Ye olde kitchen project, and the result.
I’m not a pro. That’s a reason as good as anyone why you should take advice from me when it comes to kitchen renovation planning, since I did all the mistakes and, sometimes, learned from them.
Currently I’m finishing my third kitchen project. This does not include the million secret makeover plans I did for friends’ kitchens at the sketching table at home. Basic rule: if I have set foot in your kitchen, I have remodeled it in theory. Ok, here we go. Let’s start with the do’s.
1. Do follow basic rules for easy access to your stuff and moving around
IKEA has some good basic advice about this. There’s a reason it is recommended to have space for putting away hot pans that comes directly from the oven, and you’ll go crazy if you cook a lot and have to go for long leisurely walks to bring stuff quickly from the fridge to the stove. If several people use the kitchen, think about that you will not be in each others way when you are both cooking. In my old kitchen I had to ask my boyfriend to move away from the sink all the time to be able to reach the dishwasher, it drove me nuts.
2. Brake the rules if you can get extra storage in a small space
That said, since a lot of us have tons of kitchen stuff, it is really worth it if you can fit in extra storage, even if it is a bit awkward to reach at times. We have put in a double row of wall cupboards in our kitchen that are impossible to reach without being a NBA player, but it stows away lots of things that are used seldom, like the ice cream maker and grandma’s Royal Copenhagen tea cups for very special occasions.
3. Throw out half of your stuff
Come on, just do it! Since you are probably stowing away all your things to get started on the renovation anyway, take the opportunity NOT to pack it all, but to get rid of things you don’t use regularly to thrift shops or E-bay. If you haven’t used something in the last six months, like that lemon squeezer, sell it. In case of separation anxiety, put it in a box, mark it with “E-bay”, put it in the attic and set a calendar notification in three months time from now. I swear, you will be very surprised when your phone goes off and reminds you of that box. Now are you convinced you don’t need the stuff anymore?
4. Sell old appliances on E-bay
If you are tearing out an old kitchen with functioning appliances you aren’t going to keep, sell them. Apart from that this is more environmentally friendly, it’s fantastic to have someone else do the work of removing that old fan, fridge, oven and carrying it out of your life, and then PAY YOU FOR IT. It’s marvelous. I have laughed out loud every time I had someone else carrying away of our old fridges and cupboards. (Not in their face, but when I closed the door to our 4th floor apartment with no elevator).
5. Plan exactly what goes where
Since you now have a good overlook of the things you have and use in the kitchen, it’s not a bad idea to plan your storage in detail to make sure you have thought of space for everything. If possible, plan to store cutlery, glasses and plates close to the dishwasher for super fast unpacking.
6. Always, ALWAYS, plan space for a dishwasher
If not, tear down walls to fit it in, even in a small kitchen. It saves up space while cooking, since you don’t have to occupy the sink and workspace with dirty dishes. We have been very happy with our small 45 cm wide dishwashers in our last two kitchens and you can fit a surprising amount of plates in them. In fact, we love our dishwasher so much that when we discussed that if we would have to choose between a right to vote and a dishwasher, we were not quite sure.
7…underestimate the budget
Triple your budget. Sorry to say this. But the cost for cupboards and appliances, if they are not very exclusive, are usually just a third or half of the cost. If plumbers and electricians are involved, that’s expensive. Ask for quotes and make sure they see the place they are doing the quote for. Show them the plumbing, where the water comes from, bend behind cupboards and move out the fridge and stove for a good look together. This will save you from surprises later.
8. Don’t stray from what is tried and tested
If you used a service, an appliance or a plumbing company before and were happy, get back to them. It’s easy to be tempted to look for a cheaper alternative or quote. You will find it, but knowing you will be pleased with the result is worth a lot and saves time. We went for a new, cheaper painting firm for our new kitchen (how hard is it to spray paint cupboard doors we thought) but after having sent back the doors three times, we regretted this deeply.
9. Don’t think you will do it faster yourself
Unless you are a person with no other things to do except to renovate a kitchen, it is very easy to overestimate your own time to take on a larger renovation project, or parts of it. We did most of our last kitchen when we were still students, and it worked out OK, and it was fun, but it took more or less a year to get it all in place.
10. Don’t be over-anxious to make a kitchen everyone else will like
Then it will just be boring. Since you are going through all this trouble, go for what you love in colours and style, not only what you think might sell when and if you are moving house again. You can paint it all white just before you move, anyway.