A lot of people want a kitchen makeover, but don’t fully appreciate how complex it can be. Some kitchens take months to renovate — knocking down walls, installing new sinks and building new cabinets. While there are many questions you need to ask about a kitchen makeover the first one should be: remodel or renovate?
Do you like the overall spacing of your kitchen, but just want it to get a facelift with new cabinet doors and some updated ovens? That’s more of a remodel (at least that's how many contractors describe it). A renovation often reconfigures the kitchen, changing the design, layout and counter space in addition to those other aesthetic tweaks.
If you’re going for a bigger renovation, here are five questions you should ask.
1. What do you want your kitchen to be?
You may have a folder of collected pictures that suggest what you want your kitchen to look like, but what do you need for it’s functionality? Are you hoping for your family to congregate around a beautiful kitchen island every morning, or entertain your friends during dinner parties from a semi-professional show grill? Those two kitchens have different equipment requirements and designs.
You need to know what your priorities are long before you start shopping for finishes and stoves. If you plan on doing a lot of baking, you may need a space just for rolling out dough. What about a wine refrigerator? That may take up the space where you were planning to put a trash compactor.
If you’re in an older house and want an open kitchen design, you may need to knock down a wall, which is a much bigger change than repainting the cabinets.
A prioritized list is particularly useful if budget or timeline is an important factor for you (and they are for most people). Once you’re able to review that list with local kitchen remodelers
or contractors, they should be able to think through how to get the most of what you want within your budget.
2. What do you do in your kitchen?
You need to be realistic about how you currently use your kitchen. If you dream of doing more cooking if you only had a beautiful kitchen, don’t think you’re going to start changing your habits after spending thousands of dollars on renovation.
On the other hand, do several people cook at once? That probably means you’ll need more room for chopping and other prep work. That may also impact how you light the areas to make it easier to read those labels and measuring cups.
3. Where are you willing to compromise?
If you have a flexible budget
, you may not need to worry about having to compromise on anything. Most people, though, have limitations that must be considered. Even if you have a sizable budget, there may be things you want to do that just can be accomplished in the space you have. Perhaps those chairs you have your heart set on aren’t being manufactured anymore and you need a replacement. You may need to increase your financial outlay or time expectations. Sometimes an off the shelf solution will work just as well as a custom build.
4. How long will you be in your home?
If you’re thinking of relocating in the near future and flipping the home for a profit, you should probably worry less about building out a space for your preferences and think about making one that suits a broad range of tastes.
If you’re planning to stay, you can build for your own heart. You may even want to make accommodations for how you'll use the home as a senior citizen. Does it make sense to widen the doorways and lower the thresholds to make room for a wheelchair? You may not need one now, but what about 10 or 15 years down the road?
5. How much will you do yourself?
Many people leave a kitchen makeover completely in the hands of a contractor. If you're a DIYer, you may feel comfortable installing new lights or tiles. Once you have a sense of what remodel or renovation will entail, you can better find the designers and contractors who'll help. You may want one team to build the cabinets and a different one to install custom tiling behind the stove. Perhaps you want someone who can coordinate all of the parts. Figuring out how you want to mix and match the possibilities will help you get to your goals easier.