Ask The Expert: First Time Kitchen Remodeling Advice

Posted on | November 8, 2012 | 1 Comment

My husband and I are finally ready to replace our kitchen. As first timers, we are both excited and nervous. In working with a designer and contractor, is there a way to achieve a great plan while minimizing the disruption to our young family’s life? Appreciate your advice! -Molly

Loretta Bell of the Raleigh interior design firm, Bell & Associates Interior Design, Ltd., provides us with a thorough understanding of the kitchen design process, and a great answer to Molly’s Ask The Expert question. Thanks Loretta!

Molly, kitchen renovations are a huge investment of time, money and emotions. I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is to have a detailed, thorough plan in place before a single wall comes down. Creating that plan begins with you. As a project partner, you must clearly determine your goals for your kitchen so that you can provide your designer with as much information as possible.

Images Courtesy of Bell & Associates Interior Design, Ltd. ©

Prior to my first meeting with homeowners, I always email them a “Kitchen Questionnaire” with detailed questions that cover the essentials. I want to understand what does and doesn’t currently work for the homeowner in the space and whether they’re willing to expand the kitchen’s existing footprint. It also reveals such things as how long they plan to stay in the home, who cooks in the kitchen (and how often), and what they are looking to spend.

Once you have determined what you want, you should understand how the process works and what to expect at each step. When I first meet with homeowners, we go over the bullet points of their questionnaire, and then we discuss the budget, the timeline, the design process, the construction schedule and the design fee. Only after we are all on the same page do we begin picking out products and planning the actual design.

When it comes to making design decisions, it’s helpful to provide your designer with visual examples of your personal style. To help my clients identify their specific design aesthetics, I request they create a “style file” containing photographs that reflect their preferences. Extensive dialogue is important, but it’s true when they say “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Planning at the construction stage is essential, as well. To minimize confusion, you should determine ahead of time who will be responsible for finding and supervising the electricians, plumbers, tile contractors, carpenters, cabinet installers, and any other trades involved with a new kitchen. I also suggest having a systematic and thorough construction plan in place. I personally want to have the appliances ordered, the flooring in, the walls painted, and everything I need in the warehouse and ready to go before I so much as pull out a cabinet.

Images Courtesy of Bell & Associates Interior Design, Ltd. ©

Remember to be realistic about your time frame. Depending on the size and scope of your project, you could be looking at anywhere from four to six weeks for simple improvements to six or eight months or more for a full-scale remodel.

One final consideration that’s essential for comfort: if you’ll be using a “substitute” kitchen, it’s important to determine where it will be, what appliances you will use, how you will provide a water source and how you will manage plates and utensils. Good luck!

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One Response to “Ask The Expert: First Time Kitchen Remodeling Advice”

  1. Ed Griffith
    February 17th, 2014 @ 12:41 PM

    We always have our cabinetry finished and ready then we demo the existing cabinets and do wall work, painting . Install the cabinets template granite 1 week for fabrication so 2.5-3 weeks tops .

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