I approach a kitchen remodel like I would with any other room in the house:
First you must NOTICE how you live.
Whether you are gutting your kitchen or just refinishing the current layout, this step is the key to creating a space that serves you. People often jump too soon into choosing products and features before doing the necessary self-examination. In this step, it’s important that you are honest and let any “romanticized” versions of yourself go. Sometimes we like to imagine the way we wish we were, like only using our kitchen to prepare lavish meals for friends and family, rather than the reality; which may be that your kitchen is the hub of frenzied family time, kid’s homework and hurried meal prep. I always start my clients with this step so we can find the tools and layout that support their life exactly how it is, quirky habits and all. I encourage them to journal for a week and write down answers to questions like: Where do things pile up? Where does the room get messy? What activities take place in the space? If you cook, what type of cook are you? Gourmet or quick and easy? What appliances do you use every day? Are there activities that you do that aren’t easy to accomplish? For example, do you pay bills in the kitchen, only to make multiple trips back to your office to fetch envelopes and stamps? Do your kids do homework at the table and leave a mess because, heaven forbid, they walk everything back to their room?
Once you have identified your living habits, you can come up with solutions that may even be unconventional. For instance, moving those cookie cutters you only use once a year out of the kitchen and dedicating those drawers to pens, stamps, envelopes, etc. so when it’s time to do your regular activities, you can do so and clean-up with ease because your space serves the “real” you.
In this kitchen, we did a combo of gutting, while keeping gas and plumbing hookups where they were. This cut down on construction costs but still allowed us to create more counter space which she needed for cooking and home canning! This client also enters through the back door with groceries, so moving the refrigerator to the back corner worked for her functionally.
Now it’s time to get real about your future plans: Is this your “forever house?” Or do you plan on selling/renting it out later? The answer will shed light on how much you want to spend and what products and finishes you should consider. This kitchen will not be my clients’ forever home and she plans on renting it out later. Therefore, we decided on more durable materials. She loves marble counters but it wouldn’t have been smart to install something that a renter might not maintain as well as she would. We opted for a quartzite that is heat and scratch resistant. For the floor, we did an inexpensive porcelain that is zero maintenance and resistant to breaks. For clients in their forever house, I would have opted for the countertops and flooring of their dreams because when you have found that special home, it’s time to go all out!
Lastly, I tell people not to be scared to make a style statement in their kitchen. We spend so much time there and it should make our eyeballs happy! If it’s your forever home, you can choose more permanent elements. If you like to change things up every few years or plan on selling/renting, then I suggest being more strategic. For this client, the cost of painting the lower cabinets later on was worth it to let her true style shine with bright turquoise. To balance it, we went with all neutrals on the counters, backsplash, upper cabinets and appliances so anyone could walk in and insert their stamp. Other options are to paint the walls a fun color or invest in interesting lighting fixtures that you can replace and take with you. Even less permeant options include: throwing a rug down or hanging some art on the walls.
A kitchen remodel is an investment of time and resources. It’s worth it to go through these seemly theoretical questions to insure you create a space that’s perfect for your unique lifestyle and stage of life.
Jessica is the owner and head designer of Glamour Nest. Her style can best be described as “Casual Glamour.” She's a laid-back gal who LOVES fancy things – the girl who wears ripped-up jeans with Valentino’s at backyard barbecues and serves Friday night pizza on her best china. She loves to incorporate that feeling of Casual Glamour into all of her designs believing that everything should be able to be touched, used and enjoyed. You can see more from Jessica on her blog, Glamour Nest.