When constructing a new kitchen planning is a critical step. Everything that is done, like choosing your kitchen or bath cabinets, should rely on careful and well thought-out design. This step is the least costly and at the same time – most important in having a quality project. One can think of the planning stage as the foundation which everything else is built upon. If planning is done poorly or not at all the result can be unexpected contingencies & expensive changes which will cause a poorer, more costly and lenghtier job. However, if the foundation is strong the project can run smoothly and efficiently giving the customer a better product at lower costs.
An important consideration in kitchen remodeling is determining if the area in the kitchen needs to be altered in any way. Many times, in minor remodeling, there are no such changes necessary and improvements in cabinet layout or space utilization may adequately improve the kitchen layout. However if alterations are necessary they may be simple such as removing soffits or involved such as moving walls or adding on to the existing space.
Once the space within the kitchen is determined the homeowner may have the option of relocating appliances, lighting or plumbing. Relocating appliances may be an inexpensive way to improve the utility of a kitchen. Finally plumbing supply lines and drains may be move if the sink is to be move to another location. However, moving plumbing drains and water supply lines can be costly.
Lighting in kitchen remodeling is important to provide quality working conditions as well as providing an aesthetic accent. Changes to lighting in the kitchen such as bright task lighting, general lighting and accent lighting under the cabinets are all possible. Electrical outlets and switch positions can also be changed to suit your needs. Also simple things such as relocating a microwave may free up needed counter space.
Flooring is another important aspect of kitchen remodeling whether it is being replaced or not. If you are replacing the kitchen floor you will have several choices.
New kitchen floors can be done in a variety of surfaces. These surfaces include hard tile , hardwood , vinyl flooring ( sheets or tiles) and laminate flooring. When choosing these surfaces it is important to keep in mind that new flooring may change the distance from the floor to ceiling by as much as 1 1/2″ which may alter cabinet size requirements.
Many people choose hard tile surfaces for kitchen floors because they are durable, easy to clean and come in endless varieties. However, hard tile floors tend to be cold and many people complain that they are unforgiving and uncomfortable to stand on for extended periods.
Hardwood floors are becoming increasingly popular in kitchens because they are warm and comfortable to stand on. Wood floors are generally not as durable as hard tile floors, but have the advantage of being able to be refinished numerous times. Wood floors are also popular now because they give a kitchen a warmer, less sterile feeling and go very well with popular white cabinetry.
Vinyl flooring can come either in sheet or tile format. If sheet vinyl flooring is chosen there are few or no seams. These floors tend to durable, warm and comfortable to stand on. However these floors are not easily repairable if vinyl tiles are chosen there are many seams which tend to discolor as time goes by, but on the flip side damaged tiles are easily taken out and replaced.
Another choice is laminate flooring. These floors are generally put down in 2″ strips and are grained to look like wood. These floors are thought to have a more durable surface than hardwood and planks can be replaced in the event of damage, but the floor can not be sanded down and resurfaced. These floors also tend to be more forgiving and warmer than tile surfaces.
If your existing floor is in good shape and you would like to re-use it there are several important things to consider. First, is the existing floor underneath the old cabinetry? If it is then you may have some design flexibility when planning your new kitchen. However, it is important to note that the flooring could get damaged during the remodeling process so it is a good idea to have repair materials available such as extra tiles if it is a tile floor.
If the existing floor is to be re-used and it is not currently under the cabinets then there may be two options. Option one is to re-configure the new design to cover the old cabinets footprint. This is not always easy, but can usually be done. The second option is to patch areas that may become exposed with the new design. This is usually possible if the floor is tile ( if the tile is still available) or if the floor is hardwood flooring. In the case of hardwood flooring the floor will usually have to be sanded and refinished.
Another important factor in kitchen planning is appliance choice. When we talk about appliance choice there are two aspects. The first is the type of appliances. There will be many choices of different types of microwaves, ovens, stoves , cooktops, dishwashers and refrigerators that will have an impact on your kitchen design. Once the type is chosen then the particular brand and model can be chosen.
There are basically three options for microwaves. The least desirable is setting a free standing microwave on the counter because it can consume valuable work space. Many people choose to get a microwave – vent or a microwave/convection oven combination unit. The units tend to save space and get installed above the cooking surface. The disadvantage of these units is that the microwave area tends to be smaller than many full size microwaves. The third option for microwaves is to have a built in or wall hung microwave. These microwaves can be installed in a variety of areas including under counter, over a built in oven or integrated into the wall cabinets. These units can be mounted to best fit a customers requirements.
Stoves, ovens and cooktops must be talked about collectively. If a freestanding stove, slide in range or drop in range is chosen you will not need to purchase a separate oven(s) and cooktop. Units which have both an oven and cooking surface tend to use the least amount of space ( usually 30″) and will allow for more counter space than a built in oven. However, there are professional style ranges which accommodate 2 ovens and up to 8 burners which these units can range from 36″-60″ wide. If a separate oven or double oven is desired then these units can be built into tall cabinets and placed at convenient heights rather than lower to the ground. With a built in oven you will also need to purchase a cooktop surface. These cooktops can be either gas or electric (or both) and may have accessories such as griddles and grilles.
When it comes to choosing a dishwasher this is usually done based on the quality, appearance and price of the unit rather than for any specific design reasons. Most dishwashers are approximately 24″ wide although some 18″ efficiency units are available.
Refrigerators may be chosen based on space requirements or their appearance. Many people choose to have a built in refrigerator in their kitchen to give it a flush appearance with the rest of the cabinetry. These refrigerators generally range from 30″-48″ in width and are 24″ deep. Built in refrigerators also allow matching cabinet panels to be inserted. Built in refrigerators are approximately 12″-15″ taller than conventional refrigerators and usually eliminate the cabinet above. It is important to note that many refrigerator manufacturers also make units which accept cabinet panels and only stick out about 2″ from the cabinetry.
Once all the appliance types are chosen the customer is in a better position to shop for the brand that has the best features and value for their particular needs. Consumer reports magazine, appliance stores and recommendations / personal experiences from friends and relatives can be valuable resources to help make appliance brand and model decisions. It is important to remember that there is no such things as a “standard” size and regardless of which appliances are chosen make sure they are an integral part of the kitchen design and verify that they will fit in the spaces allowed.
Once the cabinetry and counters are installed finishing touches such as tiling the backsplash area, painting, wallpapering and other accents can be done. These finishing touches will make your new kitchen uniquely yours and a focal point of your home.