The Whys and Hows of Planning and Building Your Dream Kitchen
Take a deep breath.
Just imagine. You smell fresh baked bread, homemade cookies, or roasted turkey and dressing.
The timer dings hopefully; the oven door opens and releases the scent of wonder. Even the subtle grinding of the smoothie blender is beautiful.
The subtle drip of brewing coffee gets you out of bed. The soft clink of wine glasses motivates you to leave the couch and TV to talk to your family. The opening of the refrigerator brings everyone, dogs included, straight to one room.
Where is all this magic possible?
It's the heart of the home, the most important room in the house. The kitchen is the place where it happens, whatever “it' is to you and your family.
Just the word “kitchen” is enough to evoke smells and tastes and feelings unique to the room with the stove and the sink.
But what if your kitchen doesn't inspire such love? What if your kitchen is not the room where everyone flocks but the room that everyone avoids?
What happens when your home is missing its heart?
Tearing up just thinking about it?
Yeah, me too.
But even a heartless home is not without hope. A dream kitchen renovation will not only revive your flatlining house, it will bring the love and the joy back into cooking, eating, and home ownership.
Take control of your home and your happiness today. Learn how to update your kitchen on any budget, how to include the most important elements of a dream kitchen in your DIY plan, and how you can really make it happen.
The future is now. The home and the kitchen that you have always dreamed of is within reach.
Are you ready?
Can You Hear It Beating?
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It's the congregation point, the center, the soul.
No matter what you have in your current kitchen or what your dream kitchen looks like, chances are, you want it to be something special. From their days as logs around the fire pit to their current iterations as tiled oases in the chaos of modern life, kitchens have been central to our existence as long as people have been walking the earth.
The first and most important reason that a kitchen is the heart of the home is in its very purpose: the food.
Kitchens nourish physically and have the opportunity to nourish spiritually and emotionally as well.
Just as the heart pumps blood through the body and keeps it moving and grooving, the kitchen provides the food that gives the body energy to carry on.
Ever wandered into the kitchen not really looking for anything specific but found comfort in the arms of a cookie or a family member? That's nourishment, my friend. A good kitchen, your dream kitchen, can provide that feeling for everyone.
Kitchens also have the potential to change your life. The food you eat literally transforms who you are; if your food is made with love and a view of the future, your kitchen can change your life.
More than chores
No one likes cleaning the kitchen.
OK, well, not very many people like cleaning the kitchen.
But even if cooking and cleaning aren't your favorite, the kitchen gives you the opportunity to make it fun. The kitchen -- and especially your dream kitchen -- will give you endless options for creating family fun and memories that will last a lifetime.
Invite everyone into the kitchen to cut out sugar cookies. Ask every member of your family to choose a favorite dish to make for dinner. Brainstorm creative themed snacks to make to eat with your favorite movies. The options for family kitchen fun are endless.
You'll get messy, for sure, and you may create the occasional inedible plate of food. But the laughter that goes along with the experience will surely make up for any burnt smell or wasted ingredients.
All for one, one for all
This is the kitchen.
It's a room for everyone. All are welcome here, even the dog.
Your kitchen is the perfect place for everyone to gather, and your dream kitchen is the perfect place for family, friends, and new acquaintances to get to know each other in comfort.
A welcoming kitchen can be the perfect low-key room for people to mesh and talk and learn about one another without the pressure of the leather-bound study or the distractions of the TV-focused living room. Kitchens do it all.
It's not really up to you
Whether or not you love it, you've gotta have it.
So why not make your kitchen the best, most welcoming, most fun room in your home?
A super-fun and engaging bathroom just doesn't have the same appeal.
Whether you're living in a small efficiency apartment or an enormous 10 bedroom mansion, you need to have some type of kitchen. What you fill it with, though, that's totally your call. So make it your own.
It can make it or break it
The “it” being your day, your house sale, or your guests' experiences.
Chances are, you'll see your kitchen every day. Make it a room that will pump up your day, not bring it down. Your guests, no matter who they are or why they're visiting, will probably glimpse your kitchen, too. Even if the rest of your house is in disarray, a well-kept and uplifting kitchen can transform their impressions of your home and your life.
And a beautiful kitchen can really up that resale value. So don't take it lightly. A dream kitchen may not be all about you after all.
Who Gets the Job?
You're on board now, right? Your kitchen is ready for a makeover.
But every time you walk past the hardware store, you swear that the slabs of granite countertop and the boxes of screws are laughing at you. DIY kitchen? IDK.
Before you start knocking out cabinets and sledgehammering your countertops Property Brothers-style, consider your options. Sure, you can build your dream kitchen by yourself, but there are plenty of professional options for those of you who are less inclined to get your hands dirty (or just don't have a clue where to start).
You can DIY. Yes, YOU
Even if you know next to nothing about kitchens or carpentry or houses, there are some dream kitchen updates that you can make all by yourself.
You totally can hire someone to do the whole shebang for you, but if you're like most of the world and would prefer to save a few bucks, here are some elements of your project you can take on solo. (AKA things you can make your kids do).
You can paint. He can paint. She can paint. Everyone can paint!
Buying your paint and brushes and using your own arms and hands and ladders to paint your kitchen walls is an easy way to save a ton of money. Consider using semi-gloss for the kitchen, but other than that, do your own research about brushes for your project and colors for your room. Kids can for sure help with this one, too.
It might be a little intimidating at first, but you can figure it out. Really, you can.
With a little bit of investigation, you can discover the secrets of your cabinet hardware and even your faucets. Turn the water off before you replace the kitchen sink faucet and make sure you measure carefully before you buy your new accessories, but it won't take too much work or know-how to get the job done.
While you're at it, consider repainting or staining your cabinetry, too! See above for whether or not you need a painting pro.
Honestly, most of it is just a matter of unplugging, moving, and plugging in. Even refrigerators.
Research delivery and removal options, but consider waiving that installation fee for most of your basic kitchen appliances. Your checking account will thank you, and you'll feel pretty proud.
This also goes for installing a garbage disposal. You'll probably learn more than you ever thought you wanted to know about basic plumbing, but the directions on the disposal package should pretty much take you step-by-step through the installation process. Just don't turn it on with your hand stuck inside.
There are so many lighting options these days, the hardest part will probably be just deciding what you want, not the actual installation.
Choose an updated fixture, add some additional lights under your cabinets, or just change out the bulbs. Lots of lighting options to make it even easier to tell the difference between the salt and the sugar.
Seems hard, right? It's not.
Options abound when it comes to kitchen backsplashes, and they're all pretty user-friendly. Tiles and basic grout are popular and easy to install, but so are adhesive options. Wood, wallpaper, sheeting -- all legit.
One thing to think about, though: how will your electrical outlets play into the backsplash project? Make sure you factor them in when starting, or consult a professional electrician to move them around if that's what you need.
You really, truly can install your own new floors in your kitchen to give it a fresh, fun pop of color or cleanliness.
Research the type of flooring you currently have to discover how much work you'll need to put into removal (can you apply new flooring over what is already there? Can you just peel up the linoleum?) and choose a new favorite.
But Maybe Get a Pro for These Projects
And while you can certainly tackle your whole project on your own -- and if you do, more power to you -- but if you're unsure or don't want to take the time to learn, buy, and install, there are some projects that really might be better in the hands of a professional.
If walls are coming down and the sink is moving sides, it might be time to bring in the big sledgehammers. Or at least someone who has more experience using them.
Moving a fridge from one side of the kitchen to the other is one thing, but when electrical work, plumbing, and walls or load-bearing columns enter the mix, you might be better off consulting with a professional to make sure your dream kitchen is achievable, safe, and affordable.
Adding an exhaust fan
It doesn't sound very difficult, especially now that you're feeling confident about backsplashes and all that, but it's a little trickier than you might expect.
Adding an exhaust fan to your kitchen involves creating a way for the air to get outside, which might not be something you are (or should be) super comfortable doing yourself. You'll also have to seal it and potentially run new electrical lines, so it might be in your best interests to just hire out here.
Sure, you could do it. But should you?
Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but cabinetry is one area to splurge. Cabinet accuracy is pretty easy to mess up, and you don't want to have to tear out your brand-new DIY cabinets just because they're all kinds of crooked or weird-shaped. Consider measuring for cabinets yourself and just hiring someone to come in and install them instead of doing the whole thing yourself.
It's generally just easier and faster to get someone else to do your countertops. The pros have the tools, the know-how, and the resources to get your countertop material faster and get them installed better than you can. It's just the truth.
Some exceptions? If you're getting into concrete counters and have access to some fresh concrete and want to mess with that, go wild. Also, if you're considering adding new laminate to your countertops, that's affordable and easy DIY. So you've got options.
What Comes First, the Dream Kitchen or the Egg?
Designing your dream kitchen can be overwhelming before you even pick up a hammer or your checkbook.
But it doesn't have to be. Take it step by step, take your time, and take it easy. After all, pretty soon you're going to have your dream kitchen!
First, make some big choices.
Now for the smaller, but still important, steps.
And then make it pretty.
The Floor's the Limit
Believe it or not, you have a lot of options when it comes to kitchen floor plans. The days of a square of linoleum, a stove in one corner and a sink in the other, are long gone.
And, as overwhelming as that might be at the beginning, it's actually a good thing.
Some of your kitchen floor plan is predetermined, like, by your house. But the sky (and your budget) is the limit. If you're willing and able, you can change your ineffective U-shaped monstrosity into a beautiful galley, or vice versa. No idea what that means? Read on, my friend, read on.
Get ready for this.
A U-shaped kitchen is shaped… like a U.
Mind blowing, right?
Sometimes the “U” is created by walls and/or windows, but sometimes the countertops and cabinets make up the “U” independently. A “U” typically has the sink beneath a window and the cabinets and countertops facing each other. To make a “U” kitchen feel more open, consider making one of the “U” sides a peninsula with hanging cabinets instead of a full wall.
Yep, looks like a “G.”
Maybe it's even the O. G. It's not, but sounds cool, right?
Most times, the “G” kitchen doesn't have the little “G” tail, the walls, cabinets, and countertops just create a little three-walled oasis of a kitchen. A good “G” sized kitchen is at least 10 feet by 10 feet, and it's pretty easy to expand it and make it more open concept.
Getting sick of the letters yet?
The biggest pro of the “L” kitchen are the space and the open feeling it gives your kitchen and your home. Lots of times, an “L” kitchen opens out into an informal dining room, or gives easy access between the kitchen and living rooms. It's also pretty easy to add an island into an “L” kitchen design if you need more counter space or storage.
Finally, a shape that doesn't rely on your knowledge of the alphabet!
But it does help if you know something about ships.
Just like the hallway-like galley on a ship, the galley kitchen has a tendency to be small, narrow, and not great for kitchens with lots of people or lots of foot traffic.
If you can extend the galley, though, to add a bartop eating space or widen it a bit to give you and your kitchen colleagues a bit more room, a galley might be the perfect kitchen choice for your home.
Kitchens with islands
The powers that be must have gotten tired of coming up with cool names.
A kitchen with an island can pretty much be any one of the previously listed layouts, it just, you know, has an island, too.
Islands come in all shapes and sizes and can provide your kitchen with just about everything you need. And just think of how cool you'll sound telling everyone you just bought your own island.
And if you're looking for a little more planning insight, watch this:
Fancy Features: Consider the Weird
When you're planning your dream kitchen, it won't take you long to get sucked down a rabbit hole of options.
Even if you're just planning a little kitchen remodel, the choices are endless: color? Style? Type? Manufacturer? And the list goes on and on.
While no one can make the decision for you (it's your dream kitchen, after all), there might be some decisions that are more worthy of your time than others.
Choose the countertop color that appeals to you immediately and don't spend weeks debating the style of garbage disposal. Use your time to research, consider, and install some of these fancy features instead.
Save the world, one dirty dish at a time
It's cool to be green these days. Bring the world-saving goodness into your kitchen, too.
Depending on where you look, you can find energy-saving appliances of all types: dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, faucets -- you name it, it probably comes in an energy-saving variety (look for the energy star label).
Be warned, these shiny new appliances might cost a little more than their power-guzzling counterparts, but the extra bucks up front will be worth it. Not only will you save money each month when it comes time to pay the utility bill, you'll drastically reduce that carbon footprint.
Light up your whole world
You don't think about it when the sunlight is streaming in, but there might be a day when you need to use your kitchen in the dark. That single-bulb modern overhead light might not do it for you those days.
If you're creating a brand new dream kitchen anyway, why not add some lights under the cabinets? Even if you're not completely replacing your cabinets themselves, this little lighting addition can revolutionize your kitchen: they will make the difference between day and night.
And sorry, but talk about choices. Under the cabinet lighting comes in so many varieties for every single budget, it's hard to even talk about.
Wire some electricity to hook up stable and permanent little light fixtures. Buy some click-on stick-on little numbers. Do something in between. It's your call, but adding more light will be super worth it.
More than a beach
If you're going with an island kitchen format (or are just considering adding an island to your kitchen itself), consider making your island do more.
Don't, like, force it, but maybe get one that already has a variety of capabilities.
Islands can be countertops, sure, but what if the top of your island was a built-in cutting board? Or what if it was full of shelves or drawers or hooks? What if you added a pot hanger to create a reachable extra layer? So many options.
Your island can even be more than kitchen space. If it's tall enough, wide enough, and surrounded by enough space, your island can become a homework space, a little eatery, or the perfect spot for a quiet moment amid the chaos.
You've got a wide range
Ovens, ovens, ovens. So many ovens.
This is a choice you should take some time making.
Some people love gas. Others induction. And still, others prefer a good old electric burner. The choice is yours, but unless you plan on building a dream kitchen every couple of years when you get sick of your range (or it breaks down because you went cheap), you really should consider your range needs.
Okay, done with the serious talk.
Pick a range that you'll want to come home to.
Technology has moved beyond the office and living room and into the kitchen.
And it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Smart homes and smart appliances are making it easier than ever for you to successfully navigate and control your world, and your kitchen can be right there with the rest of the house. If this is really your dream kitchen, shouldn't it be one you can see your future self enjoying, too?
Storage is a big one.
Big in that you can never have enough.
Luckily, there are tons of new and improved ways to add storage to your kitchen without getting rid of your living room. And if you can include any or all of these storage options in your dream kitchen plans, all the better.
Cupboard door options
Unique cupboard options
Other storage spaces
It's All About the Money
Dream kitchen projects are expensive. Traditionally.
But with the right planning and know-how, your dream kitchen doesn't have to break the bank or even overtake the budget.
Before you even start determining how much money you have to spend on your kitchen project, know some numbers. Regardless of the overall amount of money you'll put into your dream kitchen, this is probably how it will all shake out:
Your final cost sheet might look a bit different, but this is a pretty good place to start. As you start making some big decisions, look back at the chart to see if it really fits.
For example, if your dream countertop is going to cost 75% of your total budget, you might have to settle with some DIY laminate until you can save some more bucks. Or make a trade -- maybe you'll go with the perfect counter, but save moving the sink for another day.
Can You Smell It?
Building your dream kitchen might not be as easy as watching someone on HGTV do it, but it will be so much more satisfying.
Just imagine coming home after a long day of work. You slump in the door, ready to collapse… but wait. What's that smell?
It's ready for you.
Are you up for the challenge?
Featured Image: CC0 via Pixabay