Optimal Decision-Making Sequence

Carrie BJanuary 24, 2014

I'm fairly early in the remodel process - decided for sure to re-do my kitchen about a month ago, met with a KD (waiting for first round of sketched proposals for basic layout) and have done lots of research (lurking here, houzz, visits to HD, IKEA, etc.)

I'm thinking that besides the "must haves" and strong preferences conveyed to the KD, a lot of the other decisions will depend on layout (storage options, for example) and other decisions (floor/countertop material) can be decided regardless of ultimate layout.

And I'm assuming that pretty much ALL decisions should be made prior to the beginning of de/construction - I could, in theory, do backsplash, for example, later, but assume it will be easier/cheaper to do all at once.

Any advice/thoughts on this? Are there decisions you wish you'd made early on as they would have influenced other decisions?

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Pick cabinets first, floor, then appliances, counter top. Live with it for a while, pick paint color after you get a feel for the new environment. Back splash should call out and speak to you after everything else comes together. Take your time and feel it. We "planned" ours for three years, delays for unexpected CABG surgery, job loss, family emergencies........and finally we are 99% done.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:08AM
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I agree with cparif on everything except paint. I painted the kitchen after the old cabinets came out, before the new ones went in. It is SO much easier to paint bare walls!

I had cabinet stain, counter and flooring samples, so I could paint samples on the wall and see how everything looked together.

Sometimes, however, the order shuffles a bit, DH and I fell in love with a countertop, and chose cabinet stain and flooring to go with it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:27AM
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Carrie B

Thank you cparlf & annkh.

That makes sense. I know I want to go w/ IKEA cabinets & maybe the white Ramsjo doors, though getting doors/drawer fronts from another source is sure tempting. Floor I want to go w/ wood, but have not yet looked at samples or selected anything, and countertop I'm fairly certain I'm going to go w/ recycled paper - but have not yet selected the color.

At this point, I'm thinking I want the majority of the color in the kitchen to come from the backsplash (& maybe coordinating pendant lights) so it makes sense to save that until the end. And, cparfl - so sorry about your challenges in the midst of it all!

Interesting question about painting before/after. My kitchen is small enough that I could paint it myself (pretty much all the installation will be done by pros) so I could wait, if I don't decide ahead of time.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:54PM
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The thing that helped me the most with decision making was to start with just three main goals. Those were the MAIN three things I had to have to make it worth doing the reno. My top goal was to flood the room with every bit of natural daylight that the house envelope would allow. That one goal drove many of my layout and investment choices. It meant budgeting for large custom windows instead of custom cabinets, and giving up most upper cabs in favor of windows.

If you could tell your KD what three things you must have to be happy with the final result, it will help both of you, and it's much easier to compromise on something if it moves you more to what you want most.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 4:09PM
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Carrie B

Smiling - that's great advice! I probably am particularly drawn to it because I think I share your main goal - well, I've mentioned before how important windows are to me - maybe more because of the garden view than because of light, too...

I also want to be able to look out windows as much as possible - while washing dishes, eating breakfast... neither are things I can do now. That is very helpful.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 4:42PM
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Before your "must-haves", etc., get your layout worked out, then populate it with the features and amenities you want. Otherwise working function will inevitably be sacrificed to style issues. In most cases, the must-haves can be accomodated if the function is as good as it can be. But starting with the must-haves can easily get in the way of getting the best function your space produce.

KDs who start the process by eliciting all the client's must-haves often wind up producing designs that include all the must-haves no matter what, simply because that yields happy clients. Happy clients who have all the stuff of their dreams but also have kitchens which could be even better if functional layout was the first consideration.

How do I know this? Because every day of the year people post designs on the forum (some by KD and some by owners) where it's clear that the starting point was "this is the stuff I've seen and admired, and here's the only way to get it all prettily arranged in my space."

if you were creating a kitchen showroom, not an actual kitchen, then that starting point would work. But if you want to create meals in your kitchen, then the working design is best starting point.

Just my (oft-repeated) two cents worth.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 6:51PM
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I agree, essential layout first.

I suggest laying out the appliance/sink arrangement first and planning a basic cabinet layout on the standard 3" increment which will cover essentially any cabinet line from stock to custom.

Then start looking at cabinets that fit within those essential parameters and then pick specific cabinet companies and styles. Then look at other finishes.

You don't want to start assembling the components of a good $75K kitchen, even in your head, if you have a $30K budget. There's nothing the matter with a $30K budget, but why put yourself in the position of having to trim the unobtainable from the list?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:02PM
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I like Smiley's advice: Pick three must-haves and be prepared to compromise on the other things.

For me personally, function has to be #1. Having a drop-dead gorgeous kitchen that everyone admires is useless . . . if you don't have enough storage, or if your sink is in the wrong location, or if it just doesn't work for some reason. Someone else who just heats up food in the microwave might not care so much about function.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:15PM
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Carrie B

Interesting stuff...thank you!

One of the main impetuses for deciding to re-do my kitchen is that I really want the sink not to look at a blank wall. I prefer it to look out a window, but would accept it being on a peninsula looking into the living room. So, already form over function, I'm afraid. I also have never liked that the best view of my garden is obscured by a solid wall in the kitchen...

Another "must have", and this one IS about function - though not necessarily exactly about kitchen, is that - in the warmer months - I am CONSTANTLY (literally, perhaps several dozen times a day) in & out of the kitchen garden door. AND, almost every time I walk in, I go straight to the kitchen sink to wash my hands. Right now, I have the sink easily accessible to the door - & that's not something I'm willing to give up.

And, the truth is, I AM one of those people who mostly heats up stuff in the microwave - that and makes coffee every morning. I'm not much of a cook. I could probably get by with no oven just fine, and even without a cooktop. Sad, but true. Maybe with a newly designed, more functional kitchen, I'll take up cooking. But, at 48 years old, maybe not.

I want the kitchen to look pretty, yes, I do. And I want to be able to heat up my food in the microwave and I want to be able to make my coffee. Yes, indeed. And I want to be able to look out the window when I eat and wash dishes. Oh, and to wash my hands when I come in from the garden.

I realize I might not get all I want on a $30,000 budget... which I think is actually pretty generous for my small space and not particularly high-end taste - but the space itself will probably be my limiting factor, rather than budget.

I hope I am not unrealistic.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:52PM
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The way I went about it was this: what do I hate about my current kitchen? (inefficient storage, small prep area, too much clutter on the counters). What do I love about it? (general layout). What are the limitations to a remodel? (in my case it was fixed walls - two outside walls and a bathroom surround my kitchen).

From there, I spent literally years sketching up different plans (unfortunately I didn't know about this forum for help at the time). At last the plans and the finances came together!

Once I got the overall layout in place, I started tweaking. Where will I put dishes, glasses, pots and pans, utensils, spices, potholders? What about small appliances, trash and recycling, food? I went through everything in the old kitchen and figured out the best place for it in the new kitchen, in terms of like things together, best use of space, and point of use.

I got absolutely everything I wanted - for less than $30K.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:46AM
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