Remodelling your kitchen is an opportunity to design a new, more functional and aesthetically pleasing space. Before you begin working with an interior designer or design-build contractor, there are some important questions you need to be asking to ensure the design and remodel process is a successful one, and it will result in a beautiful kitchen you’ll love.
What are some questions I should be asking before starting a kitchen remodel?
- How do I evaluate the ways we are using our kitchen now, and determine what needs to change?
- How do I determine if we need more kitchen space or just better use of the space we have?
- Do we need to move appliances and rework the floor plan of our kitchen to make it work?
- Can we live in the house while our kitchen is being remodelled?
- How much do we need to budget for a kitchen remodel?
- How long does a kitchen remodel typically take?
- Do we need to hire a professional to do our kitchen remodel?
- What are important trends in kitchen design I should consider?
- Should I buy new cabinets or refinish the existing ones?
- What are popular countertop materials I should consider?
- What flooring options are best for kitchens?
- Should I invest in high-end appliances during our remodel?
- What is the best lighting for a kitchen remodel?
1. How do I evaluate the ways we are using our kitchen now, and determine what needs to change?
Before embarking on a kitchen remodel, it is important to evaluate how your current kitchen is being used to determine what would make it better. Identify the primary activities that take place in the kitchen, such as cooking, meal preparation, homework or catching up on business email, and socializing. Pay close attention to your day-to-day routines, listing problem areas. Then create a wish list of features that will meet both your current and future needs.
Modern kitchens have become the hub of the modern home. Lockdowns caused families to spend more time together, and reconnect in meaningful ways. Many households quickly discovered their kitchen floor plans were not designed as a space to cook and eat together, much less spend an hour or two of quality time together.
2. How do I determine if we need more kitchen space or just better use of the space we have?
As you sketch out your new kitchen floor plan, remember to allow for major appliances, counter space for prep and small appliances, storage and perhaps an island, if your kitchen doesn’t already have one. The kitchen island has become a highly sought-after feature that offers both style and functionality. As you factor in everything your kitchen must have, you may need to consider expanding it by removing a non-load-bearing wall to create an open plan space, or extending the kitchen outward with an addition.
Modern kitchens in 2023 need plenty of counter and storage space for all the small appliances, such as a toaster, coffee or espresso machine and grinder, microwave oven, toaster oven, tilt-head stand mixer, blender, Instant Pot, air fryer, indoor grill, bread machine, sous-vide water oven, dehydrator, panini maker, a juicer and more. There will likely be a full set of cookware, specialty pots and pans, everyday dinnerware, cutlery, gadget drawers and cooking utensils.
Then there are the standard built-in appliances, with a wide refrigerator/freezer, cooktop/hob, oven, dishwasher and trash compactor. To enjoy the latest in convenience, while future-proofing their homes, many homeowners are choosing Smart appliances that integrate with their home’s Smart panel, all with Energy Star® ratings of course.
An island provides an additional countertop and workspace, making meal preparation and cooking more efficient and enjoyable. Islands can complete the ideal “work triangle” coveted by many home cooks. Islands often offer a sink and prep area, with plenty of storage below the deck. Kitchen islands also serve as a central gathering spot, creating a hub for family and friends to socialize while meals are being prepared.
3. Do we need to move appliances and rework the floor plan of our kitchen to make it work?
If the changes you are looking for are only cosmetic, replacing or refinishing the cabinets and installing new countertops may be all that’s required. Reworking the floor plan, and moving appliances and electrical, sinks and plumbing, will be more costly, but often reworking the layout is the only way to achieve the look and functionality you want. Redesigning your kitchen floor plan layout for the appliances and cabinets can create a more efficient, stylish, and valuable kitchen space.
4. Can we live in the house while our kitchen is being remodelled?
Yes, you should be able to keep living in your home while your kitchen remodel is completed. Many families will set up a table with a hot plate or microwave oven in another room, or gather around the barbecue on the patio. If you believe you’ll have a hard time dealing with the noise, dust and tradespeople walking through the house, moving into a hotel, or in with relatives, is an option.
If you’re like most homeowners, you’ll remain in the home during the remodel and manage a bit of noise, dust and inconvenience. While interviewing your design-build contractor, be sure to choose a team that will pay attention to maintaining a clean job site, dust control and adhering to scheduled work hours. Give some thought to where you’d like to set up your temporary kitchen.
5. How much should we budget for a kitchen remodel?
Your kitchen’s size and the scope of the remodelling project will be the determining factors. A standard Canadian kitchen renovation project will include new cabinets, countertops and flooring. A minor renovation will be around $85 per square foot. Mid-range projects come in at around $125 per square foot, and an upscale kitchen will weigh in at $200 or more. Appliances are not included in those figures. If there will be structural changes, to achieve a new floor plan or extend the kitchen area, or the job involves moving plumbing and electrical, it’s a remodel job, and you’ll need an estimate from a qualified design-build contractor.
Can you recoup some of that investment at resale? A 2022 survey by Royal LePage found that kitchen renovations have the potential to increase your property’s value by 20%. Remodels cost more – so it’s recommended that homeowners live in the home for at least 5 years, to realize the benefits of improved functionality and enjoyment – but the return for an extended kitchen with an island can increase the value of the property by over 25%.
6. How long does a kitchen remodel typically take?
The duration of a kitchen remodel project varies depending on several factors such as the scope of work, the size of the kitchen, and the contractor’s efficiency or workload. Typically, a kitchen remodel project can take anywhere between 4-12 weeks, but the timeline can extend based on the complexity of the project. It is important to note that unexpected issues can arise during the remodelling process, particularly if it’s an older home, which can add to the duration of the project.
The planning phase of your kitchen remodel project is essential and it can take several weeks to complete. This includes the design, creating plans, obtaining necessary permits, choosing materials, and working with the contractor to create a timeline. Once the planning phase is complete, the actual construction work can begin.
The timeline for a kitchen remodel project can also be affected by the availability of materials and labour. Some materials may take longer to procure, especially if they are custom-made or imported. Additionally, most of the better contractors have a full workload, which can result in longer wait times before construction can begin.
Careful planning, effective communication with the contractor, and realistic expectations can help ensure that the project stays on track and is completed within the expected timeframe.
7. Do we need to hire a professional to do our kitchen remodel?
While it is possible to complete a kitchen remodel project without hiring a professional, it is generally advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced design-build contractor. Kitchen remodels can be complex projects that involve a range of skills and expertise, including design, working with the municipality to secure the necessary permits and approvals, project management, carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, and more.
Your contractor will have access to a network of trades, suppliers and manufacturers, allowing them to source labour, materials and fixtures at a lower cost. If they pass on a portion of those savings to their clients, this can save you money. Your contractor’s team will also have the necessary tools and equipment to complete the project efficiently and to the highest standard.
8. What are important trends in kitchen design I should consider?
In recent years, kitchen design has seen a shift towards a more open, minimalist, and functional aesthetic. One of the most significant trends in kitchen design is the concept of the open-plan kitchen, which involves merging the kitchen with the living and dining areas to create a large, multi-functional space.
Covid lockdowns caused families to spend more time together and reconnect, and open spaces support more interaction. This returning trend is also popular among homeowners who value socializing and entertaining in a relaxed, open environment.
Another trend in kitchen design is the use of natural materials, such as wood, stone, and metal, to create a warm, rustic, and organic feel. These materials are often combined with sleek, modern finishes, such as stainless steel or concrete, to create a contrast between old and new.
When it comes to colour, neutral shades continue to dominate kitchen design, with white and grey being the most popular choices. However, bold, bright colours are also becoming more prevalent, particularly for accent walls, backsplashes, and cabinets.
Smart technology is another emerging trend in kitchen design, with many homeowners incorporating features such as touchless faucets, smart appliances, and voice-controlled lighting and audio systems into their kitchen remodel projects. These technologies offer convenience, efficiency, and comfort and are particularly popular among tech-savvy homeowners.
Finally, sustainability and eco-friendliness are becoming increasingly important considerations in kitchen design. Homeowners are opting for Energy Star® certified energy-efficient appliances, recycled and environmentally-friendly materials, and sustainable design practices to reduce their carbon footprint and create a healthier, more sustainable home.
9. Should I buy new cabinets or refinish the existing ones?
Whether to buy new cabinets or refinish the existing ones is a common question homeowners face when updating their kitchens. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference, budget, and the condition of the existing cabinets.
Refinishing your existing cabinets can be a cost-effective solution, especially if the cabinets are in relatively good condition and the layout is working for you. Refinishing involves removing the existing finish, sanding down the surfaces, and applying a new stain or paint to update the look. Door replacement is also a popular option. Modern precision HVLP paint sprayers can even make it possible for professionals to refinish cabinets and melamine countertops in place.
The refinishing process can also be less disruptive to your daily routine as the cabinets are not completely removed, minimizing the amount of time spent without a functioning kitchen. Additionally, refinishing allows for more customization options, as you can choose from a variety of colours and finishes to match your desired style and palette.
On the other hand, buying new cabinets can be a worthwhile investment, particularly if the existing cabinets are outdated or damaged beyond repair, or the current layout isn’t working for you. New cabinets can provide a fresh, modern look and increase the value of your home. If you are considering changing the layout of your kitchen, buying new cabinets may be necessary to achieve your desired design. However, this option can be more expensive, and the installation process may involve more time.
10. What are popular countertop materials I should consider?
Some of the most popular materials include granite, quartz, marble, and laminate. Each with its unique advantages and disadvantages. Granite and quartz are great options for homeowners who want a durable and low-maintenance countertop, while marble is ideal for those who prioritize aesthetics and are willing to invest time in maintenance. Laminate is the best choice for those on a limited budget.
Granite is a natural stone that is known for its durability and resistance to heat, scratches, and stains. It is available in a variety of colours and patterns, making it easy to match any kitchen decor. One of the advantages of granite is that it adds value to your home and is a desirable feature for potential buyers.
Quartz countertops are made from engineered stone and are extremely durable and low-maintenance. They are resistant to stains, scratches, and heat, making them a popular choice for busy kitchens. Quartz countertops come in a wide range of colours and patterns, including options that mimic the look of natural stone.
Marble countertops are a classic choice for a timeless, elegant kitchen. They are heat-resistant and ideal for pastry and baking work. However, marble is a porous stone and can be susceptible to staining and etching. Regular maintenance and sealing are necessary to keep these countertops looking their best.
Laminate countertops are a budget-friendly option that comes in a wide range of colours and patterns. They are easy to install and maintain and are somewhat resistant to stains and scratches. They are not as durable as other materials and can be prone to chipping and peeling over time.
11. What flooring options are best for kitchens?
Popular kitchen flooring materials in 2023 include hardwood, tile, vinyl, and laminate. Hardwood and tile are great options for homeowners who want a durable and classic look, while vinyl and laminate are ideal for those on a tight budget or for those who want a low-maintenance option. Ultimately, the choice of kitchen flooring material depends on personal preference, budget, and lifestyle.
Hardwood floors are a classic and timeless option that can add warmth and beauty to any kitchen. They are durable and can last for decades with proper care and maintenance. Hardwood is also very easy to clean and can be refinished to restore its original appearance. However, genuine hardwood is not the most water-resistant option and can be prone to scratching and denting.
Tile floors are another very popular choice for kitchens. They are durable, water-resistant, and come in a variety of colours and patterns. Tile is easy to clean and can withstand heavy foot traffic, making it ideal for busy kitchens. However, tile can be hard on the feet and can be slippery when wet, making it a less-than-ideal choice for families with young children.
Vinyl flooring is a budget-friendly option that is easy to install and maintain. It is available in a wide range of colours and patterns and can mimic the look of natural materials like hardwood and tile. Vinyl is water-resistant, making it a great choice for kitchens prone to spills and messes. The downside is that vinyl can be less durable than other materials and may need to be replaced more frequently.
Laminate flooring is the latest budget-friendly option that is easy to install and maintain. It is available in a variety of colours and styles, including options that mimic the look of natural materials like hardwood and tile. Laminate is water-resistant, durable, and can withstand heavy foot traffic. Like hardwood, laminate floors can be prone to scratching and denting over time.
12. Should I invest in high-end appliances during our remodel?
Realtors will tell you that if you decide to remodel only one room, to give your home that wow factor, it should be the kitchen. Luxury appliances are sure to impress potential buyers someday, but they do make your life easier. Carefully selected premium appliances express your unique style and set the tone of your kitchen design, becoming the focal point.
Few standard appliances have a life expectancy of over 12 years. Whereas, an AGA stove, for example, has a timeless style and better quality, with more robust parts and materials, that should perform flawlessly and hold its own as the room’s centrepiece 50 years from now. Luxury stoves and refrigerators maintain temperatures more evenly. Top-shelf appliances also enhance the style and functionality of your home.
13. What is the best lighting for a kitchen remodel?
Lighting is a key design consideration in a kitchen remodel project. Adequate lighting can enhance your kitchen’s functionality, safety, and ambiance. Consider incorporating a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting to provide the necessary illumination for cooking, cleaning, and entertaining. Also, explore adding dimmer switches and SMART lighting systems to provide flexibility and control over your kitchen’s lighting.
Ambient lighting provides overall illumination for the kitchen and is typically achieved through ceiling-mounted fixtures, such as recessed lights or pendant lights. Ambient lighting creates a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere and helps to illuminate the entire space evenly. This type of lighting is important for ensuring that the kitchen is well-lit and easy to navigate, and it’s essential for safety when cooking or working with sharp objects.
Task lighting is designed to provide bright, focused light for specific tasks, such as food prep or cooking. Under-cabinet lighting is a popular option for task lighting in the kitchen, as it provides bright, focused light right where it’s needed. Task lighting can also be used in other areas of the kitchen, such as over the sink or stove. Task lighting is important for ensuring that the kitchen is functional and easy to use, and it can also help to reduce eye strain and fatigue when working on detailed tasks.
Accent lighting is used to highlight specific features or areas of the kitchen, such as artwork, architectural features, or decorative objects. Accent lighting can be achieved through the use of track lighting and spotlights. This type of lighting adds depth and visual interest to the kitchen and can help to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. However, it’s important not to overdo it with accent lighting, as too much can create a cluttered or overwhelming look.
Kitchen remodels are a major undertaking, and many homeowners have questions before they begin the process. We hope that these kitchen remodel FAQs answer most of your questions about the cost of a remodel, how long it takes, what materials to use, and whether it’s worth it to remodel. If you have any questions not answered above, please post them as a comment below.
Reid Madiuk's been putting on a toolbelt since he was twelve years old, alongside his father, one of Whistler's first residential builders. As a third-generation Whistler and Squamish builder, Reid brings over 20 years of carpentry expertise to designing and constructing exceptional homes.