Where to begin?
1. I always like to start with the goal or purpose of the project. Why do you want a new kitchen? Over the years I have heard dozens of reasons from old and out of date to needing more space or changing over to universal design concept. No matter what the reason, make sure you know what yours goal is and express it to your contractor. I often encourage clients to take some time to look at pictures, Houzz and Pinterest are great resources for anyone starting the process to see hundreds of pictures and design options for a new kitchen or any other living space. Save the ones you like and share them, I even like setting up private pinterest pages for my clients so I can see exactly what they are looking for. To often an idea can be misunderstood in initial conversations but the use of pictures is critical for describing and visualizing your new space and ensuring you get exactly what you want out of your new kitchen.
2. The dreaded budget, this is key take some time to discuss what you want to invest in your new kitchen. This is a question I often steered clear of in my early years out of fear of upsetting my clients. Unfortunately this often lead to a longer design process or having to cut back once we finally got to pricing. I will tell you from experience nothing is worse than designing an amazing $85,000 kitchen remodel with every wish item the customer had down to the smallest detail only to find out their budget was $50,000. And then trying to strip out options to make it work, its painful and usually results in nothing happening because its to far away from the original goal. I will tell you this was my fault and I often think of the kitchens I could have easily designed within budget and fulfilled all the clients wishes if only I wasn’t afraid to ask! Today I promise its one of the questions I address early on, and from a client point of view I like to break it down into the components of the kitchen.
3. Choose your options!
A. Appliances – From GE to Wolf the price range is up to you, and remember you do not need to spend an arm and a leg to get good quality. Continuity is key for a clean appearance
B. Cabinets – Pick your style and color. White is coming back in a big way in 2015, but no matter what you pick make sure you are getting quality. A few things to look for, Solid wood frames, Dovetail drawers with soft close hinge, Hidden hinges on all doors. On cabinetry the choices are endless but good cabinets cost money. If your planning to stay in the home spend the extra money on Wood-Mode or another top quality cabinet. But remember you can also save a lot of money here and still get a quality product especially if your going with a shaker or flat cabinet doors.
C. Counter Tops – Granite, Quartz, Corian, marble the choices go on and on. Find what suits you the best and fortunately you can find your color choices in anyone of these families. A top quality granite give your kitchen and home the feel of warmth and distinction but a word of warning you get what you pay for. Granite comes in many different price groups based on quality and rarity, (A – H) and no matter which you pick you should always have it sealed to prevent staining. Trust me if you spill red wine on unsealed white granite your in trouble. For this reason the industry has been shifting to more finished manufactured stone in the quartz family (Silestone, Cambria, Zodiac) and I would say Cambria has made the biggest move into the counter top market place and typically costs about the same as a mid range granite.
D. Flooring & Backsplashes – I find many clients get stuck on this as they are not exposed to as many options for flooring. Tile or hardwood right? No way, don’t have a bold new kitchen without a floor thats going to impress. I’m not calling out for acid stained concrete in a colonial but keep your mind open. Some of the most impressive kitchen’s I have seen have a flair of the wild side which seem to make all the difference. Leave yourself open to the possibilities of some unique high end finishes with Stone, Glass, metal, etc. even if its only an accent piece.
4. Lights, lets think big dramatic pendant lights over the island, up lighting over the cabinets to show off the crown molding. Under cabinet lights to highlight the new countertops, floor lights to show off the new porcelain tile wood plank floors. In addition to lights I always find a way to add a couple ceiling speakers to bring music into the kitchen, who wants to cook without music? Lutron makes an incredible array of dimmer switches and controls that you can preselect the light levels you want (64%) or whatever feels the best to you and also allows for control everything including the music from your smart phone.
5. Painting – Seems like it should be the simplest of choices out of everything to pick but its not. Even with the walls covered in cabinets, granite counter tops, new stainless steel appliances, dark wood plank flooring, and a stacked stone backsplash the question of what color paint becomes a daunting task. A couple thoughts, don’t be afraid to use color and be bold. Color adds warmth and character. I also find depending on the size of the kitchen don’t be afraid to use more than one color, an accent wall to set off the cabinetry of center piece can be key especially if you are trying to marry a more neutral colored home decor from the rest of the house. My wife was the first to show me there are 47 different shades of tan.
Hopefully this gives you a starting place for the design process and I promise you will be glad you spent your time thinking and preparing for this.