Smart Design With Suzette: A Kitchen Renovation … Getting Started

A newly renovated kitchen. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
A white kitchen. Courtesy/Suzette Fox
Smart Design With Suzette
A Kitchen Renovation – Getting Started

The kitchen is my favorite room to design. Kitchens represent family, nourishment, friends and laughter. Kitchens are also the most challenging. Huge mistakes can be made. These mistakes have lasting implications as a result of decisions that were not thought through.

This article will be the first in a series on kitchen renovation. I will walk you through getting started, a budget, space planning, layout and design choices, cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring.

This by no means implies that by reading these series of articles you don’t need a professional – quite the opposite. There are many decisions to be made that can be made easier and mistakes avoided by utilizing a professional.

What Do You Want To Achieve

Renovating a kitchen is about more than just aesthetics. It could be about better utilization of the space you already have, catering to specific lifestyle needs like aging-in-place, adding functionality or integrating the space with other areas of your home.

Determining the main objective of a renovation is often only glanced over, but it is important to set clear goals and communicate this with other people involved in the project.

Scope Of Work And Budget
Formulate a ‘scope of work’ and a preliminary budget. The scope of work is the term used to describe the basic parameters of a project. Will you need new electrical, windows, plumbing and flooring? Start with your wish list and budget, and then decide the scope of work.
Both the scope and budget are subject to change, so don’t feel like you have only once chance at this. Both are intertwined and often change during the design process as you become more educated and able to reconcile what you want, what you need and what you can afford.

Beautiful kitchen cabinets. Courtesy/Suzette Fox

Space Planning And Design
This step is all about how you use your kitchen, and finding the layout and features that fit your household’s lifestyle. Get ideas from every resource possible including Pinterest, kitchen showrooms, books and magazines.

Think about your priorities: how many people will be cooking and gathering there and how they’ll need to move around in it. Do you need an addition or remove walls? Or can you work with your existing kitchen footprint?

If you haven’t already, start saving photos of kitchens with features that suit your style.

Energy Efficiency

A well-designed, attractive kitchen is probably the single biggest energy drain in your home. Lighting, refrigeration and cooking are responsible for 42 percent of a home’s energy consumption (according to U.S. Department of Energy). Add to that regular kitchen activities like water heating, plus space heating and cooling, and you begin to get the picture of how critical the kitchen really is.

When you’re remodeling, the kitchen presents a big opportunity to improve the home’s energy performance. While you’re at it, check out cabinets that come from sustainable forests and cabinet boxes that are formaldehyde free.

Broadening the scope of your project to include energy efficiency, ecological benefits, accessibility and health considerations will provide long-term cost savings, comfort, peace of mind and safety.

Working With Professionals
Even if you’re going the DIY route, working with professionals is essential to the success of your renovation. Some people start by visiting big-box stores or cabinet showrooms where they can see everything.

Professionals are available to help you with everything from contracts and permits to space planning, budgets, choosing finishes and fixtures, shopping, ordering products, and managing your project from start to finish.

An Investment That Adds Value

Everyone knows that a kitchen renovation is the best bet for a good return. A kitchen renovation nets 75-100percent recovered upon resale. The trick is to accurately determine the right upgrade for your neighborhood and the value of your home.

It might seem enticing to keep costs down by opting for cheaper labor, appliances and materials but it’s important to think long-term. A renovation is an investment which adds value to your home and cutting corners could end up costing you more in the long run.

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to suggest specific design topics or for help with your home. For more information, find her on Facebook at and on her website

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