From the Forum – Kitchen remodel 101

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Kitchen remodel 101

“I’m buying an apartment that needs a complete kitchen overall, including adding a washer/dryer. Never done one before and I don’t know where to begin. How do I start? I’m not planning on doing the work myself, I’m not the DIY type because things will turn out uneven. Do I measure and create a rough floor plan? Call a bunch of contractors or do I need a kitchen designer? I’m really looking for maximum and practical use of the space and options because I may or may not remove part of a wall. I also need a few things in the bathroom updated, an electrical panel replaced and maybe a new heat/ac chiller (TBD).

I do know someone that renovates apartments on Capitol Hill, so I will call him to start.

I saw the small kitchen advice so I will keep this information handy.

So I don’t know where to begin and can’t seem to find “how to start a kitchen renovation” or article that gives me steps on what to do.

Thanks everyone!”

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27 Comment

  • This is so exciting (to me at least)! I think you have to ask yourself a few questions about your priorities. Are you limited by budget (if yes, keeping things in place will make the renovation more affordable, but the current layout might not be the most efficient). Are you comfortable with your ability to determine what you need? (If yes, you could use a simple online tool to come up with a layout, if no then using a designer on an hourly basis might make sense.)

    I would try and have a good idea of what you want before you bring a contractor in, unless it’s a design/build…because there will be so many options that it’ll be hard to assess what you really want/need.

    • Agree with Andie. I kept my layout, fridge, and dishwasher (since easily replaced), splurged on a new stove, vented hood, and granite. I used Ikea cabinets and have been quite happy with them-while their software is clunky you can essentially use their standard sizes to draw out what you want. Think about where you want to store various things, mail order what you can, such as faucet fixtures. I recommend pull out drawers for pots and pans.

    • I agree with andie that it’s exciting – YAY for new kitchen! I also kept my layout….changed appliances, counters, cabinets (as in, added some above) and added a new set of cabinets. If you are good at measurements and drafting, you could probably do it yourself. Hiring a designer for something if you’re keeping the layout can be an added and unnecessary expense. find some design blogs and draw inspiration from there (or just “pin” spaces you like – Apartment Therapy can be great for small spaces). Good luck!

    • Andie and Tall E, do either of you have contractors you recommend?
      The one I was planning to use for when I redo my kitchen someday has left the remodeling business. 🙁

      • I used Harmony Remodeling for both kitchen and bathroom. He’s done almost half of my building by now :). harmonyremodeling dot net

        • I also used harmony remodeling for a recent kitchen renovation, including replacing an old fuse box with new electrical panel. They did great work, and glen has a kitchen designer he often works with.

          Before you talk to any contractor, I would strongly suggest doing some of your own brainstorming. It’s much easier to discuss a few specific ideas with a contractor than start with a complete blank slate.

        • I’ve also used Harmony Remodeling for my kitchen and then my bathroom – they do good work!

      • Accountering

        I just want to confirm that we have one contractor that we would strongly NOT recommend. Unfortunately, he has done both my renovations – I know Andie likes her guy. Would be worth giving him a call. I will send you an e-mail with his details

  • You mention replacing an electrical panel… are you looking to replace an existing panel with one that has more slots for appliances? Or to do a “heavy-up”? Or both?

  • Probably about 7 years ago I redid the kitchen in my old house. I took the measurements of the room and basic measurements for what the current cabinet configuration and layout of the appliances. I took that to Home Depot and had them help me figure out how to best lay out the cabinets to get the most efficient layout. I wasn’t moving walls, but I did need to move my stove 3 inches to get a corner lazy suzan cabinet in. It actually took quite a bit of work to figure out exactly what I wanted, but I loved the kitchen after it was done. They’ll come and double check your measurements before you order anything.

    • Oh, and I also thought about what was important to me – for example, making full use of the corner in the kitchen, having a certain amount of drawer space, and having a deep cabinet over the fridge, plus having room for a side-by-side fridge. I replaced the appliances as I went along, not all at once.

  • I started with Ikea’s kitchen planner tool. It’s actually really quite helpful for visualizing the space even if you don’t end up buying their cabinets (I did not- Home Depot was having a sale and I was able to get something much higher-end for less money than Ikea). We completely changed the layout of the kitchen and even switched a door and a window so the planner tool helped me figure it all out. I brought the printout of the design I made with me when I bought the cabinets and the sales consultant was able to do an exact floor plan which I gave to my contractor.

  • I did a kitchen reno at my last condo. I ended up doing all the legwork myself because I was working on a budget. While it took longer and was a pain to search out quotes, I was really happy with my end product because everything in the kitchen was very purposely selected and everything that was moved, walls that were taken down were done because that’s what I wanted. Don’t not take down the wall now because it seems like a hassle. A kitchen renovation is no joke. It was 8 weeks of pure he!! living in my apartment and not being able to cook, having dust magically appear within 30 minutes of cleaning, having my stuff that had been in there spread out over every available inch of the apartment. You only want to do that once.

    A few things, get the utensil divider built in to the drawers. AMAZING. They also stack so the top pushes back and another layer is underneath. Get the trash built into the cabinetry. Toe kick drawers – if I had heard of these during my last reno, that would’ve happened. Get doors that go edge to edge – you don’t want to have the center divider in the upper cabinets. Get large drawers for pots and pans – it’s amazing how much you can fit in that way. Lazy susan in the corners.

    I have since moved and have not redone my new kitchen – saving up the money now. I miss my old kitchen every day. Everything in that kitchen was chosen because I liked it and wanted it and it made sense to me. The new kitchen has so much wasted space.

    • Oh, I used Lowe’s to purchase cabinets (Shenandoah Breckenridge, loved them and really well made for a pretty decent price) and countertops (I chose corian for the integrated sink). They have someone come measure before finalizing the order. Same for the countertops after the cabinets have been installed. Also second the comment above about making sure the cabinet over the refrigerator extends the full depth of it.

  • The kitchen was part of a larger house renovation. I used to design my Ikea kitchen. you give them the measurements, they design it in Ikea’s system for you, and when you go to Ikea, the order list is already in their computer. It was one of the smartest decisions I made during my renovation. Also, if you go with Ikea, wait for their kitchen sale – 20% off everything, including countertops.

  • OP here. Thanks so much for posting this! I have money to put in it, once I sell my current place. But I don’t want to go overboard and go super-high range either (ie no viking, Porcelanosa, etc), I want it to fit in with the market. My most important thing is to maximize the space I have.

    I will need to play with the layout because I want to add the W/D and optimize the space, plus replace the pass-through with open plan. So I will need to remove some and create new walls.

    Regarding the electrical panel, it needs to be replaced for safety reasons, and the wires are fine. As currently wired, it would carry a W/D with no problem.

    Are there designers that help lay-out and also consider Ikea, Home Depot cabinets? Or do all designers work with more high-end materials. Do designers and contractors work together? Or can I just work with a contractor?

    • I can’t speak to whether designers will consider Home Depot and Ikea, but you can definitely hire a contractor without a designer. We did. Some contractors will design and build your kitchen for you (design-build firms), but I got exactly what I wanted by designing it myself and hiring a contractor to complete the work. Home Depot, Lowes and Ikea will all give you some design assistance if you need it too.

      • We are using Leveille HIC for a whole house remodel. I have been very happy with them so far. They are a design build firm, and the kitchen guy is great. They make all their own cabinets in-house. Not the cheapest option out there, but worth it, in my opinion.

    • HaileUnlikely

      FYI – I have no direct experience with the following, but other homeowners who have remodeled their kitchens (in very nice houses and without major budget constraints) have used and recommended Costco’s cabinets.

  • For your washer and dryer, I recommend getting a refurbished LG. I bought four (two sets for two apartments) LG steam washers and and LG steam dryers. They are fantastic machines and I’ve had them four years with no problems. Got them on and highly recommend. Refurb saves money and LG seems to do a good job with their refurb process and inspection.

  • We did a kitchen remodel a few years ago. We kept all the systems in the same spot, which, as others suggested, saves a good amount of money. We decided on Ikea cabinets, purchased them and our quartz countertop during their 20% sale. Ikea has add-on services you can buy – measurements (about $50), design (which includes measurements and order list, about $200) and installation. We signed up for the measurement services, and a third party contractor came to our house and measured our kitchen. Well worth the money because I was off an inch or 2 in a couple of places. They then inputted that into the Ikea kitchen design web tool and then I designed the kitchen myself. It took a little bit of practice and a couple of trips to Ikea, but it was relatively easy.

    I would start with interviewing contractors. They will give you an idea of cost as well as what you can do and what you can’t. Most will come to your house and give you a free estimate. I have found contractors through a mix of friends, Angie’s List and Urban Referrals (though I’ve found the contractors from Urban Referrals to be the most expensive of the bunch).

    For the electrical panel, I would go straight to an electrician.

  • This is very exciting. I love renovating, especially kitchens. You can definitely make it your own and design in some nice features. I’ve gutted and installed 4 kitchens of varying complexity and cost. Our 9’x 9′ kitchen in Richmond which cost about ~$8K for materials 12 years ago to my mom’s 12′ x 15′ kitchen last year which cost ~$17K for materials. I did most of the design work for both, with of course input from my wife and mother. I helped a friend redo his kitchen where we tore down a load bearing wall , which included the electrical in the wall, and adding a new island with a gas cooktop with new gas lines. It can get complicated depending on what you need and/or want. You may love it and hate it at various stages of the process.
    Since you’re not the DIYer type, and likely don’t know what to ask, who to involve, what to check for, I’d recommend getting a kitchen designer involved. S/he will walk you through the process, take measurements, design it, work with the contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc. It will definitely remove a lot of the stress. I’d also recommend getting permits through DCRA and ensuring that licensed contractors, electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers are used. Most HVAC companies have licensed electricians and plumbers on staff. The designer can take care of all of this. It’ll be more expensive, but it’ll be worth it. Some contractors can do all of this, but I’d still go with a designer. Angie’s List may be a good resource.
    Good Luck!!

  • We were out of town so I know late but may be helpful… Very exciting to embark on a renovation! We are diy renovating and I have a few recommendations. Corwin home improvement is doing our shower door but they can do more – really nice guys with fast response times. Peoples supply in Hyattsville will give great advice on your diy supplies. Second the suggestions that the Ikea cabinet planner is great for layout to develop the idea of what you want. There are websites that sell custom doors for Ikea cabinets if you want a unique look. Plumbing is relatively easy to move around with “shark bite” flexible pipes and fittings that you can get at Lowes (haven’t seen at home depot). Until November, Smeg is offering a free hood with the purchase of a range which makes it a great bargain (what we will buy after months of appliance research). Make sure your new dryer gets vented properly and not tied into your furnace ductwork. Just some hints. Be prepared for set backs and dirt and dust… and dedicate about 10-15% of your budget for unexpected costs. If you don’t use it you can splurge on a finishing touch like your choice of tile for a backsplash. Good luck!

    PS our reno is the 5th kitchen my husband and I have done… Feel free to email if you want to discuss design ideas/options!

  • Don’t do anything for at least 3 months. Use that time to figure out what you truly need and understand the flow of the room. If you actually cook, spend a ton of time thinking about every minute detail, where you will store what pot, where you will put your food, your dishes, and especially your trash can. If you just want something that looks good, that’s a different approach.

  • We recently renovated our kitchen and I echo the other posters regarding the quality and price of Ikea cabinets. We ended up buying the boxes from Ikea and getting custom made doors through a company called Scherr’s. They shipped them from North Dakota. The cabinets look very high end and we were able to save thousands doing it this way. Good luck!

  • And our contractor did work with Ikea cabinets. GMG services.

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