work (the latter being assessed by viewing completed projects in person or reading trustworthy reviews) are major factors to consider. Compare like for like so you can accurately assess the best value.
Bonus tip: Walk away if the showroom you're in uses plastic hinges on the cabinet doors! Cheap usually goes with cheap so beware flimsy doors, too. Heavy metal hinges cost more but they last and are well worth the spend. The little parts can add up but it will prove more costly in the end if you skimp on the parts that make your kitchen function; you'll likely be replacing them in just over a year and paying the labour costs, too.
Stick to a style theme
Have you ever been to a house where the kitchen felt out of place? Kitchen remodeling can be tricky because it relies so much on your visualising of the space from plans and how all of the elements relate in reality - no matter how realistically rendered they may be there will be surprises when it's finished. There are a lot of gorgeous design ideas that may tempt you to try to shoehorn an idea into your less than suitable space. And it's important to keep the kitchen in sync with the look and feel of the rest of the house, unless you plan to start with the kitchen and recreate the style throughout. Our home is our haven and needs to feel harmonious, so keep that mind if you're thinking of mixing bold styles, especially those that are very decorative and colourful; the clash could feel really unsettling. It is essential that you integrate the kitchen seamlessly with the rooms closest to it so as you move through your home it doesn't feel disjointed. Ultimately you want to create a flow and feel comfortable in your new kitchen.
Hire proven kitchen reno experts
I can't emphasise enough how important it is to hire good people. And don't take their word for it. Don't take chances with companies you don't know, even if they own a local showroom and seem more trustworthy than the big chains just because they're in your neighbourhood. By this I mean you should personally know at least one client who hired them and can recommend them without hesitation. If this isn't possible because you're new to the area and are having no luck asking around, speak to as many kitchen designers and builders as you can and first get a feel; use your instincts. If something feels off, walk away. Those that pass should agree to allow you to see their recent work. Happy customers are usually keen to show off their beautiful new kitchen and will gladly help the company bring in new business. Also, good designers and builders work hard to earn your business and they will be reliable and good communicators. If they miss your home appointment for a quote or are late without calling first, scratch them off the list, it's a sign that they aren't going to take your job seriously. It's kind of like dating, if they aren't trying hard to impress you right out of the gate, you will only be disappointed. Don't settle for anything less - remember, it's your home, your time and your money, and ultimately, your happiness!
If you'd like to see some of the planning and decision-making I went through you can catch up with my kitchen remodel posts!