I applaud you! Taking on a kitchen renovation is like ripping at the soul of your home. Its the lifeblood that keeps your household working. Even though you aren’t doing a full blown remodel, a simpler renovation can still grind on your nerves. (To quickly distinguish the terms: a renovation is aesthetic changes like cabinetry, flooring and lighting where as a remodel also includes opening up walls and tearing into plumbing and electrical.)
You’re ready to start a DIY kitchen renovation. Now, contact a designer. Better yet, contact me. I would love to help you! Even if its simply to review your floor plan or help you brainstorm ideas and get organized. Across the miles, via email and FaceTime, I can help you save some headaches. If not me and my studio, then find a designer in a kitchen showroom, your local big box home store, at the very least ask your neighbor who just finished theirs. Don’t jump in head first alone, without a plan, a schedule, and a project outline.
So, you’re going rogue and being truly DIY, on your own. I will still help you. I’ve generated a list in the most practical order, however if your project doesn’t include one of these steps, then move onto the next one.
1. Fix ALL Repairs First.
As you plan the path of your renovation, fix the broken items. A leaky faucet, broken window, rattling exhaust hood, even bad wiring. Fixing the repairs is a must before installing new finishes. If you don’t, then down the road when the neglect has exacerbated the problem, you’ll end up tearing out your new kitchen items to fix the old problems, and you’ll kick yourself. Fix them now when its cheaper and easier.
2. Keep Appliance Locations The Same.
Many factors raise the cost of kitchen remodels and renovations with one of the biggest being the relocating of the sink, stove, or refrigerator. If your kitchen was haphazardly put together like it fell from Kansas into Oz in a bygone era, then appliance locations should be reworked to create a layout that’s current with today’s lifestyle and more importantly, building codes. Dedicated and grounded circuits need to be created. If plumbing needs to get reworked, gas lines moved, or electrical panel work is needed, its no longer a DIY job. Unless you or a loved one is a licensed contractor, leave your appliance locations alone. This is not a Do It Yourself part of the project! Hire a professional for this step.
Also, if installing professional grade appliances, these are very heavy units and the floor and support below need to be checked and if necessary reinforced. Again, hire a licensed contractor for this portion.
3. Keep Functional Appliances.
It is very tempting to want to upgrade the appliances, however, if they’re functioning then keep them. If you want to switch from white to black or stainless steel to make them all match and unify the aesthetic of the kitchen, work the numbers out on paper first. If you know that your stove is on the fritz, you should replace it. But wanting to get a new refrigerator simply because its the wrong color will wreck your budget. Creative solutions can be found online for recovering appliance fronts. Work with the color of the newest, most expensive appliance and adjust the others to that one.
4. BE The Labor.
Depending on what part of the country you live, the labor portion of a renovation estimate can run 25-40% of the costs. The DIY method is a no brainer for a job you know you can do, from demolition, re-sanding, painting, and installing new cabinets can all be done by willing and careful homeowners.
Have an expert friend or family help you, watch your how-to videos, and read manufacture’s instructions. Also think about attending workshops available in your area’s home stores and check out books at your local library and bookstore.
Become a task master. This is where your project schedule will come in handy. If you break down the renovation into smaller tasks, you won’t get burnt out nearly as fast. Its when multiple tasks get started all at once, that homeowners quickly get stressed and their project becomes overwhelming.
5. Replace, Refinish, Or Remove The Cabinets.
You’ve created your plan, outlined the project into tasks, and chosen the new direction. You’ve done the repairs, confirmed the appliance locations, now its time to get to the aesthetics. If your cabinets are in good structural shape, keep them. New cabinets are expensive. You can either get them resurfaced, repainted, new doors installed, or keep the upper cabinets open. Give the insides a good scrub and vacuum. Install drawer organizers, slide out racks, and under cabinet lighting if desired.
6. Paint the Walls & Cabinets.
Paint is the cheapest way to redo a room. Layout your color palette and assign locations. Research the proper prep work for the surface you want to paint. Below is a photo of similar profile cabinet doors. Notice the difference a coat of paint and a new counter top can do. Even without a new counter top, the cabinets go from a warm Tuscan vibe to a modern farmhouse feel.
Choose an exciting paint color for the walls and give your painted furniture a touch up. Make sure to check out my next month’s blog regarding color and how to choose the correct one.
7. Redo The Floors.
Depending on what kind of flooring you choose determines how much is DIY and whether you’ll need professional installation. If you do choose to do this step yourself, be sure to prepare the underneath properly prior to installation. Also, where specifically on the floor your first piece is placed will determine the look of the final outcome. (Traditionally, planks start at the perimeter and tile products start in the center.) Always read the manufacture’s recommendations thoroughly.
8. Select New Counters & Back Splash.
Beyond the ubiquitous glass mosaic or white subway tile options, there are many choices regarding back splashes. How about brick veneer or tin? In a future blog coming up, I’ll address how to get a knock out look for your back splash for a budget price. Stay tuned.
If you can’t afford the cost of granite or quartz counter and want to upgrade from laminate there is another option: solid surface. Solid surface is a viable budget conscious option, commonly used on counters. Second to quartz and granite lines, it provides a similar look and feel of stone without the hefty price. Don’t know whether to choose gloss or matte finish in the solid surface? Contact me, I can tell you the pros and cons of both finishes.
9. Replace Hardware, Lights, & Faucets.
I consider this the jewelry portion of the renovation outfit. These are the items that add sparkle and character to what otherwise is simply a functional space. If you can only afford one change other than paint, make it this one. As with any work related to water or electricity, shut them off at the main first. Contact me for more information regarding how to choose the best faucet for your sink, the correct lighting for your needs, and to coordinate the cabinet hardware with the rest of your home.
10. Update The Decor, Bar Stools, & Window Coverings.
A finishing touch to all of your hard work is the soft surfaces. With the decor, bar stools, and window coverings I would also add dish towels, oven mitts, place mats and rugs. These items are the “clothes” of your kitchen. They’re also an economical aesthetic option to change compared to replacing cabinet fronts or flooring.
Now, let’s generate some ideas with the following photos. Who doesn’t like looking at kitchen photos, am I right? I’ve included a variety of styles to cover all tastes.
One more bit of advice, before taking down your kitchen for the renovation; set up a temporary one in another room to preserve your sanity. An electric tea kettle, a crock pot, a hot plate, and a toaster oven can fix numerous meals. Create a dish-washing station in the laundry or bathroom and fire up the grill outside. During renovation you need a dust free counter to pour your morning coffee and in the evening to prepare your dinner. Preparation of a temporary kitchen is an absolute must!
God speed and contact me for questions. I can help you through it.
P.S. For additional reference, check out a previous blog of mine Dust & Debris, Surviving Construction specifically the “during construction” portion.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA