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10 Big Lessons Learned During Kitchen Remodels by a Kitchen Designer

If you look around the kitchen of your older home and it feels small, not at all like the kitchens being built in newer model houses… If your cabinets butt up to a soffit or drop ceiling and there’s a large, rectangular light fixture in the middle of the room… If the cabinet finish is aged to a dark orange or brown grainy oak and your drawer boxes aren’t sliding the way they should… It may be time to start planning your kitchen remodel! Here are 10 lessons our clients have learned during their remodels that they wish they’d known before they started!

Save Money by Planning Ahead! – Most contractors will offer full services that will get your project from start to finish. If you want to save a bit of money by doing any of the work yourself, plan ahead. Demolition takes time. DDT Home Transformations is a cabinet dealer as well as an installer, so scheduling the start of your project is a breeze. As soon as the cabinets are ordered, we are provided with an estimated ship date from the manufacturer, so we have a very good idea of when to expect your cabinets. This allows us to either schedule your demolition for you, or if you plan to tackle that part of the project yourself, you’ll know how long you have to get it done!

Set a Realistic Budget! – The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends budgeting 15 – 20% of the value of your home for your kitchen remodel. For example, a $250,000 home would have a $37,000 - $50,000 budget. Once you’ve determined the budget, cut it by at least 25%. Set that amount aside to account for unexpected costs. Ultimately, you decide what you’re willing to spend and where you’d like to allocate extra funds (that gorgeous quartz countertop) or make cuts (that amazing floor tile that you found on clearance!). NKBA recommends the following guideline for allocating your budget:

Cabinetry & Hardware: 29%

Installation: 17%

Appliances & Ventilation: 14%

Countertops: 10%

Flooring: 7%

Lighting: 5%

Walls & Ceilings: 5%

Design Fees: 4%

Doors & Windows: 4%

Faucets & Plumbing: 4%

Other: 1%

Hire a Kitchen Designer! – Although there are some fun programs online that allow you to design your own kitchen, it really is best to enlist the help of a professional before you spend thousands of your dollars on your new kitchen! DDT Home Transformations’ Interior Designer, Nicole Vargas, has over 13 years’ experience designing kitchens! She’ll help you maximize your space and provide beautiful 3D renderings so that you can see what your kitchen will look like when it’s complete! Best of all, she’ll take measurements, provide the renderings, and go over your plan with you at no charge!

Choose the Right Cabinets! – Depending on your unique situation, there are 3 basic levels of cabinetry to choose from. The highest quality cabinets, and usually the costliest, are custom cabinets. These cabinets are made from premium materials, such as all-plywood construction, with custom sizes, and custom finishes. If you never plan to move from your house and your budget allows, these may be the cabinets for you!

Semi-custom cabinets are the most common and have a very large range of quality and price. Research your brands and ask questions to be sure you know what you’re buying. Some brands offer both all-plywood construction as well as basic furniture board. They are available in a wide array of colors and can be customized with organizational items such as trash can pull outs or roll out trays or a hundred other options. Semi-custom cabinets can look custom if done right. Stock cabinets are the cabinets you find on the shelf in your local big-box home improvement store. These are typically very limited in available sizes and finishes and the quality is on the lesser side, including particle board sides and stapled drawer boxes. These are great for rental properties, first homes, or if you’re looking to put your home on the market with a new kitchen and as little investment as possible.

Spring for the Upgrades! – The LAST thing you want to be thinking when your kitchen remodel project is complete is, “I wish I would have…” It’s better to save a bit longer and get all of the things that you wanted, than to rush a project and have it not turn out the way you dreamed. Get the roll trays, the trash can pull out, the deep pot and pan drawers, the fancy tiered cutlery divider drawer… Don’t get regrets.

Choose Quality Countertops! – There are so many countertop options available. Choose one that works for you! Granite countertops are timeless, but more and more are being passed up for more modern looking quartz. Quartz will cost more, but requires little to no maintenance and holds up very well. Laminate and acrylic tops are also available, but don’t have the same longevity as stone.

Don’t Underestimate the Impact of a Backsplash! – Your backsplash can be a blingy “wow-factor”, tie in your color scheme, or blend in for a clean look. From intricate mosaics, to subway, to large print cement tiles, your backsplash can be the highlight of your new kitchen! Accent it with under-cabinet lighting to make it pop! Just make sure to take some time to research different looks to see what you’d like to have before settling on the latest trend.

Kitchen Projects are Messy and Take Time! – Average kitchen projects take anywhere from 3 – 6 weeks. There is no way around it… your kitchen project will be dusty and you’ll be tired of all of your favorite take-out places before it’s over. If you happen to plan your remodel for a time of the year when the weather allows for grilling, that will help with dinner options. Hiring a cleaning service for when it’s all over may help alleviate the task of dusting the house when it’s over as well. It’ll all be worth it in the end when you can enjoy cooking in your beautiful new kitchen!

Make the Best Use of the Space You Have! – If you’re trying to remodel your kitchen on a tight budget, consider NOT knocking down walls and extending the kitchen into other parts of the house! Taller wall cabinets and organizational upgrades can help you use the space that you have with less damage to your bank account.

Get What You Want! – Blue kitchen cabinets are this year’s hot trend, but if you don’t want blue cabinets, then don’t get them! If you’re still in love with white shaker, then get it! You are spending thousands of your own dollars to create your dream kitchen! Don’t let others tell you what you have to get. On the other side of that same coin, however, if you plan to sell your home anytime soon, it may be wise to talk to a designer before committing to golden oak with cathedral arches!

Check out our site to see some of our previous work, then set up your free estimate! - or just phone 630-200-3945 to schedule!

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