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How to Plan for a Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodels are a notoriously overwhelming process. Proper planning from the very beginning will help avoid the overwhelm and stress during the project. The process that I have outlined below can and should be a fun and enjoyable experience and will allow you to start thinking strategically and creatively while giving you a clear direction for your kitchen remodel.

P R E - P L A N N I N G P H A S E

Below are the simple tasks you can get started on before you spend any money on your kitchen remodel. These steps will make for a more organized, successful project.

Why are you remodeling?

Before you start daydreaming about what your existing space could be, figure out why you want to remodel. Is this a home that you don’t see yourself in long term or is it your forever home worthy of your dream kitchen? Two very different scenarios. If you don’t plan on living in the home long term then the best advice would be for you to remodel for resale, where you splurge on some of the things that would add the most value and save on the other things that prospective buyers may not want or even notice.

Now, if you’re in your forever home this is a different story. In this scenario, it would make sense to splurge on the things that you want because they are what you want. Both scenarios will lead to a beautiful kitchen but the approach will be a little bit different.

What's working now and what isn't?

Now that you know why you are remodeling, dig into what is currently working in your existing kitchen and what definitely does not work. Make a list of all the things your current kitchen offers that you like and maybe want to translate over to the new space. But just as importantly as what does work, you need to narrow in on what doesn't. When making your list, consider some of these things:

  • layout

  • lighting

  • general style

  • storage

  • counter space

  • special occasion storage

  • work space

  • prep/cooking experience

  • dining

There could (and should) be many more things on your list to think about but these should give you a great starting point!

Wants and Needs

I hope you like making lists as much as I do! After you have compiled a detailed list of what is and isn't working in your current space, shift your focus to your new space. Start by jotting down everything you could possibly want and need from your new space - yes, everything! Once you can't think of anything more thing you could want or need out of your new kitchen, grab two different colored highlighters and use one color for WANTS the other for NEEDS and go through your list and decipher what feature is actually a need vs. a want. And by the way, these lists should take some time to come up with, could be days, weeks or months. The more thought you put into this pre-planning process that happier you will be with your new kitchen.

Get Inspired

I'm sure you have already started this step, I mean, how can you not? But if you haven't now it's time to get inspired! Hop on Pinterest, Instagram, or if you're old-school, grab some design magazines and start pulling your inspiration images together. Definitely have fun with this part, you might be adding to your wants and needs list after looking and some images. It's important to note on every image what it is exactly you like about it and even the things you don't like - those are equally as important! As you go through your inspo images pay attention to the common denominators, is there a cabinet color that keeps showing up? A specific island pendant light? Hardware style? These are all good indicators as to what you want in your new kitchen!

This should be a fun, ongoing process in the pre planning phase but, be aware that searching for new inspo later in a project can sometimes lead to buyers remorse and costly change orders so try to keep it here!

Project Brainstorm

One of the first steps in your kitchen remodel is going to be deciding on the project scope as well as the layout plan. Budget and timeline are going to be a large factor in the scope of your project and you will need to get estimates from contractors to know what the project will cost. Before that can happen you need to have a general idea of your options. I would suggest having 2-3 different project scenarios that would be dependent on budget and timeline. For example: come up with the most cost effective version of the project, the most expensive version of the project, and somewhere in between. Once you have the general idea of what those would be, find out from a contractor: 1.) If they are possible from a structural standpoint 2.) What the estimated construction cost would be 3.) How long they would take. From there, you will have some indication of which direction you should be moving in!


Now that you are serious about moving forward on your kitchen remodel this is where some real planning comes into play. This is a crucial part in this process and should never be overlooked.

Hire your Team

A kitchen remodel, or any remodel for that matter, is not for the faint of heart and requires a lot of decision making, stress management, planning, and problem solving. Having a reliable, professional, and talented team on your side is the key to a successful project with an outcome you love. Below are the crucial professionals that you should be in contact with before you start planning your kitchen remodel.


Hiring an architect may or may not be necessary depending on the scope of your project but if you are adding on to your existing space, removing walls or anything structural you may need an architect and engineer to help you with your plans!

General Contractor

The ones who bring the concept to reality! A general contractor will be crucial if you are taking down walls, adding windows, installing new flooring etc. If you don't plan on hiring a GC, you will be responsible for vetting and hiring plumbers, electricians, tile installers, and painters. Hiring good, reliable contractors is super important. Ask for referrals from other industry professionals or friends & family.

Interior or Kitchen Designer

A good designer on your team from the very beginning will help you effectively communicate your vision with your architect and contractor with proper plans and documents so that the team is all on the same page throughout the project. A designer will help you create a realistic budget for all of your furniture, fixtures, and materials because they have a really good understanding of what things cost and most importantly, what you want. Your designer will save you all of the time it takes to thoughtfully curate every detail of your kitchen and help you make the best decision for you and your new space.

Cabinet & Countertop Specialists

Other crucial members of your kitchen remodel will be your cabinet maker (or vendor) and your countertop fabricator. These are the crews that will either build or order your kitchen cabinets and install your new countertops. Do some research in your area or ask other industry professionals for a referral for these. Your designer or contractor may have a crew that they typically use on their projects.


Now that you have your team in place you will be able to start working on your budget. Your contractor and designer will be great resources for you at this point. I recommend starting out by having a general idea of what your are comfortable spending on the remodel then work with your contractor and designer to help you allocate the overall budget to different areas of your kitchen. This will be dependent on many factors and some things may change during the project. It's important to have roughly 20% of the overall budget set aside as a reserve for unforeseen issues that may arise.


Your team will be able to give you a realistic timeline on when you will be able to start your project and have it completed. It's important to remember that a timeline can always change (usually time is added on to a project) and it can be frustrating but it's part of the process, and trust me, your teams wants your project completed as soon as possible as well!

I highly recommend going through this process before starting on any design related plans for your remodel. It will only help you in the long run and make the entire process more enjoyable for all involved!

Happy Remodeling!

- Kati


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