by Mark Cutler

Remodeling your kitchen can be one of the best ways to add value to your home, but it’s a project that can totally run away from you without careful planning and a realistic assessment of what you need and can afford to pay for.

Plan Ahead

Like any good project, success hinges on good planning. Not just developing a budget on what you can afford, but also being realistic about what you need versus what you want. Also, do not forget that remodeling your kitchen can take weeks, if not months, so if you are planning to live in the house while this is going on, you need to have a strategy for setting up a temporary kitchen. Postmates and take out will only get you through a few days, often your contractor can set up a small Kitchen area in your garage that can service your needs during construction. Summer time may be a good time to think about doing this work, as your barbecue can become a great go to cooking device.

Look at LOTS of options

Yes, there are lots and lots of options, not just in appliances, but also in surfaces, plumbing fixtures and even lighting, so how do you make sense of all of these? Start with a list of what is really important to you, both on a practical and an aesthetic level, then start systematically going through the list. I happen to love Pinterest as a search tool, and pinning to a variety of boards helps me stay organized. Investing a lot of time now into the pros and cons of each element will help you avoid disappointment and expensive changes down the line.

Create a Budget and Stick to it

There is no more expensive phrase in the language than “we will just add this one little thing”. Changes along the way are always expensive and will blow your budget. So start with a realistic number and plug in all the costs for the items. Work with your contractor and designer to help get a true scope of expenses. Be sure to add in a contingency ( there will always be cost overruns and unexpected expenses in a remodel), it will be needed. Also, don’t forget to include decorative items in your budget, such as window coverings etc, it’s those finishing touches that will make all the difference. Be sure to shop to your budget, if you allow $5,000.00 for your range, do not start looking at $10,000.00 ranges, one of two things will happen, you will become disillusioned with your design and ultimately disappointed with the result or you will buy that range and blow your budget. Restraint is your friend.

People don’t change

When deciding on your design and appliances, remember that generally speaking people do not change. If you are not a sushi making aficionado now, the chances of a new Kitchen layout or appliance making you one is slim to none. So plan your kitchen around how you actually live and cook. If you mostly reheat, then go big on your microwave or steam oven, or if you love to bake, pay attention to countertop surfaces and your oven. Thinking that a new Kitchen will transform you into Julia Child is a common mistake and can result in a Kitchen where you feel like a stranger in your own home.

It won’t be fun, but it’s worth it.

No one should tell you that this is going to be a fun process. It is hard, fraught with doubt and indecision, will cost more than you think, but ultimately will create a hub within your home that will bring joy and reward for many years to come. So when you are knee deep in dust and the Kitchen of your dreams feels unattainable, remember that all of your planning, budgeting and forethought will come to your rescue.