How To Cook Up A Kitchen Renovation
Don't Hate, Kitchen Renovate!
It’s official: the papers are signed, and the keys are in hand. You’re now the new owner of a charming fixer-upper to call your very own! While the search may be over, the work itself has only just begun, because in buying an older home, we’re often also buying ourselves a ticket to renovations and those start with one of the most important, complicated rooms in the house. You guessed it! The kitchen. Now, kitchen remodels have a lot of details and moving parts, but here are some DIY tricks here for general renovation without completely losing your mind.
Step 1: Strategize and Conquer
Decide how much you need to replace and what only needs a light refurbishing. Make a list of all the necessary and wanted changes. Are you replacing the cabinets? Are new appliances and plumbing the main thing that need to be redone, or do you need all new electrical, too? Is this a DIY project, or are you hiring a contractor? What sort of end result do you want? A boho chic look, or more of a saw-it-in-a-Nancy-Meyers-movie aesthetic?
The number of decisions may sound intimidating, but the answers to all of these questions will determine your plan of action and your budget. Once you have an idea of what you’re able to do, The Spruce recommends not only setting your budget but adding an additional 10 percent, because unexpected expenses will inevitably arise. This helps account for hidden costs (delivery, labor, materials, etc.) as well.
Step 2: It’s All in the Design
It goes without saying (oh, but let’s say it anyway!) that your answers to the above questions will also decide the amount of design work you’ll need to do. If you’re hoping to knock out some walls and move plumbing around, best to hire a professional for some sketches. But This Old House gives some sage money-saving advice to keep your current layout to save money on extra plumbing and electrical.
If you’re not moving much and focusing instead on updating appliances and fixtures, you can likely scrape by on your own with some graph paper or a drafting app on your computer or mobile device. Sketch out the size of the appliances you have and/or those of the ones you want, and make sure to leave plenty of space for people to move around the kitchen, as well as counter space for food preparation.
Once you’ve decided what to replace, keep in mind many kitchen materials can take several weeks’ lead time, so order them far enough in advance to arrive when the demo is complete. Pro tip: if you live in a multi-unit building versus a stand-alone house, get the dimensions of your building’s freight elevator and/or main elevator and order materials that can actually fit inside. You don’t want to put yourself through the headache of waiting for a delivery person only to be dead in the water because your beautiful seamless slate countertop is too large to fit in the — as the Brits say — lift.
Step 3: Cooking Up a Kitchen
Obviously, demolition of the existing kitchen comes first, and you’ll have to do at least some degree of this, even if all you’re doing is taking out a fake red brick linoleum floor and replacing some questionable bicentennial wallpaper from the 1970s. (Oh yeah, it existed.)
Next comes plumbing and electrical, which — unless that’s your profession or very very serious hobby — you should get a professional to do. Obviously if you move your plumbing, that’s a bigger job than simply replacing appliances, but regardless of whether or not you totally redo your layout or keep everything where it is, this is your best opportunity to replace any of the old plumbing in your new home, and that’s one thing worth considering, largely for health reasons. Pipes installed in homes built prior to 1986 were usually made from lead, and that can leach into your water if given the right combination of contaminants and heat coming through those pipes.
Step 4: Installation Station
Now that your space is stripped, you may feel anxious to install that unbelievable espresso machine, but hold those horses! Not quite yet. Now it might seem obvious, but let’s say it anyway: start with the bottom layers. The bones: drywall, flooring (if you’re choosing to change it) go in first. If you’d rather save yourself the contractor costs, both can be done DIY without a ton of headache and that can save a significant amount in the long run.
Next you’d think would come cabinets, but here’s another trick: paint the walls before installing the cabinets. For one, it’ll be easier to access the walls without having to tape all around your new millwork, but painting first will also spare your beautiful new cabinets from getting paint on them. Once you do start installing new cabinets, it’s worth having the contractor do it or at least roping in a friend or two to help, as it’s a multi-person job. If you want to save cash, consider keeping the cabinetry you have and updating them with a new paint color and — what will make a big difference — new hardware.
Of course, regardless of what your cabinetry looks like on the outside, the inside should provide maximum storage that’s easily accessible. Installing pull-out shelves or double sliding shelves in those tough to reach corner cabinets so you’re getting maximum bang for minimal hassle.
Step 5: Healthy Water In The Kitchen
After your cabinets and appliances go in, it’s also a good time to consider a water filtration system. If there’s chlorine in your water (and that’s highly likely as municipal treatment systems add it to water to disinfect it), it can turn to chloroform in steam. If there are lead pipes in your house that you can’t replace, that’s reason enough to consider a system that removes lead and other potentially harmful contaminants. Filtration is an upgrade that you can’t see, but it can make a difference in your entire home from the brightness of your laundry to the taste of your food — not to mention saving you and your family from drinking and bathing in harmful water contaminants. Aquasana offers both countertop and under-sink water filtering, as well as whole home systems which will also benefit the rest of the house, providing cleaner water to your bathrooms, laundry, and outdoor needs as well.
And with that, you’re just about done. So, order yourself one of those meals-in-a-box and enjoy cooking in your new kitchen. You’ve earned this one, pal.
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