Everything You Need to Know (and Nobody Will Tell You) About Renovating Your Kitchen

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Congratulations! You have decided to renovate your kitchen. You know you can’t complete this project alone, but you’re in the “what happens next” stage also known as the lull before any remodeling or renovating starts.

Maybe you have started a Pinterest board for inspiration or clipped photos from magazines or researched the appliances you want in your new dream kitchen. Did you know that homeowners can be in the “what happens next” stage of a kitchen renovation for a year or longer before they start interviewing interior designers or general contractors?

This stage is a long one because lots of people are unsure how to start their kitchen renovation. After years of guiding clients through kitchen renovations in Toronto and surrounding areas, we have nine steps for you to follow from the start of your renovation to “wow” (the big reveal).

1. Determine Your Needs for Your New Kitchen

This step is dedicated to figuring out what is most important to you and the people who will be using your kitchen. Simply stated, your kitchen needs to fit your lifestyle. If you need some more ideas, have a look at our recently completed projects for inspiration.

After you have an idea of the style you prefer for your kitchen, answer these questions:

  1. How many people will be using the kitchen on a regular basis?
  2. How many people will be cooking in the kitchen at the same time?
  3. How much space will people need?
  4. Do you need an addition, or can you function with the amount of space you currently have?

After you have answered these questions, have another look at the kitchen(s) you were originally interested in, and decide if it will meet your needs. If it does not align with your needs, take the time to find some options that appear to meet all of your needs; this will help a designer or contractor have an idea of what you hope the finished kitchen will look like in your home.

2. Preliminary Planning

Step one is complete, and you’re ready to go! Next, you will need to roll up your sleeves and start figuring out your project scope (your kitchen renovation) and initial budget.

While both of these items will be adjusted as you move through the other steps, you need to have a starting point. Your budget and the scope of the project are interdependent; when one changes, so does the other. As you make choices during the other steps of this process, you will learn more about how each selection you make affects your budget.

3. Select Your Team of Designers and Contractors

Very few people have the tools, knowledge on network of qualified tradespeople to plan and complete a kitchen renovation without outside professional help.

Whether you start with a kitchen designer, architect or contractor (or another vetted, qualified professional), they can guide you through these considerations (and more):

  • Obtaining the required contracts and permits to complete your renovation project
  • Optimizing your space
  • Refining your budget
  • Shopping with you for your kitchen
  • Ordering projects
  • Acting as a project manager throughout all of the stages of your kitchen remodel

4. Plan the Space

It is imperative to stay focused on the goal of this step, space planning, and to resist the temptation of what the final product will look like. You will review sketches, preliminary floor plans and elevations to review the layout and approve the size/placement of the cabinets.
The space planning stage also includes placing materials, determining how much you will need (e.g. how much flooring is required to cover 400 square feet) and calculating costs. It is recommended to begin the contractor selection process during this step to provide preliminary drawings and a scope of work to determine the construction-related costs. It is also wise to get estimates (with your drawings) for suitable finishes (e.g. countertops) and fixtures (e.g. light fixtures).

5. Choose Fixtures and Finishes

This step is a great time to reference the ideas (i.e. pictures, your Pinterest account, etc.) you started collecting in step one. You chose your kitchen’s style (i.e. modern, classic or transitional), and now you’re ready to select the elements that will make it come to life – fixtures and features. These may include:

  • Appliances
  • Backsplash
  • Cabinets
  • Countertop material
  • Decorative hardware
  • Faucets
  • Flooring
  • Light fixtures
  • Sinks

At this stage, it may be helpful to take a kitchen designer shopping with you to help you get the best value for your budget.

6. Create Design and Construction Documents

During this step, you will finalize the design and prepare the final floor plans, elevations, and, in some cases, mechanical and electrical drawings, lighting switch plans and exterior elevations.

This is when your final permit set or construction drawings are used. You will need to have your finishes and fixtures selected prior to this stage because you will be finalizing pricing from your contractor.

You will also need to submit drawings for permits, so it is important to find out how long this takes in your city or town. An architect, designer or licensed contractor is an important part of your kitchen renovation team because they will guide you through these requirements. Use credible professionals that come highly recommended, like the staff at Tango Design Studio, that you know you can rely on.
Fine Design by Amber

7. Secure Contractor Estimates

If you haven’t hired a contractor yet, it is essential at this stage. Get more than one quotation (three is recommended), and have your designer walk through the space with the contractors to discuss the budget for the project. Having another set of qualified eyes will help you find a qualified professional, as well as tell you if you need to make some financial changes to meet your final budget.

8. Demolition Preparation

You’re getting closer to the finish line, and things are about to get interesting in your home. Your demolition is weeks (or even days) away, so you will need to start clearing out your cabinets. Give yourself plenty of time to organize your belongings so that finding important items is easier later on.

You will also have to decide if it’s best for you to live in your home during the renovation or temporarily relocate. Most clients choose to stay in the home, and set up a temporary kitchen.

Before the demolition starts, discuss your expectations with your contractor. Get answers to these questions to make this transition less stressful:

  • How often will you meet for progress updates?
  • Will you need to be out of the home for certain tasks (e.g. laying flooring)?
  • If your family has allergies that may be disrupted by construction, how will clean up be handled?
  • What is a typical work day (i.e. hours) for the crew?

9. The Little Details

Throughout the project, somebody should be keeping a list to remind others about the items that were missed, incorrect or forgotten by others (e.g. small issues like paint touch-ups or larger ones like a scratch in the new floor). Sometimes the homeowner maintains the list or the designer tracks the outstanding items. As long as it is clear who is responsible and when it needs to be completed, either party can maintain it.

Remember that, even after the kitchen is complete, the contractor will need to come back to finish these tasks. Try to be as patient and accommodating of this as possible because everyone on the renovation team has the same goal; giving you the kitchen you will love.

We hope that these steps prepare you to move beyond the “what happens next” all the way to the “wow” stage of your kitchen renovation with clarity and confidence.