10 Tips For Designing A New Kitchen - Part 1

It's coming up three years since we renovated out current kitchen. Where has the time gone? I still love it since the day it was installed. It's my favourite space of the house. It is my happy place. I find cooking very therapeutic and find myself drawn into the kitchen on a daily basis. The updated kitchen has had a work out over the past three years with Birthdays, Christmas's, Baby Showers, entertaining friends, many family gatherings and intimate family dinners. Most recently being the hub for cooking over 150 recipes for Lose Baby Weight and their cookbooks.

Now that I've had time to settle into the space and get a good feel of what we created here I thought I would write a two part series talking about what my Top 10 tips would be when designing a new kitchen. I am no professional but I thought I could share with you things that I felt were important in the whole renovating process. So let's jump straight in:

My first and probably the most important tip I will share with you is to put together a BUDGET! Yes this is the most important thing you need to do first. You need to sit down and work out how much you can safely afford to put into this space without going into debt. If you don't have the money for it.... wait. Save up and do it when you can afford to. There is no use in creating a beautiful new space but it brings stress and tension into your relationship because of mounting bills and unpaid debt . If you have to wait and save up it will be the perfect time to plan and design your space perfectly.

Here is a quick run down of things you will need to consider when calculating your budget::

  • Kitchen Cabinetry - this will be the largest cost you will outlay for your kitchen and it will be generally be to a cabinet maker.
  • Accessories & Materials: Light fittings, taps, tiles, appliances etc
  • Plumber - generally to change over your existing taps, pipes, kitchen sink and dishwasher.
  • Plasterer - if superficial changes are required to be made to your walls etc
  • Electrician - to change positions of power points, install kitchen appliances and light fittings
  • Tiler - to tile the splash back if necessary
I can't remember exact prices for these things but once you have been able to get a quote from a few cabinetry people you should be able to get a better idea if the funds you have allocated are going to be enough.

I found it extremely important in the initial stages of the designing process to have a vision in my head of what I wanted. It will help you make decisions better and more precisely, save on mistakes and reduces stress. I would suggest creating a "mood board" of sorts whether it be a physical board/folder you pin/store pictures, swatches and colour samples or you create a board on Pinterest and start pinning ideas on to there. I personally found having something physical in my possession to flick through and refer to quickly was the easiest way. I created a board on Pinterest but printed out the pictures I really wanted to refer to and added to a folder of my specific ideas. I would also suggest buying a few kitchen magazines as they also have some inspiration in there pages.
Start sketching ideas out on paper of the changes you want to make to your current space, cupboard configurations and any features that you want to add. This will help get a better mental picture of where you are headed and you can show the cabinet makers your "vision".  You can see our vision here.

Before picking up the phone to book in a cabinet maker to come and quote talk to your co-workers, friends and family first. Ask them for referrals of good cabinet makers in your area. Word of mouth is a great place to start when searching for a good cabinet maker, you'll hear who's good and who's not so good. Pick up the phone and give these people a call. I recommend getting about 3-4 cabinet makers in for quotes. It does seem a bit excessive but I find you get a broader view of price differences between them all.  Try and keep your specifications the same across all quotes so that you will get a better idea of price differences. If you ask for different things with each cabinet maker you won't really know who has the best price out of the lot.

Be prepared to wait at least a week or two for the quotes to sent back to you. These guys are generally busy. When you get the quotes back sit down and take some time to thoroughly review each one. I like to look at the extras some include such as soft close doors and drawers, quality hinges, kitchen sink and turn around time.

A word of warning cheaper is not always the best. I think we went with the second cheapest quote because we liked the cabinet maker and felt comfortable with him and how he interacted with us. He knew what he was talking about and the little extras we were getting (such as soft close doors and better quality hinges) were worth the few extra dollars.

If these quotes come back WAY above your budget it might be time to sit down and look at a redesign of what you initially wanted. We had to scale back in our design because I wanted the routered door and drawer fronts that was a classical french country kitchen. This extra feature was going to cost us an extra $8000 or so. In the end we went back to plain laminate drawer and door fronts and added in the feature pillars on the corner of the cupboards to still give the french country feel. This saved us thousands by simply scaling back and finding features that we still could incorporate into the design to give the feel of what we wanted. This went for the bench tops as well. I really wanted to have wooden bench tops in the whole kitchen but again it was going to add thousands of dollars to the cost of the kitchen. In the end we decided to keep the island bench in the wood top and used laminate for the rest of the kitchen.

It is time to get your bargaining hat on. When I went out to source my materials and appliances I did a fair bit of research before handing over the cash.
For example I wanted a specific small square white tile for the splash back in our kitchen. The one I found in Bunnings was going to cost me something like 50c a tile. So I snooped around and found the original packaging of the tile and took note of the brand and tile name. I then got on my computer and went to my friend Mr Google. I managed to find the supplier of this tile and was able to order it from them for a much cheaper price. Always Always research for cheaper options.
When negotiating to buy big appliances such as cook tops, ovens, range hoods and fridges ALWAYS ask the salesperson what the best price they can do for you is and if they will do a better price for cash. They will most likely always give you some sort of discount even if it's 10%.

So I will wrap it up here for now. Next week I will share my remaining 5 tips for designing a new kitchen!

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