All the questions you need to ask yourself before renovating your kitchen

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Do you know how hard it is to plan a new kitchen? I’ve been trying to get something sorted for our own kitchen renovation for months now and I can’t believe just how many things there are to consider. To help you if you’re planning a kitchen revamp (and to help myself, truth be told) I thought I would put together a list of everything you’ll need for a floor-to-ceiling kitchen makeover:

I always knew that my kitchen needed replacing, but over the past 4 and a half years, we’ve made do with the grotty 80s kitchen that came with our fixer-upper home. Although the lovely turquoise colour certainly brightened up the room, the insides of the cabinets are just as gross as ever, and I’ve been dreaming of replacing the kitchen for years. Sadly, the outsides are starting to look a bit shabby now too, with some of the paint peeling off after years of use.

So, after a lot of saving up, it looks like it might be happening this year – BUT, that’s when all the questions started. All the things I needed to consider before I can even start painting a wall. And so many elements rely on another element being a certain way before you can decide – for example, knowing what dishwasher you’re going to buy and the size of it before you can buy an integrated appliance door to match the rest of the units.

KITCHEN UNITS

But it’s not just kitchen units, because there are so many things to consider when choosing what cupboards you’re going to use:

  • The carcass of the units – do you want them to be real wood (it’ll cost you!) or melamine. Are you happy with 15mm thick or do you want something sturdier?
  • The doors – I’m not even going to start talking about all different types of doors you can get, but I’ll mention that you don’t have to always buy the doors from the same place you’re getting the kitchen from. For example, I like the idea of custom-made plywood doors that fit onto lower-cost Ikea units.
  • The insides – shelves, baskets, a pull-out pantry, drawers – what configuration do you want for storing your essentials? And what exactly do you need to store? Does that food mixer need to go into a drawer and, if so, what depth will the drawer need to be?
  • Handles – don’t forget this most essential part of the kitchen (unless you’ve gone for a handleless door, of course). It’s Surprising just how much handles can cost, especially the lovely wooden ones I’m looking at on Etsy.
  • Fixings – Do you want wall cabinets that lift up and stay up on hydraulics or hinges? Do you want lovely soft-close doors and drawers? All these little fixings soon add up when you’re buying 15 of them for all the units.

WORKTOPS

I already have a lovely, relatively new kitchen worktop that I got when I first upcycled my kitchen cabinets a few years back. So, I’m thinking that I might be able to simply replace the units below and keep the lovely quartz effect worktop. That would be the thrifty option BUT I also want this kitchen to last, as I’m not planning to redo it again for maybe decades. Which is why I think that now would be a good time to take the plunge and invest in a granite worktop if I’m ever going to. But it’s not just the worktop I need to worry about – what about the splashback? Will I go for a matching upstand, or should I install tiles? If so, will it be mosaics, metro, large or small tiles? Patterned, colourful or minimalist?

THE KITCHEN SINK

Not just what’s above the surface, but below too. I need plugs, drains, traps, plumbing supplies, fixings for the washing machine, attachments for the dishwasher, hot and cold water feeds, hot and cold water taps, or a mixer perhaps? And that’s before I’ve even decided if I want an undermounted sink or one with a drainer, a stainless steel design or something in contemporary black or ceramic white. This area alone is one long to-buy list, most of which I don’t even understand anything about.

APPLIANCES

Sure, I already have an oven, fridge, freezer and washing machine, but do I want to upgrade any of these to be integrated? If so, will I need to buy another expensive unit to surround the fridge freezer? Maybe I should just get a trendy, vibrant retro-style fridge freezer that contrasts with the units and make a feature of it? Will I need an appliance door to fit to the front of the new dishwasher that I’m hoping to buy? And what size will it be to fit within the units?

FLOORING

I’ve already written about my search for the perfect kitchen flooring before, but that’s because the options are so many and varied. I’d love some kind of wood or parquet, but will it stand up to all the spilling I do in the kitchen? Would a marmoleum or rubber floor be better in that regard? Should I go for something sustainable like cork or bamboo? Is that even an option? So much research to do, so little time.

WALLS

I know I’m going to need to paint the walls, but what colour? I’ll only know once I figure out what colour or style of cabinets I’m getting – if it’s white, I’ll be painting the walls pastel blue; or if the doors are blue, I’ll have white walls. And what if I go for ply or bamboo cabinets?? What colour will look right with those – and will it clash with the flooring, for that matter?

INSTALLATION

Finally, are you going to install this kitchen yourself? Do you have the skills to be able to un-flat-pack those cabinets, or to cut down a worktop or to grout tiles? Will it take you loads longer than a fitter? Or is it going to save you tons of money to do it yourself?

What other questions would you ask yourself before revamping your kitchen? Did you go through this same process when you got a new kitchen yourself? If so, let me know your advice in the comments below – especially anything I’ve missed, as it would be typical if I order a whole new kitchen but completely forget about the cupboard legs. Oh wait, that’s another consideration: kickboard or freestanding? Decisions, decisions…

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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