DIY Kitchen Tips

Put these 10 steps into play to ensure that your DIY kitchen remodel runs smoothly, stays on budget, and ends successfully.

Whether you're giving your kitchen a quick-fix facelift, a partial makeover, or a back-to-the-studs renovation, proper planning upfront ensures you'll get the desired results without any budget-busting glitches along the way. Here are 10 preconstruction strategies that will help you create kitchen redesigns perfectly suited to your lifestyle needs and your DIY skills.

1. Take stock. There are reasons you want to redo your kitchen. Jot down it's deficits -- lack of storage, countertops, style, seating, or aisle space -- and then create a list that prioritizes the forms and functions you want to include in your new kitchen. Note elements such as faucets, appliances, or countertops, that you will reuse in the new kitchen. Determine how much money you wish to budget for the project.

2. Verify dimensions. Measure the length of each wall, the width of the room, and the ceiling height. Reaching into a neighboring room for more space? Add that footage to your measurements before making a sketch of the new kitchen: mark window and door placement on the sketch. Or, use kitchen design software to generate a scale drawing that can be later filled in as you hone your design.

3. Study up! Visit kitchen showrooms and home centers to look at cabinetry, surfaces, space-stretching organizers, appliances, hardware, and even layouts. Flip through kitchen-design magazines, check out online retailers' catalogs, and visit BHG.com to find tried-and-true kitchen makeover ideas.

4. Finalize the layout. Sketch in work stations to create a compact work triangle that includes ample runs of countertop. Draw in islands and eating areas and position sinks and seating to face windows. (Click here to learn more about laying out a kitchen.)

5. Compare prices. When you know how you want your new kitchen to look and work, make an itemized list (corresponding to Step 1 list) of first and second choices for each component (i.e. refaced/replaced cabinets, custom/stock cabinets, quartz/laminate countertops, hardwood/porcelain tile floors) that includes all purchase and installation costs associated with each item.

Learn more about kitchen remodeling costs.

6. Evaluate difficulty. Review the list to assess which remodeling tasks you are comfortable doing yourself or with the help of friends; tasks that require further instruction (think free tiling classes at a local home center); and jobs better left to a professional (electric or plumbing). Relatively easy DIY tasks include repainting cabinets, laying flooring, tiling backsplashes, and replacing sinks, faucets, light fixtures, and cabinet hardware.

7. Get bids. Using professionals for parts of the project? Get bids from reputable contractors to compare for best value. Ask for and check recommendations before you finalize your choice.

8. Fix a budget. Add the professionals' costs to your list, review all costs, and revise your selections as needed to fit your budget. If special or must-have items appear too costly, expand your search to reuse centers, online retailers, stone suppliers, and local millwork companies for more affordable components. Also, if you will be buying most items at a single home center or building supply store, ask for a volume discount.

More: Determine you kitchen budget.

9. Pay attention to time. Determine how long it will take to gather or receive every component needed to complete your kitchen remodel. If possible, don't start the project until all materials are on-site or you're sure they will be delivered in a timely manner. It's important to check that materials, such as ceramic tiles, cabinets, and floorboards, are undamaged and can be installed without a hitch so the project stays on schedule.

10. Consider outgoing and incoming. Think about what you're going to do with the kitchen's old fittings. If they're in good shape, donate them to a reuse center. If they're not, you may need to rent a dumpster. Also, set aside ample, easily accessed space to store incoming furnishings and fixtures until they're needed.

Resources for You

Use our kitchen remodeling guide to help you plan your perfect kitchen.

Get the Guide

Browse the Decorating Gallery and find inspiration from hundreds of kitchen photos.

Kitchen Gallery

Learn how to do several top DIY kitchen projects with our step-by-step videos:

How to Tile a Backsplash

How to Grout Tile

How to Cut Tile

Install Laminate Floors

Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Install New Cabinet Hardware


Convert Cabinets to Open Shelving
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