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The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Kitchen Remodel

There’s an old saying "The kitchen is the heart of the home”. The kitchen occupies a central space in a home. It's the place that you will spend most of your at home time – and it’s one of the first rooms house hunters will inspect. Whether you’re renovating to help your home sell and increase its value or creating your dream kitchen, planning and budgeting should be your chief priorities. If you're not sure how much to spend on a kitchen remodel, you might consider contacting a local real estate agent to get an idea of what your kitchen remodel will bring to the value of your home.

Let’s look at how to remodel a kitchen with our step-by-step breakdown of this popular home improvement project.

Step 1: Determine Your Must-Haves And A Project Timeline

The first step of your kitchen renovation will be deciding what you want. Your answer should help you narrow your options and set a budget. We want it all, don't we?

What Will Your Kitchen Renovation Include?

It can feel like the options for your kitchen are infinite, but that only works if you have an infinite budget to match. You’re going to need to decide what’s important to you. Do you need more storage? Do you want more space for entertaining? Do you want a flow that works better for your family? Asking questions like these can help you solidify your new kitchen must-haves.

How Long Does It Take To Remodel A Kitchen?

Part two of the first step is figuring out how long a complete renovation can take. Generally, it can take 6 – 8 weeks to finish a kitchen remodel. However, the time frame can vary based on multiple factors, including supply availability and your contractor’s schedule. You’ll need to research to estimate a rough timeline for your renovation.

Step 2: Set A Budget

Creating a realistic budget for your renovation will largely depend on what you change or add to your kitchen. You can start calculating a budget once you’ve finalized your remodeling plans. Need help with financing? There are many great home improvement financing options available.

How Much Does It Cost To Remodel A Kitchen?

The average cost for a kitchen renovation is usually about $27,000, or $150 per square foot. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20,000 – $60,000. Of course, your final price will depend on the size of your kitchen and the extent of the remodeling. A recommended rule is to spend 5% – 15% of a home’s total value on a renovation.

The key is to try and make sure you don’t go over the budget you set. If you want or need to spend more on one aspect of the renovation, balance it out by cutting back on another aspect of the project.

How Will You Fund The Kitchen Renovation?

Once you’ve estimated how much it will cost to remodel your kitchen, you should move on to creating a budget to help determine how to cover your costs. If your overall budget is on the lower end, you may already have enough money saved to complete the project. If you can’t comfortably pay for your kitchen makeover out of pocket, you’ll likely need to apply for financing.

How Much Can You DIY?

Consider what projects you can tackle to help you linger at the lower end of your budget. While it’s probably wise to leave the more complex projects to the professionals, painting, upgrading cabinet hardware and maybe even tiling the backsplash can be DIY projects.

Step 3: Bring In The Pros

You know what you want. You know how much it’ll cost to remodel your kitchen. And you know how much you’re willing to spend. Now, it’s time to hire the team that executes your remodeling vision!

Hiring A Contractor

The contractor is the point person for the renovation. They source and provide all materials, create and manage the project timeline and hire subcontractors. Essentially, contractors help a project run smoothly and finish on time.

Hiring a contractor can cost about 10% – 20% of the total project budget, but it can be a worthwhile expense because they can usually get the best deals on materials, likely helping you save money in the long run.

To research and find contractors in your area, you can use search engines like Google. Friends and family may be another great resource. Use your network. See who has worked with a contractor they’d recommend.

Hiring A Kitchen Designer

Kitchen designers don’t usually work on the renovation. They’re interior designers who create a design plan, including style and layout, and detail the materials you’ll need for your kitchen renovation. Did you know that Sugar Valley Builders has an in-house kitchen and bath designer? When hiring a design build contractor like Sugar Valley Builders, the design of your space is free to any client that hires them to do the renovation.

Independent kitchen designers can cost around 10% – 20% of your remodeling costs. If you work with a national home improvement chain, kitchen designers are often offered as a free, additional resource. While it won’t cost you anything, designers affiliated with chains are limited to the chain’s supplies and materials. Independent designers have access to a wider range of products, so they can scope out better prices and offer more variety.

Vet your designer like you would your contractor. Search for local designers and read their online reviews. Ask family and friends if they worked with someone they’d recommend. Interview potential designers and ask questions such as:

  • Can I see samples of your past work?

  • What’s your communication style?

  • What are your payment terms?

  • Do clients get final approval before elements are incorporated into the design?

Step 4: Demo The Kitchen

After the research, preparation, budgeting and planning, you’re finally ready to start the renovation. First things first – demo day!

Besides clearing out your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator, you won’t need to worry about demolition if you hire a contractor. If you decide to handle it yourself, you must take care of a few tasks before you can swing a sledgehammer.

Prep your kitchen for demolition by:

  • Turning off water, gas and electricity (as necessary)

  • Removing appliances and emptying cabinets

  • Ordering a dumpster for trash

  • Protecting the floors that aren't being renovated with drop cloths or ram board

Before you start the demo, you’ll also need to remove additional items from your kitchen, including cabinetry and drawers, and finish by demoing the drywall and flooring.

Step 5: Update Plumbing

With your kitchen essentially gutted, you can work on the internal systems in your kitchen, like the plumbing.

If you’re handling this task yourself, you’ll need a few items, including towels and buckets in case of leaks. Some common plumbing issues you may want to resolve during a renovation are:

  • Low water pressure or hard water

  • Kitchen sink, faucet or dishwasher leaks

  • Clogged plumbing

  • A gas line addition

  • Updating or replacing shut-off valves

Step 6: Install Electrical And Lighting

Electrical projects are usually best left to the professionals. If you’re working with a contractor, they’ll have an electrician lined up for this portion of the project.

Consider calling an electrician to guide you through any tasks if you’re handling the project yourself. Some common tasks include changing lighting and dimmer switches, wiring for a dishwasher or garbage disposal and setting up for a new range and oven.

Lighting Trends

Consider these popular lighting trends before deciding on additional lighting, including:

  • Statement light fixtures: A bold pendant light or chandelier may be the perfect statement-making light fixture for your new space. Go modern with glass bulbs or natural with a wooden-beaded chandelier.

  • Under-cabinet lighting: Hidden lighting under your cabinets is a practical and stylish kitchen lighting trend that has grown in popularity in the past few years.

Step 7: Hang Drywall

Once you’ve made necessary upgrades to your plumbing and electrical, it’s time to close the walls back up by hanging new drywall.

Compared to other aspects of the renovation process, installing new drywall is fairly simple. If you handle this part of the process yourself, set your thermostat at or below 55 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days before you start working to keep the humidity low in your kitchen. And make sure you have the right tools for the job, including a drywall saw, hammer, screws and screw gun, sanding tools, joint compound, tape, etc.

Step 8: Paint Walls

Once your drywall is up and dried, it’s time to start painting.

If you hired a kitchen designer, they likely got your final approval on the perfect paint color for your home. If you’re choosing the paint colors, you should get familiar with a few trends.

Kitchen Paint Trends

Neutrals continue to reign supreme in the world of interior design. While we love neutrals, we also love a good splash of color. No matter what your design style is, make sure you work with a designer that caters to your style and not their own. A good designer can design to any clients style whether it be neutral, moody, modern or farmhouse.

Step 9: Lay Flooring

After painting comes flooring.

Depending on the material you choose for your kitchen floor, the effort required to install the flooring will vary. For example, laminate or hardwood flooring doesn’t require grout work, but tile flooring will keep you a bit busier.

Types Of Flooring

Picking the right flooring will depend on your design style and renovation budget. Below are some common flooring options for your kitchen:

  • Linoleum: Many homeowners on a strict budget opt for linoleum flooring because it’s an inexpensive option that comes in countless shapes, styles and colors. You can find linoleum flooring that looks like wood, stone tile or classic-colored tiles.

  • Laminate: Laminate flooring in kitchens is a highly debated topic among designers and homeowners. Many complaints center around laminate not being waterproof. Laminate proponents, however, argue that since you can control moisture in a kitchen, it’s not as much of a concern.

  • Hardwood: Homeowners and house hunters flock to hardwood because of its natural beauty. And hardwood can also last for a very long time with regular maintenance.

  • Concrete: Concrete is a more modern kitchen flooring trend. Fans of concrete floors appreciate their durability and functionality.

  • Ceramic tiles: Tile flooring is popular in kitchens because it’s durable, easy to clean and lasts long. You can also create interesting design patterns with tiles. Because ceramic tiles are moderately priced, they offer homeowners the most bang for their buck in terms of quality and longevity.

Step 10: Install Cabinetry

Even if you’re handling the renovation yourself, consider hiring a professional to install new kitchen cabinets. The last thing you want is to start refilling your cabinets, and they collapse, or you realize you didn’t level them. A professional can make sure your cabinets are properly installed. Also, remember that countertops must be installed on level cabinetry.

Styles Of Cabinets

If a kitchen designer isn’t helping you decide which cabinets you want, consider exploring these styles to help organize your kitchen space:

  • Shaker style: Shaker cabinets are classic and versatile. Their signature feature is the doors. They have a middle panel set back from the trim that surrounds the doors’ edges.

  • Low cabinets: Many homeowners like the look of cabinetry that reaches the top of high ceilings, while other homeowners firmly believe low cabinets are more practical.

  • Open shelving: Floating and open shelving is trending in homes across America. Many designers love this design concept because it allows you to display well-designed kitchenware as decor.

Step 11: Place The Countertops

You’re getting close! At this point, your kitchen probably looks more like a kitchen than a construction zone. Next up, countertops.

Keep your timeline in mind as work begins on the countertops. Progress can sometimes slow down because many designers prefer to measure countertops once the cabinets are installed. This is especially important to know if you ordered fabricated countertops like quartz.

Countertop Materials

To help decide which countertop material is right for your kitchen, explore these options:

  • Granite: In recent years, no material has stood a chance against granite. It was, and remains, the be-all and end-all of kitchen counters. While it maintains its popularity, it’s not the only high-quality option, as other materials continue to upgrade.

  • Quartz: Quartz is a strong material. When mixed with resin, it makes countertops nonporous, stain-resistant and easy to clean. Unlike granite, marble or concrete countertops, you don’t have to worry about sealing, conditioning or polishing a quartz countertop.

  • Laminate: Laminate countertops may get a bad rap, but they’re budget-friendly. Their affordability is something to consider if you’re trying to stick to a budget.

  • Concrete: Concrete countertops are a new and up-and-coming trend in home renovation. However, they’re difficult to install without prior experience.

  • Butcher’s block: If you love the modern farmhouse trend, a butcher block countertop is a solid choice. Just keep in mind that it scratches and stains easier than stone countertops. Wood’s porous nature can also create sanitation issues if you don’t have the wood sealed or keep it clean.

Step 12: Install Backsplash

When it’s time to install the backsplash in your kitchen, just know you’re in the homestretch! There are some many design choices with backsplash and consulting with your kitchen designer is an important part of this process when choosing the design of this kitchen focal point.

Step 13: Bring In Appliances

The last step of the kitchen remodel process is to bring back the appliances. This step will be a breeze if you’re keeping your old appliances. And if you’re interested in upgrading your kitchen appliances, you have many options to choose from.

Are you interested in equipping your kitchen with smart technology? Many kitchen devices and appliances have integrated systems that automate basic tasks – like brewing coffee and cooking meals. You shouldn’t have trouble finding smart refrigerators, convection ovens, coffee makers, slow cookers and even smart trash cans.

Consider a few factors if you’re interested in traditional appliance upgrades, including the size and dimensions of your new appliances so they fit seamlessly into their designated spaces.

Consider purchasing appliances that coordinate or are made from the same material, like stainless steel appliances. If energy efficiency is a priority, shop around for eco-friendly appliances that can help save you money in the long run.

Step 14: Enjoy Your New Kitchen

Whether you’re renovating to sell or building the kitchen of your dreams, renovating a kitchen can be a lengthy process, but in the end, it can be rewarding. What're you waiting for?

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