Embarking on a home remodeling project is an exciting, though sometimes overwhelming, time. You may have been planning your new kitchen or bathroom design for some time, mentally rearranging your layout every time you walk in the room, saving pictures of designs you love on Pinterest or Houzz, and taking note of friends’ design styles.
Remodeling offers a great solution to the dilemma you face when you love your neighborhood but have outgrown the style and functionality of your home. It’s often said that moving home is one of the most stressful things you can face in life. Rather than launch headlong into a full move, remodeling allows you to keep what you love about your existing home while updating it to meet your current lifestyle and personal needs.
You’ve decided that remodeling is the right choice for you. How do you get started and step into this new territory with some level of confidence and assurance that you will achieve your goals? The most important thing is to start with investigation, research, and self-reflection. Look at why you want to remodel, what you want to change, and how you want to go about it. Consider your core goals and how much you have to spend to achieve them.
Careful planning is key to a successful remodel, and, while you may leave it to the experts to project manage your actual remodel, the initial planning to decide what you want starts with you. Here is our guide to what you need to know BEFORE you start a bathroom remodel or kitchen design project.
What do you need?
First, reflect on what you actually need and what your purpose is in remodeling. How will you use your space, how frequently will it be used, and by whom? If it is a bathroom remodel, is this a master bath, hall bath, child’s bathroom design, or a powder room? The scope of your project and your choice of materials will be influenced by the type of bath and will significantly affect your budget. For a kitchen remodel, you need to consider how often you cook, what type of cooking you do, how many cooks will be working in the kitchen at one time, and how frequently you entertain, among other factors.
For any remodel, look at your stage of life both now and for the next 15 years minimum and consider how that will impact your kitchen and bath design decision making. If you are a young couple fixing up your first home purchase, you may want to remodel with a view to expanding your family. If your kids are heading for college and you are getting closer to retirement, think about setting your home living spaces up for aging in place.
Likewise, think about how long you plan to stay in this home and gear your remodel to that timeframe. If you are in your home for life, then go all out and maximize the value of your remodel. If you plan to move in the near future, then focus on items that will help your resale value but avoid spending that extra bit to create your dream home (and save that budget for your new location!). If you are remodeling out of necessity, for example due to storm damage, you will need to focus on the more urgent issues first but that doesn’t mean you can’t use this an opportunity to update your style too!
You could also consider what works and what doesn’t in your existing home. Just because you are ready for a kitchen remodel or bathroom design doesn’t necessarily mean that you hate everything about that room. It may be that your layout still works but your kitchen cabinets are outdated and in a state of disrepair. Possibly your appliances were recently replaced and can be incorporated into your new kitchen design, albeit with new kitchen cabinets and countertops to frame them! Go old school and make a list of what you like…and what has to change in your new kitchen or bath design.
What is the scope of your remodel?
A key influencer of your room’s functionality is the layout of the space, as well as your footprint. In a kitchen design this will influence how much room you have for cabinet storage, an island, or a beverage bar. In a bath remodel, it may determine whether you can have both a freestanding tub and a shower, what size vanity, or how many sinks.
What is the current layout of the room and does it work for your purposes? If not, can you change the layout to better suit your needs? Or, does your budget support structural changes that allow you to create a new floor plan to suit your home life? Remember when looking at your preferred layout and room features there are careful space planning requirements for these home living spaces. Your design professional will help you with these requirements, but you should understand enough to know what your space can support.
Another key element of your project scope is determining whether you need a partial or full remodel. Unless your budget is very limited or you only need to replace one or two items in your room to achieve your goals, then it is worth your time to completely update the room.
If you have decided your space is not sufficient then determine if you will change it by doing a bump out or moving/removing a wall. This is a much bigger job but can be worth it if it allows you to achieve the dream home you always wanted. Similarly, if you are looking at a multi-space or whole home remodel, it may be worth your while to do as much as you can. A multi-space remodel will mean more disruption in the short term (or possibly even moving out for a period of time), but imagine how you will feel when you walk in the front door of your newly remodeled home.
What is your style?
Once you have decided what you need, you can start to look at what you want! You may already know your style or perhaps you are looking for inspiration. Remember you have to live in this space full-time, so while you may love the ultra-modern lines of that hotel room you stayed in last year, is that what you want to walk into every day when you get home from work?
Consider your personal tastes, what makes you feel comfortable, and what image you want to project to visitors in your home. Get inspired by visiting design showrooms (both virtual and in-person), check out websites and social media pages of local designers, and take note of friends’ homes that you love. Keep a scrapbook or an ideabook online that will help you start to formulate a picture of what your new space should look like.
Look at style type, colors, materials, accessories, artwork – anything that will influence your vision for the look and feel of your space. Is your style more traditional or contemporary? Or do you fall somewhere in between, in which case a transitional or even an eclectic look might suit your space?
When looking at colors and materials, really consider how they will look in your own home, with your lighting, against other elements of your home style or adjacent rooms. If possible, try out samples at home and look at them at different times of day with varying lighting.
Is there a particular item that inspires you, like a bold tile pattern or a favorite painting you plan to hang in the room? If so, consider using this as your muse and plan your color scheme, textures, and materials around this.
Do enough research on styles, materials, and products to give you a good idea of what you want, but don’t drive yourself crazy trying to understand every difference between cabinet grades, countertop materials, or hardware styles. Your kitchen and bath design expert can help you find the perfect choices for your space once they have a good idea of your style goals.
What is your budget?
Budgeting and financing are, of course, key parts of any kitchen or bathroom remodel. In examining your budget, it helps to look at what you need vs. what you want vs. what you can afford. You may want the luxury kitchen design with professional appliances and granite countertops, but can you afford it? Make sure you focus your budget dollars where it will have the greatest impact or on the things that are really important to you.
While it is important to stay within budget, it also pays to go for the best quality you can afford as it will last longer and serve you better. It’s also worthwhile to extend your budget to other projects when you can afford it, like adding a laundry room or home office remodel to a kitchen design. This allows you to accomplish more while your home is disrupted. The flip side of this is that you can often cut costs by leaving out things you really won’t use or by using alternative materials where there is a less expensive option that will give you a similar end result.
Make sure you understand all the costs involved including materials, labor, taxes, and contingency costs. Working with an experienced kitchen design or bathroom remodeling expert will help, as they should provide you with detailed, transparent pricing. Your designer can also assist you in finding suitable alternatives to help you stick to your budget and they may have ideas for your design you did not consider. They also have experience with the issues that can arise during a kitchen or bathroom remodel and will help you plan for this, both in terms of expectations and cost.
Has everyone set clear expectations?
Before you embark on a kitchen or bathroom remodel it’s very important that you set everyone’s expectations. A full kitchen remodel or bathroom update is a disruptive process and even more so if you have family members working or studying form home.
It can also be a lengthy process from design to full completion, possibly longer than you first thought. Educate yourself on the timelines and discuss this with your kitchen and bath design expert.
Also, get a clear picture of which areas of your home are affected by the remodel, including access to the room being remodeled and space for supplies and tools to be stored. There are certain areas of your home that are a no go while the remodeling is underway, particularly for children and pets. Plus, you need to plan for noise during the remodeling process, so ask your contractor about each phase and how much noise to expect.
If the project is large and the disruption will be too much, you may want to consider factoring in alternative accommodation during the most disruptive part of the remodel. Or, you could consider planning the project around time off to make it easier to manage disruption or even to be away for part of the project.
Next…find your experts!
Once you have done your own research, it’s time to figure out what type of expert you want to work with. Are you looking for a designer, a general contractor, or a full design/build firm? Do you plan to do any of the work yourself? Unless you have an expertise in this area or your job is very small, hiring an experienced designer and general contractor will pay for itself in the long run.
Look for recommendations from friends and neighbors, check out websites of local designers, and spend some time finding a designer who is a good fit with your personality and tastes. Once you schedule a design consultation, your designer will take it from there and make the process as enjoyable and stress free as possible. Remember to bring with you any photographs of your existing space, your style inspiration and design goals, expectations, and a list of questions to facilitate the discussion.
A kitchen design or bathroom remodel is an exciting, if a bit intimidating process, but so worth it once you see the end result! Plan and budget carefully, set your expectations, and find a reliable designer and contractor to partner with and it will be smooth sailing. You will be amazed how a fresh design will breathe new life into your home. Contact us today to get started on your new kitchen or bath design.