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I don't know how to get started on my kitchen reno

January 12, 2019

We just moved into a new house this summer knowing the kitchen should be redone (currently no dishwasher). I have a sense of what I want to do- the footprint is mainly staying the same, but I'm removing a structural wall between the breakfast room and kitchen

and putting in a peninsula. I'd like to switch the range and fridge and add a dishwasher but I don't know how to get started.

I've had a kitchen designer come from a local kitchen showroom and he came up with a design that seemed fine, but it was a bit pricey for cabinets so I kept looking. I had a contractor come to see the kitchen, but he said that I needed to start with an architect. I had two architects come, but both wanted to do a whole kitchen design when I really think I just need to pay someone hourly to draw plans to have the wall removed as I feel comfortable doing the design work. I am now leaning towards Ikea cabinets, but their online software thing is terrible and I haven't had time to get to the store. Should I start with the architect? Pick up appliances (aren't there good appliance sales next weekend?)? Find a contractor first? I feel very overwhelmed which has made it hard to get started. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Comments (12)

  • PRO

    You can't start anything by hiring a contractor on the fly without written, diagrammed, design plans. Unless you want to give him a blank check.

    Design comes first. Then build. A design retainer comes first, for that work to happen. Expect to spend 5-10% of the project costs for that. It's the anti tire kicking fee.

    Hire a Kitchen Designer. And have a realistic renovation budget. Not a fake TV one. 50-90K for your project. 25-40K for cabinets.

    mollyri thanked GreenDesigns
  • mollyri

    Sorry I could not get more pics into my main post, but hopefully you get a sense that this is truly the ugliest kitchen.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    Have you read through the entire New to the Kitchen Forum FAQ thread? That's a great place to start.

  • Susie .
    You can definitely get by inexpensively with IKEA. I used IKD to design a rental kitchen for me, because I’d never used IKEA before. They were great and fairly inexpensive, but you still need an architect or possibly a structural engineer with the wall removal (if it’s load bearing).
    mollyri thanked Susie .
  • mollyri

    Thank you all. Yes I know I will need an architect for the wall, but I wasn't sure I needed a kitchen designer as well. I met with an architect who does both so perhaps I should just hire her. Good to know. I know I can do this for well under $90k! The cabinet quote I received from the kitchen showroom was for 10k, but I'm pretty sure I can get cabinets for even cheaper with Ikea. So is the consensus that I start with a kitchen designer? That isn't something I can do on my own?

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    It's certainly something you can start to do on your own, with the help of the Kitchen forum -- many of us here have done that. But to do that, you need to read through the link I posted before,


    to understand how it's done here in the forum. It's also worthwhile reading through the archives to see how others have done it.

    Then, once you've done that, post pictures with more detailed measurements. Let us know how many people live in the house, how many use (or will use, if you have small children) the kitchen, what sort of cooking you do (do you just reheat takeout or love to bake or cook three meals from scratch every day), what are your sort of storage needs, what have you found difficult/awkward since you started using the kitchen last summer, etc.

    Also, what do you envision for the breakfast room space? How do you use your dining room? Do you like the dining room and living room set-ups as they are currently in your house, and do they work with your needs? Do you need a mudroom? Would it be better to turn the breakfast room into a mudroom area, keeping the wall that separates the space from the kitchen, and perhaps instead remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room?

    But whatever you, do NOT buy appliances next week, or you will have to plan around the appliances, rather than your needs.

    And do NOT skimp on the planning phase. Consider the time it takes as a great investment in a great kitchen that works for you and looks beautiful.

    mollyri thanked beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
  • Migraine Craftsman

    mollyri Molly, if you can afford it, go with the Kitchen Designer, but to be frank with you I do not see why you can't do this yourself.

    Get couple of different people to give you estimates, shop around ask for references/pictures if possible and be INVOLVED/supervise the job and you'll be ok. Word of advice do not pay up front and get things in writing :-) best of luck and have FUN.

    mollyri thanked Migraine Craftsman
  • MaryMargaret Sambas

    My Kitchen Designer was the best thing that I spent money on for the remodel. She knew more than most of the contractors I interviewed when I started out. She helped me pick the contractor that I ended up using as well.

    Don't be so sure that the costs quoted above won't be close to what you will spend. Mine was close to that. There are a lot more things involved than what you think originally.

    Lighting wasn't even one of the things in my original plan. But that 3K made such a huge difference. I didn't know anything about ventilation either. I just knew that my kitchen needed a vent because there was grease all over everything. And I don't even fry! I didn't know how complicated that would be either. They had to open up the ceiling. Everything was that way, from paint to tile grout. I didn't know there were so many choices, or what the differences in choices meant.

    Almost everything cost more, and was way more complicated than I expected. And I have simple tastes, that aren't the popular white kitchen look. I could not have done the remodel by myself. I would have missed something. Or made a bad decision that I would have had to pay to fix.

    This was 45K, and I know some of you will turn your nose up at it. Arched oak and a microwave vent aren't popular. But the powder room got a new vanity and toilet, and the laundry got cabinets too. And I'm happy with it. Linda listened to what I wanted, and gave it to me, better than I ever thought it could be.

    Modern Oak Redo · More Info

    Posting pics here is hard.

    mollyri thanked MaryMargaret Sambas
  • M Miller

    “50-90K for your project. 25-40K for cabinets”

    I do not agree with that given what the OP has posted. Though I do agree 100% with the rest of a Green Designs’ post. Start with a design first, then get quotes on that design. I’d also add to spend a lot of time on this forum before doing anything. You will learn a lot just from reading stuff here. The more you learn, the better prepared you will be, and the better your kitchen will turn out.

    Depending on your location (the Coasts are going to be pricier than e.g. Iowa), and your choices, expect to spend $35k total with conservative choices for counters, appliances, and cabinets. If you cannot afford that, wait until you can. I don’t think you’ll be happy in that kitchen doing things piecemeal.

    mollyri thanked M Miller
  • M Miller

    “Pick up appliances (aren't there good appliance sales next weekend?)? “

    No. There’s always another sale. You have decisions to make on the type of appliances you want - e.g., range vs cooktop + wall ovens, 36” fridge or a different width, counter MW or drawer MW, etc. These choices will also affect the size sink you get; or, the size sink you want will affect which appliances you get. Figure these out with thorough aforethought. But definitely do not buy the appliances now. Buy them a month or two before installation. Bad things happen to appliances when sitting around for months not installed. Also the appliances warrantlies start upon purchase, not installation. You are so far from installation that if you bought “next weekend”, you’d have almost no warranty left when they’re finally installed.

    Also, I am certain you will change your mind about what appliances you want as you become more knowledgeable. Don’t buy them now or even in the near future.

    mollyri thanked M Miller
  • mollyri

    This is so helpful. Thank you so much.

  • live_wire_oak

    It's just so nice to see someone not doing a white kitchen! And not being afraid to show it either! Well done! And well done for realizing that you didn't know what you didn't know too.

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