Remodeling a Kitchen

Are you remodeling your kitchen but don't know where to start? Take some tips from a design pro and ask yourself these questions to help get your kitchen remodeling project started.


Q: Remodeling my kitchen is so overwhelming! I've been dreaming of my new kitchen, but I'm frozen like a deer in the headlights because I don't know where to begin. Where is the best place to start?

A: You're right -- remodeling a kitchen is a big job that involves a lot of decisions. But the process can be exciting and satisfying, too -- especially when it's time to start using a kitchen designed to meet your needs and desires. The best place to start is making a wish list. There's no cost to dreaming. List features you've always wanted. Group them according to must-haves, nice-to-haves, and fun-to-haves, and number them in order of importance.

"I advise all my clients before they start a remodeling project to create a file of pictures and magazine tear-outs of rooms that 'speak' to them," says Keri Davis, a certified kitchen designer (CKD) in Lake Oswego, Oregon. "It may mean that you like the flooring in one photo, the cabinets in another, and the countertops in yet another. Or maybe you just like the light and bright feeling of a particular photo. The more photos you collect, the more apparent your style will become, and a common thread will start to emerge." You might find that over and over you tear out photos of kitchens with white painted cabinets and dark hardwood floors. This will give you the confidence to move forward and make a decision. "It doesn't matter too much whether you select the countertop first or the cabinets first," Davis says. "At this stage, it's more about understanding your style and making sure that your decision fits with that style."

Organize all the photos you collect into a scrapbook, and include product samples and brochures. Add the name and address of the manufacturer, style name/number, color, price, etc. Take the scrapbook with you when the time comes to meet with a designer -- it will help you communicate your ideas, plan your budget, and feel confident about the decisions you make.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Getting Ready to Remodel a Kitchen

Assess Your Needs: Basic Goals

Before you start shopping for your new kitchen, or even consult a design professional, it's wise to take a needs assessment. Use these questions to help you determine design changes you need to make, based on the way you use -- or plan to use -- your new kitchen. These questions are great starting points for sparking creative kitchen remodeling ideas.

  • How much time is spent in the kitchen?
  • How old is your existing kitchen?
  • What is the budget for your kitchen project?
  • How long do you intend to own your home?
  • Is the remodel a long- or short-term investment?
  • Are you remodeling for resale value or to suit yourself?
  • What do you like/dislike most about your present kitchen?

Assess Your Needs: Kitchen Size

  • Is your family likely to grow, remain the same, or decrease in size?
  • Is there a primary cook? Secondary cook or multiple cooks?
  • Do the cooks have any physical limitations or special needs?
  • How does your family use the kitchen? Daily heat-and-serve meals? Make-ahead meal prep? cooking? Daily full-course meals? Weekend family meals? Is the kitchen a social/entertainment space?
  • How would you like your new kitchen to relate to adjacent rooms?

Assess Your Needs: Kitchen Activity

When it comes to your kitchen, which of the following statements most closely describes you?

  • I like to be the only cook, with guests congregating elsewhere in my home.
  • I like to be the only cook, with guests nearby in spaces open to the kitchen.
  • I like guests to sit and visit with me while I cook.
  • I like guests to help with meal preparation.
  • I like guests to help with cleanup.
  • I often use caterers who prepare meals in my kitchen for guests.

Assess Your Needs: Kitchen Designs

In addition to food prep, which of the following would you like to accommodate in your kitchen?

  • Eating Area
  • Crafts
  • Laundry
  • Sewing
  • Work/Study/Desk
  • Radio/TV/Computer
  • Wet Bar
  • Recycling
  • Other

Assess Your Needs: Kitchen Atmosphere

Which of the following best describes the kitchen of your dreams?

  • Purely functional
  • Family-friendly
  • Warm and cozy
  • Open and airy
  • Formal
  • A private retreat
  • A personal design statement

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