Kitchen Remodel – Part 1 – Planning

While remodeling any room in your house will add value to your home – due to the housing market – there is not as much profit compared to what you spend. But this shouldn’t deter you from making your house a better place for YOU. We kept this in mind and did this remodel with our interests first, but also making sure that our decisions added value to our home.

Our kitchen was so bad, in so many ways:

  • Everything is white. Different shades of white. Different levels of dirty white.
  • It was poorly installed 25+ years ago. Cabinets were hacked into place, countertop wasn’t even secured correctly, etc.
  • It was falling apart. Odd stick-on tiles were cracking and pulling up, doors were ‘fixed’ so many times that screws wouldn’t stay in a few of them, etc.

We decided a little over a year ago that our kitchen was the next ‘big project’. We had already re-finished our floors, updated our Den, painted most rooms for the second time, etc. Other side projects (not house related) had finally calmed down – so we finally had the time to work on this.

We started by meeting with two contractors that work with my wifes work – first with the cabinet guys, then with the flooring guys. We were able to save quite a bit of money using these guys, as well as know they were doing high quality work. I recommend finding your contractors through family, friends, and coworkers first. Check out their work, check reviews, and make sure you are comfortable through the ENTIRE process.

When working with our cabinet contractors, they were great in helping us pick out the actual cabinets, cabinet doors, countertops, and whatever upgrades we wanted. We also slightly wanted to move a few things – our fridge area was misaligned, as well as our stove. We also had about 8″ of wasted space on the other side of the kitchen. We wanted all of this to line up, as well as allow someone to use a larger fridge as well. Finally, we wanted to replace an unfinished island that came with the house with a matching cabinet/countertop combo.

The hardest part of this for us was choosing the countertop color. It’s really hard to choose something so big and important with a 1 x 1.5 inch card sample. We kept a few of the samples, so we could match them to floor colors before placing the final order. We did know we were going to use the same paint color as part of the rest of the house – so everything had to be based around this for now.

A few days later, we visited the flooring company with my mom to pick out a few flooring samples with the countertop samples we already had. We picked up about 4 different types of vinyl, and about 3 samples of laminate flooring. All of these were taken home, matched with the walls, countertop samples, and a white piece of cardboard (to simulate the cabinets, including distance and lightning between the floor and counter). We ended up settling on one particular vinyl floor – because it honestly looked better than some of the laminate, was at a great price, and matched everything perfectly.

Right before we left to go to San Francisco for a week, we received the first draft of our new kitchen. This included two layouts, their estimated costs, and 3D renderings from multiple angles. We sent back some minor modifications and left town.

While away – we managed everything from our iPad. We had almost daily emails back and forth about modifications, clarifications, and new renderings. Our contractor was great to explain everything for us, as well as answer any questions we had. Once everything was finally decided, we were able apply for a loan, confirm the order for the cabinets, order the floor – all over the phone and using our iPad! We had everything set up for the day we got back to sign needed papers and get things rolling! This also meant that we had less of a week of downtime before we had to rip everything out – because everything was being installed in less than 4 weeks!

Some notes about this whole process:

  • Find people you are comfortable with. We loved our contractors. You should too. If you want the name of ours or any info – email me!
  • More things match than you would think – we (well, more so I) was nervous every day that things wouldn’t match. My OCD wanted everything the same color, same direction, etc. You don’t want this. And you would be surprised how many things just blend. If they don’t right away, you can always used accents to adjust things.
  • Find example rooms you like – We were rather locked into our paint choice – due to our homes layout and trying to find matches. So we searched for various pictures online to find designs we liked. I started by searching for ‘white kitchens’, and gathered ideas from there.
  • Keep some design sense, or get help – I don’t have the best eye for design, but I do like doing things myself. I also asked for help and got ideas through the entire process. If you can’t do this – don’t waste your time (and money), and get a designer.
  • Don’t go overboard – our home was built-in the 50’s, is about 1400 sq ft, and in a somewhat working-class neighborhood. Buying granite countertops, top of the line cabinets, and high-end flooring was not only out of our price range – but a stupid choice for the house. We would never recover that cost, and it honestly wouldn’t fit the house. Our new kitchen not only came at a reasonable price – we think it is a major update for the house but also fits the house perfectly.
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