Our Best Kitchen Renovation Ideas, and the Reasons Behind Them

Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Making the decision to redo your kitchen means that you are about to embark on a journey that will rely heavily on your budgeting skills, your eye for design, and your ability to keep a cool head in a stressful situation.

Kitchen renovation ideas are as varied as the people who come up with them. It is always a good idea to look for inspiration either online or in catalogs, but the onslaught of Pinterest boards and architectural photography can also feel very overwhelming. What you need right now is focus.

We have seen many homeowners metaphorically (hopefully not literally) pulling their hair out when they realize the vastness of the options available to them.

With so much information overload coming your way, it can be easy to get distracted, or to lose sight of the kitchen that you actually want. The last thing anyone needs is to find themselves standing in the middle of a very new, and very expensive kitchen that they are unhappy with.

This is why we have assembled a 10 step plan that will help you bring your own wants and needs into clearer view.

Step 1: Make Your Choices Timeless

Design - Make Your Choices Timeless

Most people will only redo their kitchens once over the course of the time that they spend in their home.

The reason for this is twofold:

First, kitchen renovation can be very expensive, and doing it more than once is not likely to generate a return on investment.

Second, the process is disruptive. Not many families are looking forward to the prospect of living without a functional kitchen for a number of weeks, if not months depending on the scale of the renovation.

With this in mind, it is important that you make sure that the work you do on your kitchen won’t begin looking horribly dated in a matter of five, six, or seven years from now.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to stick with clean and simple lines throughout your design. Treat your kitchen as more of a backdrop – and up-to-date, efficient, and beautiful backdrop to be sure, but still a backdrop.

Leave the personalization to decorative items, wall hangings, or even paint colors – all three of which can be changed much more easily and cheaply than cabinets, countertops, and appliances.

White and/or neutral colors tend to work much better in making a kitchen seem timeless. Bolder colors can assign a decade or era to your kitchen (remember that avocado colored refrigerator in your first apartment?) meaning you may not be as happy with the design later on.

Step 2: Keep the “Work Triangle” in Mind

Keep the Work Triangle in Mind

The main event in any kitchen is food preparation. The three most important components of working with food in your kitchen are the sink, the refrigerator, and the oven. Ideally, these three appliances will form into a sort of triangle, meaning there are only a few short steps between each “point,” and you can therefore maximize the efficiency of your kitchen.

This triangle is just as, if not more important for small kitchens as it is for more spacious ones. Smaller kitchens have the advantage of fewer steps between important appliances, but flow and ease of access must be more carefully considered when spaces are tight.

Step 3: Take Ergonomic Design into Account for a More Enjoyable Kitchen

Take Ergonomic Design into Account for a More Enjoyable Kitchen

The kitchen is a utilitarian space at its heart. As such, it may be tempting to design the kitchen around the space it will occupy, while forgetting the people who will be using it.

Ergonomics is the study of how humans interact efficiently with the things around them, and it can do absolute wonders when you apply the logic to your kitchen.

Some things you definitely want to consider:

  • Differing counter heights – If you are going to have more than one cook in this kitchen, and if there is a significant height difference between the two of you, you may want to consider adding in sections of counter with differing heights. This can also be helpful in food preparation. The lower counter can act as your workspace, while the higher counter can act as a staging area.
  • More drawers, fewer cabinets – Traditional cabinetry can sometimes lead to a lot of bending, stretching, stooping, and kneeling as you rummage through looking for just the right pot or pan. Ergonomic cabinets can be designed with pull-out drawer sections. This makes it much easier to find the things you are looking for, and leads to an overall neater appearance in your kitchen.
  • Add more electrical outlets – Have you ever found yourself struggling to hold onto a heavy stand mixer while searching for an available outlet to plug it into? During your remodel is the perfect time to add in more electrical outlets. Don’t worry, clever design can easily keep these out of sight, without putting them out of reach.
  • Play to your dominant hand – It really is a right-handers world, even in your own home. Left-handed cooks often have to deal with some clumsy angles or less than ideal design choices in standard kitchens. If the main cook in your kitchen is a lefty, design the kitchen with them in mind.

Step 4: Go for the Bells and Whistles, but Only the Ones You’ll Actually Use

Go for the Bells and Whistles but Only the Ones You'll Actually Use

During a renovation, you get the chance to daydream and consider all of the high-end, or super specialized appliances that you could add to your kitchen. Upgrades are good, anything that improves your efficiency or quality of life is good, but frivolous or unnecessary purchases are not.

This is where it really pays to have a cool head:

Look at your options logically. Wine lovers may want to spring for the temperature controlled wine storage rack, but it isn’t necessary for anyone who prefers a beer, a cocktail, or even just club soda. The proofing oven that you see on all of those cooking contest shows might be of vital importance to someone who bakes all year round, but for anyone else, it will just take up valuable real estate in your kitchen.

Choose carefully, and go in for the upgrades you need the most.

Step 5: Plan Your Lighting

Plan Your Lighting

The kitchens of yesteryear mostly operated thanks to a single light switch over the center of the room, and perhaps a small chandelier over the dining area.

Today, homeowners have much higher expectations for the lighting in their kitchens, and rightfully so. There are so many different things you can do with lighting, and your kitchen renovation is the chance to get it all exactly right.

One of the most important things to consider are work zones. Have easily accessible and appropriately bright lighting over the areas that need it most – countertops, cooking surfaces, and any space that you may have set aside to take messages, write recipes, etc.

You will also want to take the cleaning and maintaining of your light fixtures into account at this point. Don’t set yourself up for situation where changing a lightbulb or cleaning a glass fixture becomes either too tedious, or too dangerous to do.

Lastly:

Decide if you want any special features such as dimmers, or lights that are operated by remote control. These can add an extra bit of ambiance to a dinner party, or that sharp brightness you need to read recipes.

Step 6: Emphasize Storage

For Small Kitchens - Emphasize Storage

Cabinets today can be amazing models of efficiency. Certain specialized cabinets can maximize your available storage space, and offer you clever solutions to everyday kitchen storage woes.

When designing how you want to plot out your cabinetry, take everyday utility into account. Make sure that cooking utensils and spices can easily be reached while standing at the oven. Likewise, make sure that there is a place for cleaning supplies close to the sink.

Often overlooked:

A pantry or large cabinet for dry food storage. This is especially important for large families, as cereal boxes and the like can take up massive amounts of cabinet space that you might have allocated for something else.

Get Smart about your storage:

Sneak it in everywhere. If you are having an island installed, make sure it has cabinets or drawers in it, so that the space underneath can be put to good use.

Step 7: If Resale Value is on Your Radar, Back Off from the Bolder Designs

If Resale Value is on Your Radar, Back Off from Bolder Designs

If you think your house will be on the market within the next couple of years – or even more to the point, if you are upgrading your kitchen specifically so that you can list your home for sale – the focus of the project needs to shift off of you, and go much broader.

We talked a bit earlier about the importance of keeping your designs neutral and also timeless. This is especially true if you are planning to sell your house. You want your kitchen to appeal to the widest possible audience, meaning that personal touches or bold design statements may have to wait until you move in to your new place.

By the way, this is true for your kitchen, bathroom, and any other room in your house.

Step 8: Spend Good Money on Good Quality (but Save Where You Can!)

Spend Money on Good Quality

The sticker shock associated with a full-scale kitchen remodeling project can be a little intense sometimes. When staring at the total at the bottom of an estimate, some homeowners may begin searching for ways to reduce the financial impact.

Generally speaking, this is a great idea. If there are bits and pieces of the renovation that you can confidently accomplish by yourself, then you should absolutely do so. However, one area where you shouldn’t skimp is on quality.

You don’t need the top-of-the-line refrigerator, but you also don’t need the bottom rung model either. What you are looking for in appliances is a happy medium. You want excellent reliability, good user reviews, and solid warranty. Those are the things worth paying for.

It’s best to begin thinking more long-term when it comes to kitchen purchases. You may be able to save $3000 or $4000 right now by going with lower end appliances, but you may also be replacing them five years down the line – effectively negating any savings you made in the beginning.

Put your money towards high-quality, high performance materials and appliances. Save money by tackling some of the smaller projects such as painting or easy installation projects yourself.

Step 9: Remember that Kitchens Are Inherently Messy

Remember that Kitchens are Inherently Messy

Whether we are talking about appliances, cabinets, countertops, or flooring, here is the best thing you can do: picture it with an overturned pot of spaghetti sauce on it, or perhaps a shattered glass of red wine.

Why?

Because it’s going to happen, and choosing materials that stain easily, or that are difficult to clean means that you are setting yourself up for a nightmare.

Stain resistant materials will save your sanity once your new kitchen is installed. The same goes for self-cleaning ovens, refrigerators with easily removed shelving, and cabinet facing that wipes clean with a damp cloth.

Your renovation should make cleaning and maintaining your kitchen easier, not harder.

Step 10: Hire Trusted Professionals

Hire Trusted Professionals

This final step is actually the most important. You don’t want to hand over the design and remodeling of your kitchen to just anyone. You want to make sure you are working with experienced, reliable, and licensed contractors.

Trusted professionals can help you save money, arrange clever designs, and maximize the efficiency and enjoyment of your new kitchen.

If you are ready to begin planning out your beautiful new kitchen, consider getting in touch with Planet Cabinets.

With nearly 20 years of experience, we have helped clients all over the Chicago area design and build the kitchen of their dreams. Whether you are working with a small space, working on a budget, working with an older building, or simply looking for a small-scale update, we can help.
Udi and Ofer - Planet Cabinets

To schedule your in-store consultation, you can fill out our online form, or call us at 773-304-4065.

We welcome customers to our showroom at 4408 North Milwaukee Ave in Chicago (By appointment). Here, you can take an up close and personal look at the products we have to offer, as well as personally meet with our designers.

We look forward to helping you build an amazing new kitchen.

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Niv Orlian

Co-Founder at Do Online Marketing
Niv Orlian is an online marketer and the Co-Founder of DO Online Marketing, a Chicago based company that helps local businesses acquire, manage, and retain local customers online.
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