Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kitchen Planning? A Little Advice to Get You Started

Kitchens are a big deal! They are the heart of the home and can mean big bucks for resale, so they are not something to be taken lightly. When we were faced with planning our kitchen we were given an amount that our cabinets had to come in at, a few choices of granite, and basic choices like stainless steel sinks, one or two basins, etc. In some ways the fewer choices made it easier to finalize decisions, however, in other cases it was difficult to create the vision that we had in our head because our options were limited.

After seeing my options for granite, for example, I realized that I would prefer something a little different than every other house that that the builder had built. The builder agreed that if I could find granite in the same price range then we could use it without an upcharge. I spent hours looking at different types of granite; online, in the big orange and big blue stores, at local granite stores. Inevitably, I would find one that I LOVED and it would be WAYYYY over the budget. My ideas for work arounds such as putting butcher block on the island and then using the more expensive granite on the counters, were shot down either by the hubs or the builder.

Ultimately, I am okay with the granite. It works. I like it enough, but it doesn't completely meet my original vision. This is true for many of the elements of my kitchen (and the house in general). In some instances I wish I had put up more of a fight for the elements that I wanted because I am still regretting not having certain things (farmhouse sink) that would have given some character to the house. I think that if I had, my dream big list wouldn't be so big, and my "for home" and "dream home" Pinterest boards wouldn't be added to so frequently. I mean I just built a house, shouldn't I have made it my dream house when I had the chance. In a perfect world, yes. In the world of budgets and mortgages and time frames, I guess not.

If you are planning your dream kitchen, or just a new kitchen, here are some things that we did to help us plan, and some things that I wish we had done. I hope it helps!

1. Get inspired!
As far as I'm concerned Pinterest is the best thing to come along in a while. It makes searching for, and collecting inspiration SO much easier and it is important to have that inspiration in front of you when you are making decisions. It helps you and those around you (builders, spouses) stay focused on "the vision." Make sure to collect and share your inspirations!

2. Get some help
Find experts in your area to help you plan and to get advice. The big orange and big blue stores have planners who will work with you whether or not you ultimately decide to use their products. Bounce ideas off of friends whose style you admire or who have experience building or remodeling their own homes. 

3. Get an idea of how the plan will work in the space
We used painters tape to layout potential cabinet and island arrangements on the floor. It was easy to look at different options quickly.

I have also seen experts recommend using cardboard boxes for those of us who have less of an active imagination. It would help with scale and really seeing how the room would come together.

4. Tweak (not can do that later in your kitchen if you want)

There will be things that just don't work together. If you really want that fancy busy mosaic backsplash, but have a lot going on in your granite, you may need to tweak slightly so that they work together. Maybe a simple white subway tile, or a toned down granite will work better together. Make sure that you look at everything together to see if they play nicely. If not, tweak. Also, sample paints are invaluable for trying out different colors. They are cheap and easier to see than little swatches. Use them! You can always use leftover paints for projects later.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for changes
Ultimately you will be the one who has to live in the space. If something kind of bothers you now, it will bother you a ton when you are living in the space. Now is the time to fix it! If your vision is not coming together and you feel that you need to tweak but don't say anything, you have no one to blame but yourself.

6. Ask for what you want
I know that the bottom line is always the budget (if it isn't, consider yourself lucky) but in the long run a farmhouse sink may only end up costing a dollar more (probably less) in your mortgage payment. So if you really want that farmhouse sink then get it! It will save you from regret, or a long "Dream Big" list less than a year after moving in. Trust me, I know.

7. Pay Close Attention to the Finished Product
If something doesn't seem quite right, or is not quite to your liking, say something! It is much, much easier to get builders to replace a chipped backsplash tile (for example) while they are there than trying to get them to come back. And believe me, if it doesn't get fixed that tile will stand up and scream, "look at me, look at me" every time you walk into that kitchen.

I hope those little tidbits help. My biggest regrets are not speaking up because I was afraid of appearing like a pain in the ass, and sacrificing those few pieces that would have given my home a little character for the sake of the budget.

Do you have any other pieces of advice to share? Any regrets that you have now that you are done with your build or remodel? Please share!

P.S. This is my 50th blog post! Crazy.

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