Remodeling Archives

January 9, 2007

Kitchen Remodeling - Three Steps to Ensure a Good Plan

Think First

The most common mistake in remodeling is to jump right into a plan. Everyone has some idea of what they want and the temptation is to jump right in and FIX it. This approach may solve one problem (or not) and may create others. As an architect, I have to say that kitchen design is one of the more difficult tasks, especially when remodeling an existing kitchen. People have such a complicated relationship with their kitchen that it is worth taking some time to evaluate your existing kitchen before you even start planning. With that in mind, here are three basic steps to getting started on a workable plan.

What Are You Doing?

A successful plan requires taking some time to really understand what you want and need about a kitchen. This goes beyond evaluating the differences between granite, corian, or formica counters. It goes beyond choosing cabinet styles or faucets, and it is something you can start to do right now if you are considering a kitchen renovation. The first step is to pay attention to what you are doing in the kitchen. After a while people become so accustomed to where things are and how to reach their coffee cup in the morning that they do not look closely at whether that is as easy or as satisfying as it could be. Pay attention for a day or a week and see what really causes you pain or makes you do things in a way you would rather not. Write them down if that helps you to remember.

What Are you NOT Doing?

The next thing is to figure out what your kitchen is NOT allowing you to do. For some people this will be obvious. Some will feel their kitchen keeps them in a box or doesn't have enough counter space or cabinets. Some will feel that their kitchen is not allowing them to entertain in a way they would like. This category will probably result in the biggest changes to the kitchen layout, but if there is nothing you find here then your remodel should be pretty simple. Consider ranking these items as satisfying some of them may rule out others.

Where Is Your Kitchen?

The final thing, and what can make a kitchen remodel successful while others are not is to consider what surrounds the kitchen. How does the kitchen relate to the surrounding rooms? Is the relationship with the dining room the way you would like? How does it relate to where you eat informal meals? Does it connect to the outside? Understanding how your kitchen fits into your house is the first step in changing that relationship for the better. Clients are often torn between the low cost of keeping things sort of the way they are, and the higher cost of actually moving things around so that they work well. My experience, learned the hard way of course, is that sticking with an existing layout that you are not really happy with is going to be a mistake. You will end up with the same old kitchen with perhaps some new finishes and appliances and your frustration with the way the kitchen works for you will remain. Working with a very basic floorplan drawing and sketching the relationships and activities each are used for is a common way to begin thinking about this, and thinking is what needs to be done first before you jump into any purchases or plans.

All of this can be done before you speak to a designer or an architect (or do it yourself) and will steer the design in a more productive direction.

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