Unless you designed your own kitchen or inherited a really special one with the house you bought, chances are the time will come when you want to make some changes. Remodeling a kitchen can be a daunting task if you decide you want to strip the room back to basics and start again from scratch. Or it might just be a simple revamp that involves a slap of paint and some new blinds, or perhaps a new tiled floor. If you’re aiming to do-it-yourself, you’ll have to decide just how much you can do. You’ll also have to decide how much you are willing to spend.

Of course the easiest way to redo a kitchen is to call in a specialist company and get them to do the job. If you have the budget, and you don’t like DIY, that’s the way to go. There are loads of companies all over the world who are well equipped to do this. Just remember the old axiom, ‘you get what you pay for’. What this really means, is that some will do the job better than others, although not necessarily the one that charges the most.

If you’re going to get a company in to redo your kitchen, you should have a fairly good idea of the changes you want to make before you call for quotations. That way, you can get at least two or three quotes and then compare apples with apples.

Sometimes starting from scratch can be easier, because then all you need is the basic layout of the room. A good way to start is to draw the layout of the room on ordinary graph paper, to scale. This will immediately indicate both size and shape. Use a retractable steel tape measure to measure dimensions accurately, and also draw in the position of existing doors and windows. If this is part of a general home renovation job, you may be intending to knock out walls and perhaps even change the position of some doors and windows. If this is the case, it is obviously the position of the new openings that need to be noted.

The other vital elements you need to note on your drawing are the position of both electrical points and plumbing pipes and drains. If these need to be changed, you will probably need to hire a qualified electrician and plumber. Most countries have strict laws in this regard.

The next step will be to decide what you need in your kitchen. This applies to both appliances, in particular a cooker of some sort, refrigerator, possibly a dishwasher, and, if your kitchen is to double as a laundry, a washing machine and perhaps a tumble dryer, as well as storage.

When it comes to storage, most people want as much as they can fit into the space that they have. The question is what kind of storage do you want? If you want a clean-looking room where everything is stored behind doors, then you’ll need to decide what sort of cupboards and cabinets you want. If you prefer a more cottagey or farmhouse look, you’ll probably want some open shelves where you can display preserves, homemade jams, fresh fruit and perhaps some appropriate bric-a-brac. If you aren’t sure, have a look at photographs in books and magazines, or on the Internet, for ideas. These will also give you ideas for different types of layout.

If you’re going to do the revamp yourself, you’ll need to source suitable units before you go any further with your design plan. When remodeling a kitchen yourself, your choice will be between ready-made units (sometimes sold packaged as knock-down units) or those that are custom-made. If you opt for ready-made, you will have to work according to the dimensions of the units. An easy way to do this is to cut out templates of the different units that are available, and then to play with them on your drawing until you have a configuration that works for you. Just be sure they are all drawn to the correct scale.

The advantage of custom-made units is that you can make them slightly bigger or smaller to fit the space you are working with. There are many companies that specialize in the type of board suitable for custom-made units. They will cut it to size and drill the holes or recesses needed for hinges, depending on the type you choose to use. They will also finish the edges of the board that have been cut. Then all you do is to bolt or screw the various elements into place ensuring they are level and plumb. Another advantage is that you can choose whatever countertops you want. Engineered board is the most common (Melamine or Formica for example) or an unfinished board like chipboard that you can tile. Just remember that if you decide to use tiles, you’ll need to fix a trim around the edges. If you have the budget, you might prefer to top your units with marble or granite, or to have a section you can use for rolling pastry or chopping.

Another possibility is to build the walls of units from bricks or blocks and to then fit shelves between the walls. This will, of course, involve some basic bricklaying.

Other aspects you will need to consider when remodeling a kitchen are whether you are going to retile walls (if you already have tiles in the kitchen), what painting will need to be done (this applies to walls and ceilings – possibly also kitchen cupboards if you aren’t replacing them), and what you are going to do about window coverings. Are you happy with the existing flooring? If not, how are you going to change it? An existing kitchen will already have a kitchen sink and some form of lighting, but are you happy with it?

If you’re going the DIY route, then make a comprehensive list of everything you need for the project. Not only will this help you to budget, but it will also ensure that you have everything on hand when you start work.

Then plan the project so that you know when you will do what. For example, if you are removing old kitchen units and altering plumbing, this will be top of your list. If you are changing the floor that will probably come next. A large revamp can be inconvenient, and you might find yourself without a place to cook for weeks. So take this into consideration as well. If needs be, find somewhere else in the house where you can set up portable cooking equipment, like a table-top cooker or microwave and a kettle. Otherwise you’ll be relying on takeouts.


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