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Why you shouldn't even think about remodeling without hiring a professional interior designer first. How a designer can save you money and unnecessary stress.

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So you want to remodel your Kitchen... Top 10 things to consider

Photo by Decorpad

So, you are thinking about remodeling your Kitchen. If you have never lived through a remodel before, you may have no idea what to expect. You know you hate your Kitchen the way it is currently and have been watching HGTV to get some ideas of how things work. Firstly, I will tell you that you can get some great ideas on HGTV, but the reality ends there. HGTV is afterall, TV. Realistically you will not be able to remodel your Kitchen for $1000 in two days time. Here are some of the most important things to seriously consider before you begin.

1. There Will Be Dust  

You're saying to yourself, well, duh... of course there's going to be some dust. I always like to reiterate this point, because no amount of warning will prepare you for the dust that will flow through your entire house especially if sheet rock is being removed. It will be EVERYWHERE. No amount of sealing the area off will completely contain it, so just expect it. It's best to be prepared and don't expect an immaculate dust free home until after the work is complete and the dust settles.

2. Don't compromise the Architectural Integrity of the Home

If you LOVE Country French Kitchens, but you live in a Mid Century Home, you are not likely to pull off a smooth transition between those two styles. Not to say that there's never a way to combine styles, but this example is a bit of a stretch. Mixing styles can definitely make things more interesting if it's done well, but this is usually best left to the pro's. Consider hiring a Designer if you plan to attempt this feat. Nothing is more cringe worthy than walking into a beautiful old home with original architectural details only to find it was at one point "updated" with the latest of whatever was trendy at the time of remodel while completely ignoring the personality of the home as originally intended. 

3. Is This Your Forever Home, or Do You Plan To Sell In 5 Years?

These questions will help you determine how much you should spend on your remodel. Yes, updating a Kitchen is a great way to add value to your home. Kitchens and Baths sell homes! Ask any Realtor. With that said, there are things you should consider when deciding how much you should spend. If your Kitchen is seriously outdated, there's no doubt you will be adding value, but how much? Check out Zillow.com and look for houses in your neighborhood that have sold recently. If your Kitchen is outdated then odds are, so are those of your neighbors. Zillow will allow you to look at interior photos of homes to determine if they have been updated or not prior to sale. What if I plan to live in this house forever? If this is your forever home, then don't worry about resale. Make it the space of your dreams!

4. Budget

So I've decided how long I want to stay in the house, what other factors do I need to consider when determining a budget? Lots of factors will determine how much a Kitchen remodel will cost. Do you plan to move plumbing?  Will you be taking down walls? Will you need to add to your existing electrical panel in order to accommodate the new appliances you'll be adding?  All of these things can add to the cost, so even if you have done your homework on cost of appliances and materials, you may not know true cost until you have bids from actual contractors. The least expensive way to go is not to move anything. With that said though, your current Kitchen may not be functioning the way it is currently laid out and it would be money well spent to relocate things to improve flow, or add a walk in pantry. Maybe you're going to be opening the Kitchen up to the living space. With so many factors to consider, if you plan to do more than refresh finishes of what's already there, you may want to consider hiring a professional Kitchen Designer. A Kitchen Designer is someone who specializes in Kitchen design, and can help you design a space that functions exactly the way you want it to as well as keep you from making costly mistakes. Some Interior Designers are also Kitchen Designers, but not all. For a listing of Kitchen Designers in your area, visit NKBA.org

5. Flow

This can be one of the most important aspects of your Kitchen design. So, what is flow? Imagine yourself having a party to show off your new Kitchen, and as one of your guests enters  the Kitchen to grab a drink from the fridge, they have to pass by the oven where you are taking out the appetizers and you collide, sending your perfectly browned mini quiche flying! Flow will determine how the space will be used, and locate the appliances and main features of the space in the most efficient location. 

6. How Do We Use The Space?

Another no brainer right? People use their Kitchens to prepare food! True, but some more than others. Maybe you're a gourmet chef, or a wannabe gourmet chef. Maybe you like watching cooking shows on TV while following along and preparing the food at the same time. Maybe you're a grab and go kinda family and the microwave is your best friend. Maybe you're vertically challenged and can't reach anything on the top shelf.  Everyone uses their Kitchen in their own unique way, and the best way to design a functional space for you is to ask yourself those questions before planning. This is another area where a Professional Kitchen Designer can give valuable suggestions that you may not even have thought of. 

7. Does My Design Stand the Test of Time?

I just love the latest trend and am ready to jump in with both feet! We normally pay attention to trends mostly so we can make sure we are not coming in on the back end of a trend. It's ok to get on board with the latest trends, but unless you can afford to remodel every few years, you may want to consider not doing EVERYTHING in the space in Avacado Green... It's possible to update a space and even apply aspects of the latest trend without making the entire space TRENDY. Ok, I know Avacado Green is no longer a current trend, but we can all remember when it was. Kitchens across America were outfitted with Avacado Green applilances, sinks, countertops and wall paper. It was EVERYWHERE! The problem with this was when the trend went out of style, we were all left having to replace appliances and countertops.  Some of the most expensive items in a Kitchen. If you love the latest trend, consider using it sparingly so that when it goes out of style, your cost to update will be much lower than if you had done all of your Kitchen cabinets in say Burnt Orange. Consider using that Hot Pink color you love in a light fixture that could be easily changed out by you or the next home owner.

8.Appliances

I really LOVE the new Chef Series 8 burner gas Ranges that are 48" wide, and can see myself cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my entire family on that range. I suggest going to an appliance showroom to see what's available. You may get there and decide that a 10 thousand dollar range that you may really only use to capacity one time a year is out of your realistic budget. Then again, if you are the gourmet chef mentioned earlier, you may see the need for it. Many appliance manufacturers have package deals where if you buy 2 appliances, you get the third for free! High end appliance showrooms are excellent resources when you want to get some hands on demonstrations of the latest and greatest appliances on the market. Have you considered a steam oven? Steam ovens cook food in a fraction of the time of conventional ovens and keep food exceptionally moist! Great for baking cakes, or cooking meats! How about a microwave drawer? A refrigerator drawer? How great would it be to have all of your fruits and veg in a drawer next to the sink? Maybe a drawer full of cold bottled water at the ready? The right appliances can really make a Kitchen functional for the way you use it. Get out there and do some research before just finding what's on sale.

9. Lighting 

Lighting is one of the most important, yet most over looked aspects of Kitchen design with so many factors to consider. Most Kitchens today serve as a place to eat as well as a place to prepare food. This means you will want to consider not only task lighting to light your work surfaces, but also ambient lighting for those times when you may want a more intimate setting. Task lighting can come in many forms. A light over the sink is important. Under cabinet lighting is a good way to light task areas too. Recessed can lights will add to the overall light of the room and can be placed and aimed to highlight certain features of the space such as cabinetry. Ambient lighting can consist of pendant lights over an island, a chandelier, or even lighting behind a glass cabinet door. A good lighting plan is essential to good Kitchen design.

10. Hiring Your Team

So, I have a ballpark budget in mind, I've done some homework on what I like and what I want the space to look like. Where do I go from here? It's good that you've done some homework and given thought to how you want the space to feel and function. It's time to hire a Kitchen Designer! Your designer can help you navigate through all of the pitfalls of the planning process, and will enhance your ideas by offering suggestions you had no idea were possible. Your designer will also draw a demo plan, floor plans, elevations, lighting and electrical plans, write the scope of work for  the contractor and give itemized details of selections as well as specifications for all of your selections so that the contractor knows what exactly he is bidding. When you have the scope written and selections made before looking for a contractor, you know that when you get bids (We recommend 3 different bids) the contractors who bid the job will actually be bidding on the same thing rather than guessing at what you would like to do and giving you allowances. The allowances game is a hard one to win. Bids will come back all over the board, and when you decide to go with the cheapest one, you'll find yourself with change order after change order, and a project that cost way more than what you thought you were getting it for. The Scope of Work has to be written, and Selections have to be made. It's best to hire someone who specializes in just that to do this portion of the work. Some contractors will tell you they can do this part for you. You will end up paying the contractor for doing the design one way or another, and if you're going to pay for design, you should hire a designer. You wouldn't hire your painter to install your plumbing. Though they are both in the construction field, these are two very different specialties. A good contractor knows that they are not a designer and will see the value in you hiring one. How do I find a good contractor? NARI is the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and it's members must adhere to a strict code of ethics. We recommend you go to NARI.org to find a qualified contractor in your area., and NKBA.org (The National Kitchen and Bath Association) to look for a qualified Kitchen Designer near you. Ask questions, ask for referrals, check them out with the Better Business Bureau, and in the end, hire the one you feel you can get along with when things don't go exactly according to plan. Murphy's law of remodeling "If something can go wrong, it will". A good team will be there to see you through and get things back on track as quickly as possible. It will all be worth it in the end!