Words from the (now) wise--think to the next update in 20 years
The most critical thing I can recommend to people starting the process of a kitchen plan from scratch is to plan around the possibility that in 15 or 20 years you might want to make some changes or upgrades. Right now we are paying for not thinking about this when we put an addition on and remodeled our kitchen 20 years ago. And, if we weren't still here, the next owners would have faced the same challenges unless they wanted to gut and start over. Some of those custom-designed choices we made then are now starting to come back and bite us in the butt.
The kitchen layout and configuration is still fine (and probably about as well as one could do considering the constraints that lot lines and the design of the house permitted). We have top quality cabinets that are still appropriate for our house, look really good, are timeless and are in good shape. Over the years we have replaced our dishwasher and fridge. Those were easy replacements.
Now, I wanted to get new countertops to replace the old tile ones. This is where the story starts, and it is an illustration of how if you do something trendy at the time an/or do not have everything that is standard size (difficult to do in a 100 year old house like mine) replacement problems can pop up in the future. And, also remember that what is current or cutting edge as far as appliances or fixtures now may not be so in the future and may complicate your future replacement issues.
Downdraft JennAir ranges were top-of-the-line and all the rage 20 years ago. Now they are out and known to be ineffective. Since we did not need a range hood then and didn't plan an installation where it would be easy to put one in the future, we are having a major headache with no easy or optimal solutions. We've got the new range in (that was another huge hassle), but installing the hood is a problem.
Twenty years ago we installed the all-in-one wallmount set up with a microwave on top of a wall oven. We had a cabinet custom built for this. Now we so wish we had done a different installation where we could replace just the microwave or the oven without having to buy a complete unit. I looked at the ajmadison website, and there are only 7 models that will even remotely fit in that size cutout, and we will probably have to do some jerryrigging to even get any of them to work. In other words, rather than being able to pick a replacement based on features, we'll be choosing what will fit in.
Twenty years ago I picked a sink I loved, but it was not one of the standard sizes or configurations. Our plumbing is set up to work with that sink. And, it was an odd size sink that now really limits my choices as far as a new sink. Even though we are putting in new counters, and theoretically could do anything we want, there only a few choices available for me, and none of them are optimal. We can change the plumbing set up under the sink, but trying to figure out what to do with the custom made cabinet the sink is in so we can install a new sink is a headache.
My white subway tile backsplash is lovely and so appropriate for the period of my house. I planned to keep it with the new counters, but it is now going too because taking out the old counters will damage the tiles since the backsplash tiles were cut to fit the quirks and irregularities of our layout and our uneven, out of square house. We finally decided it will be less hassle to just take out the backsplash and retile with new white subway tile. And, speaking of tile, buy a lot more than you think you will ever need in case you need replacement tile. We have some replacement tile (we did think that far ahead then), but not nearly enough to fit in so we would have been able to take care of issues arising from the new countertops.
So, even though you are currently thinking about and installing your current dream kitchen, think ahead. It may not be your dream kitchen a number of years down the road. Things wear out, styles change, and updating will need to be done. Make it easy for yourself, not hard the way ours is turning out to be. Yes, some of these problems (but not all) can be fixed if we just spend the money (often quite a lot). But, if we'd planned ahead originally we wouldn't have to spend (lots of) additional money now to try to change some of these things.
Just a cautionary message to all of you current remodelers.