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Saturday, 29-Apr-2017 19:15:34 EDT
renovate that kitchen!

Preparing for a new kitchen can be a daunting task, but as we work through some of the basics and details, you will realize that it is not so difficult as long as you have done your homework. Let's get started...

View more renovation ideas by Dianna Holmes at Style By Design.

How many times in your life will you renovate your kitchen? If it is done properly, hopefully only once per home you own. Typically every 15 years, people renovate their kitchen due to change in lifestyle, updates in appliances, or improvements in function and aesthetics. The kitchen is the highest use area in your home. It requires high functionality and may be the most expensive change you will make. It can bring you the greatest return on your money when selling your house.


Begin with the end in mind – create a Wish List. Start with a stack of magazines and set aside a few hours to rip out the photos you like. Look for pictures that show the type of wood, metal, and glass doors that appeal to you. Search for ideas in the colour of the wood stain or paint finishes that you like. If possible, write your comments on the photos. You may start to see some commonalities in the photos you select. Assess your need/desire for new appliances, stone counters versus plastic laminate counters, and so on. This will help you to formulate a preliminary budget.

Start a preliminary budget. Refer to this Summary Matrix. Determine your 'able to spend' amount and then your 'absolute maximum' amount. Deduct 20% off the maximum amount to have a buffer of 20% to cover unforeseen expense. Consider this your new maximum amount.

Assess your work habits and needs. Today, kitchen design is broken down into work zones: preparation areas, cooking areas, cleaning, storage, and serving areas. Please refer to the detailed List of Questions at the end of the article to assess your habits and needs for the design and layout of your new space.

Take photos of your existing kitchen. Show the doors and drawers closed and then show the doors and drawers open. Take photos of how you currently have your kitchen organized. Bring these photos with you when you meet your Kitchen Designer as the photos will assist with the process of upgrading your storage and work flow patterns.

Assess your timelines: When would be the best time to renovate?

  • November through February: low season for construction, kitchen manufacturers are more flexible with their pricing and will generally give you a 4 – 6 week lead time.
  • March through May: the construction industry is starting to build again; prices return to the norm, and lead times are typically around 6 – 8 weeks for the delivery of your kitchen.
  • June through October: the construction industry is going full steam ahead and lead times of 10 – 12 weeks is not uncommon.

The timing of your project will have significant impact on your family life. You might want to consider:

  • Moving your family to the cottage or take a holiday for the bulk of the messy time (typically 2 – 3 weeks).
  • If removing your family from the renovation is not possible, you will want to be able to open the windows to keep the paint and adhesive smells to a minimum.
  • Preparing a temporary kitchenette location.

If you choose to remain in your home – prepare yourself for camping; yes, I said camping! A kitchen renovation is a major event in a family's life. You will need to prepare a temporary 'kitchenette', this may be in close proximity to the laundry sink area. You will need:

  • Counter space for food preparation;
  • Microwave and possibly a toaster oven;
  • Space to wash dishes;
  • Garbage space; and,
  • Extra shelving for the storage of dishes and dry/tinned foods. This could be a good time to purchase some extra shelving for the laundry area that can be used for your storage within the kitchenette, and you can re-use it later in your garage or basement for bulk storage.

Determine your target timelines. Determine your target timelines that include a 'must start date' and a 'must be completed by' date. Tell your General Contractor the 'must be completed date' is two weeks ahead of when you really need to have it completed. This buffer time will save lots of headaches and frustrations later, as projects always take longer than originally anticipated when several trades are involved.

Hire a Designer, Hire a General Contractor. A Designer has experience in what I call the 'order of operations':

  • Where to go for products;
  • Knows the appliance industry;
  • Knows the cabinetry industry;
  • Knows the latest functional items and trends; and,
  • Will be highly organized to make your decision-making process as easy as possible.

The selection of a reliable General Contractor is probably the most important decision in the process and is one to thoroughly investigate. Ask lots of questions of your friends and associates who have achieved a good kitchen renovation. Ask your Designer for trade references; ask the various kitchen companies that you will visit for references.

Make sure your GC is insured and ask to speak with their previous Clients. Ask how many jobs they will have on the go along with yours. You will want to ensure they are focused on your job and have it completed within your timelines. If a GC has a good reputation and you feel comfortable with them, negotiate your agreement with your start date as soon as you can as the good General Contractors will be in high demand!

Visit Kitchen and Appliance showrooms – kick some tires! With research folder under your arm, including your wish list, your answers to the list of questions from the end of this article, magazine photos and photos of your existing kitchen, start out for a day of investigation and discovery.

I recommend you do this on any day other than Saturday or Sunday. Everyone and their neighbour will be out on the weekends. It is smart use of your time to inquire what evenings through the week these showrooms are open later so that you will have quality time with designers and sales staff.

I like to start with the larger kitchen companies in the city to see their offerings. They should offer wonderful showrooms with all of the gizmos, up to date styles and finishes; and will have some of the latest appliances integrated into their displays. They will have brochure information with photos; their sales teams will be well versed in design, functional products and appliances to make your investigation easier. You may not end up buying from these larger showrooms, but their resources do offer you the best education in the product.

Ballpark Costs. To give you a ballpark idea of what it can cost for your kitchen, the prices range from $75 per linear foot for basic knock-down, do-it-yourself cabinetry and installation to upwards from $175 per linear foot for custom cabinetry. The overall construction of the box, the door style, door material and the finish are all factors that contribute to price.


  • Good Design is highly functional meeting your work habits with aesthetics that match your tastes;
  • A reputable General Contractor who can meet your target dates;
  • A reputable Cabinetry Company offering flexibility in style and finish, and integrity in product and warranty;
  • When it comes to appliances, plumbing products, countertops, tile and decorative hardware – buy good quality, classic colours, finish and shape; and,
  • Avoid high price-tag, trendy items as you could be living with this kitchen for the next ten to fifteen years!


How will you dispose of the existing cabinetry, countertop, and appliances? Before you consider landfill, these old cabinets could be installed in the garage or basement for a workbench and tool storage area – it is a great idea to keep you organized. Alternatively, they could be relocated for an entertainment area in the basement. Be cautious though if you have young children – please remember to put a lock on the out of sight fridge!

Another idea. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity will pick up gently used cabinetry and appliances for re-use/re-sale in their Re-Store.

A helpful post-construction hint. With all of the dust in the air; regardless of how much plastic sheeting and protection you have taped down, have your home's air ducts cleaned. Dust will be settling for approximately 3-4 weeks after you complete the renovation, and cleaning the air ducts will keep the dust to a minimum.


Here is the List of Questions that I mentioned above. Please take the time to think about your answers before you design your kitchen:

  • Is there one cook typically or does the whole family get involved?
  • What functions happen in your kitchen? Eating area, homework area, crafts area, etc?
  • Do you enjoy baking, canning, preparing gourmet meals, large family meals?
  • Is your kitchen part of a Great Room? If yes, do you entertain in your kitchen?
  • Do you like to entertain – if so, are you more formal or casual?
  • Do you prefer rustic country, traditional or contemporary style kitchens?
  • If you have the space, would you prefer to have an island in the kitchen, or just a chopping block? Perhaps a peninsula (wrap-around counter) is more functional for the size of space?
  • Would you like a raised eating area at one counter to use stools, or a table height counter in the kitchen?
  • If you have the space can you accommodate a table as part of an eating area within the kitchen?
  • What does not work well now in the current layout of the kitchen?
  • Do you need:
    • more storage
    • more preparation space
    • more overall space when working in the kitchen
  • Do you have enough drawer storage?
  • Do you have enough light? Is the lighting effective?
  • Do you have an awkward corner cabinet?
  • Do you have sufficient work space on either side of the sink, either side of the stove/cooktop, either side of the fridge?
  • Depending upon the location of the kitchen in relation to other rooms of your home, can you add some overflow kitchen functions into an area of the family room, dining room, laundry room? Overflow functions could be things like a desk and message centre, homework area for the kids, overflow storage of the larger trays and serving dishes that you use occasionally or bulk storage in a tall pantry.
  • Think about what would make your life easier. These items could include:
    • ease of organization with drawers and pull out storage
    • a message area
    • morning coffee/tea area
    • uncluttered counter

Now you have the basics of renovating your kitchen. There is a lot to consider and lots to investigate, but it can be a very exciting and significant change in your life! Educate yourself. Empower yourself. But most of all, enjoy yourself.


Dianna Holmes is an Interior Designer, working in her field for over 20 years. She actively works with home owners on residential design, construction, and decorating projects, as well as with large corporate clients on commercial assignments involving design and product development, showrooms, restaurants, medical and dental offices.

Since working as the Lead Designer for Kohler's cabinetry company Canac, Dianna has taken a special interest in Kitchen and Bathroom Design. She has developed cabinetry products and designed specialty kitchens for show homes, magazine features, including showroom designs and large-feature trade show displays across North America. Visit Style By Design for more information.

Through her articles for SayItCanada.ca, Ms. Holmes hopes to share her expertise in trend and home products to educate and empower readers of across Canada. She hopes that you will be able to enjoy the planning and designing of your projects through her tips and expert advice. The submissions by Dianna Holmes will allow you to handle your project in a logical manner – with control over the financial and timing issues – yet leave room for you to also enjoy the process.

Dianna Holmes
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