Kitchen Remodeling - Planning your Approach
The nitty-gritty of kitchen remodeling
For our article on quick remodeling tips click here
When you're planning some kitchen remodeling, you need to be two people: a dreamer and a schemer. The dreamer in you conjures up the image of your ideal kitchen, as part of your ideal lifestyle: perhaps you dream of baking cakes on an iron range in a rambling farmhouse kitchen, or preparing sushi in a gleamingly efficient room with all the labor -saving devices possible. These dreams give you an idea of what to aim for, but it's the job of the schemer in you to see how much can be achieved practically.
Before you start your kitchen remodeling, find out what is and isn't legally possible. Building codes vary from state to state. Responsibility for issuing permits is usually given to the city or county government by the state, so find out which level of government has this power and then approach the relevant department.
You should also have an idea as to whether you're going to do your kitchen remodeling yourself, or hire a contractor (or find a solution partway between the two options.) If you're brave enough to do the whole thing yourself, read our page on doing your own projects so you know what you're getting into. If you're using contractors, see our page on hiring contractors for some useful advice. It's usually preferable to leave the specialist tasks, such as plumbing and electrical wiring, to a professional, but you can save money by doing the decorating yourself.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty of kitchen remodeling
Then you need to think about the finer details of your kitchen remodeling. This is where the dreamer and schemer collide. The dreamer in you might want a Mediterranean kitchen suitable to overlook the olive groves of Tuscany. On idea might be to put a window in the south-facing wall for maximum light, even if it does mean ripping out the perfectly good kitchen cabinets. The schemer in you knows that's a bad idea - too much cost and disruption - and thinks of crafty ways to get round the problem. You might end up deciding not to create any more windows, but to paint the kitchen in a bright yellow to make the most of the sunshine you get already. Then you can spend the money on replacing your dated kitchen tiles with terracotta or a soft-colored marble.
When you're planning the physical position of cabinets in your kitchen, you need to think about your "activity zone" - the area between the refrigerator, the most-used cupboards, the sink and the stove. A good kitchen design will allow you to flit between these areas rapidly, with no obstructions. Island units can be great as work areas and sources of storage, but don't buy them if you'd have to position them right in the middle of your activity zone.
The dreamer in you will be thinking about your ideal lifestyle, but the schemer will be planning the kitchen remodeling around what you really do. Of course, you'd like to imagine that you have servants to do the washing-up for you while you flounce around a Gothic mansion, but you know that in reality you spend at least half an hour washing up every day. There are two good solutions to this. If you have the money and space, invest in a dishwasher, although you should be warned that slimline dishwashers usually cost more than their larger counterparts. Or you could consider moving the sink so that it faces the most interesting window. That way you can see what the neighbors are doing while you wash up - it'll make the time go more quickly.
When you're done with your planning, it's time to go ahead with your kitchen remodeling. Ideally, you'll end up with somewhere both the dreamer and schemer in you can enjoy.