Tips For Tackling Your Kitchen Remodel

by Rhonda Benvie Plummer // April - May - June 2019

The weather is warmer, the flowers and trees are blooming into their full glory, and the birds are singing – this means that spring is in the air. This is a season of rejuvenation, and a time when homeowners start to think about the projects that need to be done to breathe new life into their living environments. One of the more popular projects in this arena is the kitchen remodel. While this sounds like a daunting and overwhelming task to tackle, in actuality, careful planning and realistic expectations can make it go fairly smoothly.

A major kitchen remodel comes with its share of major headaches for sure. But a beautiful new kitchen is certainly worth the time, money, and stress – as long as you do your homework and understand the steps involved before you start.

Step One: Budget

I know, “budget” is a dirty word. But in this case, it is imperative that you set one. Money invested into a kitchen can add value to your home; however, too much may leave you in the negative. If you plan on staying in your home for many years, spending more may be worth it to your family for a more functional and attractive space. If you are an empty nester and may sell in the near future, then a minor remodel may be the best option. Contact a knowledgeable realtor in the area to find out the worth of your house “as is” and with a remodeled kitchen. Resale should always be on your mind. Add 15-20% to the cost of the remodel for unexpected items, such as outdated plumbing, wiring, or damaged subfloors.

Step Two: Kitchen Needs

Figuring out what your kitchen needs are is the next step. Is your kitchen functional in its current format, but just outdated? If so, keeping the current layout will certainly save you money because you will not have to change electrical and plumbing, demo walls, etc. If it is not functioning well for your family’s needs, then now is the time to start researching what will work best. Go online and look at kitchens that mimic your space. Will you need to take down a wall to get the space you need? Will you need to add more storage space? Will you want to relocate the kitchen island? Gather all the information that will help you determine the function and style you desire.

Step Three: Bring in the Professionals

Determine if you need a general contractor (GC) or if you want to oversee the project yourself. The latter is very time consuming, so you need to be realistic about the amount of time this will take. If you are sticking with your current layout and just updating finishes, some interior designers can oversee this for you. If you are going with a general contractor and/or interior designer, start the interviewing and hiring process. Moving forward with selecting cabinets, countertops, and so forth is a waste of time until a GC and/or interior designer is hired for your project. If you plan to GC the job yourself, then you must have a plan in place in order to get the appropriate quotes from sub-contractors. This is a big investment, so you want to make sure the final outcome is what you envisioned it to be. At the very least, a few hours with an interior designer will help you in your quest – and may save you thousands in the long run.

Step Four: Design Of Your New Kitchen

At this point, the general contractor and/or designer, or the sub-contractors, should be finalized. The selections are now ready to be made. Appliances need to be the first decision and must be finalized be-fore the kitchen designer can accurately configure your cabinet plan. Once those selections have been made, complete your cabinet layout and drawings. Choose the cabinet style and color. This sets the tone for the entire kitchen – and don’t forget about the décor style of the rest of your house. I know you may want the ever-so-trending bright white kitchen, but if the rest of your home is warmer in color tone, you may want to consider a softer, creamier white. Next, pick your countertops – granite and quartz are still the top contenders in this area. Flooring, tile backsplash, the kitchen sink, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, paint color, and cabinet knobs are next, in that order, for the best design outcome. A word to the wise – do not demo your kitchen until everything you have ordered is in, or you at least know for sure when it will be delivered. I assure you, there is nothing worse than having no kitchen and having to wait weeks for the backordered flooring that is holding up the entire project.

Step Five: Prepare For The Loss Of Your Kitchen

After all the research, planning, scheduling, selections, etc., the demo has finally begun. You are excited to see it all start to come together, but soon will realize it’s not a lot of fun to be without your kitchen and living in a construction zone. Be prepared with a makeshift kitchen area so that you and your loved ones don’t have to eat every meal out. Spring and summer are perfect times to remodel your kitchen as you can utilize your grill for meal cooking. Also be ready to endure a lot of noise and even more of a mess ... not to mention that big dumpster and portable toilet that have taken temporary residence in your driveway. Remember that sub-contractors are there to work, so be ready to have the family and pets out of their way for safety reasons. When planning for this remodel, know that an average kitchen remodel can take four – eight weeks, if everything goes smoothly, so plan accordingly.

And now, the remodel is complete ... almost. Even though I know you’re itching to put the dishes back in the cabinets, restock the pantry, do a little decorating, and get back to cooking, there will surely be little details to attend to, so make a punch list of these particulars and notify the contractor if you hired one or the sub-contractors if you are the GC so they can promptly tackle them. This is a normal part of any construction project, and if you hired reputable people, it should not be a problem to get the items fixed quickly and properly.

After enduring weeks (that probably felt like years) of stress, headaches, and chaos, you’ve finally turned the heart of your home into the kitchen of your dreams.

Rhonda Benvie Plummer

The owner of Help Me Rhonda Interiors and Open Door Furniture & Accents, a furniture and accessories store, in Wake Forest. Visit or, or call 919-263-9054.