Kitchen renovation - plan for success
By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., Dec. 23, 2011
Where do you spend the most time in your home? Perhaps the honest answer is “in the kitchen.” The kitchen is also probably the room that might make or break the sale of your home someday, too.
For exactly those reasons, when you think about bringing some life back into your tired-looking abode, the kitchen is almost certainly the right place to start. Kitchen renovation can be costly, but dollar-wise it will return a good investment in terms of your satisfaction, as well as real estate value.
You can spend a whole lot of money or just a little. It can take a month, or you can get it done in a week. It can be a DIY project, or you can hire a contract specialist. In any or all of those cases, careful, detailed planning is the key. Know how you currently use your kitchen. Understand what you really want and need in it, but design it for maximum utility.
Historically, planning for a kitchen has been based on the concept of a work triangle. That geometry is set up by the need to use three workstations: the sink, the stove and the refrigerator. Kitchens were generally grouped into U-shaped, L-shaped or galley arrangements, but shape is more user-defined now.
Map out your own kitchen and see how it works for you. Changing its shape and the position of the three work centers might make it more amenable to your style of food preparation and maintenance. If more than one person works in the kitchen, some adjustments may be warranted. You may need to make accommodation for more workspace around the three basic appliances, or make space for someone using the dishwasher and microwave oven.
Map out the kitchen's components, including cabinets, floor space, table and chairs, and access points. Be certain to avoid conflicts between appliances and entryway doors. Create scaled cardboard mockups of any additional units you might want to include, such as an island counter.
It may not be so easy to move a sink, dishwasher, stovetop or oven, or to change service from gas to electric, or vice versa. Moving water supply and drains is not impossible, but each comes at a cost and also adds to the timeline. If you are thinking of doing the project yourself, such modifications may not be within your skill set.
For changes or upgrades to cabinets, appliances, flooring, plumbing fixtures and countertops, understand that there are alternatives that may be categorized as good, better and best. Sheet vinyl is a commonly used flooring alternative, but ceramic tile adds a special touch and looks stylish. Wood flooring products offer yet another level of design. Larger appliances may not be within your budget, but plan the space to accommodate them at a later date.
Sinks now come in so many styles and materials that you could spend a great deal of time and add considerable cost on that alone. Be practical, but also think about what might attract the home's next owner. When you begin to consider countertop materials, bear in mind that sinks can be surface-mounted or can also sit underneath the counter. The plumbing hardware appropriate to each style gets quite expensive very quickly. You will have to make the good-better-best decision for the sink(s), countertop and fixtures all at once.
Cabinets can really make a big difference in a kitchen - for better or worse. Choose carefully, and measure, measure, measure. The alternatives for finish, style, decoration and features can be daunting. Here again, consider including all the utility you can afford. Things such as a Lazy Susan in corner cabinets, roll-out shelves and basket holders, spice drawers and multi-tiered drawers are just some of the features that could upgrade your kitchen's style points.
Be on the lookout for corners that are not square, as well as walls that are not quite straight or vertically true. Conditions such as these make mounting cabinets very challenging, though not impossible. Once the cabinets are installed, level and square, you can take measurements for the countertop(s). You might want to have the countertop supplier take the measurements just to be sure things will fit and look right at installation time. If you are doing the work yourself, remember that some materials are not apropos for the DIYer. Let an expert handle that work.
If you decide to tackle the entire renovation project yourself, get some guidance. By all means, talk to your local building department about any permits that may be required. They can also help you understand local codes, and they may want to perform periodic inspections.