The dust has finally settled on your renovation; the paint on your trim has dried and the last lightbulb has been screwed into place. In what should be a moment of joy and relief, the LAST thing you want to find yourself doing while standing in your brand-new kitchen is second-guessing the choices you thought you made so carefully.
Regrets are part of life, but they should not be part of your kitchen remodel!
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a renovation and not take into account the expertise needed to create your dream kitchen. But the fact of the matter is, if you don’t have a design degree or years of experience under your belt, you might need some help.
Now before you get into a frenzy trying to cram 4+ years of design school knowledge into one ill-fated afternoon of internet searches, know that we are here to help! Our Studio M Kitchen & Bath designers have experience and expertise to spare and will guide you through your remodel so that you are left with the kitchen of your dreams AND no regrets.
Today we’ll discuss seven important considerations that will help you avoid common remodel regrets and share how we work to ensure that Studio M Kitchen & Bath clients have no qualms at the completion of their projects.
1. It’s important to discover your “Why” BEFORE you start
Don’t be fooled! What might seem like the most straightforward step in planning a remodel, discovering your “why” has tripped up even the most seasoned of homeowners.
Our designers have found that it is not uncommon for incoming clients to have a general idea of what they want for their remodel but struggle to articulate and prioritize the reasons that have driven them to desire a remodel in the first place.
For example, a client comes in and wants a new kitchen because they “want to get rid of their honey oak.” Of course, we can help with that! While honey oak may be the presenting problem, there are often additional reasons for doing the remodel that will ultimately impact the design direction. If a homeowner is planning to sell the home in a few years, the priorities will be different than if this is a “forever” home. A homeowner may be interested in a design that better suits their active family. Still others may be interested in features that support aging in place.
We recommend that you make a list of your “whys” when you’re planning to remodel your kitchen. This will help you stay focused when you start working with a designer and making decisions. Keeping the “whys” in mind will help ensure that the end result truly meets all of your needs and expectations. It also helps you and your designer stay on the same page.
2. Consider your lifestyle in your kitchen design
When embarking on a kitchen remodel, it’s important to share some lifestyle details with your designer. Kitchen and bath designers are experts in tactfully asking questions that may seem irrelevant (or even too personal) – until you see how the answers brilliantly inform the design of your new space. Here are just some of the questions your designer may ask: Who does most of the cooking in your home? Who does most of the clean-up in your home? Do all family members eat meals at the same time? How frequently do you entertain? If there are multiple adults in the home, do they all work in the kitchen at the same time? If there are children in the home, what accommodations should be made to keep them safe or to allow them to assist when appropriate? How tall are the primary users of the kitchen? Are they right- or left-handed? And the list goes on…
Without considering your lifestyle in your kitchen design, you could be left with annoying issues like shelves you can’t reach, not enough outlets for your appliances, or cramped walkways.
You can probably see where this is going. The more knowledge your designer has about your family and your lifestyle, the more tailored your kitchen will be to your needs. And you will have no regrets about working in your new kitchen.
3. Always check inside your walls before you start your remodel…. you might find something unexpected!
People think about the look of their future space but rarely stop to consider what may be lurking behind their walls that could hinder their project… A weight bearing wall perhaps? Suspicious looking insulation? Or maybe even a previous homeowner’s left behind junk?
While checking the inner contents of your wall may seem insignificant, this information is incredibly important for a designer to know when planning out your new kitchen, as it will ultimately lead to fewer mistakes or regrets in the long run.
In a recent Studio M project, Designer Danee Bohn had already created a cabinetry layout for her client when a pipe was found behind one of the walls. She had to work creatively to reconfigure her design, since it was in the clients’ best interest not to move the pipe.
“I had to think quickly on my feet to come up with a different solution for that area,” commented Danee.
Despite the change in design plans, Danee was able to use her expertise in design to work around the problem pipe and still gave the client their dream kitchen. But while she was able to fix this client’s problem, it’s easy to see how failing to check behind the sheetrock/plaster could be problematic when starting your renovation.
4. Over communicate with your designer and contractor throughout the process
One common mistake many people make when embarking on their kitchen renovation is not communicating enough with their designers and contractors throughout the process. There are many moving parts in your renovation and even though every member of your team is a rock star at his or her job, you can’t assume that everyone is always on the same page you are. When in doubt, always err on the side of over communication!
And if communicating isn’t your strong suit, don’t fret! Here at Studio M, we pride ourselves on our relationships with contractors and our ability to communicate efficiently with you and the whole team from start to finish.
Our Kitchen and Bath designer Danielle’s communication ability shined through when completing a recent out-of-state job in Arizona. Even though she couldn’t physically meet with the client or the contractors, she was able to execute the project with excellence and make sure the client was always informed and on the same page throughout the entire process.
One of our most important pieces of advice when it comes to communication, is that if you feel that something is not right, at any point in the project, SPEAK UP! Our designers have many skills, but unfortunately, mind reading is not one of them. It is in your best interest and ours that you communicate your concerns as soon as they come up.
5. Be smart when choosing materials and appliances
To save or to splurge; that is the question!
This is a predicament many homeowners find themselves in when it comes to choosing which materials and appliances belong in their brand-new kitchens. And with hundreds of brands, products, and styles to choose from, all at different price points, the last thing you want to end up with is buyer’s remorse.
The simplest ways to avoid regret when selecting materials and appliances for your kitchen include doing your research, utilizing your designer’s expertise, minding your budget, and making choices based on your specific wants and needs. This approach will help you gauge where you can save money and where you can spend it.
As an example, Studio M offers several lines of cabinetry to choose from. While each line offers excellent quality, some lines offer more options than others. If you like what is offered in a lower-cost line, that might be a great way to save and still get the look you want. That same decision process can be used for many of your kitchen selections.
Another tool that can be used for these decisions is ranking the choices for each selection into “Good, Better, and Best” categories. Prices generally (but not always) follow this same pattern. Decide what your budget will support and refer back to your “Why” (See Tip 1) as a gut check. You might want to pay more for a specific countertop because it is your statement piece. If that countertop is a “best,” then perhaps you balance that cost out with something else that is “good.”
And if you’re unsure where to start, the Studio M showroom is the perfect place to explore many cabinetry and countertop displays and see a variety of plumbing, hardware, flooring, and appliance options for your new kitchen. Our designers are always on hand to provide expertise and point you in the right direction.
6. Consider integrated storage solutions
There’s no point in having a kitchen that’s designed for professional baking if the extent of your cooking is pasta and grilled cheese sandwiches. Just as there is no point to have a coffee bar and drawers dedicated to K-CupsTM when all you drink is tea! You are the person that’s going to live and cook in your kitchen, so it should be designed with elements that are specific to you and your lifestyle.
If you have a kitchen that’s designed to suit someone else, chances are you won’t be happy with it in the long run.
When considering storage design, it’s important to think critically about how you want your space to function. Use a lot of spices? Consider installing a spice rack pull-out to keep your seasonings organized and accessible. Have a lot of clunky appliances? Then an appliance garage is a great solution to keep items like toasters and mixers on hand but out of sight!
Other popular storage solutions include integrated trash/recycle stations, pull-out drawers, tray dividers, cutlery dividers, and blind corner cabinet storage. But that’s not all.
There are many more options for further customization of your kitchen storage. Your designer can suggest creative storage solutions that meet your needs and fit your space. Some lesser-known options include stand mixer lifts, base cabinet pullouts with a knife block or utensil bins, U-shaped under sink pullouts, pullout towel bars, and a variety of wine organizers. While some of these can be added after your project is complete, most are best installed with your cabinetry to ensure proper fit and finish.
One way to help ensure that you have adequate storage in the places you need it is to do a kitchen inventory. Make a list of the things you need to keep handy in your kitchen, along with any special size constraints (e.g, the size of your stand mixer if you want to store it in a cabinet). And make sure to share this list with your designer.
To ensure that your new kitchen functions well for your home, your Kitchen & Bath designer will work with you to evaluate your specific needs and suggest appropriate storage solutions.
7. Get creative with lighting!
Here’s a bright idea (pun intended): Get innovative with the lighting in your kitchen!
If you don’t put enough thought into your kitchen’s lighting, you might end up with a dark workspace or stuck with a blasé overhead pendant that doesn’t suit your style.
When looking for the right lighting for your space, it is essential to consider functionality. Remember, your kitchen is more than just a beautifully designed room; you must actually be able to live and work in this space! And trust us, if the lighting in your kitchen is so dim that you can barely see your cutting board while you chop, it’s not functional.
Some options to consider are under-cabinet lighting, lighting within your cabinetry, and adequate overhead lighting to illuminate your sink area and any dark corners of your kitchen.
This upcoming Studio M project has a dark and moody color pallet, but in order to keep it bright and functional, the space is adorned with numerous creative lighting elements. This kitchen features integrated lights inside the panels of the cabinetry and drawers, and there are even lights embedded in the base of the island. These lighting elements not only add to the aesthetic of the space but increase its functionality by illuminating dark or dim areas of the kitchen so that the homeowner can cook with ease.
Whether it’s brightening up a dim workspace or adding visibility to your spice cabinet, your kitchen and bath designer will help you incorporate the perfect lighting features into your new space and make sure you’re not left in the dark.
Like we said, regrets are part of life, but here at Studio M, we want to ensure that they are never a part of your kitchen renovation! For more information on cabinetry design or to start a project with one of our Kitchen & Bath Designers, contact us!