Planning a new kitchen

Mags438September 23, 2012

I just started planning a new kitchen. I have been working with a KD since August. We have finalized (I think) a design and I have received estimates of major appliances and cabs. I am waiting for an estimate from the KD's contractor. I think the KD is expecting a go/no go decision and then to move forward if i decide to go with them and then order materials, supplies, etc. The way this KD works, is if I decide to purchase cabinetry Thru them (i only committed to working with them on a design and lighting scheme), they will work with me on finishes. Many of the major finishes like countertops, I've pretty much decided on (thanks GW!). I can be anal about details and I am beginning to feel the stress. I don't feel comfortable about *all* the details because I don't know *all* the details. I don't know what the entire project will cost. The low/high estimates included things like cabs, sink, hood, flooring, etc, but not things like hydronic heated flooring (or do i want to go with electric radiant flooring since i only want to use cork flooring tiles, not click planks -DK?) for example. I like the layout but not absolutely sure about each cab. I'm still undecided (in my mind) if I want glass side panels on upper end cabs. I kinda like to mull things over, because I have been known to change my mind. After the kitchen is completed, I don't want to feel - oh I wish I had done this or this would have worked better if I had done that. In other words, I don't want to have any regrets.

How long did it take you to design and plan your new kitchen? Before ordering items like cabs, did you have every detail nailed down or did you do as you go along? Am I being silly?

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You are not being silly. Here's a recommendation for how to proceed if you are working with a KD/contractor and not trying to GC any of this yourself.

Have the entire plan agreed upon first, including what features you want, generally the style of cabinets. Get a general sense of finishes, etc. then have the KD price everything. This will give you your budget from which you will add and subtract. It is best to do this before ordering anything.

One note, you mentioned using cork flooring for a radiant flooring system. You will not be able to transmit heat using cork, wood or linoleum. The system works when masonry, ceramics or porcelain get hot and transfer that heat to the air. Soft surfaces can't do that.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:39AM
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We have *known* that we were redoing out kitchen since before we bought our house (almost 2 years ago). We bought a few things that the kitchen needed in the two years that we've been here with the idea that they would go in the new kitchen (a DW, fridge, faucet, and GD).

If the DW wouldn't have been necessary (at least for me to maintain some sense of sanity) for me, I would have preferred to get one that had the panel where it wouldn't look like a DW. But, I didn't know what to do with the front until we redid the kitchen and didn't want to put money into a temporary front, so I knew at the time we would have to make that concession and it's worth it.

We started to get serious about the kitchen remodel around March of this year when we went to a home show.

We're still not started. We would have been, but our first pick GC wound up making us pretty nervous in that he would say one thing and then the next time we saw him, he would say another on a few different items. The lack of detail in the contract and refusal to put detail in clinched the deal for us to be a bit wary about going with him.

Our runner-up was runner-up largely due to price. We loved him. He answered all of our questions and was very patient about everything. We were able to work out some pricing issues and we got a contract from him. It had details in it, which was a vast improvement from the previous guy. We had some changes that needed to be made (minor - a drawer here or there) and we sent that back to him. He had a death in the family...and he dropped off the face of the Earth. We haven't heard from him after repeated emails and phone calls for over a month. We were supposed to be in mid-remodel right now. :( Instead, we're back to looking for someone.

So, through a series of unfortunate events, we are still in "planning stages", but would have been a go this month. Meaning that our "active planning" would have been from about April to September.

We have most of our details nailed down. We don't know exact color for the cabinets (because we don't have the GC/cabinet maker!). I know what will go in which cabinets. We have taken delivery of our appliances. We have our granite slabs picked and waiting for us. We have our lighting plan mostly worked out...a few details left on that. We have our sink planned.

We don't have a backsplash picked or paint colors - paint depends on the color of the cabinets and we're definitely waiting on the backsplash until the cabinets and granite are installed.

I already know that there are going to be things, no matter how much I plan out the kitchen that I will wish that I've done differently. It's always the case. But, through a lot of hard work and planning, I hope that I've minimized those regrets.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:45AM
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Develop your budget first, then plan according to the budget. 15-20% of your home's value is a good guideline, with about half of that going towards cabinetry. If you are doing construction elements that involve systems or moving walls, up that budget, sometimes considerably.

When you put together your "wish list" with a firm and don't have any clue as to what things cost, that's when you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. Most people do research for a couple of years on paper before doing a single thing in real life. I'd suggest slowing down and doing more of that research before getting in bed too much with any one firm. The way you describe yourself, you will regret not exploring more options a lot more than you will regret living with something that doesn't work in the meantime.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:57AM
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"I like the layout but absolutely not sure about each cabinet"-this has a much greater impact than switching counters/backsplash/hardware/flooring/paint colors in the middle of your project,or even at the last minute. One tweak in a cabinet can change an entire run whether you are referring to height/depth/width/overlay/molding/color/style. Have a sense of your overall style then get the layout with cabs and appliances nailed down...some of the other things revolve around and from this stage, and can wait.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 10:04AM
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How long does it take to design and plan? It can go very quickly, but from reading these forums, the more detail-oriented one is, it can take months and months. You can get some basic decisions out of the way just by discussing over dinner major decisions like appliances - professional range or not? Separate oven(s) or not? Appliance drawers or not? One or 2 sinks? These I think are the initial decisions you need to make, then work with a KD or 2 or 3 to design around that. If the KD can help with some major decisions points suck as: inset cabinets add x% to the cost - then you can perhaps make a quick decision about that. Panel fronts to appliances add $. Corner pullout can easily add 1K, and pull out fancy pantries can add big bucks as well. Some KDs can help you narrow down where you want to spend your money, even without coming up with a design yet. So there are those big budgetary decisions that may or may not come into play.

After that, if you're moving walls and changing the layout, that takes a lot of time. If not, then it's down to how to configure the space.

Then I think you get into the nitty gritty of style of cabinets and function. I found it extremely helpful to take a copy of the near-final design, and write down with my DH what from our existing kitchen would be stored where, right down to where the dog bowls and dog food container would go. That helped me determine whether the storage was adequate and whether I needed pullouts, drawers or cabinets. (we went with mostly drawers and cabinet/pullouts on the lowers).

Another big consideration is the type of sink - apron front? Stainless steel or fireclay? I just think it's good to know what you want. Then select your size, material and depth (some people don't like deep sinks - it can strain the back). They size of the sink base cabinet must be determined based on your chosen sink(s). Don't place your cab order until you're 100% happy with the sink you want, since you will spend much of your time in your kitchen using it!

Before you pull the trigger on the final cabinet color - I think it's helpful to have selected your countertop slab. Unless backsplash is going to be the star, in which case, select that which you love then select cabinet color/finishes around that. Knobs/pulls can come later - I think it's helpful to take a step back after placing the order for cabs and appliances and take a good breath.

I think the really fun part is shopping for the faucet(s) and knobs/pulls. You can do this without your KD, visit nice showrooms and plumbing supply places. They have very knowledgable sales people and can advise you on details like which aerators work well in faucets (very important to minimize splashing!).

Knobs/pulls you can order anywhere. It's really great to order a sample if you can and see it against an actual door or the color at least.

I obviously could go on and on.... best advice - take the time you need and don't let anyone rush you into making any decisions! Good luck and post often!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 10:14AM
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What a wonderful thread this is. Thank you, Mags438 for asking the original questions.

I had my original design drawn out before ever approaching a kitchen designer. My budget is small, as is the kitchen space and I went to Home Depot and Lowe's. They each planned out kitchens using my layout and cabinets they represented. I changed my mind a lot during that process and finally stopped using them.

Now I have an independent cabinet maker who will create a custom stain for me. That was one of my difficulties, that none of the companies proffered by HD or Lowe's had a stain or paint color I was 100% happy with.

My stove top and recirculating range vent, sink, overhead lights and over sink light have all been purchased. As has been the flooring and wall paint.

It's been a month since I made any changes to the overall design. So until you are no longer tweaking your plan, I'd say you are not ready to begin.

You can get costs for all appliances on line. I shopped for my stove top, vent, and over sink lighting on eBay. I researched what sink to buy on the internet.

If you are feeling anxious it may be that too much control is being give away. As for not knowing what the cabinets will cost would not work for me. When they finish the layout they should give a price based on which cabinet company has been selected.

Can you tell us which cabinet companies you prefer? I went with an independent cabinet person only after I had nailed down my design using specs from well known companies.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Layout is the single most important thing.

It took me about 5 years to finalize my plans, and I am old to begin with. I had a fabulous cab maker who had gobs of experience, wisdom, who tweaked every broad wish I had. It took me a week to decide on appliances altho I had been researching for years. It took me about 3 months to finalize a countertop. It's not perfect, there are teensy little flaws, but it's wonderful. Highly functional and organized.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:23PM
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I spent a year designing my kitchen. Started with a kitchen designer that worked for the company that sold my cabinets. But she kept bringing me plans that were way to expensive and not quite right. And told me I couldn't do certain things I knew from GW were doable. I went to another local cabinet company and asked them for a design and a quote. I liked that designer much better, but they couldn't give me the cabinet finish I wanted. During that process I also got a a lot of help from GW'ers and finally came up with a design myself that was better than what the designers gave me. But the first designer "modified" it to make a key aisle too narrow and I flipped. Ended up ordering from another local company that carried the brand of cabinets I wanted. They were wonderful, and worked hard to make things work the way I wanted.

I got the feeling that the first company was always waiting for me to just give them the go ahead to start the job, and "trust" in their judgement. So glad I didn't. But I spent a lot of time researching things on my own and scouring the area for finishes that were perfect. I love me new kitchen and it was worth it.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:49PM
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We are over a year since first meeting with KDs. Met with 2, fired one around Christmas and worked with the second one on our plans. We are 99% done (waiting for a small table...)

We lucked out on the GC. He was recommended by our KD and when I checked references - they were fantastic. One person wants to pay to have him remodel her up north house cause she loved his work.....

I had a couple ideas for our kitchen. When I met with the second KD, she drew the plans and then asked if she could show her plans that she created. They were so much better than mine and we tweaked and tweaked and tweaked.....
She did take my design for the sun room and it is great!

I definitely qualified as an over thinker but I wish I had found GW before I even started the project. I love what we did with our kitchen but know so much more now and would have done some things differently. (I might have gone with more drawers in stacks but the way I did ours - they work perfectly - even though only 3 to a stack)
I would have used 6 inch cans for more flexibility down stream)

When in one shop, I mentioned that I was an over thinker and the sales person (who has a bit of wry sense of humor but was nice overall) said - you and 99% of the rest of A2.

Also - don't be afraid to discuss changes and ask for clarification. We made 2 major changes as we progressed. We added a pocket door to the pantry (it had a regular door that always bugged me) and a pull out pantry when we had a pleasant surprises from the GC that the ventilation would be better to go through the basement than where going up through the kitchen wall next to the fridge. No vent, no longer needed a plaster wall, so we have a more finished kitchen.

I know I could have done better price wise by ordering on line - but as one of our local hardware stores posted on the sign - By Local or Bye Local. ...

99% of my kitchen came from family owned or small stores. I did buy organizers from BBB and a fan switch from Lowe's (local dealer didn't carry the one we wanted). Some items did come from the coasts - but again smaller stores (The tile store has a couple stores in California and the faucet, hardwares, and accents came from PA while visiting DM.

OK, I am rambling on and want to bake some cookies in my new kitchen so my DH has something to eat while I go visit DM again. She is being discharged from skilled nursing tomorrow after being in the hospital again. Long distance elder care is challenging.

Have fun - we will be watching!!!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 1:33PM
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YOU tell the KD/GC whoever, when you are ready to sign, THEY don't tell you. I wouldn't sign anything until I knew how much it was going to cost. I'm not sure that you are ready to sign.

We were probably two years from choosing a GC, through the planning/design stage, choosing products etc, through completion. Actually it was 15 years from the start of dreaming, and 5 years from buying kitchen magazines and saving the money, and 3 years from looking at products.

We put a hold on the design process for about 3 months, with the agreement of our GC because I was getting overwhelmed with what was going and wasn't happy with the floorplan. I had to go back to the beginning of my dream for our home and reassess where we were going. I am so glad that I did.

I only have the money to do our kitchen once, I will never beable to do this again and it had to be right for me and my family, not for some KD who will never live or work in it. Listen to yourself and don't be bamboozled by anyone.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 2:14PM
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For any renovation, I think confidence in structural layout before beginning is very important; the importance of nailing down details may depend on whether the kitchen is isolated or more open to other living spaces.

I've spent about 10 years planning the renovation of the kitchen in my grandparents' home and still haven't done anything because it needs to be gutted, it's open to the living room, and I can't visualize how the whole space will pull together: I feel like I need to have the whole plan done before I start anything. (It's currently rented out and I probably won't move back for another 20-30 years, so that project is on indefinite hold, although I continue collecting ideas!) In my own home, I've lived here for a year and have been contemplating minor revision the entire time (my kingdom for a dishwasher!). Because my kitchen is closed off from the living spaces of the home, I'm less concerned about visualizing the finished product: I want be confident about the placement of cabinets and appliances before I start, but I'm willing to revisit hardware/paint once the structural changes are in place.

Of course, having an overarching sense of your budget is also important: if I decide on countertops before I investigate the cost of hardware that I like, and use too much of the budget on the counters, I'll constraint my choices for hardware.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 4:31PM
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Interesting and useful thread.

Curious, are most of you having to pay a nonrefundable design fee before your KD or contractor will commit anything on paper, or amything more than a rough ballpark in cost?

That's what I'm finding.

About 3 years ago we had one who did a rough couple of versions to give us a taste of what our kitchen could be. That was more than anyone else did and we were so excited by his vision that we committed to the nonrefundable design fee. In his case it was 8K and once the real design started none of them really sang and would require a much bigger budget than what we said we wanted to spend and a change in footprint.

Never got more than cabinet and appliance wall layouts on paper that were't fully flushed out and revisions that included things we already vetoed. Probably would have continued this forever, but we finally just walked away with nothing to show for it, but these line drawing elevations on big paper. Nothing that we could take to anyone else to even show accurate dimensions. 8K down the drain.

Just wondering if that's typical in your area? Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:24PM
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I met with 4 KDs over quite some time and none asked for a design fee. They would not release all measurements but definitely gave me printouts of the designs they proposed. They all tried to work around the appliances we'd preliminarily selected. Only 1 would not give a price at all - they would only give the price to the contractor, which we had not selected at the time. We were selecting the KD independent of the contractor, because ours was more than a kitchen renovation - it was about 1/2 the house, including baths, etc. 3 gave me pretty hard estimates, and detailed layouts, elevations and some a 3D rendering (depended on the computer program they were using - some made it much easier than others). I eliminated one on price, one because their standard finishes were not to my liking (and I did not want to go with a custom color). One I eliminated because the KD got rather insistent that I select a contractor then she would work through the design and give him her price.

anyway - we are mid install and I love the quality, just a few mishaps with measuring but they're being resolved with fillers and inserts into the filler spaces.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:40PM
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Thank you all! So I am normal! I could relate to soo many of the comments. I had to chuckle at blfenton's comments about only doing their kitchen once. That's where I am. The house we are in was supposed to be for 5-7 years; it's been 18 yrs. westsider, I'm old already too! My DH retired last year, so I have been focused on the one-and-done projects. And I have been unhappy with baths and kitchen has been my focus. I have kitchen and bath mags dating back to 1996!! I pretty much did one bath design myself (layout stayed the same) but near end of design I did bring in a designer/decorator since I was lost on type of sink and flooring choices. Felixnot, thank you for info on hydronic radiant flooring. Although it is in the plan, I didn't know if it was doable, and informed KD, that I didnt know, did they? Our kitchen gets cold in winter (1920s home, stained wood in nearly every room with original stained glass in several rooms-type house), and it isn't possible to lay insulation between walls due to shallow studs. It was suggested to blow in insulation, but after reading a little about that, and with basement walls that can get moist during heavy rains, could easily cause a serious mold issue. I did put electric radiant flooring in a bath remodel, and yes it had a tile floor. That bath remodel took me about 2 yrs to do because I didn't have enough $$ to do it the way I wanted. At least according to the contractors I brought in at the time. I had lots of time to dream and plan. I know what your saying about house values. I'm aware of the current value and past values. Our neighborhood has been pretty stable over the last 50 yrs. Although housing prices dropped in most places, ours dropped later than most during the worst housing market timeframe. The neighborhood is recovering pretty well and pricing is already up. I've seriously considered the % of a conservative pricing and if I truly felt there was a chance of moving, I would stick to that formula. However, it takes motivation and effort to move, and we just don't have the motivation to make the effort. Should we no longer be able to climb up the stairs, then we'd prolly consider. We're comfortable, I guess. So I've decided to do this kitchen without housing value dictating the money spent on this kitchen. I won't go wild with this kitchen but prolly will spend above the current value % and I'm finally ok with that. Now if you ask my DH, he prolly feels differently but knows I will be reasonable. We're empty nesters and after 'free rides' for private schools and colleges, it is finally 'our time'. I've joked with DH that he better hold on to his wallet, cause I'm going deep into his pockets for this kitchen! Lol. There are some splurges in this kitchen, there are many necessities. So it is, what it is. I've seen some kitchen renos in similar houses and they are pretty much the same. Take down the mudroom wall between kitchen and rear exterior, put a counter there, leave plumbing and everything else in same place. I wanted something different and just couldn't figure it out myself. That's why I hired a designer early on. They came up with 4 different layouts and we decided on the one that provided the best flow. It does involve flipping the powder room to another wall, so plumbing and other utilities will be affected. I'm ok with that. I'm happy overall with the layout because it will be jammed packed. Although room sizes are decent, there is absolutely no storage in this house. Closets are non-existent.

Phylhl, we decided on things like stove, no room for things like separate ovens or a 2nd sink like all the wonderful kitchens I drool over here. The kitchen is considered small, with 3 entries and 3 windows, so there isn't a lot of space to work with. The KD suggested we look at appliances like stove, etc by our 2nd meeting before she went too far in the design. I hope/plan to put design up here, once I get time to read beyond the first sentence of how to post pics. I'm really hoping for help on making it a TKO kitchen. I *really* like the inset doors and KD made me aware of price differences. However lack of storage really made me re-consider and go with overlay. And drawers, drawers, drawers. Mulhouse, really no strong preference on cabinet maker as I didn't feel I was there yet. I may be naive about the whole process but I thought you get a design first and then look or send out for bids for things like cabinetry. Dutchwood is prolly a good possibility since they are not too far and i've read wonderful things about them and have seen their work in person. The cabinet companies, DK and hadn't given it much thought. Although it seems cherry is a popular choice for cabinetry, I have cherry in my bath, and lots of dark stained wood all over. As much as I love stained wood, I did break down and paint some of the trim in some of the bedrooms. Wood flooring seems to be the current choice of kitchen flooring, but I have wood floors on every single floor surface (including a bath) except one bath and I just don't want anymore. From the basement ceiling I can see (finish floors sit right on joists, no subfloors) that kitchen still has wood floors underneath. Looking for something softer underfoot.

Numbersjunkie, I also am feeling the KD is waiting for me to yes yes and trust their judgment. They know I have the money and just waiting for me to commit to them. I've made it clear from the initial email, that I was interested in a design only and my goal was to find out which of several projects would get done. I thought I made it clear that I was not going to commit to anyone beyond the design. Maybe my mistake was to finally give in and say I would be open to a quote from KD and their contractor, at the appropriate time. To me, that didn't say I was committing. The estimate of basic kitchen items, was well over the initial ballpark figures we discussed. Although the contractor came to see the space, I don't feel they felt I needed to be part of the conversation. From some of the things I overheard in the back room, some of it will not be acceptable to me. I am awaiting that estimate and any details to justify the estimate. A2gemini, I too am an over thinker which sometimes can lead me to analysis-paralysis! I don't have any problem with giving pushback but am on unfamilar ground. I finally got thru to KD that I wanted white cabinetry and no I didn't want stained, nor glaze, nor white cabinetry with glaze. The kitchen has an eastern exposure, so it doesn't have a lot of sunlight. I've lived in this house for 18 yrs and have be never thought or considered any other color or stain. Current cabinetry is white, they're just crappy. A2gemini, I know some of your feelings regarding taking care of aging parents. I am full time caregiver to an ailing parent who now lives with me. It's beyond challenging! I had a meltdown this past week. Overdue for some time away.

I am beginning to feel the KD when designing, has their cabinetry line in mind, so some things they said couldn't be done or would be too expensive was from that perspective. From my perspective, since i haven't decided on a cabinet maker, all I could do was shrug my shoulders and say to put it in my design. I really like the KD and right now open to working with them on more than a design, but I only committed to a design-only for a reason. I'll see how things pan out.

Artichokey, I have a similar situation regarding a small rental. I want to re-cycle my current/old cabs for a moderate kitchen update at the same time, knowing I may get a better install price on that one if I piggy back it to my kitchen. It's currently rented, but they'll be open to the remodel. I just don't know when it will happen.

I thank everyone for their feedback and glad to know going warp speed is not the way to go. Whew, cause i havent felt like I could keep up. I hope I'm as lucky with getting help with my kitchen design when I finally get it posted. :).

Sorry for any typos, darn iPad thinks it knows what words I'm trying to type. Wow, I wrote a book, sorry!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 11:32PM
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Ouch island! That's painful. I lost 1500 to a contractor who also put himself out as a designer. Didn't know how to use the software, so I got a single corner tub on a piece of paper. Compared to you, now seems like I got a steal(laughing with you, not at you). I had to pay for design service with current KD but price was based on size kitchen and it was understood up front that it was the only service I was interested in at this time. I think the general design fee was something like $1200. I specifically asked up front about level of detail the design would be. Could I take their design and get bids for construction. I received 2 color renditions and elevations of each wall and island with dimensions after going thru several drafts. I guess it was non-refundable but it wasn't noted on the single page contract I signed.

I haven't experienced the 'must work with their contractor' one yet but I'm only on my 3rd designer ever.

I'm curious why KD would only give design to contractor if customer was paying for it.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 12:47AM
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Is it customary for KDs to share their markup on cabinetry or just other type of purchases. Thanks

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 3:49AM
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KD whoonly gives price to contractor does so so that contractor can mark it up.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 7:28AM
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