Are you contemplating a kitchen remodel? After putting up with your outdated countertop and electric stove for far too long, you may feel it's time to take the plunge. A remodel of any kind comes with its fair share of ups and downs, so before you commit to multiple months' worth of construction in your home, there are some crucial questions you'll need to answer.
From setting your budget to choosing the best time of the year to break ground, making decisions ahead of time can save you precious time and money on the road to the kitchen of your dreams.
Use the questions below to help you get the ball rolling and thinking about the intricacies of a kitchen remodel.
1. How do you use your kitchen?
The answer dictates the design of the space, says Mark Grisafe, owner and architect at M. Grisafe Architects. For entertainers, Grisafe recommends ample counter space, double ovens, and a large refrigerator.
"If the kitchen is a design feature, there will be an emphasis on things like custom cabinet design and finishes," he says.
And avid cookers who have bulky kitchen gadgets—think rotisserie ovens and slow cookers—should make storage a key component of their remodel, advises Nina Magon from Contour Interior Design.
2. How much can you invest in a kitchen remodel?
The amount you can spend on your remodel will let you know the scope of renovation. Get to your bottom line by writing down what isn’t working in the current kitchen—be it the stove that doesn't heat evenly or the cracked backsplash. Then decide what you absolutely need to fix and what you'd want to replace, says Ashley Rose Marino, an interior designer in the Dallas–Fort Worth area.
Having a list of needs versus wants also helps you make cuts if you go over budget.
3. Should you hire a contractor or DIY?
While you're thinking about your budget, you should also decide if you need to hire a contractor to handle the remodel or do it yourself. Labor is one of the biggest cost elements during a renovation, but some people are able to save money by not having to pay a contractor. Having the time and skills required to source materials and build on your own will mean big savings for you.
"If you don’t have the time or skills, this is where getting quotes from contractors is important to gauge their labor costs," says John Bodrozicof HomeZada, a platform to manage your home finances, including remodel projects.
4. What can you salvage from the existing kitchen?
The cost of a full kitchen remodel can range from about $25,000 to $65,000, according to Estela Sandoval, a home remodel manager with Star Construction Experts.
So before you gut your whole kitchen, save what you can! For instance, if your cabinets are in decent shape, they are definitely worth keeping. Simply paint them a light color, such as white or gray, and change out the hardware.
The cost of these types of updates can be minimal compared with replacing the cabinets, says Brigitte Ballard, design trend expert at Nco-Hance Wood Refinishing.
5. Where are you going to purchase your materials?
If you have the help of an interior designer or contractor, the pro can source everything from cabinets to flooring. But for those tackling the remodel themselves, visit local warehouses and showrooms to see how materials such as countertops and tile look in real life. Don't forget to factor in lead time, which can be months, for ordering items such as cabinets.
6. When is the best time for a remodel?
Scheduling your remodel during a convenient time may seem obvious, but, according Marino, it's one question many of her clients fail to contemplate.
Your kitchen will be out of commission for six to 12 weeks, so you may prefer to move out of your home temporarily while the remodel takes place. Or you may want to take time off from work to oversee the remodel. If you intend on remodeling yourself, start when you have enough time to complete it.
"A kitchen remodel is a serious commitment, so you need to be prepared for it to take up a good chunk of time no matter what," says Marino.
7. Do you want your kitchen remodel to be personal, trendy, or timeless?
Are you remodeling to raise your home's resale value (timeless), to juice up your overall decor (trendy), or to increase functionality for yourself (personal)? Nail down the purpose of your kitchen remodel, because it will guide how you approach the project. One good way to answer this question is to think about how long you plan to live in the home.
If the remodel is to boost resale value, you should make changes (e.g., revamped cabinets or energy-efficient appliances) that are going to attract buyers. If you're a design junkie, make sure the project will both satisfy your aesthetic and stay on budget. And if your remodel is to make your home one where you can age in place, you can ignore trendy decor and opt for more functional amenities such as multiple-height counters and drawer dishwashers that don't require bending over.
8. Does your proposed kitchen design include 'the triangle'?
The secret to a functional kitchen is a layout that positions the stove, sink, and counter workspace in the shape of a triangle. A large, spacious kitchen may look great on Instagram. But when the stove, sink, and workspace are too spread out, or are lined up against one wall, it can make for an inefficient cooking experience.