Redesigning a kitchen has an impact that extends well beyond one room — it can breathe new life into an entire home. But it also can be a daunting do-it-yourself project that comes with a sizable price tag. Here's a checklist of 10 "must do" steps when designing or redesigning a kitchen to save money and maximize potential.
Think ahead. Put function first. There is no ideal kitchen shape. Whether it's a galley or U- or L-shaped, plan for the sink, fridge and cooktop to form a triangle, with no more than 6 feet between each for ease of movement.
Make room for storage. Put overhead cabinets up to the ceiling, rather than leaving a gap on top that collects dust. Consider deep drawers for easier access to pots and pans, and include enough storage for appliances so they don't clutter up countertops.
See the light. Overhead lighting is insufficient. And you don't want the light behind you, casting a shadow on the workspace. You need it positioned to fall in front of you.
Power play. Be sure there are appropriate power sources for relocated or new appliances. Many people realize too late that they don't have the right gas or electric lines.
Space and surface. You can't have too much counter space. Choose a surface that is easy to work on and care for. Keep in mind that grout between tiles is hard to maintain and that stainless steel will scratch easily.
Start fresh. Don't reuse appliances or items from the old kitchen. It may seem as if you're saving money, but an old appliance will stick out like a sore thumb in a new environment. Find other ways to economize.
Safety first. Make your kitchen as safe and family-friendly as possible by planning for good visibility to backyard and indoor play areas from the cooking area. Consider such safety-conscious elements as rounded countertops, slip-resistant flooring and ovens located at adult height.
Clear the air. A range hood helps ventilate cooking odors. Buy one that's efficient, quiet and vented outside.
Trash talk. Don't forget to plan for garbage and recycling bins. Do you want built-in bins behind a cabinet door, or a sleek, stainless steel container positioned out of the way?
Look out below. When it comes to flooring, consider slip resistance, ease of maintenance and porosity. Stone floors, which are somewhat porous, for instance, may need periodic resealing. Find out how often, and decide whether you want to deal with that.