DIY Kitchen Remodel Guide

So……you are planning a complete remodel or an addition to make your kitchen grand. Well the first place to start is with the design. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, don’t go tearing out your walls and cabinets until you have everything planned. This is the phase where it pays to hire a designer who can help draw up the plans. If they do CAD (computer aided design) with 3D renderings, even better. This way, you can see how your ideas will look and work before you get started. Kitchen designers do this day in and day out so they can help you avoid common mistakes. Mistakes cost time and money. Better to pay a few bucks for a professional kitchen design, and get it right the first time, than to waste time and materials (money) and have all the headaches that come with the mistakes. (go to the how I can help you tab to inquire about hiring me to help with your layout and design)

New cabinets have a lead time of anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks, even if you make them yourself. So wait to tear out your old cabinets until you have shopped for (and preferably purchased) your appliances, designed your layout and placement of appliances, and designed the cabinets around them. Cabinets do not a kitchen make! A room full of cabinets could very well be a closet. Appliances and their specifications is where to start. Then design the cabinets around them to fit in your space.  Appliances have a lead time as well and building permits take time. Rushing into this endeavor is the biggest mistake an owner or builder can make.  Your kitchen will be “under construction” and un-usable for 2 to 3 times longer than if you planned it all first.

Don’t forget to think function and not just form. In other words….. make it pretty but make it function for how the cook navigates around the kitchen. Everyone is different. There are a few basic rules, but to know how the cook(s) of the house work, is imperative. Do you bake, deep fry or stir fry the most? Are you right or left handed? These and many more are questions a good designer will ask of their clients in order to create a space that is designed specifically for you.

Order everything that requires a lead time to get to the job site, put it in a schedule, and then and only then, start your demo. And remember if your home is over 40 years old, it may have lead based paint in the cabinets or walls and this will require special handling in order to dispose of the waste appropriately. (I have recent ancestors who died from lead poisoning in paint so be aware and be careful !) If your cabinets are old and are painted, it is best to wear protective clothing and gloves or better yet hire a professional demo company. This does add to the cost of your project but getting lead poisoning would be far more costly! Anyway, once you are all cleared out, you can start any new framing that needs to be added and then do the rough electrical and rough plumbing changes if any. Mark your cabinet positions out on the floor to make sure everything fits and this will give you appliance center lines for hookups etc. Then when the drywall goes up, you can mark them out again on the drywall for placement. Some people like to paint before the cabinets go in but I like to leave the final paint/color coat till after all my other items are in. This is because the lighting in the room changes once you have all the wood and counters in place and it’s good to see what color the room is “asking” for once these and the appliances and lighting are installed. It is a bit harder to paint around the cabinets etc. but I personally think it’s worth the wait; and especially better than painting twice if the color needs tweeking after all is done.

Have fun and know that you can always stop and hire a pro (if you did not from the start).  If you get stumped or realize you have  made a mistake,  getting advice from an experienced professional may be the best investment you make.    Cheers!